Oh, Times Square. Any New Yorker will tell you that they avoid this neighborhood like the plague. As one of the top tourist destinations in the city, it is obviously packed primarily with tourists looking up with wide eyes at the sensory overload that is Times Square. The only time I find myself in Times Square these days is to attend a Broadway show or occasionally for a work meeting as the area is primarily office space as opposed to residential living.
But I know that for many people, seeing Times Square is a must. And honestly, it is something you should see once. But there is so much more to New York City than Times Square, so promise us you will explore other areas! 🙂
The main draw for Times Square is the theater. From musicals to plays there is a Broadway show for everyone to enjoy.
If you don’t have a certain show in mind that you want to see, and are willing to take a chance, you can get discount tickets for shows the day of from the tkts booth in Times Square. It’s under the red stairs, you can’t miss it. We shared more about how to score cheap Broadway show tickets here.
Stephen Colbert films the Late Show in Times Square which you can get tickets for here.
Times Square isn’t exactly known for being a culinary destination, but if I’m in the area around lunchtime I always pop into City Kitchen. This is a great food hall with lots of options. Would be a great place for a large group or family as there are options for every pallet.
If a sit down restaurant pre or post show is more up your alley, head to Sardi’s or Carmine’s. If you’re in the mood for some more entertainment head to Ellen’s Stardust Diner. All of the waitstaff are aspiring Broadway performers, and they take turns singing while you eat. we love heading here after seeing a show for a late dinner or dessert. The food is nothing amazing, just typical diner food, but it’s a pretty fun atmosphere.
For dessert, pick up some cookies from Schmackary’s. We’ll let you in on a little secret. We actually like to head here BEFORE a show to grab some cookies to munch on during the show. Yes, most theaters do allow you to eat snacks. In fact, most sell their own snacks and have full bars where you can purchase drinks. We just cheat and bring our own. 🙂
As with food, Times Square is not the premiere shopping destination in the city, but there are a couple of exceptions. If you are fans of H&M or Forever 21, both chains have their GIANT flagship stores in the area. Of course there are many more or both chains sprinkled around the city, but the biggest selection is going to be at the Times Square locations.
For all those sweet tooth’s out there, there is also a massive M&M store and Hershey’s chocolate store. I’m personally a fan of the M&M store because upstairs there is a huge wall lined with every shade of M&M possible and you can fill your own bag with whatever colors your heart desires.
If you’re looking for some NYC souvenirs, Times Square is where you’ll find all of those shops.
As far as other things to do in Times Square, you can head to Madame Tussauds wax museum or stop by the ABC studio on weekday mornings to watch them film Good Morning America.
You’re likely to see all kinds of characters in Times Square. The expectation is they’ll pose for photos in exchange for money. But be aware that these are not licensed characters and they are not sanctioned by Disney or Marvel or whatever parent company the character comes from. They can be pretty pushy, and many of them walk around with their heads off (like in the photo above) which ruins the magic for kids anyway.
The most famous thing in Times Square is probably the New Years Eve ball. Do you see the little orange ball in the photo above? It’s positioned right above the “2017”. That’s it. It’s actually rather large, but looks tiny in comparison to all the large buildings and billboards surrounding it.
There are plenty of hotels to stay in around Times Square, but we really encourage you to stay elsewhere if you can. Not that the hotels are bad (because there are some really nice ones actually) but because we recommend that if staying in the city you make your home base in another neighborhood. If you still want to stay in Midtown, I would recommend staying somewhere in Midtown East rather than Times Square.
And that’s a tour around Times Square! Already familiar with this neighborhood? Leave a comment with your favorite spots. What neighborhood do you want us to explore next?
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