NYC is the ‘city that never sleeps’, right? So if you’re planning a visit, of course, you’re looking for things to do in New York at night! Well, you’ve come to the right place…
I love New York. I’ve been lucky enough to go there several times and I’ve spent many an enjoyable evening there, admiring the nightlife and the sparkling lights of the city at night. However, I wanted to give you a broad list of ideas, so I pulled in some fellow travel bloggers who also know and love NYC. This list is our combined view of the best things to do in New York at night.
So dig in and get inspired for how to enjoy those legendary NYC nights.
Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. These are links to products or experiences I recommend and if you were to buy something after clicking on them, I might earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Any earnings go towards the upkeep of this blog, which I appreciate.
Table of Contents
18 Things To Do In New York At Night
Here’s our list of things to do in NYC at night, which I’ve broken down into three categories: classic, fun and free things to do.
Classic Things To Do In NYC At Night
There are lots of things to do in New York at night and some of them are absolutely timeless and quintessentially ‘New York’, including these four classic ideas.
1. Broadway Shows
Contributed by Lisa from Planning Away
One of the best things to do in NYC at night is visit Broadway. There is so much going on! This area will give you the ultimate New York City experience.
You can do a tour of Broadway and if you want to enjoy a night out in New York City, consider eating at some of the most popular restaurants in Times Square. Ellen’s Stardust Diner is a must if you love Broadway. Aspiring Broadway singers are the waiters and waitresses. They get up on the tables and sing while you eat!
If you are looking for a quick bite to eat, Junior’s Cheesecake has some of the best cheesecakes on the planet. Serendipity 3 is also impressive with its famous frozen hot chocolate. And Los Tacos No 1 and Joe’s Pizza are also great quick options.
After you eat you can head over to watch one of the amazing Broadway plays, like The Lion King, Wicked, or Some Like It Hot. You can purchase tickets ahead of time or if you are looking to catch a last-minute show the ticket booth located in Times Square may have discounted options.
Enjoying all the things to do in Times Square and then watching a Broadway show is one of the best ways to spend a night in NYC. And if it’s a rainy day in NYC, a theatre is a great place to escape from the cold and wet.
2. Night-Time Cruises
Contributed by Ross and Zuzu at We Get To Travel
For a romantic night in New York that you won’t forget, book a night-time cruise around NYC Harbour.
There are a number of evening or night-time cruises, which are a great way to get views of the city lit up at night. Cruises give you spectacular views of the downtown Skyline, under the Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty. They really are the perfect way to take in the iconic NYC cityscape at its best: sparkling like a Christmas tree!
And when it comes to choosing a cruise, there are different options. You could choose a dinner cruise where you pair your sightseeing with a lovely meal on board. There’s also a luxury cruise, with a live pianist playing as you eat. And for a slightly cheaper ticket, there are drink-only cruises that don’t have the food included.
An NYC night-time harbour cruise deserves a spot on your NYC bucket list.
3. Off-Broadway Plays
Contributed by Kelly from Travel New York Now
If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in New York at Night then you can’t beat seeing an Off-Broadway show. Because what many people don’t is that Off-Broadway shows are just as good – if not better – than Broadway shows.
In fact, the only difference between the two is that Off-Broadway theatres are smaller, holding only between 100 and 499 people. In contrast, Broadway theatres generally accommodate well over 500 hundred people. Additionally, tickets to off-Broadway shows tend to be a lot cheaper than tickets to Broadway shows.
In particular, Sleep No More at the McKittrick Hotel is an amazing Off-Broadway show that is well worth attending. Yes, tickets are expensive at around $140 per person but it’s worth it to enjoy a fully immersive theatrical experience that serves as a modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
So, grab a mask, enjoy a drink in a 1920’s themed bar, with a live jazz band, and wait to be called into a 6-storey hotel. Once inside, remain totally silent and explore the “theatre” at your own pace as actors interact with you and play out various scenes in different storylines.
It’s also a great place to go after enjoying the best happy hour NYC has to offer.
4. The Empire State Building
Contributed by James Ian from Travel Collecting
One of my favourite things to do in New York is visit the observatory at the top of the Empire State Building. The iconic building has one of the best – if not THE best – views in the city.
There are two observation decks. An open-air observation deck on the 86th floor and a higher, but enclosed, observatory on the 102nd floor. The 102nd floor is reached from the 86th floor in a special glass elevator and the observation deck there, while enclosed, has floor-to-ceiling windows. Both floors have 360-degree views of New York.
There are two prices – one for the 86th floor only and one for both levels. You can buy tickets online or at the building to arrive within a 15-minute window. The observation decks are open from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm every day of the year. The 2-hour period around sunset is a higher price. There is also an Express Pass that lets you skip the line.
There are several reasons that I love going there at night. While you can see further during the day, it is the views of Manhattan that are the highlight, and these are even more spectacular at night. There is nothing more magical and – if you’re there with your loved one, romantic – than seeing all the millions of lights in Manhattan twinkling at night. The famous buildings, iconic skyline, and well-known features look even more incredible at night.
Going after 8:00 pm has the advantage of being less busy – and therefore shorter lines – than earlier in the day. However, seeing the sunset, twilight and then watching all the lights start to twinkle as dusk turns to dark, is worth the wait – and higher sunset price – in my opinion.
5. New York Pizza
Contributed by Olivia from Defining Decade
Who doesn’t love New York-style pizza? It’s always crunchy and chewy in the right places and never too doughy and New Yorkers will tell you it’s the best in the world! But ever since the first Italian set foot in New York, there have been pizza wars. This is truly unique to New York!
With each pizzeria striving for one-upmanship, innovation has been a key factor in staying ahead of the game. Many argue that the water used to create the dough is what gives New York-style pizza its unique crunchy texture. Apparently, the low chlorine content helps to create the perfect dough. And then there are the deck ovens which can reach temperatures over 800°F, ensuring that each slice comes out with a perfectly charred crust.
No visit to New York is complete without having pizza! It’s also the perfect meal right before a night on the town, so make sure you don’t miss having an iconic pie while in town. Our pick was Juliana’s Pizza right under Brooklyn Bridge. It was rated the best pizza in the United States in 2015! We loved the atmosphere here and the food was divine! Don’t miss the Margarita Pizza. And don’t mind the lineup: there is usually a wait, but it never takes longer than 10 to 15 minutes to get a table, and the wait is sooooo worth it!
Fun Things To Do In NYC At Night
If you’re looking for fun or even slightly crazy things to do in NYC at night, here are some ideas to get you started.
6. Comedy Shows
Contributed by Kasia from Perfect Day Somewhere
New York City is renowned for its legendary comedy scene. If you’re looking for a fun night filled with laughter, attending a comedy show in NYC is an absolute must.
The city offers a plethora of options for comedy enthusiasts. Each venue has its own unique atmosphere, showcasing a mix of seasoned professionals and up-and-coming talents. You can expect a diverse range of comedic styles, from stand-up acts to improv shows, ensuring there’s something to make everyone laugh.
To make the most of your comedy show experience, make sure to book your tickets in advance, as popular shows often sell out quickly. Arriving early ensures you get the best seats as most places do first-come seating. Remember to check the age restrictions, as some venues may have age limits or require an ID for entry.
As a comedy aficionado myself, I can’t express enough how exhilarating and hilarious the New York City comedy scene is. While traditional comedy clubs are always awesome, I suggest experiencing a little more unique. For example, Batsu, or a Japanese comedy style challenges with hilarious punishments for the loser of the task. So grab your friends, prepare to laugh until your stomach hurts, and get ready for an evening of comedic brilliance in the heart of NYC!
7. Live Music
Contributed by Amanda from Hey! East Coast USA
Catching a live music gig is one of the best things to do in New York at night.
While most music events shared on social media are the huge Madison Square concerts like Harry Styles and Taylor Swift, several smaller venues also put on more affordable gigs for locals and visitors! For example, LCD Soundsystem’s homecoming gig at Brooklyn Steel in Brooklyn.
You can find different types of live music all over the city, from jazz at Blue Note or Smalls, DJs at Sunset Park Rooftop, and indie bands at the Paramount.
Since it’s NYC, you never know what’s going to happen! You might just be in the right place at the right time to see the biggest DJ in the world do a pop-up gig, like Fred Again, Skrillex, and Four Tet spinning from a food truck in Times Square!
Are you looking for something a little more low-key? There are plenty of pubs with singers playing chart songs and classics. Check out one of the oldest pubs in NYC, Fraunces Tavern, or The Dead Rabbit in the Financial District, especially if you’re visiting NYC in December, as you’ll see their cool Christmas decor at the latter too!
Another tip for live events over the festive period is Radio City Hall to see the Rockettes dance to tunes.
8. Riverside Dining
By me, Martha from MayCauseWanderlust.com
If you’re looking for romantic things to do in New York at night, consider the River Café for a special dinner date. This Michelin-starred restaurant sits on the banks of the East River, right next to the Brooklyn Bridge. The dining room has gorgeous views of the bridge and the Manhattan skyline. If your meal coincides with sunset, you’re in for a treat, because the cityscape is transformed before your eyes. I loved watching the sky change, turning pink and then dark, and seeing the lights come on across the city.
The ambience is lovely and calm: service is impeccable, and a talented pianist plays gentle jazz music live. I came here for an anniversary dinner and it was such a treat – so memorable.
The cuisine is American and at $195 per person for a three-course set menu, it is expensive but could be worth it for a special occasion.
NB. The River Café is on the formal side. There’s a dress code: jackets & collared shirts are required for men; no casual attire like jeans and trainers/sneakers or sandals.
9. Madison Square Garden
Contributed by Alex and Leah from alexandleahontour
Without a doubt, one of the best things to do in New York at night-time is to watch basketball at the famous Madison Square Garden!!
The venue is incredibly accessible thanks to it being just a 15-minute walk from Times Square in the heart of New York and the 34th St Penn Metro station.
Home to the New York Knicks, basketball is regularly played at MSG during the season, October to April, with games occurring every couple of days. For that reason, try and attend games during the week as the ticket prices will be cheaper. And if you’re interested in the history of the venue, you can also tour Madison Square Garden.
If you’re looking to grab some team merchandise, you should find a licensed supplier outside the stadium as it’ll be a lot cheaper. This is the same with the food, prices in the stadium are extortionate. However, thanks to its great location, there are tons of yummy restaurants and eateries nearby to satisfy your cravings!
We personally loved the whole atmosphere of the stadium and would highly recommend a visit. No matter whether the basketball was on, the cheerleaders performing or a halftime show, it was all very entertaining and it’s definitely an incredible experience!
10. Rooftop Views
By me, Martha from MayCauseWanderlust.com
In a city with a skyline as spectacular as New York’s, of course, there are lots of places from which you can get rooftop views of the city.
These include viewing platforms, like the Empire State Building, Top Of The Rock, Edge and Summit One. However, you don’t have to buy a ticket to get a good view of NYC, as there are plenty of rooftop bars and restaurants around the city – and these are perfect for enjoying your time in New York at night.
One of my favourites is Westlight, the rooftop bar on top of the William Vale Hotel in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I visited this place after doing my own self-guided walking tour of Lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. After a lot of walking that day, I really enjoyed the food and the cocktails. But the best part is the stunning panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. I couldn’t keep my eyes off it!
11. Village Bars & Speakeasies
Contributed by Sydney from Sydney to Anywhere
When the sun sets and the city lights come on, the West Village comes alive. Exploring the exciting West Village bars is one of the best things to do in New York City at night. With cosy speakeasies, karaoke-style dive bars, and lively cocktail lounges, you have a range of fun options to choose from.
One of the must-visit spots in West Village is Marie’s Crisis Cafe, a legendary piano bar known for its Broadway sing-alongs and infectious energy. Whether you’re belting out show tunes with new friends or simply enjoying the camaraderie, Marie’s Crisis Cafe is a staple for a reason.
Dante is another gem in the West Village bar scene. This iconic Italian-inspired bar offers a stylish yet welcoming atmosphere. Known for its expertly crafted cocktails and extensive wine selection, Dante promises a sophisticated night out. The bar’s skilled mixologists are masters at creating innovative drinks that are as visually stunning as they are delicious.
For a unique thing to do at night in New York City, head to Katana Kitten. With a fusion of Japanese and American styles, Katana Kitten is a trendy Tokyo-inspired cocktail bar. Included on the list of 50 best bars in America, this Japanese dive bar is known for Asian riffs on classic drinks like the signature Hinoki Martini, featuring vodka, gin, fino sherry, junmai daiginjo and hinoki tree essence.
If you’re looking for a touch of exclusivity, Employees Only is for you. With its hidden entrance and speakeasy vibe, this bar is renowned for its craft cocktails and cool vibes. The dimly lit interiors and cosy seating create an intimate setting, perfect for a night of delicious drinks in a stylish setting.
If you plan to bar hop, start early so you can fit in as many West Village bars as possible. These locations tend to become livelier as the night progresses. Reservations are highly recommended since many of these spots will have long lines during peak hours.
12. High-End Cocktails
By me, Martha from MayCauseWanderlust.com
If you feel like doing something fancy or glitzy in New York City at night, and don’t mind splashing out, consider a cocktail at one of Manhattan’s high-end cocktail bars.
In my experience, the best cocktail bars are in luxury hotels, and of course, New York is not short of those.
A classic option is the Plaza Hotel, which has several bars that are open to both guests and walk-in patrons. I chose to have a drink at The Champagne Bar, where Earl Spencer, the brother of Princess Diana, was sitting near me.
But probably my favourite bar in NYC (if not the world), is Bemelmans Bar. It has old-world vibes, with low lamps and leather banquettes. Exquisite cocktails are served by immaculate waiters as live piano music plays. The bar has been featured in several movies set in New York City.
Bemelmans is the ground floor bar of the Carlyle Hotel, which is where many of the celebrities get ready ahead of the annual Met Gala. It is named for Ludwig Bemelmans, known for the Madeline picture books. In the 1940s, he provided illustrations to decorate the walls, in exchange for staying in the hotel.
Free Things To Do In NYC At Night
New York is an expensive city, so I’m sure many of us appreciate the fact that there are some great things to do in New York at night which are free!
13. Times Square
Contributed by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
No visit to New York City is complete without experiencing the bustling energy and electrifying atmosphere of Times Square at night. Known as “The Crossroads of the World,” this iconic destination offers an array of activities and entertainment that make it one of the best things to do in New York at night.
Immerse yourself in the dazzling spectacle of illuminated billboards, flashing neon lights, and larger-than-life digital displays that adorn the surrounding skyscrapers. Take a stroll through the pedestrian-friendly plazas, people-watch, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere. Times Square is also home to numerous Broadway theatres, where you can catch a world-class show and witness the magic of live performances.
Times Square comes alive after dark, with vibrant lights and energetic crowds creating a distinctive atmosphere. The lively ambience, combined with the impressive visuals, creates a sensory experience unmatched during the daytime. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveller, the night-time charm of Times Square is a must-see spectacle.
To experience the best of Times Square at night, head to the “bowtie” area between 42nd and 47th Streets, where the dazzling displays and vibrant energy are at their peak. The area is easily accessible via public transportation, with several subway lines converging in this bustling hub of activity.
For the ultimate Times Square experience, plan your visit after sunset to witness the full glory of the dazzling lights. The crowds tend to be the busiest during weekends and peak tourist seasons, so consider visiting on weekdays or during the shoulder seasons for a more relaxed experience. Remember to bring your camera to capture the iconic sights, and be cautious of your belongings in the busy crowds.
14. Staten Island Ferry
Contributed by Sam Opp from Find Love and Travel
When in New York City, you have to take advantage of its vibrant nightlife and take a trip on the Staten Island Ferry.
The Staten Island Ferry is a ferry that travels to and from the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island and the Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Lower Manhattan. The ride between the locations is free, and there is food and beer to enjoy while on the boat. When travellers depart Manhattan, they discover incredible NYC skyline views– that are even better at night.
The Staten Island Ferry ride takes about 30 minutes each way. The boat is usually very busy, but during the evening, there are far fewer small children and a much more peaceful atmosphere.
A great tip to remember is that when on the ferry, stand or sit near the back on the left side for an amazing view of the Statue of Liberty all lit up when leaving Manhattan.
Another thing to keep in mind is that on the way back to NYC, head to the front of the boat to the left. Also note, that you must get off the ferry and get back on at the departures – you can’t simply stay on for a round trip.
15. Brooklyn Bridge
Contributed by Megan from Your Brooklyn Guide
One of the best things to do in New York City at night is take advantage of the evening hours to enjoy one of the most famous attractions and historic landmarks in the city by walking the Brooklyn Bridge!
Enjoying a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is one of the best ways to enjoy the city skyline, especially twinkling at night!
To enjoy the full skyline, have dinner in the neighbourhood of DUMBO in Brooklyn. There are quite a few great restaurant choices here with skyline views including Time Out Market New York for a more casual dinner or if you’re looking to celebrate something special, check out The River Cafe (just note that they do have a dress code).
After dinner, embark on walking across the Brooklyn Bridge sans the day crowds and taking in the full effect of the New York City skyline. Walking in this direction gives you great views of the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor, the Lower Manhattan skyline directly ahead including the World Trade Center, the Midtown skyline including the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, as well as views of the other famous East River bridges including the Manhattan Bridge all lit up at night.
There’s something a little extra special about seeing this at night when the city is lit up and the perks of not dealing with as many crowds as during the day!
16. The High Line
Contributed by Catherine from Nomadicated
Once a stretch of the New York Central Railroad, the High Line has since been transformed into an elevated urban oasis perfect for an escape from the NYC streets.
While the High Line is a fantastic place to visit during the day, experiencing it at night gives an entirely different experience. Beautifully illuminated, you’ll see the city’s skyline lit up against the night sky.
To walk the High Line, start at either end and make your way along the path. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues.
Walking the entire 1.5-mile stretch takes around 30 minutes, and you’ll encounter plenty of greenery, art installations, and impressive architecture. Before the Hudson Yard, make sure to stop at one of New York’s newest artificial parks over the water, Little Island.
Being on the West Side, the sun sets into the ocean just as it does on the west coast, making this NYC stroll particularly lovely during the sunset, as the warm golden hour glow transforms into twinkling city lights at dusk. It’s best to visit on weekday nights to avoid crowds and have more space to enjoy the fantastic views of one of the best skylines in the country.
17. 9/11 Memorial
Contributed by Chelsea from Adventures of Chels
A great thing to do in New York at night is visit the 9/11 Memorial.
The 9/11 Memorial consists of an outdoor portion and an indoor museum. The outdoor portion is centred around the footprints where the twin towers once stood. The footprint of each building is marked by a large pool, and around the perimeter of each pool are the names of those who were killed on that tragic day. On each victim’s birthday, a rose is placed in their name. It’s a place for remembrance, reflection, and peace.
In the evening, the museum portion of the memorial is closed, but the outdoor part of the memorial stays open and looks stunning all lit up at night. The pools and names of the victims are well-lit against the night and glowing buildings surround the area. This memorial is well done and great to visit at any time of day. But there’s something to be said for the peaceful beauty it offers when it’s lit up at night and fewer people are there.
Note that the closest subway station to the memorial is the World Trade Center Station.
Enjoy your peaceful evening visit to the 9/11 Memorial.
18. Shakespeare In The Park
Contributed by Anwar from Beyond My Door
In summer, when the sun sets in New York City, there is no way to spend a better night than at Shakespeare in the Park. Started in 1959, the performances in Central Park began, with it moving to its current location of Delacorte Theater in 1962. Since then the park has generally performed 2 different Shakespeare Plays during the summer.
For locals and tourists alike, the performances are one the best events in the city. And especially Since Shakespeare in the Park’s tickets are free, although they do require a little effort to get them. Most folks line up in Central Park daily for the tickets, or you can try your luck online with the lottery, or at several distribution locations within the city. For those in the know, you can also line up 90 minutes before showtime for up to two last-minute standby seats (per person).
The performances are held from June – Sept. annually and show times are at 8 pm daily (dark on Mondays). Seeing the great performances (many with award-winning actors and actresses) with the dark night skies over Central Park is truly magical.
Map: Things To Do In New York At Night
Here’s a map of our recommended of the best things to do in New York at night:
How To Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left-hand corner of the map to view the layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each one. If you click the star next to the map’s title, it will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu, go to ‘Your Places’ or ‘Saved’, then click Maps and you will see this map in your list.
The Last Word
I hope this list has inspired you with ideas of how you can spend your NYC nights. If you need any more New York travel inspiration, check out my self-guided walking tour of Manhattan and my 4-day NYC itinerary.
I also have a list of unique things to do in NYC, which might also appeal, if you like to get off the beaten path.
Have a great time in NYC – it’s one of my favourite cities on the planet!