If you’re looking for things to do in Times Square, you’ve come to the right place. Having been a tourist in the Big Apple at one point, I can understand the appeal Times Square holds for someone who has yet to experience it.
The bright lights, complete chaos and people from all over the world gather in Midtown to see what the all the fuss is about. Times Square is intriguing, I’ll give you that.
With that said, if you don’t know what to do while in the area, it can easily become more of a headache.
If I’m being honest, Times Square is overwhelming and very touristy. Hollywood has helped overly-romanticize Times Square. In fact, a lot of locals try to avoid the area whenever possible. Most of the folks I take here end up telling me they expected something different (ha!).
With that said, visiting Times Square is a non-negotiable for any first-time visitor. We include it on all our itineraries because it’s too iconic to miss. I mean come on, Instagram is practically begging you to post a picture under the bright screens.
So now that you’re in Times Square (or will be soon) what do you do? Here’s 25 of the best things to in Times Square to help you make the most of your visit.
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.
Tips for exploring Times Square
- Avoid people in costumes: 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.
- Visit Times Square at night: Times Square swells with tourists all hours of the day, but especially at night. While you’ll find yourself sympathizing with sardines in no time flat, seeing the bright lights in person at night is non-negotiable. Also, brace yourself for whiffs of marijuana, it comes with the territory.
- Expect crowds: New York City averages more than 63 million visitors per year, and the holidays are the busiest season. There’s a lot of people wanting to see the same attractions, eat at the same restaurants and do the same things as you. Be patient and start your days early if at all possible!
Things to Do in Times Square
#21. Grab a bite at R Lounge at The Renaissance
Undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Times Square is to enjoy the views from R Lounge at The Renaissance Hotel. The ritzy lounge is located at the north end of Times Square so the bustling streets unfurl at your feet.
The menu offers an array of casual eats like pretzels, burgers and even grilled cheese. Cocktails will cost you around $19 which is (unfortunately) typical for the city. Don’t let the price tag deter you though, enjoying the panoramic views is one of the best things to do in Times Square.
If you’re curious to know what all the hoopla is about reservations are easy to make online. My suggestion is to make reservations for sunset, this way you can see Times Square’s screens light up for all its glory.
Address: 714 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036
#20. Eat at Los Tacos No.1
Perhaps the most well known taqueria in New York City is Los Tacos No. 1, and stopping by for a bite is one of the best things to do in Times Square.
The restaurant comes with a lot of (well deserved) hype behind it. The founders (originally from Tijuana & California) noticed a lack of authentic tacos in NYC and opted to bring Mexican flavor to Manhattan.
On my first visit the $5 per taco price-tag made me contemplate bolting for the door. I’ve since learned $2 tacos in Manhattan are a pipe-dream so I’m happy to pay the price for the best tacos in New York City.
In fact I find myself justifying a pit-stop way more often than my bank-account would like. The meat is juicy and tender and with one bite you’ll be including them as one of the best things to do in Times Square, twice!
They’re pretty authentic too. But before you come at me, I married into a Mexican family 8 years ago and all of my in-laws agree these are some of the tastiest tacos on the East Coast.
The simple menu pays homage to the traditional flavors of our southern neighbors. Corn tortillas (always get corn) are made in house and pineapple slivers in their best-selling adobada tacos have helped propel Los Tacos No. 1 above the competition.
Trust me when I say, eating at Los. Tacos No.1 is one of the best things to do in Times Square. The restaurant is one of the few reasons I’ll brave the crowds for!
Address: 229 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036
#19. Customize your own chocolate at M&M’s World
If your looking for some fun things to do in Times Square, consider checking out M&M’s world and customizing your own candy.
The three-story interactive M&M themed store sells all sorts of goodies. They sell everything from apparel to chocolate with your face on it (seriously!). Visiting is one of the most memorable things to do in Times Square, especially with kids.
You have the ability to choose the color of your M&M’s, add clipart, text or upload a photo onto the chocolate and then choose the packaging for your customized treat.
Not only is this one of the best things to do in Times Square but it’s also a great spot to grab some souvenirs.
Address: 1600 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
#18. Take a picture with your favorite celebrity at Madame Tussades
Seeing celebrities in NYC is common, but there is an unspoken rule about never approaching them and just letting them be. If you are just dying to snap a picture with you favorite star, I suggest visiting Madame Tussades.
Located in the heart of the neighborhood, Madame Tussades is a wax museum chock-full of realistic wax figures and one of the best things to do in Times Square.
Ticket prices range between $40-$80 depending on the experience and package you choose, but all tickets give you access to nine floors of life-like wax figures and over 80,000 sq. feet of interactive fun.
Since this is one of the most popular things to do in Times Square, I suggest purchasing tickets in advance.
Here is a short list (covering just a fraction) of the life-like celebrities you’ll find at Madame Tussades in Times Square:
- The Avengers
- The Royal Family
- Taylor Swift
- Jennifer Lopez
- Selena Gomez
- Indiana Jones
- Jimmy Fallon
- Marilyn Monroe
- The Kardashians
- Former presidents
Address: 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
#17. Check out a Broadway Show
No trip to NYC is complete without checking out a Broadway show! The amount of effort that goes into a single show is impressive to say the least.
I have yet to leave a show feeling like it wasn’t worth it, which is why this is one of those non-negotiable things to do in Times Square.
There are 41 official Broadway theaters in NYC and at any given time, more than half of them are putting on shows. This means there’s plenty of plays and showtimes to choose from.
Admittedly, Broadway Shows can be so dang expensive, but the experience is one of the most memorable things to do in Times Square. Here’s a few ways you can save a few bucks on a Broadway show:
A lot of shows offer lotteries, in which they’ll sell very discounted tickets to randomly selected winners. These are good to enter if you’re staying in New York or live close by. You might have to enter multiple times and it’s hard to buy plane tickets around “possibly” winning the lottery.
Another way to save a few bucks is to purchase a solo ticket. These are seats left in between groups that the theater sells at a discounted rate to fill as many seats as possible. Catching a Broadway show is one of the best things to do in Times Square so it’s well worth the possible discomfort of sitting with strangers.
#16. Enjoy a treat from Hershey’s Chocolate World
Similar to M&M’s world, Hershey’s Chocolate World is 7,800 square feet of pure chocolate bliss.
Can you name a chocolate bar more iconic than Hershey’s? I think not! The chocolate is reminiscent of childhood memories (and the only acceptable brand when roasting marshmallows). 😉
One of the best things to do in Times Square is unleashing your inner child in Hershey’s Chocolate World. Enjoy delicious, warm treats like s’mores, cookies and cupcakes or delectable frozen goods like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Milkshakes.
This is one of the best attractions in Times Square, especially if you have kids. And with the feature of customizing your own candy bar wrapper, it’s a great spot to pick up souvenirs, too!
Address: 20 Times Square, 701 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036
#15. Visit Yankee’s Clubhouse
If you’re traveling with a sports fan one of the best things to do in Times Square is to swing by the Yankee’s Clubhouse. It’s a store with an outstanding amount of New York Yankee’s gear where the whole family can get something unique.
Maybe a Yankee’s cap for mom, jerseys for the kids and a beer mug for dad. If you’re in the market for a souvenir there’s no better place to be.
Also, visiting the Yankee’s Clubhouse is one of the best things to do in Times Square since the Yankees have hit a streak of playoff appearances in recent years. There’s commemorative buttons and even patches on some of the clothing that may be hard to find elsewhere.
Address: 245 W 42nd St SP1, New York, NY 10036
#14. Grab a coffee from Ten Thousand Coffee
Although Ten Thousand Coffee is new to the Big Apple, they hold their own among the best coffee shops in New York City. That’s why I consider stopping by for a caffeine-boost one of the best things to do in Times Square.
The Australian-based cafe derives its name from the 10,000 hour rule, which states that 10,000 hours of practice leads to expertise. After the first sip of coffee I can attest, they’ve put well over 10,000 hours of practice into their coffee.
If you’re looking for things to do in Times Square, swing by and try the Einspänner and an Espresso Cream Latte. They are two of the dreamiest cups of coffee at this cafe. They’re thick and foamy, but mixed in with the coffee make for the perfect (surprisingly not too sweet) caffeinated drink.
Address: 1410 Broadway Unit 105, New York, NY 10018
#13. Eat your way through Urbanspace
New York City has no shortage of great restaurants and delicious food, the tricky part can be narrowing down your options. Fortunately Urbanspace is a food hall filled to the brim with a variety of different eateries and about a 10 minute walk from the heart of Times Square.
Therefore one of the best things to do in Times Square is to head to Urbanspace for a bite.
The best part is all 15 restaurants offer diverse options from one another. You can grab fried chicken from one place and ramen from another. Even the two people in your party who can never agree will find something good to eat.
I highly recommend trying Roberta’s Pizza, my husband swears it’s the best pizza in NYC (bold claim, I know!). The dining hall also offers a full bar and popular NYC spots like Seamore’s and Partners Coffee.
Having so many flavorful options all under one roof, it’s no surprise Urbanspace has made its way on a list of things to do in Times Square.
Market Hours: Monday- Friday | 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Address: 152 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019
#12. Grab a slice of Cheesecake from Junior’s
The same way you can’t go to Philly without trying a cheesesteak, you can’t come to New York and not try some cheesecake.
My go-to? Junior’s Cheesecake. Opening up shop in 1950, this is one of the most famous New York institutions. Their diner-style restaurants feels extra cozy and makes for one of the best things to do in Times Square.
You can enjoy a single slice at a table or take a whole pie home, and there are endless options of cheesecakes to choose from. I tend to gravitate towards anything with chocolate, while my husband sticks to the classics. All this to say — it’s hard to go wrong!
Visiting Junior’s Cheesecake is one of those bucket-list things to do in Times Square that you’ll be talking about well after your trip. It becomes even more memorable the later you visit, it’s open until 1AM!
Address: 1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
#11. Check out the views from a rooftop bar
Have you heard the saying “squashed like sardines?”Well I’m pretty sure they were referring to Times Square when creating it.
Taking in the lights from the ground, shoulder to shoulder with strangers can get chaotic and overwhelming. Luckily for us the lights are just as bright sitting on a rooftop bar with epic views.
So one of the best things to do in Times Square is to step away from the chaos and find some high ground to enjoy the scenery (with a a cocktail in hand, of course).
Here is a short list of great options we recommend to friends and family whenever they’re in town and looking for things to do in Times Square!
- Castell Rooftop: Cocktails cost between $17-$22.
- Magic Hour: Cocktails cost between $17-$23.
- St. Cloud: Cocktails cost $24.
- Hard Rock Hotel: Cocktails cost between $17-$21.
- Beast & Butterflies | M Social Hotel: Cocktails cost between $15-$24.
#10. Grab a cream puff from Bibble & Sip
New York City, you beautiful thing, you! Consistently bringing us glorious treats and delicious desserts. My next recommendation for things to do in Times Square is tiny but mighty- I’m talking cream puffs.
These are not just any old cream puffs, we’re talking best in the city -cream puffs.
Trained in French confectionery and inspired by Asian flavors, everything Bibble & Sip has to offer is worth a try. The desserts they serve are decorated playfully and are so cute! If you’re anything like me you’ll have a hard time picking just one treat to take home.
However, the cream puff stands out from the rest of the desserts and swinging by for a puff warrants a spot on our list of best things to do in Times Square.
The cream puffs are made out of the most delicious dough with an airy texture. As for the cream (the star of the show) no words will do the cool and smooth flavors justice.
Make sure to add a visit to Bibble & Sip onto your itinerary if you’re looking for more things to do in Times Square. Even if you’re stuffed to the brim order one and try it later, you won’t regret it.
Further reading: Curious what else we recommend for sweet-toothed New Yorkers? Check out 15 Irresistible New York City Desserts Worth Pausing a Diet Over.
Address: 253 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
#9. Be part of a show taping
If you’re looking for more unique things to do in Times Square consider being part of a live audience for a TV taping.
Most shows available are late-night talk shows and the guest on the show change nightly. That’s why you can do this hundreds of times and have a different experience after every show.
The amount of work that goes into producing a single episode is astounding and seeing the hosts and celebrities up close is surreal. Your job is the easy one, clap when the staff say to clap!
My recommendation is the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The guy is a sure-fire entertainer and the live band (The Roots) play between breaks setting a lively atmosphere in the small studio.
*Jimmy Fallon films at the Rockefeller Center which is only a 10 minute walk from Times Square.
#8. Visit the Raising Cane’s flagship location
From the bayou to the Big Apple, Raising Cane’s recently opened a brand-new flagship location and visiting is one of the best things to do in Times Square.
Standing at an impressive 8,000 square feet the new restaurant sells their famous chicken-combos in a fun and memorable atmosphere. From the music to the
maniacs caniacs, Raising Cane’s is a hoot.
The decor is fun (Statue of Liberty holding a chicken-finger torch, anyone?) and the food is damn-good too. Plus, the restaurant comes in at a price point most can appreciate, especially after an expensive day full of Broadway shows and rooftop drinks.
Who would’ve thought a southern favorite would make the concrete-jungle its new flagship location? But hey I’m not complaining, Raising Cane’s adds one more to the list of fun things to do in Times Square.
New York Simply was invited to the Raising Cane’s Times Square grand opening! The pictures below are from that event.
Address: 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
#7. Get lost in the Drama Book Shop
The Drama Bookshop has long been a staple of New York City’s theater scene. In fact over the course of it’s 100+ year history it’s been an invaluable resource to some of Broadway’s greats. One of the best things to do in Times Square is getting lost in the magic of the Drama Book Shop.
The beloved bookstore is popular to the casual fan largely due to Lin-Manuel Miranda purchasing it in 2020. Miranda, along with other Broadway peers, used the basement of the previous location to rehearse “In the Heights.” The musical that went on to win multiple awards and help launch Miranda to stardom.
Regardless if you’re visiting because you’re a bookworm or just a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, swinging by this charming bookstore is one of the best things to do in Times Square.
Address: 266 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018
#6. Sing along to Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville
Whether you’re a Jimmy Buffet fan or not, Margaritaville is an experience and a half. Seriously — there is a two-story replica of the Statue of Liberty raising a margarita (I’ll drink to that).
Margaritaville is resort that has a hotel, restaurants and bars. Although you might not be staying there stopping by is still one of the best things to do in Times Square.
There are 5 different spots to grab a bite at Margaritaville, including it’s namesake restaurant and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar.
Expect classic American foods as well as plentiful adult beverages in a setting that can make you forget you’re in New York City. Plus the joint plays Jimmy Buffet on its speakers which isn’t a bad thing either.
Address: 560 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018
#5. Shop your way through Times Square
If you made it to NYC and realized you forgot to pack something, don’t worry — just swipe your subway card and head over to Times Square. No seriously, Times Square has everything!
The heart of Times Square is essentially made up of three major components; giant TV screens, restaurants and shops. You can’t walk more than a few steps before making it to the next store, so it only makes sense to add shopping to our list of things to do in Times Square.
You’ll find global brands that sell clothing, jewelry, and so much more lining the neighborhood.
Here is a short list of stores you can find in Times Square:
- Old Navy
- American Eagle
- Disney Store
- Forever 21
- A bajillion souvenir shops
#4. Snag a photo on the iconic red steps
When you’re in Times Square thinking to yourself, hmm, where should I take a selfie? I want you to do yourself a favor and head to the TKTS ticket booth.
The booth sells discount tickets to Broadway shows, but the back of the building has been transformed into the iconic red staircase and visiting has quickly become one of the most popular things to do in Times Square.
From the stairs you have a direct and often unobstructed view of all the flashing lights and flocks of people. It’s no surprise why folks from all around the world have used the staircase as their own personal viewpoint.
Snapping a photo on the red stairs is one of the best things to do in Times Square. If you come at night, the stairs illuminate and add another layer of fun to your picture!
Address: Broadway at, W 47th St, New York, NY 10036
#3. Try Halal Guys
It goes without saying, the Halal Guys have stands everywhere. But there is something so special about basking in the bright lights with this iconic NYC meal in hand.
The Halal Guys started their business out of carts in 1990, and have continued expanding to now include brick and mortar restaurants. While technically the Midtown location isn’t in the heart of Times Square, it is still worth mentioning on our list of things to do in Times Square because it’s that good.
The word halal is Arabic for “lawful”, meaning in line with the practices of the Quran and Islam. Similar to how a Jewish person must keep Kosher, a Muslim person must follow Halal guidelines.
The menu consists of bowls with rice, lettuce and tomatoes. You’re then given the choice of either chicken or beef, or a combination. They also sell gyro sandwiches.
Halal Guys is always one of my first stops when flying into the city late at night and one of my favorite things to do in Times Square. Just know ahead of time most of the stands are cash only!
Address: 6th Avenue &, W 53rd St, New York, 10019
#2. People watch
With over 50 million visitors annually, you can bet your bottom dollar Times Square has seen it all. People come from all over the world to experience the bright lights in person.
Most locals avoid the neighborhood likes it’s the plague, but I will admit one of the best things to do in Times Square is to find a (safe) spot and just people watch for a few minutes.
You’ll hear languages that are completely unbeknownst to you and you’ll see folks in different seasons of life enamored by the massive screens. You quickly realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things and can’t help but feel a little intrigued.
So if people-watching is right up your alley, consider swinging by and partaking in one of the most popular things to do in Times Square.
#1. Explore near Times Square
While Times Square is one of the most visited attractions in the world, people quickly realize it’s a tad over-romanticized and dare I say, overrated (shocker, I know!).
That’s not to say it’s not worth the trip, because in full transparency I do think it’s too iconic of a place to be skipped and everyone should see it (in person) at least once.
With that said, Times Square is conveniently located in Midtown and within walking distance to other epic NYC sites so here is a quick list of things to do near Times Square.
Things to Do Near Times Square:
- Bryant Park & New York Public Library: 5 minute walk from Times Square
- Rockefeller Center: 10 minute walk from Times Square
- Grand Central Terminal: 10 minute walk from Times Square
- 5th Ave: 15 minute walk from Times Square
- Empire State Building: 15 minute walk from Times Square
Times Square Attractions (Post Summary)
In summary, these are the things to do in Times Square:
- Grab a bite from R Lounge
- Eat at Los. Tacos No. 1
- Customize your own chocolate at M&M’s World
- Visit Madame Tussades
- Check out a Broadway Show
- Enjoy a treat from Hershey’s Chocolate World
- Grab a souvenir at Yankee’s Clubhouse
- Visit the Raising Cane’s flagship location
- Sip on cloud coffee from Ten Thousand Coffee
- Eat your way through Urbanspace
- Try Junior’s Cheesecake
- Check out views from a rooftop bar
- Grab a cream puff from Bibble & Sip
- Partake in a live show taping
- Get lost in the Drama Book Shop
- Grab a bite at Margaritaville
- Shop your way through Times Square
- Snag a photo on the iconic red steps
- Try Halal Guys
- People Watch
- Explore near Times Square
Did you know you’re a short subway ride away from Central Park?
After you finish exploring all the fun things to do in Times Square, hop on the train and continue the adventure!
Map of fun things to do in Times Square
And there you have it, our list of things to do in Times Square! Let us know if you think we missed anything.