20 EPIC Things to Do in Times Square (Fun for First Time Visitors)


If you’re looking for things to do in Times Square, you’ve come to the right place. Having been a tourist in the Big Apple at one point, I can understand the appeal Times Square holds for someone who has yet to experience it.

The bright lights, complete chaos and people from all over the world, gathered in Midtown to see what the all the fuss is about. Times Square is intriguing, I’ll give you that but if you don’t know what to do while in the area, it can easily become more of a headache.

If I’m being honest, Times Square is overwhelming and very touristy. Most of the folks I take here end up telling me they expected something different (ha!). I think the majority of people visiting New York City for the first time have a vague idea of Times Square based on what they’ve seen in movies but the reality is often less …romantic.

But at the end of the day Times Square is iconic and can’t be missed, so for anyone brave enough to explore, I created a list of 20 things to do in Times Square.


Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.


Tips for exploring Times Square

  • Avoid people in costumes: The folks dressed up in character costumes can be rather aggressive. They try to pull people in for photos and then demand payment, avoid getting caught up in the schemed by diverting eye contact.
  • Visit Times Square at night: Times Square swells with tourists all hours of the day, but especially at night. While you’ll find yourself sympathizing with sardines in no time flat, seeing the bright lights in person at night is non-negotiable. Also, brace yourself for whiffs of marijuana, it comes with the territory.
  • Expect crowds: New York City averages more than 63 million visitors per year, and the holidays are the busiest season. There’s a lot of people wanting to see the same attractions, eat at the same restaurants and do the same things as you. Be patient and start your days early if at all possible!


#20. Grab a bite at R Lounge at The Renaissance

Arguably some of the best views of Times Square can be found at R Lounge at The Renaissance. The ritzy hotel lounge is located in the center of the action and the floor to ceiling windows offer a panoramic view of Times Square that’s hard to beat.

The menu offers an array of casual eats like pretzels, burgers and even grilled cheese. Cocktails will cost you around $18 (which is typical for the city), but after experiencing Times Square from the ground — trust me when I say, you’ll pay any price to take a break from the chaos.

If you’re curious to know what all the hoopla is about, making reservations at R Lounge is one of the best things to do in Times Square to keep your sanity intact while still taking in the madness down below.

Address: 714 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036

Things to Do Times Square  R Lounge
Image Courtesy Marriott

#19. Eat at Los. Tacos No.1

Perhaps the most well known taqueria in New York City, with a lot of well deserved hype behind it. The founders (originally from Tijuana & California) noticed a lack of authentic tacos in NYC and opted to bring that Mexican flavor to Manhattan. 

If you’re looking for things to do in Times Square, do yourself a favor and swing by Los. Tacos No. 1 — you won’t regret it!

At $5 a taco, they’re not the cheapest in the city but they are the best. And they’re pretty authentic too(before you come at me, I married into a Mexican family 8 years ago and all of my in-laws agree these are some of the tastiest taco’s on the East Coast).

A simple menu pays homage to the traditional flavors of our southern neighbors. Corn tortillas made in house (always get corn) and pineapple slivers in their bestselling adobada tacos have helped propel them above their competition.

 Trust me when I say, eating at Los. Tacos No.1 is one of the best things to do in Times Square.

Address: 229 W 43rd St, New York, NY 10036

Los Tacos No. 1 Cheap Eats
Image Courtesy Chelsea Market

#18. Customize your own chocolate at M&M’s World

If your looking for some fun things to do in Times Square, consider checking out M&M’s world and customizing your own candy.

The three-story interactive M&M themed store sells all sorts of goodies, from all things apparel to chocolate with your face on it (no, seriously!).

You have the ability to choose the color of your M&M’s, add clipart, text or upload a photo onto the chocolate and then choose the packaging for your customized treat.

Not only is this one of the best things to do in Times Square but it’s also a great spot to grab some souvenirs.

Address: 1600 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Things to Do Times Square
Image Courtesy Forbes

#17. Take a picture with your favorite celebrity at Madame Tussades

Seeing celebrities in NYC is not uncommon, but there is an unspoken rule about never approaching them and just letting them be. But if you are just dying to snap a picture with you favorite celebrity, might I suggest Madame Tussades.

Located in the heart of the neighborhood, Madame Tussades is a wax museum chock-full of realistic wax figures and one of the best things to do in Times Square.

Ticket prices range between $40-$80 depending on the experience and package you choose, but all tickets give you access to nine floors of life-like wax figures and over 80,000 sq. feet of interactive fun.

Since this is one of the most popular things to do in Times Square, I suggest purchasing tickets in advance.

Here is a short list (covering just a fraction) of the life-like celebrities you’ll find at Madame Tussades in Times Square:

  • The Avengers
  • The Royal Family
  • Rhianna
  • Taylor Swift
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Selena Gomez
  • Indiana Jones
  • Jimmy Fallon
  • Marilyn Monroe
  • The Kardashians
  • Former presidents

Address: 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036

Things to Do Times Square
Image Courtesy Madame Tussauds

#16. A Broadway Show

No trip to NYC is complete without checking out a Broadway show! The amount of effort that goes into a single show is impressive to say the least. I have yet to leave a show feeling like it wasn’t worth it, which is why this is one of those non-negotiable things to do in Times Square. 

There are 41 official Broadway theaters in NYC and at any given time, more than half of them are putting on shows. This means there’s plenty of plays and showtimes to choose from. 

Admittedly, Broadway Shows can be so dang expensive, but the experience is one of the most memorable things to do in Times Square.

There are a few ways around the price, like the lottery system some shows offer. I try to enter as many Broadway lotteries as possible to save some cash. 

Another way to save a few bucks is to purchase a solo ticket. These are seats left in between groups that the theater sells at a discounted rate to fill as many seats as possible. It’s one of the best things to do in Times Square, so make an effort to catch a show.

Best things to do in New York City

#15. Enjoy a treat from Hershey’s Chocolate World

Similar to M&M’s world, Hershey’s Chocolate World is 7,800 square feet of pure chocolate bliss.

Can you name a chocolate bar more iconic than Hershey’s? I think not! The chocolate is reminiscent of childhood memories (and the only acceptable brand when roasting marshmallows). 😉

One of the best things to do in Times Square is unleashing your inner child and letting your hair down in the Hershey’s Chocolate World. Enjoy delicious, warm treats like s’mores, cookies and cupcakes or delectable frozen goods like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Milkshake.

This is one of the best Times Square attractions, especially if you have kids. And with the feature of customizing your own candy bar wrapper, it’s a great spot to pick up souvenirs, too!

Address: 20 Times Square, 701 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036

Things to Do Times Square
Image Courtesy Hershey’s Chocolate World

#14. Visit Yankee’s Clubhouse

If you’re traveling with a sports fan one of the best things to do in Times Square is to swing by the Yankee’s Clubhouse. It’s a store with an outstanding amount of New York Yankee’s gear where the whole family can get something.

Maybe a Yankee’s cap for mom, jerseys for the kids and a beer mug for dad. And if you’re in the market for a souvenir there’s no better shop.

Also, visiting the Yankee’s Clubhouse is one of the best things to do in Times Square since the Yankees have hit a streak of playoff appearances in recent years. There’s commemorative buttons and even patches on some of the clothing adding to the exclusivity of it all.

Address:  245 W 42nd St SP1, New York, NY 10036


#13. Grab a coffee from Ten Thousand Coffee

Although Ten Thousand Coffee is new to the Big Apple, they hold their own among the best coffee shops in New York City which is why I consider this one of the best things to do in Times Square.

The Australian-based cafe derives its name from the 10,000 hour rule, which states that 10,000 hours of practice leads to expertise. After the first sip of coffee I can attest, they’ve put well over 10,000 hours of practice into their coffee.

If you’re looking for things to do in Times Square, swing by and try the Einspänner and an Espresso Cream Latte. They are two of the dreamiest cups of coffee at this cafe. They’re thick and foamy, but mixed in with the coffee make for the perfect (surprisingly not too sweet) caffeinated drink.

Address: 1410 Broadway Unit 105, New York, NY 10018


#12. Eat your way through Urbanspace

New York City has no shortage of great restaurants and delicious food, the tricky part can be narrowing down your options. One of the best things to do in Times Square, when you’re done checking out the lights, is to head over to Urbanspace.

Urbanspace is a food hall filled to the brim with a variety of different eateries and about a 10 minute walk from Times Square. The best part is, all 13 restaurants offer diverse options from one another. You can grab fried chicken from one place and then ramen from another.

I highly recommend trying Roberta’s Pizza, my husband swears it’s the best in the city (bold claim, I know!). The dining hall also offers a full bar and popular NYC spots like Seamore’s and Partners Coffee.

Having so many flavorful options all under one roof, it’s no surprise Urbanspace has made it’s way on a list of things to do in Times Square.

Market Hours: Monday- Friday | 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Address: 152 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019

Things to Do Times Square
Image Courtesy Urbanspace

#11. Grab a slice of Cheesecake from Junior’s

The same way you can’t go to Philly without trying a cheesesteak, you can’t come to New York and not try some cheesecake.

My go-to? Junior’s Cheesecake. Having opened up shop in 1950, this is one of the most beloved New York City restaurants. Their diner-style restaurants feel extra cozy and makes for one of the best things to do in Times Square.

You can enjoy a single slice at a table or take a whole pie home, and there are endless options of cheesecakes to choose from. I tend to gravitate towards anything with chocolate, while my husband sticks to the classics, both are great.

Visiting Junior’s Cheesecake is one of those bucket-list things to do in Times Square that you’ll be talking about well after your trip is over.

Address: 1515 Broadway @, W 45th St, New York, NY 10036


#10. Check out the views from a rooftop bar

You know the saying “squashed like sardines”, well I’m pretty sure they were referring to Times Square when creating it.

Taking in the lights from the ground, shoulder to shoulder with strangers can get chaotic and overwhelming. Luckily for us, the bright lights are no stranger to fantastic rooftop bars with epic views.

One of the best things to do in Times Square is to step away from the chaos and find some high ground to enjoy the scenery (with a a cocktail in hand, of course).

If at all helpful, here is a short list of great options we recommend to friends and family whenever they’re in town and looking for things to do in Times Square!

  • Castell Rooftop: Cocktails cost between $17-$22.
  • Magic Hour: Cocktails cost between $17-$23.
  • St. Cloud: Cocktails cost $24.
  • Hard Rock Hotel: Cocktails cost between $17-$21.
  • Beast & Butterflies | M Social Hotel: Cocktails cost between $15-$24.
Things to Do Times Square
Image Courtesy Open Table | Magic Hour Rooftop

#9. Grab a cream puff from Bibble & Sip

New York City, you beautiful thing you! Consistently bringing us glorious treats and delicious desserts. My next recommendation for things to do in Times Square is tiny but mighty- I’m talking cream puffs. 

These are not just any old cream puffs, we’re talking best in the city -cream puffs.

Trained in French confectionery and inspired by Asian flavors, everything Bibble & Sip has to offer is worth a try. The desserts they serve are decorated playfully and are so cute, you’ll have a hard time picking just one treat to take home.

However, the cream puff stands out from the rest of the desserts and swinging by for a puff warrants a spot on our list of things to do in Times Square. 

The cream puffs are made out of the most delicious dough with an airy texture. As for the cream (the star of the show) no words will do the cool and smooth flavors justice.

Make sure to add a visit to Bibble & Sip onto your itinerary if you’re looking for more things to do in Times Square.

Further reading: Curious what else made our list? Check out 15 Irresistible New York City Desserts Worth Pausing a Diet Over.

Address: 253 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019

Best Dessert New York City
Image Courtesy Bibble and Sip

#8. Be apart of a show taping

If you’re looking for more unique things to do in Times Square, consider being a part of a live audience for a tv taping.

Most shows are late night talk shows and the guest on the show change so frequently, you can do this hundreds of times and have a different experience everytime. The amount of work that goes into producing a single episode is astounding and seeing the hosts and guests up close is surreal. 

I highly suggest trying to get tickets to a live taping. Most of them are free, you just need to apply in advance and hang tight on a waitlist. I know it might seem like a long-shot, but my wife and I have gotten into about half of the tapings we’ve applied for. The tapings are worth it if you’re searching for things to do in Times Square. 

Best things to do in New York City at Night

#7. Get lost in the Drama Book Shop

The Drama Bookshop has long been a staple of New York City’s theater scene. In fact over the course of it’s 100+ year history it’s been an invaluable resource to some of Broadway’s greats. One of the best things to do in Times Square is getting lost in the magic of the Drama Book Shop.

The beloved bookstore is popular to the casual fan largely due to Lin-Manuel Miranda purchasing it in 2020. Miranda, along with other Broadway peers, used the basement of the previous location to rehearse “In the Heights.” A musical that went on to win multiple awards and help launch Miranda to stardom. 

Regardless if you’re visiting because you’re a bookworm or just a fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, swinging by this charming bookstore is one of the best things to do in Times Square.

Address: 266 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

Times Square Things to Do
Image Courtesy The Drama Bookshop

#6. Margaritaville

Whether you’re a Jimmy Buffet fan or not, Margaritaville is an experience and a half. Seriously — there is a two-story replica of the Statue of Liberty raising a margarita (I’ll drink to that).

Margaritaville is resort in the heart of Times Square, and although you might not be staying there stopping by is still one of the best things to do in Times Square.

There are 5 different spots to grab a bite at Margaritaville, including it’s namesake restaurant and 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar. Expect classic American foods as well as plentiful adult beverages in a setting that can make you forget you’re in New York City.

Local’s tip: Margaritaville is home to the only outdoor pool in Times Square and in the summer the resort offers tickets. Although I haven’t visited myself I have two friends who have and agree it’s not worth the steep price of admission.

Address: 560 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018


#5. Shop your way through Times Square

If you made it to NYC and realized you forgot to pack something, don’t worry — just swipe your subway card and head over to Times Square. No seriously, Times Square has everything!

The heart of Times Square is essentially made up of three major components; giant tv screens, restaurants and shops. You can’t walk more than a few steps before making it to the next store, so it only makes sense to add shopping to our list of things to do in Times Square.

You’ll find global brands that sell clothing, jewelry, and so much more lining the neighborhood.

Here is a short list of stores you can find in Times Square:

  • Old Navy
  • Sephora
  • Swarovski
  • Levi’s
  • American Eagle
  • Disney Store
  • H&M
  • GAP
  • Forever 21
Best Things to do in New York City

#4. Snag a photo on the iconic red steps

When you’re in Times Square thinking to yourself, hmm, where should I take a selfie? I want you to do yourself a favor and head to the TKTS ticket booth.

The booth sells discount tickets to Broadway shows, but the back of the building has been transformed into the iconic red staircase and visiting has quickly become one of the most popular things to do in Times Square. 

From the stairs you have a direct and often unobstructed view of all the flashing lights and flocks of people. It’s no surprise why folks from all around the world have used the staircase as their own personal viewpoint. 

Snapping a photo on the red stairs is one of the best things to do in Times Square. If you come at night, the stairs illuminate and add another layer of fun to your picture!

Address: Broadway at, W 47th St, New York, NY 10036


#3. Try Halal Guys

It goes without saying, the Halal Guys have stands everywhere. But there is something so special about basking in the bright lights with this iconic NYC meal in hand.

The Halal Guys started their business out of carts in 1990, and have continued expanding to now include brick and mortar restaurants. While technically the Midtown location isn’t in the heart of Times Square, it is still worth mentioning on our list of things to do in Times Square because it’s that good.

The word halal is Arabic for “lawful”, meaning in line with the practices of the Quran and Islam. Similar to how a Jewish person must keep Kosher, a Muslim person must follow Halal guidelines. 

Halal Guys is always one of my first stops when flying into the city late at night and one of my favorite things to do in Times Square.

Address:  6th Avenue &, W 53rd St, New York, 10019

Image Courtesy The Wall Street Journal

#2. People watch

With over 50 million visitors annually, you can bet your bottom dollar Times Square has seen it all. People come from all over the world to experience the bright lights in person.

Most locals avoid the neighborhood likes it’s the plague, but I will admit one of the best things to do in Times Square is to find a (safe) spot and just people watch for a few minutes.

You’ll hear languages that are completely unbeknownst to you and you’ll see folks in different seasons of life enamored by the massive screens. You quickly realize how small you are in the grand scheme of things and can’t help but feel a little intrigued.

So if people-watching is right up your alley, consider swinging by and partaking in one of the most popular things to do in Times Square.

Address:

Living in New York City

#1. Explore near Times Square

While Times Square is one of the most visited attractions in the world, people quickly realize it’s a tad over-romanticized and dare I say, overrated (shocker, I know!).

That’s not to say it’s not worth the trip, because in full transparency I do think it’s too iconic of a place to be skipped and everyone should see it (in person) at least once.

With that said, Times Square is conveniently located in Midtown and within walking distance to other epic NYC sites so here is a quick list of things to do near Times Square.

Things to Do Near Times Square:
  • Bryant Park & New York Public Library: 5 minute walk from Times Square
  • Rockefeller Center: 10 minute walk from Times Square
  • Grand Central Terminal: 10 minute walk from Times Square
  • 5th Ave: 15 minute walk from Times Square
  • Empire State Building: 15 minute walk from Times Square
Getting to NYC from airport

Times Square Attractions (Post Summary)

In summary, these are the things to do in Times Square:

  1. Grab a bite from R Lounge
  2. Eat at Los. Tacos No. 1
  3. Customize your own chocolate at M&M’s World
  4. Visit Madame Tussades
  5. Check out a Broadway Show
  6. Enjoy a treat from Hershey’s Chocolate World
  7. Grab a souvenir at Yankee’s Clubhouse
  8. Sip on cloud coffee from Ten Thousand Coffee
  9. Eat your way through Urbanspace
  10. Try Junior’s Cheesecake 
  11. Check out views from a rooftop bar
  12. Grab a cream puff from Bibble & Sip 
  13. Partake in a live show taping
  14. Get lost in the Drama Book Shop
  15. Grab a bite at Margaritaville 
  16. Shop your way through Times Square
  17. Snag a photo on the iconic red steps 
  18. Try Halal Guys
  19. People Watch 
  20. Explore near Times Square 

Further Reading: 30 Enchanting Instagrammable Places in NYC.


Map of fun things to do in Times Square


And there you have it, our list of things to do in Times Square! Let us know if you think we missed anything.

Cheers!