Times Square is the beating heart of Manhattan’s Midtown West where costumed characters entertain crowds under the bright lights of massive digital billboards. There is always a line of people on the red staircase above the TKTS Discount Booth. Bryant Park offers a verdant oasis surrounded by a jungle of skyscrapers. Gulliver’s Gate and Madame Tussauds museum are fun attractions to visit. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
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Bryant Park is a 9.6-acre public park located in Midtown Manhattan, between 5th and 6th Avenues and 40th and 42nd Streets. The area was established as a park in 1686, when it was still a wilderness, by New York's colonial governor Thomas Dongan. The park is known to the locals as Manhattan's Town Square, and it is famous for its colorful seasonal gardens, lots of free activities, excellent restrooms, a French-style merry-go-round, a free skating rink, a beautiful green lawn with tables and chairs, the outdoor Reading Room with picture books and story times in the summer, and plenty of al fresco dining. Just next to the park is the New York Public Library and all around are iconic Manhattan skyscrapers.
Between 40th and 42nd Streets & 5th and 6th Avenues, New York City, NY 10017
2.National Geographic Ocean Odyssey
© National Geographic Ocean Odyssey
A 50-foot humpback whale and sea lions swimming through a kelp forest in the heart of New York’s Times Square? Only at the National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey. This entertainment adventure uses a 60,000-square-foot space and the latest technology to allow visitors to see, hear, and feel how what it’s like to live deep under the surface of the ocean, getting close to the squid, colorful coral reefs, and ancient turtles. It is a virtual underwater adventure that uses groundbreaking technology and spectacular animation to make the underwater world come alive. Massive projection screens, video mapping, 8K photographic animation, realistic sound, and interactive, real-time tracking are put together to bring visitors up close and personal to sea life, without getting them wet.
226 W 44th St, Between 7th and 8th Avenues, New York City, NY 10036-3906
3.Madame Tussauds New York
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Located in the heart of Times Square and established in 2000, Madame Tussauds New York
is the only place where you can get up close and personal to your favorite stars, or better to say, their wax figures. You can pose for photos with the world’s most famous musicians, movie stars, world leaders, sports legends, and other famous personalities. The museum occupies five stories with more than 85,000 square feet of space with interactive exhibits that include the Ghostbusters: Dimension hyper-reality experience and the Marvel Super Hero 4D Experience. The original Madame Tussauds wax exhibition was established in 1884 in London, and there are now Madame Tussauds museums in over 20 countries.
234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 212-512-9600
4.One Times Square
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Sitting on one of the most expensive pieces of real estate in the world, One Times Square is a historic 25-story, 363-foot-high New York City skyscraper, world-renowned as the setting for the annual New Year’s Eve ball ceremony. Designed by Cyrus L. W. Eidlitz in the heart of Times Square, the building was originally constructed to be the headquarters of The New York Times, which moved into the tower in 1905. After the paper moved out eight years later, One Times Square remained mostly empty but continued to be a major focal point of Times Square due to its large number of huge traditional and electronic billboards.
One Times Square, New York, NY 10036
5.Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square
© Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square
One of the most popular Times Square attractions, Ripley’s Believe it or Not is a historic museum that showcases rare artifacts, thrilling interactive exhibits, and one-of-a-kind attractions that are unusual, unexpected, unbelievable, or all three. Visitors can stroll through more than 20 themed galleries occupying two floors, discovering new thrills around every corner. Besides a collection of more than 500 unusual artifacts from the entire world, such as shrunken heads or Tibetan skulls, the museum has a number of amazing interactive exhibits such as the Black Hole, where visitors lose themselves in the aforementioned “black hole,” or the Baseball Exhibit, in which visitors can assume one of many roles in the world of baseball.
234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 212-398-3133
6.Self Guided Walking Tour
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If you would like to explore Times Square at your own pace but do not want to miss any important and/or fun spots, you can download the Free Tours By Foot app on your device and follow their instructions. The app does not have audio but it does have a detailed description of some of Times Square’s most important places, from One Times Square to the Ed Sullivan Theater. You can also print the interactive map and it is up to you if you want to follow the suggested order or make occasional breaks for refreshments. You might not need the map, Times Square is full of wonderful eateries, cafes, and bars.
112 Suffolk St, New York, New York, Phone: 646-450-6831
7.The Daily Show With Trevor Noah
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Participating in the filming of the Daily Show With Trevor Noah is one of the most popular Times Square attractions. Although comedian Jon Stewart is no longer the host of the show, this is still one of the best sources of free entertainment in New York City and visitors are still lining up trying to get the tickets. The show tapes every day, Mondays through Thursdays, starting at 6pm and ending at about 7pm to 7:15pm. The studio where the show is taped is in Hell’s Kitchen at 733 Eleventh Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets. Interested visitors have to reserve their tickets in advance and pick them up on the day of taping at the studio location.
The Daily Show Studios, 513 W. 54th St., between 10th and 11th Sts., New York City, NY 10019
8.The Knickerbocker Hotel
© The Knickerbocker Hotel
Created in 1906 by John Jacob Astor, the Knickerbocker Hotel is an iconic luxury Times Square hotel with a magnificent Beaux-Arts façade and a completely reimagined modern interior. The hotel is located in the heart of the New York City, close to all the city’s landmarks and attractions. The rooms are spacious and elegant, with high ceilings and modern furniture, luxury linen, designer toiletries, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and luxury bathrooms. Suites also have sofas and magnificent city views. All guests enjoy the use of a gourmet restaurant, a gym, and a fabulous rooftop bar/cigar lounge. Room service and in-room beauty treatment are available upon request.
6 Times Square, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 855-865-6425
9.The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
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The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is a CBS talk show that is taped every weekday at NBC Studios at the Ed Sullivan Theater. The taping of the show is open to the public and is one of the most popular free entertainment events at Times Square. Stephen Colbert is a popular American comedian who succeeded David Letterman in 2015. Since he took over, the show has become much more political. While the entrance is free, getting the tickets for the show is not easy. Tickets are released about two months in advance and are gone quickly. Taking part in the show taping is so popular that some visitors do not mind being put on the waiting list just in case someone cancels.
The Daily Show Studios, 513 W. 54th St., between 10th and 11th Sts., New York City, NY 10019
10.The New Victory Theater
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The New Victory Theater is the only full-time performing arts theater for kids and families in New York City. It is an off-Broadway theater located in Times Square. The New Victory offers a year-round, full season of theater, dance, circus, puppetry, opera, physical theater, and many other kinds of performance art. The theater occupies a historic structure that was built in 1900 by Oscar Hammerstein and designed by renowned architect Albert Westover. The building was originally named Theatre Republic, and it opened its first season with the play Sag Harbor with Lionel Barrymore. Many of the original architectural features of the theater are still standing, such as large dome with lyre-playing cherubs along the rim. The theater was carefully refurbished in 1995 and renamed the New Victory Theatre.
209 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036
11.Times Square Church
© Times Square Church
Times Square Church is a popular non-denominational church located at 237 West 51st Street in Manhattan’s Theater District in New York City, with a worshipers from more than 100 countries. The church occupies the building previously used by the former Mark Hellinger Theatre, which the church first leased and then bought in 1991. There are six services during the week, four on Sunday. There is a service at 10am, one at 1pm for new believers, and one at 3pm as an ongoing teaching service. The teaching service is led by a number of different teachers, including Times Square Church elders and pastors. On Friday at 7pm the church holds a service known as The Gate for young people from the ages of 12 to 29.
237 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019
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Nobody in New York City buys theater tickets without checking first if they are available at the TKTS Discount Booths. This wonderful service offers everyone a way to enjoy musicals, plays, and dance productions at prices that are 20 to 50% off regular prices. There are four TKTS Discount Booths in New York City, and the one in Times Square is their flagship location. TKTS is operated by TDF, the Theatre Development Fund, a not-for-profit organization for the performing arts that works towards making theater affordable to all. The tickets for popular shows go fast, so if you are interested in a show, you should check what is available every day. The real time listing is available on the TKTS website.
7th Ave, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 212-912-9770
13.Dave and Buster's Times Square
© Dave and Buster's Times Square
Dave and Buster’s is a family-friendly chain that combines a sports bar with traditional American food and hundreds of popular arcade games. Their first bar was established in 1982 in Dallas, and the Times Square location is an immense, colorful, brightly lit, and hugely popular spot with a premium bar featuring imaginative cocktails and more than 20 beers on tap. Guests can watch their team play on one of the massive HDTVs with stadium-quality surround sound. The menu is huge and includes everyone’s pub favorites such as chicken and waffle sliders with crispy breaded chicken with a sweet and spicy campfire sauce and applewood smoked bacon, all piled on mini Belgian waffles. The newest games are constantly being added, including the popular Halo: Fireteam Raven. Besides electronic games, there are also billiard tables and bowling lines.
234 W 42nd St 3rd floor, New York, NY 10036, Phone: 646-495-2015
14.Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
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Attending a taping of a live TV show is one of the top ten free things to do in NYC. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is a popular American late-night NBC talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon. The show, which premiered in 2014, is the seventh incarnation of NBC’s Tonight Show and is produced by Universal Television and Broadway Video. Jimmy Fallon is its sixth host. The show is recorded at Studio 6B in Rockefeller Center in New York City, the same place where The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was recorded until 1972. Attending the filming of the show is free but the tickets are highly sought after and difficult to obtain. There is often a waiting list for them.
30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC
15.Top of the Rock
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The Top of the Rock observation deck is a perfect place from which to really see New York City. Located on top of the Rockefeller Center and occupying the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors, visitors get breathtaking panoramic views that stretch in every direction. All of New York’s famous landmarks are spread out, including Times Square, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Hudson River, Brooklyn Bridge, the East River and the Statue of Liberty. The observatory is beautifully designed in an ocean-liner style, and the first deck includes the gift shop and the Radiance Wall. The second floor is outdoors, featuring the Breezeway. The third and top observation deck is completely outdoors and is free of any glass enclosure.
30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112
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16.OMEscape at Times Square
© OMEscape at Times Square
The Escape Room game is taking over the world and now Times Square has one as well. OMEscape New York offers three game themes in 16 rooms, which provide players with the most fascinating and scarily realistic escape room game experience in New York City. OMEscape Times Square operates in a 3,200-square-foot three-story venue. The most popular games are The Penitentiary, Laboratory of Biohazard, and Room X (Time Travel). The rooms use the latest technology, including a laser security system, to create a virtual world from which the players have to escape using their wits and collaboration. The players have only 70 minutes to discover all clues, answer all questions, and complete all tasks in order to escape from the room.
325 W 38th St #2, New York, NY 10018, Phone: 917-963-9592
16 Best Things to Do in Times Square, NYC
- Bryant Park, Photo: Courtesy of R.Babakin - Fotolia.com
- National Geographic Ocean Odyssey, Photo: National Geographic Ocean Odyssey
- Madame Tussauds New York, Photo: Courtesy of Maestro7 - Fotolia.com
- One Times Square, Photo: Courtesy of Tono Balaguer - Fotolia.com
- Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square, Photo: Ripley's Believe It or Not! Times Square
- Self Guided Walking Tour, Photo: Courtesy of xixinxing - Fotolia.com
- The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Photo: Courtesy of Aliaksei - Fotolia.com
- The Knickerbocker Hotel, Photo: The Knickerbocker Hotel
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Photo: Courtesy of Voy_ager - Fotolia.com
- The New Victory Theater, Photo: Courtesy of kiri - Fotolia.com
- Times Square Church, Photo: Times Square Church
- TKTS Booth, Photo: Courtesy of Barselona Dreams - Fotolia.com
- Dave and Buster's Times Square, Photo: Dave and Buster's Times Square
- Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Photo: Courtesy of VGV MEDIA - Fotolia.com
- Top of the Rock, Photo: Courtesy of MNStudio - Fotolia.com
- OMEscape at Times Square, Photo: OMEscape at Times Square
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of f11photo - Fotolia.com