13 Best Things to Do in Times Square

Times Square at dusk
Siegfried Layda / Getty Images

Times Square is one of New York City's most popular tourist attractions, as it's the epicenter for all things media and a famous New Year's Eve venue. A stroll through the area—with its bright lights and skyscrapers plastered with digital billboards—is pretty impressive. And as you walk the streets looking up and taking on the ambiance, you don't have to worry about stepping in the way of an oncoming cab. New York City reduced the amount of vehicle traffic through the Times Square area, making it a more pleasant place to linger and people watch. While here, catch a Broadway show, hang out in Bryant Park, or book a luxury suite at a historical city hotel.

01 of 13

Rise to the Top of the Rock

View of NYC from Top of the Rock
tobiasjo / Getty Images
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112, USA
Phone +1 212-698-2000

Going to the top floor of the Empire State Building is what most out-of-towners flock to, but most New Yorkers will tell you to go to Top of the Rock, instead, meaning the observation deck on the 70th floor of the skyscraper at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The Empire State Building is, admittedly, taller than the Rockefeller Building, but you can't see New York City's most iconic skyscraper when you're inside of it. Going to Top of the Rock offers the same sweeping panorama with all of the city's most important sights.

02 of 13

Attend a Live Taping of a Late Night Show

Live taping of Daily Show with Trevor Noah

Paul Zimmerman / Stringer / Getty Images

Most of the major late-night hosts tape their shows in the area right around Times Square and you can attend a live show with your favorite host. The biggest ones in the area are the Late Show With Stephen Colbert at the Ed Sullivan Theater, the Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon in the Rockefeller Building, or the Daily Show With Trevor Noah at the CBS Building. The best part of seeing a taping is that they are free to attend, assuming you can get a ticket. Reservations generally open a couple of months in advance, so be sure to plan ahead if you have an upcoming trip.

03 of 13

Feel the Magic of Midnight Moment

Midnight Moment with Pipilotti Rist
Santiago Felipe / Getty Images

Every single night from 11:57 p.m. to midnight, the electronic billboards around Times Square turn into the world's largest and longest-running digital art exhibition. The billboards are all synchronized during the nightly event, known as Midnight Moment, which has been a fixture of Times Square since 2012. If you've seen it once you can always go back since the digital show changes every single month, featuring a new artist each time.

04 of 13

Catch a Broadway Show

Theatre lights where Chicago plays

TripSavvy / Kelsea Watkins 

Broadway at, W 47th St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Phone +1 212-912-9770

Times Square is home base for many of New York City's Broadway theaters, with theaters residing both on the square and within a few blocks. You can buy show tickets in advance, at showtime at the individual box offices, or, for budget-minded folks, in the heart of Times Square at the original TKTS booth. The TKTS booth offers same-day tickets to musicals and plays, dance performances, and off-Broadway shows at a substantial discount. You can even score certain performances for half-off their original ticketed price.

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05 of 13

See Celebrity Replicas at Madame Tussauds

KONG: SKULL ISLAND delivery to Times Square's Madame Tussauds

Cindy Ord / Getty Images

234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, USA
Phone +1 212-512-9600

For over 200 years, Madame Tussauds has impressed audiences with life-like wax figures. And their New York City location in Times Square isn't your run-of-the-mill museum, either. With interactive exhibits, rotating displays, and a variety of entertainment options (including private rooms, complete with catering), the whole family will be enthralled with this experience. It's also open until 10 p.m. nightly, making the venue a great place to visit after dinner.

06 of 13

Experience the Thrill of Ripley's Believe It or Not!

Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Times Square

Raymond Boyd / Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, USA

With more than 500 exhibits and interactive experiences, Ripley's Believe It or Not! is a can't-miss times Square attraction. It's the largest Ripley's attraction in the U.S.—complete with torture chamber and black hole exhibits. While inside, you can also engage in New York City-specific activities, solve puzzles, and travel the world. Perusing makes a perfect group activity, one you can get lost in for hours.

07 of 13

Check out Famous Landmarks

Statue of George M. Cohan

Amanda Hall / Getty Images

The area's two most famous buildings—One Times Square (1475 Broadway at Seventh Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Street) and the former New York Times Building (229 West 43rd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenue)—dazzle tourists each year. One Times Square is actually a vacant building designed specifically to display digital advertisements on its exterior. The New York Times building—the fifth highest building in New York—now hosts the offices of several different companies. And don't miss the statue of George M. Cohan which honors this early 20th-century New York theater mogul. You can witness this bronze marvel in Duffy Square.

08 of 13

Solve a Puzzle at OMEscape

OMEscape room


325 W 38th St #2, New York, NY 10018, USA
Phone +1 212-631-7876

OMEscape offers the most hi-tech escape room games in the world. Grab a group of friends and go inside to engage in three fun games: Penitentiary, Laboratory of Biohazard, and Room X. This venue also hosts private parties and corporate events and is suitable for older children and families who love the thrill of mastering a real-life puzzle.

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09 of 13

Chill on the Lawn at Bryant Park

Bryant Park in New York City, NY

TripSavvy / Brakethrough Media

New York, NY 10018, USA
Phone +1 212-768-4242

Complete with an ice rink in the winter, a spacious and airy indoor lodge, and lush green lawns with exquisite landscaping, Bryant Park (at Sixth Avenue and West 42nd Street) offers a whole day of activities. Events for kids include live juggling and puppet shows to story time and carousel riding. Adults can get their fitness on by attending an outdoor boot camp, Pilates, or yoga class. Or grab a to-go meal at one of the many authentic eatery kiosks and kick it on the lawn while you bask in the sun.

10 of 13

Stay at the Knickerbocker Hotel

Knickerbocker Hotel
Roy Rochlin / Getty Images
6 Times Sq, New York, NY 10036, USA
Phone +1 212-204-4980

Squeezed between the hubbub of Broadway and the serenity of Bryant Park lies the historical Knickerbocker Hotel which opened in 1906 with 556 rooms. Originally used to house the world's most famous names in entertainment, politics, and high society, today the hotel is equally as posh. Book a luxury stay for a special event (if you can afford it!) and enjoy one of their 330 guest rooms, each with a stunning view and modern furnishings. Then, retire to their world-acclaimed restaurant, The Knick, for American fare made from seasonal ingredients.

11 of 13

Get Your Chocolate Fix at M&M's World

M&M's World Times Square NYC


Lya_Cattel / Getty Images

1600 Broadway, New York, NY 10019-7413, USA
Phone +1 212-295-3850

At M&M's World New York—amidst the Broadway lights—guests can enjoy three floors of chocolate bliss. Hang out with the M&M's characters while perusing chocolates, merchandise, and New York City-themed products. Visitors can also create and purchase their own personalized M&M's by using the store's printer. Choose from 16 different colors and create your own message to be printed on each candy.

12 of 13

Engage in a Broadway Walking Tour

Two young men snapping pictures with mobile phones on Broadway


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The Broadway walking tour with Broadway Up Close encompasses all things theater. Book a tour with a professional working actor or stage manager to get insider info on both current and past shows. Each 90-minute tour hosts up to 15 people for an intimate experience. Stroll through the theater district while learning about ghosts, legends, and the successes and flops of Broadway productions.

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Watch People and Passersby

Taking photos in Times Square, New York City
Michele Falzone / Getty Images

Although the energy of Times Square can be frenetic, visitors should definitely take time to soak in the vibe and bask in the lights of the glowing billboards and Broadway marquees. Grab one of the granite benches at the pedestrian plaza in Crossroads of the World and take in the hustle-bustle of visiting tourists. The area surrounding the TKTS booth has a huge cascade of steps that's also a perfect place to take a load off and watch the world whiz by.

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13 Best Things to Do in Times Square