Every city has some night life to it. The city that never sleeps is no exception. The best things to do in New York City at night are memorable, fun and if you’re lucky, romantic.
For as long as New York has had electricity its night life has been equally energizing. I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve been laying in bed when I hear laughter outside. I turn to my wife as to say, “lets go see what kind of trouble we can get into.”
The simplest things to do in New York City at night can be charming. Some night getting off the subway and heading home under the city lights can be intimate and picturesque. Other nights a little bit of liquid courage makes you take risks you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) have otherwise.
Regardless of what you consider fun, there’re plenty of things to do in New York City at night. In this post I’ve helped gather up 10 of my favorite!
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
Best things to do in New York City at night
#1. Attend a Live Recording of a T.V. Show
Most of the live recordings you can sign up for are late night New York City talk shows. If I’m being honest, it’s kind of bizarre seeing your favorite shows being taped, but totally worth it. You view TV So differently and really appreciate the work that goes into it.
One of the best things I’ve done in New York City at night is gone to see Jimmy Fallon. It was back in the fall of 2017 right before the Macy’s day parade. During a commercial break Jimmy Fallon was extremely personable and started interacting with the audience and walking around us.
At one point he made a comment about being backstage on the Sesame Street float. He mentioned “how weird it is to see Elmo take his head off”. I don’t know what came over me but I blurted out “that’s what it feels like seeing you in person!” Jimmy Fallon laughed and told me he appreciated me and proceeded to shake my hand.
It’s a memory I will never forget. To be honest it’s one of the best thing’s I’ve done in New York City at night.
I highly suggest trying to get tickets to a live taping. It’s no doubt one of the best things to do in New York City at night. Most tapings are free, you just need to apply in advance and hang tight on a waitlist. I know it might seem like a longshot, but my wife and I have gotten into about half of the tapings we’ve applied for.
Local’s Tip: The Rockefeller Center (where a lot of TV tapings happen) is home to the NBC store on the first floor. Stop by for some merch of the TV show you just took part in!
#2. See the City from an Observation Deck
I know I can’t be the only one scared of heights. However the views from one of NYC’s observation deck are well worth any nerves you might experience! Checking out the bright lights from above is one of the best things to do in New York City at night. It’s magical to say the least.
There are a currently 5 observation decks in Manhattan that help you take in the city for all its glory.
- Top of the Rock
- Empire State Building
- The Edge
- Summit One Vanderbilt
- One World Observatory
If you’re planning a trip to the Big Apple I suggest not buying tickets to an observation deck until you’re sure of what weather to expect. I made the mistake of buying tickets in advance once when I had friends visiting from out of town. I blindly chose a date and time, only for that evening to be overcast and anticlimactic. Seeing NYC from 1000+ feet up in the air is one of the best things to do in New York City at night and I would hate for you to make the same mistake I did!
Regardless of which observatory you choose to take in New York City at night from you’re undoubtedly in for a treat. In the City that Never Sleeps the bright lights have a way of inspiring and creating a memory you won’t soon forget.
#3. Catch a Broadway Show
Yes, Broadway Shows are expensive, but the experience is unforgettable and makes for an incredibly romantic night in New York City. I couldn’t encourage you more to budget at least one show during your visit to NYC.
Something I wish I knew earlier is that certain Broadway Shows have a lottery system where you can apply to win free tickets in advance. Seems like a long shot, but one of my coworkers won two tickets to Hamilton! Maybe you can get lucky too.
Another way to save money on tickets is to purchase “solo” tickets. These are seats in-between two other groups and if you’re okay not sitting next to your friends they make for a great bargain. I did this last time and got my seat for half off.
There are over 40 official Broadway theaters so there’s bound to be a showing of something enticing that you can spend your night in New York City watching.
After the prolonged intermission caused by COVID safety protocols Broadway is back and crowds are as engaged as ever. That energy and excitement helps make this one of the best things to do in New York City at night.
#4. Enjoy a Sunset Movie at Bryant Park
Bryant Park is perfectly tucked among towering office buildings that make up the heart of Midtown Manhattan. One of the best things to do in New York City at night is to sit back and take in the lit up buildings that make up Midtown.
Located right behind the breathtaking New York Public Library, it’s not uncommon to find all the chairs and benches full during New York City’s summer evenings.
At 9.6-acres, this isn’t the largest park in New York City by any stretch of the imagination, but it often feels the most full.
Bryant Park is host to a multitude of markets and events, but to me the most notable has to be the free movies on the lawn. The entire field gets filled with cheery folks on picnic blankets. This is one of the best things to do in New York City at night, it feels like the epitome of joy.
Address: Corner of 6th Ave & W 42nd St
For more fun things to do this summer check out 20 Epic New York City Summer Activities
#5. Dance the night away at a nightclub
Okay – truth time folks. Every time I watch the dance scene in the musical In the Heights I want to grab a flat cap and hit one of the city’s many salsa clubs. Its gotten to the point that my wife leaves the room whenever the scene comes on to avoid bearing witness to my embarrassing pirouettes.
The best thing to do in New York City at night is to put on an exuberant outfit and venture out into the City that Never Sleeps. New York City’s night life can be electric.
Find a place with loud music, good drinks and let your feet do the talking. There is no shortage of venues where you can shake your tail feather and boogie down with your friends.
And nights in NYC are never boring since at the end of the day this is a melting pot. There are salsa clubs, reggae clubs, jazz clubs and so much more! Plus dancing makes for a great workout. Who knew breaking a sweat would be one of the best things to do at night in New York City?
#6. Stargaze at the High Line
I was absolutely dumbfounded when I found out you could stargaze, for free, in New York City. We have the helpful folks the Amateur Astronomers Association to thank for that. This is one of the best (and most romantic) things to do in New York City at night every Tuesday from dusk until 9:45pm.
Telescopes are provided and spaced throughout the High Line, a former elevated cargo line turned beloved New York City park. You don’t have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson to enjoy the beauty of our universe thanks this incredible New York City night activity.
The helpful folks from the association are also there to help and answer any questions, making this one of the best things do to in New York City at night for novice and experienced stargazers alike.
Address: 812 Washington St, New York, NY 10014
#7. Check Out a Night Market
After moving to New York City, I quickly realized something… I love markets! I know it sounds so silly but never in my life have I ever had this kind of access.
Exploring a night market is one of the best things to do in New York City at night. The amount of food, drinks, art and live performances right at your fingertips under the same roof? Insane!
Living on the Upper West Side, I’m partial to the Uptown Night Market. Between April and November, on every second Thursday of each month I am blessed with this spectacle.
Everyone has heard of bar hopping, but have you ever heard of vendor hopping? That’s exactly where you can find me whenever the Uptown Night Market is up and running. This is one of the best things to do in New York City at night if you’re into trying a little bit of everything.
Enjoy authentic savory food or chilled sweet treats, catch whatever live performance is happening and soak in the the beauty that is night time in New York City.
#8. Soak in the City Lights from the Ferry
If you’re anything like me and jump at any opportunity to feel like you’re in a movie- listen up! Catching the city skyline from a ferry in general is pretty epic, but at night, WOW!
Seeing the city lights is an experience straight out of a rom-com. Catching the Big Apple lit up in its prime is euphoric and magical. Let your hair down, it’s one of the best things to do in New York City at night.
Taking the ferry is like taking the subway. Both have a fare of $2.75 (one way) and are easy to figure out. I suggest using google maps or Apple Maps. Those are my go-to resources when I’m trying to travel anywhere in the city.
I suggest downloading the ferry app. You are able to see the ferry’s schedule and purchase tickets in advance. Once you buy the tickets you just scan your QR code at the dock. It makes everything less stressful and helps plan your night in NYC.
This is one of my non-negotiables with my out of town visitors. The views are stunning and no matter how many times I’ve done it, it still takes my breath away. Without fail my guests always agree that this is one of the best things to do at night in New York City.
#9. Catch a Yankees Game
Grab your ball caps boys (and gals, or course!), we’re about to embark on one of the best things to do at night in New York City! New Yorkers live and breath Yankees. The magic of a ball game is multiplied under the city lights at Yankee stadium. With a record 27 World Series wins, the New York Yankees are always an exciting watch.
Located in the Bronx, Yankee Stadium is accessible by subway and tickets can be found for as little as $10 depending on the game. With a whopping 162 games played every season, there’s a plethora of both weekday and weekend games to choose from. There’s no excuse for not missing out on one of the best things to do in New York City at night during your stay.
Whether you love them or hate them, the New York Yankees are icons of both American sports as well as NYC. Making it to one of their games should be high on your list of things to do at night in New York City.
This year the Yankees are one of the best teams in Major League Baseball, meaning every team they play against is hoping to bring them down. The intensity of every game will have the crowd fully engaged making this one of the most memorable things you can do in New York City at night.
Address: 1 E 161 St, Bronx, NY 10451
#10. Explore Times Square at Night
I want to be honest with you: Times Square is overwhelming and very touristy. Most of the folks I take here end up telling me they expected something different (ha!). I think the majority of people visiting New York City for the first time have a vague idea of Times Square based on what they’ve seen in movies. The reality however is often less …. romantic.
But at the end of the day Times Square is iconic and can’t be skipped over! Especially since it’s one of the best things to do in New York City at night.
Times Square swells with tourists all hours of the day, but especially at when the sun goes down. You’ll find yourself sympathizing with sardines in no time flat. Also, brace yourself for whiffs of marijuana, it comes with the territory. Take your time soaking in one of the best things to do at night in New York City and head to Los Tacos No. 1 when you’re ready to escape the bright lights.
Los Tacos No. 1 serves the best tacos in NYC. They melt in your mouth! I swing by anytime I’m in the neighborhood because they’re irresistible.
Local’s Tip: The folks dressed up in character costumes can be rather aggressive. They try to pull people in for photos and then demand payment, avoid getting caught up in the schemed by diverting eye contact.
#11. Check out a Comedy Show
If you’d like some entertainment in the West Village, swing by Comedy Cellar, the best comedy club in New York City. The Comedy Cellar has been visited by nearly every popular comedian currently performing. It’s one of the most iconic and best things to do in New York City at night.
The Comedy Cellar first opened in 1980 and hosts long lines every day of the week. They don’t have headliners, unlike most comedy clubs, rather they have 5 to 7 comics perform 15-20 minute skits per night.
As such, you never know who to expect on stage, but you’re guaranteed to have a good time because the Comedy Cellar always attracts top-notch talent. Needless to say, this is one of the best thing to do at night in New York City for anyone in search of a lighthearted evening.
For showtimes and tickets be sure to visit the Comedy Cellar’s website.
#12. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best things to do at night in New York City. How do I know? Well, for starters, my mom has visited me six times since I’ve moved to New York City and we’ve walked across this bridge every single time.
I don’t even fight her on it when she suggests the trek, it’s iconic and I love this popular NYC activity regardless of the amount of times I’ve crossed the bridge.
The bridge spans one mile and takes about 15-20 minutes to walk across, but you should allocate more time because you’ll want to take photos (you can see the Statue of Liberty from here!).
At night while you walk across the water you’ll see Manhattan’s iconic skyline and get to see for yourself why I consider this one of the best things to do in New York City at night.
P.S. The Brooklyn Bridge is older than London’s famous Tower Bridge by 11 years (and other thought-provoking NYC facts you probably don’t know).
#13. Sip a Cocktail at a Rooftop Bar
I mean does life get more New York than this?
Seriously, there is something so iconic about being on a rooftop bar. You feel connected to New York City on a completely new level. The lights hit differently, the city resonates differently and most importantly you see yourself differently.
Generally you’ll realize how small you are in a vast sea of people. This is why this is one of the best things to do at night in New York City.
Unwinding after a stressful day of work or a tiresome day exploring is a necessity, so why not do it over breathtaking city views?
One of my personal favorites is Magic Hour Roof Top. They spared no expense when it comes to decor. The place is vibrantly decorated with pink and purple flowers. There is a spinning carousel outfitted with couches where you can sip your cocktails with your gal pals. The only downside is that they don’t allow cameras. This playful rooftop bar makes for some of the best memories on a night out in New York City.
#14. Grab a Bite at Corner Bistro
The Corner Bistro is a classic West Village burger joint that has been a staple (some nights even a necessity) for many New Yorkers.
For 50 years they’ve been serving what many locals call the best burger in Manhattan. The bistro feels casual and you quickly find comfort from the easy-going staff and tasty food.
This is one of the best things to do at night in New York City because it’s open as late as 4:00 AM from Thursday to Saturday.
Corner Bistro gives you the lax environment required to rest your legs and fill your belly.
This burger joint is one of our go-to places in the West Village whenever we’re hosting out-of-town guests. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a juicy burger at midnight? It’s one of the best places in New York City at night.
#15. Ice Skate at Rockefeller Center (Seasonal)
Name a movie based in New York City (during the winter months) that doesn’t showcase an iconic ice skating scene- I dare you. It’s impossible! And for good reason. Ice skating at is one of the best things to do at night in New York City.
Don’t worry, the ice rink is lit up so there is no room for accidents, but it is magical. During Christmas time you’ll find the mighty Rockefeller tree standing proud and tall, lit bright enough window shoppers can spot it from a mile away.
Coming to New York City during the holiday season and not ice skating is like tying your shoes with no laces- it makes NO sense!
Let your inner kid take the lead and rent a pair of skates and hit the ice. I promise even if you’re holding on to the edge the entire time, it’s still one of the best things to do in New York City at night.
Best things to do in NYC at Night (Post Summary)
- Attend a live TV recording
- See the city from an observation deck
- Catch a Broadway show
- Enjoy a sunset movie at Bryant Park
- Dance at an NYC nightclub
- Stargaze at the High Line
- Check out a night market
- Soak in the city lights from the ferry
- Catch a Yankees game
- Explore Times Square at night
- Giggle at a comedy show
- Walk the Brooklyn Bridge
- Sip a cocktail at a rooftop bar
- Grab a bite at Corner Bistro
- Ice skate at Rockefeller Center
Map of the best things to do at night in New York City
Thanks for reading our post on the best things to do in New York City at night!