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Times Square is not only an iconic location, but it’s also one of New York City’s most popular tourist destinations.
The area is known for its bright lights, big billboards, and lively atmosphere.
And there’s always something to do in this famous spot- from its awesome attractions, unique events, great food, shopping, and more.
This guide details the things to do at Times Square that equals fun and excitement.
You’ll also find things to do for free in Times Square as well as activities that are definitely worth paying for, along with some nearby places to visit.
Times Square also features in our NYC bucket list guide.
Best Things to Do at Times Square
Enjoy a Drink at the Red Tables
When you think of Times Square, the following probably comes to mind: bright billboards, the naked cowboy, and red tables and chairs.
Not to be confused with The Red Steps, which we’ll discuss below, these chairs come with a table and can be found next to the food stalls like Bisbee’s.
So, grab an alfresco pint and enjoy a moment of peace while the Times Square whirlwind goes on around you.
Eat at TSQ MKT
Bisbee’s isn’t the only food stall at TSQ MKT!
The outdoor food market features other small businesses and stationary food trucks that sell food like pretzels, hotdogs, seafood, and sweet treats.
Get Your Broadway Tickets Under the Red Steps
One of the best things to do in New York is to see a show on Broadway.
However, watching Broadway can be expensive, hence why many visitors try to snag discounted tickets in Times Square for shows that day.
The Times Square ticket booth is located underneath the Red Steps (200 W 47th St).
Lines can be very long, so TKTs suggest saving your time by purchasing through their website instead.
When you first arrive at Times Square, you will feel overwhelmed by the crowds and lights, but you will see some familiarity in the popular US store signs that surround the square.
Stores include Forever 21(1540 Broadway), H&M (1472 Broadway), and Levis (1535 Broadway) – be warned, lines can be long!
Get Lost in M&M’S New York
What melts in your mouth but not in your hands?
Of course, it’s M&M’s (1600 Broadway).
You can visit the 25,000-square feet store packed with snacks, toys, and merchandise at Times Square.
Grab Doughnuts at Krispy Kreme
If M&M’s is not enough sugar for you, there’s Krispy Kreme (1601 Broadway) located in Times Square.
They don’t only serve freshly-made doughnuts but will also give you a glimpse of their doughnut-making process.
It’s also the only location that serves the exclusive Big Apple Doughnut.
Visit the Disney Store
One of the fun things to do in Times Square for the whole family is visiting the Disney Store (1540 Broadway).
Little visitors and Disney fans might want to see the princess dresses and stuffed animals from popular movies at the Times Square store.
There are often exhibits from movies that are currently released as well as toys, collectibles and other Disney merch available.
Propose at Times Square
You read that right!
For a cool $3,500, you can get down on one knee under a billboard sign that screams, ‘will you marry me’ while thousands of small screens capture the moment.
We hope they say I do.
Free Things to Do in Times Square
Chill on the Famous Red Steps
One of the best places to get a picture that really shows the Times Square madness is from the top of the red bleachers.
Officially called The Red Steps, the elevated chairs aren’t just a rest stop for tired tourists!
Underneath them is the TKTS Booth, where visitors line up to buy same-day theater tickets.
This popular Times Square attraction and gathering place is also an excellent spot for an NYC selfie!
Can you locate One Times Square (42nd Street and Broadway) among the flashing lights of the billboards?
In the early 1900s, the Times Tower was built for the newspaper, The Times, which is why the area is called Times Square!
It used to be named Long Acre Square.
The skyscraper is 25-stories and 363 feet high.
Hershey’s Chocolate Tour
Hershey’s Chocolate World is a delectable place to visit all year round.
You can hop on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour ride that takes you on a journey of how Hershey’s chocolates are made- from cocoa beans to a wrapped candy bar.
A sweet product sample awaits you at the end of the tour.
It’s one of the things to do in Times Square for free that can be enjoyed both by adults and children.
Times Square Ball Drop
On the 31st of December, revelers come together at Times Square to ring in the New Year with the iconic Ball Drop.
The event was first initiated by Adolph S. Ochs, owner, and publisher of The New York Times, and the tradition continues today.
If you look at the top of the Times Tower, you can see the pole where the fancy ball drops!
Recreate The Kiss
One of Times Square’s most recognized black and white photographs is the loving embrace between a sailor and a nurse, celebrating the end of WWII.
In this image, the sailor bends the nurse backward and gives her a big smooch.
He supports her head in the crook of his arm while grabbing hold of her waist.
Later, the 21-year-old nurse, Greta Zimmer Friedman, revealed that she did not consent to this act and didn’t really see it as a kiss — but more of an event of ‘thank God the war is over’ kind of thing.
So if you plan to recreate photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt’s shot, make sure it is with someone who agrees to take part!
Francis P Duffy Monument at Duffy Square
At the north end of Times Square, in front of The Red Steps, you will see a statue of Francis P Duffy.
The bronze statue was created to remember the military chaplain and priest and was created by Charles Keck.
George M. Cohan Statue
Another bronze statue in Times Square is that of the composer, playwright, actor, and producer George M. Cohan.
The inscription quotes his most famous song, ‘give my regards to Broadway.’
Georg John Lober designed the statue, and Otto Lanmann was the architect.
Catch Today’s Headlines
Read the latest headlines on the Times Square Studios (1500 Broadway) electronic ticker tapes, which The Walt Disney Company owns.
Special Events and Features at Times Square
Over the years, there have been a variety of pop-up-style installations at Times Square to celebrate art and design.
For example, the Heart Squared by MODU and Eric Forman Studio.
It won the ‘Valentine to Times Square’ competition.
Cheap Things to Do in Times Square
On this list, you will find affordable activities in Times Square.
Some activities feature links where you can book your tickets.
Visit Madame Tussauds
Do you want to see the Oval Office but don’t have time to visit DC?
Well, you can have a very important meeting with the President at Madame Tussauds Oval Office Experience!
Madame Tussauds is a worldwide tourist attraction where visitors can wax lyrical with the rich and famous.
They won’t chat back though, as the celebrities are wax sculptures.
Set aside 1-2 hours for the walk-through.
You can get your entry tickets here.
Get a Pic With Spiderman
Keep your eyes peeled for a Spiderman-suited Peter Parker as you wander through Times Square and if you can afford to throw him a couple of dollars, get someone to take a picture of you with him.
Remember, ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ so if you do get your phone out to take a picture of any of the performers at Times Square, you should be putting your hand in your fanny pack to give some money over too.
Minnie and Mickey Mouse have been known to make an appearance, and in winter, you might just get to meet the Grinch if he’s in a good mood!
Meet the Naked Cowboy
Everyone knows the Naked Cowboy for his topless Times Square antics but did you know he is a bonafide performer called Robert John Burck?
Burck, who first started as a model, has been entertaining tourists through rain, shine, sleet, and hail for decades!
Watch the Street Performers
The Naked Cowboy isn’t the only entertainer making Times Square their stage.
Throughout the year, there are organized dance events, poetry sessions, and even protests; no two days are ever the same here.
Things to Do in Times Square at Night
The bright lights and giant billboards make Times Square an impressive destination at night.
Here are some activities in Times Square during the night.
We also have a guide that gives you options on things to do in NYC at night.
Rooftop Bar Overlooking Times Square
If you prefer to drink away from the crazy, St Cloud’s rooftop bar is located at the top of The Knickerbocker Hotel (6 Times Sq).
The bar offers indoor and outdoor seating and private rooms.
The drinks menu features cocktails, craft beer, and small plates.
Cocktails at Bar 54
Bar 54 (135 W 45th St) is the Hyatt Times Square rooftop bar, which serves cocktails by mixologist Julie Reiner.
The bar has stunning views of the cityscape, and the menu features creative takes on classic cocktails.
Watch a Late Night Movie
You can head to 42nd St in Times Square and find the perfect place to catch a late-night movie.
The AMC Empire 25 (234 W 42nd St) and Regal E-Walk (247 W 42nd St) theaters are showing movies until around 11 pm.
Both theaters offer spacious seatings, food menus, and a great selection of in-demand movies you can enjoy.
Stick Around for the Midnight Moment
Visit at 11:57 p.m. and stay until 12 a.m. for one of the unique things to see in Times Square, the Midnight Moment.
Three minutes before midnight, the giant billboards at Times Square take a break from their regular programming to showcase a selection of digital artworks.
Things to Do Near Times Square
There are more things to do around Times Square than you can imagine.
Here are some nearby attractions and famous places as well as activities you might want to check out.
Bryant Park, aka Manhattan’s Town Square
If you’re looking for some free activities to do in the city, you can visit Midtown Manhattan Bryant Park, which is a green space escape that contrasts wildly with the buzz of Times Square.
The 9.6-acred park is located between Fifth Avenue and the Avenue of the Americas and between 40th and 42nd Streets.
You can visit solo for some solitude or go with friends to participate in the daily board games and tournaments.
There is also a Reading Room where you can pick up used books and magazines to read in the park.
If you’re peckish, you can grab a coffee and go for a meal from the food kiosk in the park.
Bryant Park Winter Village kicks off festivities with a free ice rink, curling, and cozy igloos.
Our guide to outdoor activities in NYC features Bryant Park Winter Village.
What exactly is Broadway?
Broadway means many things to different people.
For some, it’s simply a road that runs from State Street at Bowling Green.
For millions of others, it is an escape from the daily grind through staged musicals at its 41 theaters which have over 500 seats.
It is located in the Theater District and the Lincoln Center along Broadway.
Only three theaters are located on the street ‘Broadway’, the Broadway Theatre, the Palace Theatre, and the Winter Garden Theatre.
Off-Broadway refers to theaters that have less than 500 seats.
You can take a tour with a Broadway actor if you wish to experience Broadway while learning amazing insider stories and secrets, the audition process, and more.
We also included Broadway in our guide to things to do in NYC when it rains.
Empire State Building
Another NYC attraction you can’t miss is the Empire State Building (20 W 34th St).
Located at W 34th Street and Broadway, it is less than 15 minutes walk from Times Square.
Here you can visit the observation deck of the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper, which opened in 1931 and was once the tallest building in the world.
This Empire State Building observation deck ticket accesses the 86th floor. Get your tickets here for the Empire State Building.
Enjoy Art at MoMa
Modern art enthusiasts won’t want to skip a visit to MoMa in Midtown Manhattan.
The museum’s exhibitions feature beautiful artwork by renowned artists, such as Henri Rousseau, Pablo Piccaso, Van Gogh, and more.
Enjoy the collection even more by downloading free audio guides available on the MoMA app or mobile site.
Timed-entry tickets are available here.
We hope you discover plenty of attractions and activities to try on your next visit to Times Square.
Let us know your favorites in the comments section below!