An Insider’s Guide on Things to Do in Times Square

Times Square

As a seasoned travel writer who has explored iconic global destinations, I am often asked about my favorite place to visit in New York City. Without hesitation, I name the dynamic Times Square, the vibrant beating heart of Manhattan and a quintessential part of experiencing New York.

From its dazzling billboards to bustling streets and electrifying energy, Times Square fascinates over 50 million annual visitors with its theatrical spirit. It’s an attraction that acts as a travel advisor, drawing people in with its magnetic intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue, sparking wonder and inspiration.

Boasting top-class entertainment venues, a rich history and infectious enthusiasm, Times Square offers endless opportunities for adventure, indulgence and making unforgettable memories. Join me on an insider’s tour of this renowned landmark as we uncover the best of what Times Square has to offer.

Immersing Oneself in Times Square’s Theatrical Allure

The bright lights of Broadway encapsulate New York’s enduring identity as a pinnacle of theater and the performing arts. Times Square stands proudly at the center of this phenomenon, its iconic billboards and marquees beckoning visitors into the era’s most spectacular shows.

Even casually walking through Times Square, one cannot help but get swept up in the magic of Broadway. Catch a glimpse of rehearsals through the large studio windows of renowned theaters such as the New Amsterdam. Gaze in wonder at the flashing billboards advertising everything from record-breaking musicals like The Lion King and Wicked to Hollywood film adaptations and avant-garde productions.

Splurge on tickets for a Broadway blockbuster or opt for affordable off-Broadway and improv comedy shows scattered around the area. With its sheer concentration of theaters, Times Square spoils culture aficionados with endless entertainment options guaranteeing showstopper performances.

Dining on a World Tour of Flavors in Times Square

Beyond theaters, Times Square enthralls through a glorious medley of dining options spanning various global cuisines. Elaborate fine-dining restaurants run by celebrity chefs, casual gastro pubs and quick-service eateries all jostle for space in this dynamic neighborhood.

From signature New York-style pizzas drizzled with olive oil to steaming hot pretzels and sausages sold by street cart vendors, quintessential local flavors permeate Times Square. For more diversity, walk over to nearby Hell’s Kitchen to taste Indian curries, Japanese ramen and Chinese dimsum under colorful neon façades.

Pre-theater dinners allow lingering over sumptuous courses without missing showtime. For a touch of retro indulgence, head to old-school haunts like the art-deco Tick Tock Diner or the historic Howard Johnson’s soda fountain and enjoy their nostalgia-filled ambiance. With boundless dining choices, every taste and budget finds happy satisfaction in Times Square.

Capturing Quintessential New York Through Times Square Photography

Times Square’s kinetic streets, larger-than-life billboards and flamboyant characters translate into frame-worthy photographs at every turn. Aspiring and professional photographers flock here to capture New York’s essence through compelling images. Glittering marquees, costumed Broadway artists, street performances and food carts present fantastic opportunities for showcasing the city’s spirit.

Climb up the red glass stairs of the TKTS Booth for panoramas encompassing the breathtaking skyline beyond Times Square’s commercial façade. The mesmerizing multi-sensory experience of the district’s Midnight Moment display of spectacular LED billboard animations also offers fantastic photography subjects. For portraits, the bright visual texture of building facades, flashy neon signs and vibrant city sights promises lively backdrops. Times Square’s visual feast keeps cameras clicking endlessly.

Exploring Beyond the Bright Lights into Surrounding Attractions

While undoubtedly the nucleus of activity in Midtown Manhattan, Times Square also serves as a convenient launch pad for discovering other prominent NYC attractions nearby. Many architectural icons, cultural institutions and historic landmarks dot the surrounding neighborhoods easily accessible via New York’s efficient subway system.

Bryant Park

Just south of Times Square lies Bryant Park, a gorgeous public green space offering welcome respite from the bustling avenues with its foliage-lined paths, tranquil lawns and cheerful seasonal garden beds. Visit the landmark Beaux-Arts New York Public Library overlooking the park and get lost amid its majestic reading rooms housing over 50 million books.

Hudson Yards

Further down, the revitalized Hudson Yards development houses cutting-edge observation decks for bird’s eye panoramas of the expansive cityscape. Northwards, Central Park enchants with its sprawling meadows, wooded trails, crystal lakes and ornate fountains in the heart of nature.


When seeking further cultural enrichment, world-class museums like the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim nearby showcasing 20th century visual arts warrant visits. Exploring areas surrounding Times Square expands perspectives hugely.

Quintessential Times Square Experiences for First-Time Visitors

Times Square

While individual interests shape each experience, certain signature Times Square activities absolutely warrant experiencing when visiting New York City for the very first time. Here are the top recommendations:

Stroll Under the Bright Lights soaking up the district’s sensational character. It seems virtually impossible to not get swept up in the contagious energy. Strike up conversations with talented street performers or clever innovators like the playful Naked Cowboy.

Broadway Show

Catch a Broadway Show to immerse in world-class entertainment perfected over decades. Long-running record breakers like The Phantom of the Opera amplify the enchantment wonderfully.

Ball Drop

See the Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve in person or on the iconic LED screens if possible. Celebrating the moment that the dazzling Waterford Crystal ball descends down a pole atop One Times Square at midnight as millions cheer amidst confetti and fireworks is absolutely bucket-list worthy.

Dine with views

Dine at an Eatery Overlooking the Square to enjoy the visual spectacle of Times Square’s streets while savoring mouthwatering dishes. Restaurants situated within hotels flanking the intersection offer stunning views alongside exquisite menus.

Pose with Passionate Times Square Characters like the Statue of Liberty, Elmos and Minnie Mouses who deliver huge cheer for a small tip. Perfect for collecting quirky photographs capturing Model moments in New York.

No matter one’s interests or budget, Times Squares guarantees immense satisfaction through its incredible energy, resources and choices. Just expect the unexpected too!

Insider Tips for Making the Most of Your Times Square Visit

Having enjoyed Times Square’s allure across numerous visits, I am happy to share some useful insider tips below for deeper exploration:

  • Visit in Spring/Fall for pleasant weather avoiding harsh winter chills or summer heat and humidity. April-June and September-November see thinner crowds and cultural events too.

  • Stay centrally in nearby Theater District hotels allowing easy access for resting between adventures without wasting precious time commuting.

  • Wake up early to witness Times Square transitioning from quiet dawn hours into the hive of spectacle at peak hours. It is quite the contrast.
  • Explore side streets and lesser-known lanes for delightful hidden gems away from high-traffic areas. Interesting historical plaques, charming eateries and unique shops thrive there.

  • Pack comfortable walking shoes, subway cards, reusable water bottles and phone camera essentials when exploring intensively. Savvy navigation and capturing moments are crucial.

  • Keep an open mind, eagerness to discover and friendly demeanor for most rewarding interactions with locals passionate about their amazing city.


Times Square encapsulates the spirit of New York City wonderfully with its stellar entertainment scene, explosive energy and celebration of creativity and self-expression. Beyond the bright lights and bustling crowds lies a place boasting outstanding cultural experiences, memorable encounters and Instagrammable moments at every step.

Visit with ample curiosity rather than fixed expectations and Times Square is guaranteed to surprise and inspire each time. Its sheer diversity of offerings and central location enables personalized adventures spanning performing arts, delectable dining, history exploration and photography pursuits.

Truly the Crossroads of the World showcasing the best of Broadway and the unparalleled swagger of New York City, vibrant Times Square belongs right at the top of every first-time visitor’s itinerary when discovering magnificent Manhattan. Its dazzling character promises endless memorable moments and profound experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *