With a nickname like “the city that never sleeps”, you know that there have got to be some beyond fun things to do in NYC at night.
And you know what? You are a 110% right! I mean, not only is this nickname well-deserved but there are a bunch of different late night NYC activities that you could totally get into…even at like 3:00 am.
Because if I know one truth about NYC, it’s that there is always something fun going on and something new to discover – regardless of how many times you’ve visited one of the greatest cities on Earth (Yes, I’m biased but I still think it’s true).
However, if you’e not a 30+ year local like me, it can be difficult to know which things to do in New York at night are fun and which are, well, lame AF.
And that’s where I come in! I’m here to share all of my expert, insider tips on where to go and what to do when searching for the coolest things to do in NYC at night.
Trust me, I’ve done everything on this list of fun things to do in NYC at night and can personally vouch for just how epic they are and how much they are going to enhance your next 4 days in NYC itinerary.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a slice, smear a ton of cream cheese on that NYC bagel of yours, and let’s dive into this exciting list of wicked awesome places to go in NYC at night.
Dear wonderful, beautiful, and oh-so-amazing reader (Yup, I lay it on thick for my dozens of fans). Since I am incapable of making it rain money, there’s a high probability (like 99.999%) that this post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
Where to Stay When Looking at Fun Things to do in NYC at Night!
Because I’m a local, I get a TON of questions from awesome readers like you about anything and everything related to NYC travel.
However, without a doubt the number one question I always get asked is, “Should I get the New York Pass?” That’s why, I kind of wanted to address this very valid concern before we even start talking about all of the fun things to do in NYC at night.
Especially since, as you probably already guessed, there are a ridiculous number of NYC discount passes out there that really can save you a ton of cold hard cash…at least if you know how to use them and know which one is best for YOU!
But, that being said, I’m definitely not gonna do a comprehensive analytical review of the pros and cons of each one of these aforementioned passes since I already wrote a detailed post about every NYC discount pass you can think of – and you can totally check out my full New York Pass review now.
However, if you’re looking for a super simple answer and don’t really want to read an entire post, then here’s what I always tell people.
If it’s your first time in New York City and you’re going to see a lot of iconic, NYC attractions, like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, then you will the New York Pass will save you a ton of money (I did the math for you and it’s really helpful).
But, if you’ve been to NYC a bunch of different times and want to experience some of the more unusual things to do in NYC, then, honestly, the New York Pass probably won’t save you much money since most of the things you’ll want to see won’t be included on it.
That being said though, to make the best decision possible, you’ll definitely want to take a peek at my full review here.
Seriously, it’s a fantastic resource that has just about everything you need to know about the New York Pass and a bunch of its alternatives.
So much so that I even did an in-depth price breakdown so you can actually SEE how much money you’ll save by purchasing the New York Pass. Because yeah, I’m extremely anal-retentive like that.
Wait! Should I Get the New York Pass When Looking for Fun Things to do in NYC at Night?
If you’re visiting New York City for the first time and planning some fun things to do in NYC at night then I know that finding a great place to stay in NYC can be a real challenge.
Especially since, like with everything in NYC, hotels are SUPER expensive! Thankfully though, you have a super friendly, 30+ year local like me to help you figure out where to stay. You know, so that you don’t spend your kid’s entire college fund on a single night in a swank AF, NYC hotel.
However, if you know where to look (and spoiler alert, I definitely do), then it’s definitely possible to find reasonably priced hotel rooms in NYC. So, without any further, unnecessary verbiage, here are my fave hotels in New York, from least expensive to most expensive.
Pod 39 – Quietly tucked away in the ever-lovely Murray Hill neighborhood of NYC (They also have the best Indian food in the city), is this modern and chic pod hotel that everyone in your family will love – especially since it has a fantastic assortment of rooms that start at just $120 per night (a price that is super cheap for NYC).
Yes, the rooms are a bit on the smallish side but hey, what do you expect? It is a pod hotel. However, what their rooms lack in size, they more than compensate for with modern amenities, cleanliness, and friendly staff members.
That’s why, if you book a room at Pod 39, you’ll have everything you need for a blissfully relaxing stay in the big apple.
You’ll also love that this hotel actually sits inside a historic home from 1918 – a building that has been fully renovated with rooms that feature either queen-size beds or stainless-steel bunk beds with TVs and bedside shelves.
414 Hotel – I love this hotel for about 10,000 different reasons, but I’ll try to keep it brief here. So, not only is this hotel centrally located in Hell’s Kitchen (a neighborhood right near Times Square), but posh, well-appointed rooms here start at just $159 per night. They also feature an array of modern amenities like mini-fridges, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, etc.
And even though rooms here an exceptionally well-priced, the owners definitely don’t skimp on quality, service, and the cleanliness of their rooms.
So much so that there’s actually a working fireplace in the lobby that you and your significant other can get all cozy around. Plus, staff members are always happy to assist you with anything and everything you might need for the perfect stay.
It’s located in the uber-fab neighborhood of SOHO and is known for its comfy, clean, and refreshing rooms – all of which start at just $177 per night.
So, if you think that you might want to stay here, then you can expect to find high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, glassed-off bathrooms, complimentary toiletries, and a wealth of plush linens that are made using nothing but the finest, all-natural fibers,
The Bowery Hotel – Contrary to what its name might suggest, The Bowery Hotel is a swank AF, five-star, Nolita establishment that I would personally stay at it if I was the proud owner of more than one off-shore bank account.
Sadly though, I’m not one of the super cool kids who can afford to stay in a hotel where rooms start at the bargain-basement price of $300 per night (please note the intense sarcasm)
However, like with 99.99% of things in life, you get what you pay for. That’s why all of the next level stunning rooms here come fully otufitted with free Wifi, free bike rentals, exquisite city views, and so much more.
Seriously, those amenities are just the icing on the cake since I could go on and on about how epic this place really is.
And, added awesomeness? Guests will adore the exceptional service and attention to detail here – something that will make you feel like the real king of New York (Get the hardcore Newsies reference?).
Fun Things to do in NYC at Night – Shows
1. Sleep No More
Not gonna lie, this super unique theatrical experience is easily one of the most fun things to do in NYC at night that I’ve ever done…period.
But, just in case you’re not quite in the know, Sleep No More is a fun retelling of Shakespeare’s iconic play, Macbeth. In fact, this show was so well-received that it basically jump-started the entire NYC immersive theater movement back in 2011.
It’s also located inside the super swank McKittrick Hotel on west 27th street. So yeah, basically right next door to all of the amazing art galleries in Chelsea.
Anyway, upon arrival, you’ll receive a white mask that you need to wear because this is the only thing that will distinguish you from the cast and crew. So, if you wear glasses, definitely make sure to wear contacts to this performance.
Now, as the show begins, it becomes almost like this epic, choose-your-own-adventure performance since all of the actors perform simultaneously throughout the hotel.
And since it can be a challenge to figure where to go and what to look at, I’d suggest picking a cast member to ollow around so that you don’t miss out on any of the action.
Also, If you happen to be attending this show with a group or with your significant other, do not be “that” person who holds hands and becomes glued to their partner.
Because, TBH, that kind of behavior actually tends to ruin the show for everyone. Instead, embrace your individuality and separate from whoever you came to the show with as you enjoy one of the many fun things to do in New York at night.
Plus, fair warning, when I say Immersive here, I mean highly interactive. So yes, the actors will come up to you and engage with you like you’re part of the show.
As a result, expect to get whispers in the ear and kisses on the hand. Just don’t have a full-on mental breakdown though since these performers are trained to assess your comfort level BEFORE doing anything cheeky.
Although, If this is the kind of behavior that completely freaks you out, then just try and stay at the center of the group and don’t wander towards the front.
And like with everything else about this show, purchasing tickets isn’t as straightforward as it seems. Because yhe first available tickets for an 8 pm performance are at 7 pm.
After that, tickets can be bought at in 15-minute increments (7:15 pm, 7:30 pm, etc…) until the show starts (You can pre-book your tickets online and choose your preferred time slot).
That being said though, a 7:45 pm ticket is just as good as one a 7 pm ticket since the show doesn’t start until 8 pm.
As a result, It will give you extra time to hang out with the cast before the show. Alternatively, you could always visit the Manderlay Bar, Gallow Green (the hotel’s rooftop bar), or the uber-cool, pop-up restaurant, the Illusionist’s Table (some of the other fun things to do in NYC at night).
Address: 530 W 27th St, New York, NY
Hours: The show starts at 8 pm, but tickets can be purchased at different, 15-minute increments that begin at 7 pm. Performances can last up to 3 hours and end at 11 pm.
Price: Tickets are $159.50 per person or $220 for a priority access seat with a guaranteed table reservation.
How to Get There: You can either take the 7 train to the Hudson Yards station or take the C train to the 23rd street station.
2. Catch a Broadway Show (or an Off-Broadway Show)
I feel like Broadway and NYC just kind of go together like peanut butter and jelly do. That’s why seeing a Broadway (or off-broadway or off-off-Broadway show) is a total must experience for anyone visiting the Big Apple and looking for fun things to do in NYC at night.
But, let’s be real, you probably already knew that since attending a Broadway performance is a quintessential, NYC rite of passage that everyone should have at least once in their life.
So much so that I actually wrote this entire post about how to get cheap Broadway tickets at the last minute. And yes, you really should read that post right now – at least if you want to save 50%+ on any tickets that you buy.
Because I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love saving money?
And some shows that you might want to check out now include (but are not limited to):
- Dear Evan Hansen
- Lion King
- The Phantom of the Opera
Also, if you’re short on cash, then attending an off-Broadway show is another great way to enjoy everything that the NYC theater scene has to offer, but for a whole lot less.
Because contrary to popular belief, off-broadway shows aren’t actually any less awesome than broadway shows. In fact, the only difference between the two is the size of the theater that the performance is held in.
So, in general, theaters with up to 99 seats are considered to be Off-Off-Broadway while theaters with between 99 and 499 seats are generally considered to be Off-Broadway.
And then any theaters with 500 or more seats are largely considered to be just straight up Broadway.
Therefore, if you’re keen to make an off-broadway show part of your late-night NYC activities, then check out some of the following venues.
- Delacorte Theater in Central Park (for Shakespeare in the Park)
- The Public Theater (comedy and cabaret)
- St. Ann’s Warehouse (In Brooklyn Bridge Park and has more Avant-guard performances)
- La Mama, 59e59, and The Flea (all great off-off-broadway theaters)
3. Enjoy the Live Taping of a Show
As you probably already know, A LOT of shows hold live tapings in one of the many television studios that are found throughout NYC. And to show that people are actually interested in these shows, they kind of need a live studio audience to yuck it up in front of the camera.
Therefore, one of the many fun things to do in NYC at night is to attend a live taping of your favie fave TV show.
And while some of these tapings are free and don’t require tickets, others have a relatively strict protocol and process that they follow when it comes to ticket release.
Therefore, check out the list below to see which shows offer tickets to live tapings and how you get procure some for yourself!
- Saturday Night Live ((30 Rockefeller Plaza at 48th St) – Send your contact info to [email protected] in August so that you can receive tickets given away by lottery. However, standby tickets for the 8:00 pm dress rehearsal or 11:30 pm live broadcasts are given out on Saturdays at 7:00 am. But yeah, you’ll definitely have to camp out the night before for these.
- The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (1697 Broadway) – Reserve tickets onlne but be sure to get to the Ed Sullivan Theater mad early since no one can join the line after 3:15 pm. For the best seats though, try to get ehre between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm.
- The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon (30 Rockefeller Plaza at 49th St) – Tickets for this show are released a month in advance Just sign up for your preferred date and you’ll be contacted if you get your tickets.
- Late Night with Seth Meyers (30 Rockefeller Plaza at 49th St) – You can sign up for tickets online or get standby tickets on the morning of the taping at 9:00 am. Any remaining tickets will then be released to The Shop at NBC Studios, where you can then get them.
- The Today Show (Rockefeller Center between 48th and 49th St) – No tickets are necessary so just stand outside the studio at 7:00 am and enjoy the live taping, Monday through Friday. Although, do get here early since many people arrive three hours before filming starts.
- Good Morning America (44th and Broadway) – Attending this show is basically the same as with the Today Show, except that you can probably get here about an hour before filing starts at 7:00 am, Monday through Friday.
- Live with Kelly & Ryan (W 67th St and Columbus Ave) – Tickets are released for the month about a month in advance. But, standby tickets are available starting at 7:00 am, just outside the studio.
- The View (57 W 66th St) – Reserve your tickets online and you’ll be notified between 3 and 4 weeks in advance to confirm your attendance of the taping. Standby tickets are also available at 9:30 am just outside the studio.
- The Rachael Ray Show (221 W 26th St) – Fill out a form online and someone will get in touch with you about available filming times. Standby tickets are also available, but the show can have as many as 3 tapings a day, so check their website for arrival times. There’s also a strict dress code in place so be aware of that before you attend.
Pro Tip: These are not the only shows filmed live in NYC and ticket processes can regularly change. Therefore, see this article for up-to-date information about how to get tickets to a live taping of your fave tv show.
4. The Comedy Cellar
Do you like to laugh? And not like a polite, “tee-hee” but a deep, almost guttural belly laugh that infects everyone around you?
If so then say hello to your new bestie and one of the coolest things to do in NYC at night – The Comedy Cellar.
Because honestly, if you only go to one comedy show in NYC, then let this be it. I mean, not only do all of NYC’s top comics regularly perform here (think Dave Chappelle, Jim Norton, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Robin Williams) but it’s just a great place to get a taste of what life is really like for locals.
However, before you mosey on over here and get your laugh on, I can say with 99.9% certainty that you will probably need to make a reservation WAY advance.
Although I have heard that some guests, much braver than myself, haven’t had too hard a time snagging seats at the door.
And, just in case you were wondering. This place isn’t swank at all and you will be sitting in a crowded basement… in the Village…with a couple of friends…that you haven’t met yet…who are total strangers.
Honestly, though, it’s totally worth it since the shows here are epic and you’ll definitely leave feeling like you just did about 10,000 planks. You know, from all the laughing that you just did.
Also, this place has a 2 beer minimum and 3 beer maximum if you attend a show. And since this is NYC, these beers don’t come cheap.
However, I’ve heard that as long as you’re a decent human being, your server will probably let the 3 beer maximum slide.
Oh, and if you’re really into hobnobbing it up with today’s biggest celebs, then head on up to The Olive Tree (the restaurant right above The Comedy Cellar) after the show.
Because this is where you’ll usually find all of the performers hanging out after the show.
Pro Tip: If you’re really hungry after the show, head to Mamoun’s Falafel for some fo the BEST falafel in the city. Or, you can always grab a slice of spinach artichoke pizza at Artichoke Basille’s. Soo good. I am legit drooling right now.
Address: 117 Macdougal St #1267, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Open Monday through Sunday from 11 am to 3 am.
Price: Tickets are $17 a piece, plus the cost of your 2 beer minimum.
How to Get There: Just take either the A, C, E train or the B, D, F train to the West 4th Street station.
5. See a Live Jazz Show
If you’re into jazz and are looking for fun things to do in NYC at night, then I am ordering you to haul ass up to Harlem and check out some of the amazing jazz clubs there.
Because while there are tons of amazing jazz clubs scattered throughout the city, there is no place quite like Harlem since it’s basically like the unofficial birthplace of jazz in the city that never sleeps.
That’s why I couldn’t possibly pick just one jazz club for you to visit. Therefore, here are three awesome, totally authentic jazz joints that you and your traveling companions are sure to love while living it up in NYC.
- Bill’s Place (148 West 133rd Street) – The bad news? This place is BYOB. The good news? This place is an intimate venue that is set inside a historic brownstone that is owned by Bill Saxton and the Harlem All-Stars. It was also Harlem’s only real speakeasy throughout Prohibition – a fact that Bill’s Place pays homage to every Friday and Saturday night when the basement comes alive with jazz music, between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm (do yourself a solid and make a reservation).
- Minton’s Playhouse (206 W 118th Street) – Originally established in 1938 by saxophone great Henry Minton, this small jazz club can be found on the first floor of the Cecil Hotel and is known for being the birthplace of bebop. Some of the greatest performers of all time have all played here, including Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, and Charlie Christian.
- Showmans Jazz Club (375 W 125th Street) – This jazz joint has been in business for well over 75 years and is where greats like Sarah Vaughan, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, and Pearl Bailey all played.
Pro Tip: If you really love jazz, you can also visit the National Jazz Museum in Harlem! It’s a small, Smithsonian affiliated museum that is brimming with fascinating, Jazz-related items like Duke Ellington’s baby grand piano and Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis’ sax. Live jazz performances are also held here on the reg so check out their website for more info.
6. See the Dueling Pianos – Bar Nine
I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not really into boring old piano bars where someone quietly lulls me to sleep with a bit of elevator music that features a tepid rendition of some Frank Sinatra song that I sort of know.
Yeah, thanks but no thanks to that.
However, this awesome Hell’s Kitchen establishment is a vibrant place where the libations are cold, the music is hot, and where you can see the original Dueling Pianos show on Friday and Saturday nights.
So, start your night off right with The Bar Nine cocktail (vodka, light rum, tequila, gin, blue curacao, sour mix, and sprite) before chasing it all down with an order of loaded nachos, a bourbon-glazed burger, and a bacon-wrapped hot dogs – that you’re hopefully going to share with whoever you came t the bar with (or eat it all yourself, no judgment here).
I mean, hey, you need your thirst and hunger satiated before the show begins (wink, wink). Because trust me on this, you do not want to miss a beat (Get it? Because it’s funny? Right. Moving on.).
Because this Dueling Piano Show definitely won’t be found in your grandpa’s local watering hole. Instead, it’s a fun and exciting show that brings people of every generation together as they sing along to live, piano-erific renditions of their favorite rock, country, and rap tunes.
Heck, it;s so fun and funky that even the waitstaff and bartenders join in to help get the party started as live musicians rock out and tickle the keys of their favorite piano.
So, while there may be other dueling piano shows in NYC, this is definitely the original – and what many would consider to be the best dueling piano show in town.
Address; 807 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019
Hours: Shows are held on Friday at 8:00 pm (arrive at 7:30 pm) and Saturday at 7:30 pm (arrive at 7:00 pm). You also currently need to RSVP on their website due to COVID.
Price: $25.00 per person
How to Get There: Take the N/R/W train to 57th street and walk to the bar from there.
Fun Things to do in NYC at Night – Museums
Believe it or not, one of the most fun things to do in NYC at night is go to a museum! Because contrary to popular belief, many of NYC’s coolest museums are actually open pretty dang late.
And these are not low-key, afterthought museums that you’d never want to visit. Nope. These are actually some of the finest museums in NYC (if not the world) and they are all open super late for your viewing pleasure.
7. Museum of Modern Art (aka MOMA)
Not gonna lie, MOMA is easily one of my favorite museums in NYC and one of the coolest things to do in NYC at night – at least if you like modern art.
And I sure do since we all that I am a card-carrying member of the museum-loving, nerd herd. But anyway, per usual, I digress.
Because this world-class museum is brimming over with galleries that are chock full of masterpieces from iconic artists like Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rothko, Jackson Pollock, etc..(Translation? GO NOW!).
Plus, since this museum first opened back in ye olde1929, its acquired more than 200,000 pieces of art – pieces done by a wide array of artists who always come up with innovative ways to represent their emotions and challenge people’s thinking about what art really is.
So, definitely feel free to stop by late and enjoy all that this museum has to offer during UNIQLO Free Friday Nights (FYI, these are currently suspended but I think they’ll resume sometime in July).
Because during this epic, weekly event, you’ll receive free admission between 5:30 pm and 9:00 pm on, you guessed it, Friday evenings.
And if you can, definitely try to spend the day here since MoMA’s permanent collection occupies four different levels, with prints, illustrated books, and Contemporary Galleries on level two; architecture, design, drawings and photography on level three; and painting and sculpture on levels four and five.
But, if you’re in a time crunch, then beeline it on up to the top two floors since this is where the institution’s most famous works are kept.
Afterward, stroll through the gorgeous Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, which is overflowing with sculptures done by Matisse, Miró, and Picasso, just to name a few.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets now!
Pro Tip: Avoid the crowds and visit MOMA PS1 in Queens, or the MOMA design store in lower Manhattan, instead! Both have the overall feel of this museum but without the crowds.
Address: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
Hours: Open daily from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm and until 7:00 pm on Saturdays.
Price: Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for seniors (65+) and visitors with disabilities, $14 for students, and free for children 16 and under.
How to Get There: Take the N, R, or W train to 57th Street and 7th Avenue and then walk to the museum.
8. Bronx Museum of the Arts
Now, I know most people aren’t overly fond of the Bronx but I personally think it’s a seriously underrated borough. After all, It is a place that is home to some of the coolest things to do in NYC at night, like visit the Bronx Museum of Arts.
Because this ultra rad museum is not only free to visit, but it’s also home to some amazing contemporary art exhibits that remain open until 8:00 pm on Fridays (FYI, this was pre-pandemic so just check their hours before you visit).
So yeah, it’s just an all-around amazing institution that was first created in 1971 and that is now home to more than 400 different pieces of multicultural art, most of which are done by 20th- and 21st-century artists who are either from the Bronx or who are of African, Asian, or Latino descent.
And some of the super snazzy exhibitions that were on display during my last visit are (just so you have some idea of what to expect):
- Sanford Biggers Codeswitch – This exhibition looks at the unique relationship between African American history and urban culture – something that is embodied by sacred geometry and American symbolism. There’s also special attention paid to code-switching or the idea of switching from one linguistic code to another, as related to the environment around you.
- #SeeMeBronx – An awesome outdoor exhibition that was created for the museum’s 50th anniversary. It’s an amazing, interactive project about visibility, intersectionality, identity, and greater social justice.
- Shaun Leonardo – A series of drawings from this Brooklyn artist that examine how images of violence against Black/Brown men in America today have shaped how we perceive them as a society.
Pro Tip: Since you’re already in da Bronx, don’t forget to stop by Arthur Avenue and enjoy some REAL Italian food at incredibly reasonable prices (it’s way better than Little Italy).
Address: 1040 Grand Concourse, The Bronx, NY 10456
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the D train to 167 street station and walk to the museum from here.
9. The Whitney Museum of American Art
Yee to the haw my fellow museum lovers! Because this recent addition (a la 2015) to the NYC museum scene is easily one of the best things to do in NYC at night!
Especially since The Whitney Museum of American Art has extended hours all the way until 10 pm on Friday and Saturday evenings (again, this was pre-pandemic so check their website for up to date hours), sits right at the end of the Highline in Chelsea, and is full of art from some of everyone’s favorite contemporary, American artists.
You know, works done by greats of the 20th and 21st century like Edward Hopper, Alexander Calder, Georgia O’Keefe, and more!
Plus, these pieces all sit inside this fabulous, uber-modern, 63,000 square foot building that is only enhanced by an amazing, rooftop terrace with stellar panoramic views of the nearby Hudson River.
Pro Tip: Visit on Fridays, between 7:00 pm and 9:30 pm, when the museum offers patrons pay-what-you-wish prices for tickets. However, per usual, definitely book your tickets well in advance to avoid long lines.
Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014
Hours: Open 11:30 am to 6:00 pm Mondays and Thursdays, 1:30 pm to 9:00 pm Fridays, and 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm Saturdays and Sundays (Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).
Price: Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for students/seniors/disabled visitors, and free for anyone 18 and under.
How to Get There: Take the A/C/E train from Times Square to 14th Street/8th Avenue and walk to the museum from there.
10. The Brooklyn Museum
Do yourself a favor and get on out of Manhattan…even if it’s just for one night. Because real talk? There are so many fun things to do in NYC at night that lie just outside of Mid-town.
And if you don’t make the effort to get to places like Brooklyn then you are totally missing out! Especially since one of the coolest things to do in NYC at night visit the Brooklyn Museum.
Because like many of the museums in Manhattan, this epic cultural institution (it’s actually the third largest museum in NYC) hosts some amazing night programs that you and your family definitely do not want to miss.
And it’s known as none other than First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum. It’s basically a once-monthly program that gives visitors the opportunity to enter the museum for free and enjoy amazing special programs that include dances, lectures, film screenings, and more.
So, swing by the first Saturday of the month, between 5:00 pm and 11:00 pm (FYI, happy hour is from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) and see what the fun is all about.
They also use a different format/theme for each event every month, so if you go to one, you can definitely go to another without getting bored. Or, if you want, you can also totally opt out of the scheduled programming and just explore the museum instead.
After all, this place is home to one of the best collections of Egyptian art in the entire United States. So, grab the elevator, take it to the third floor, and see what the aptly named Temples and Tombs exhibition is all about (spoiler alert, tons of mummies will be present).
***PSST…Because of the seemingly neverending pandemic of doom, First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum have changed a bit. So, throughout the summer, The Brooklyn Museum will be hosting First Saturday Lite.
It’s basically a low-key, outdoor, afternoon version of the iconic program that will be held on the plaza on Eastern Parkway from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm (May 1, June 5, and August 7). So, stop by and enjoy some live music, DJs, local vendors, and verious arts and crafts workshops.***
Pro Tip: When first Saturdays resume, don’t feel like you need to pay $15 for an over-the-top, craft cocktail at some hipster chic bar. Instead, have a drink at the Brooklyn Museum cash bar, which also sells a selection of sandwiches and salads (The Norm is also on-site and is an awesome restaurant where you can try food prepared by Michelin-starred Chef, Saul Bolton). You can also snag some sweet Brooklyn-inspired souvenirs at The Museum Shop here too.
Address: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Price: Tickets are $16 for adults, $10 for seniors (65+) and visitors with disabilities and students with a vaid ID, and free for anyone 19 and under.
Hours: Open Wednesday/Thursday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, Friday/Saturday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm (galleries close 15 minutes before closing).
How to Get There: Take the 2 or 3 to the eastern parkway/Brooklyn Museum stop and walk from there.
Fun Things to do in NYC at Night – Bars
Shocking to exactly no one is the fact that New York is home to a vibrant nightlife scene that is filled with some of the most famous (and not-so-famous) bars in the entire world.
So, if you want to get your drinky drank on then this is a great place to do so. Just be prepared to spend a significant amount of money since most bars in the city don’t serve drinks that cost less than $15 each.
Yup, that’s basically what the price of eternal greatness costs.
11. McSorley’s Old Ale House
Located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, this immortal NYC bar is a veritable institution of alcohol-related awesomeness for people who love drinking, drinking, and, oh yeah, more drinking!
Because this famous NYC watering hole was first opened in 1854 and is known today for being the USA’s oldest and continuously operated bar.
Yeah, I actually have no idea how they managed to stay afloat during the dog days of Prohibition (I think the bar became an illegal speakeasy) but the world as a whole is all the better for it – especially if you’re looking for fun things to do in NYC at night.
And if you visit today, you can still see vestiges from this bar’s historic past on every wall like an invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge and an old gas chandelier that is adorned with wishbones.
Sadly, these wishbones were left behind by soldiers who fought in World War I and never returned. Because anyone who made it back from the conflict, went back to McSorley’s to pick their wishbone up.
So, they sit here, along with everything else, since the interior has remained largely untouched since ye olde 1910. and sits as a veritable shrine to the founder, John McSorley.
On a slightly more positive note though, McSorley’s has actually served a wealth of very famous clientele that include people like Abraham Lincoln, John Lennon, and Elvis Presley, who gave an impromptu performance when he got hammered like a champ.
So: drink up and travel back in time at a wonderfully unique, standing-room-only bar that is rich in tales and some delicious, not-so-pale ales (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it).
Address: 15 E 7th St, New York, NY
Price: $5.50 per glass (FYI the glasses are small and they only serve one type of beer here. They also don’t take reservations so expect standing room only.)
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 11 am to 1 am and on Sundays from 1 pm to 1 am.
How to Get There: You can either take the R train to 8th Street Station or the 6 train to Astor Place Station.
12. Please Don’t Tell
Umm, what could be cooler than spending the night drinking it up at a secret speakeasy in NYC? And just in case you were wondering, the correct answer to that question is, of course, nothing!
So, if you feel even a little bit like I do then run, don’t walk to Please Don’t Tell.
Because this baller level awesome, prohibition-era gin joint near St. Mark’s Place is so secret that you need to dial a secret code into a hidden telephone booth just to get inside.
Yup, it’s an old-world style phone booth that sits at Crif Dogs – a local, late-night fried hot dog joint that is actually really flipping good.
Anyway, once you finally do get inside, you can pretend you’re a flapper and indulge in the most luxurious aspects of the roaring twenties in this low-key bar with chic leather booths and walls adorned with animal heads.
Although, the real highlight of any trip here is a sip of one of their craft cocktails, all of which have been specially crated by expert mixologist, Jim Meehan.
And…I’m not gonna reveal what’s on their awesome drinks list since, gosh darn it, it’ll ruin the surprise! Just know that it’s good and you should go…like now!
Pro Tip: Be sure to make a reservation, by phone, since this bar can get extremely busy, and wait times can be upwards of an hour if you don’t reserve a table.
Address: 113 St Mark’s Place, New York, New York, 10009
Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 2:00 am and Friday/Saturday from 5:00 pm to 3:00 am.
Price: NOT CHEAP.
How to Get There: Take either the 4 o6 6 train to Astor Place and walk to the bar from there.
Fun Things to do in NYC at Night Observatories
Want to see that iconic NYC skyline all lit-up in the evening? If so then enjoy some of the best views in NYC from one of these amazing observatories.
They’re usually open late and will give you a wonderful, totally unique aerial view of the city that never sleeps – making this one fo the coolest things to do in NYC at night.
13. Empire State Building
No trip to NYC would be complete without a visit to one of the city’s most iconic buildings ever – the Empire State Building.
Plus, added bonus? This is easily one of the coolest things to do in NYC at night since this observatory is routinely open until 9:00 pm. Although, I’d personally time my visit for sunset since there is nothing quite like marveling at the vibrant hues of golden hour from 100 stories up.
But, what really blew my mind during my last visit was the fact that this immortal structure was built in just 410 days during the Great Depression and even has its very own zip code – one of those facts about NYC that I personally found insanely interesting.
I also love that the viewing area was completely redesigned in 2019, transforming the Empire State Building into a super-cool, incredibly interactive experience that is way more than just another observatory.
So, while the panoramas from the 86th-floor outdoor viewing deck and the 102nd-floor indoor observation platform are sublime, they are just the tip of the iceberg of awesomeness that is the Empire State Building.
Because during your visit, you get to enjoy a wealth of multimedia exhibits like the Story of an Icon Museum on the second floor, as well as other displays on opening day.
You’ll also see a full-scale replica of the original elevator, learn how the Empire State Building is becoming more sustainable, see movie clips that feature this famous skyscraper, chuckle at a special nod to King Kong, and even see a wall of photographs of A-list celebrities who have visited in the past..
Yup, just an all-around amazing experience that is only enhanced by incredibly helpful staff members. However, because the Empire State Building is easily one of the most popular destinations in New York City, lines can be supremely long.
Therefore, be sure to pre-book your tickets online in advance (currently the Empire State Building only offers timed admissions to help protect visitors during the pandemic) before you swing by and enjoy one of the best NYC things to do at night.
Pro Tip: For the best visit possible, time your visit for Thursday evenings when you can enjoy live saxophone music. Also, check the weather before you visit since clouds can obstruct the view at the top.
Address: 20 W 34th St, New York, NY 10001
Price: Tickets are typically $45.73 per person.
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the N, R, or W train to 34th street and Herald Square and walk to the Empire State Building from there.
14. World Trade Center – One World Observatory
Like the aforementioned NYC observatory of delight, One World Observatory is home to one of the most fun things to do in NYC at night.
Because this observatory of might is open until 9:00 pm and offers up some of the best views in the city…period.
That being said though, the last admission for the day is routinely at 8:15 pm, so do time your visit accordingly.
And while the price of tickets may seem a bit steep at $38 per person, like with most things in life, you really do get what you pay for. So, expect awe-inspiring panoramas from the 102nd floor that truly are some of the best in the world.
Plus, if you pay extra close attention, you’ll be able to see New York City icons like the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, and the Statue of Liberty, from the top.
Like with most observatories though, do check the weather prior to booking your tickets since visiting on an overcast, supremely cloudy day can be a bit of a Debbie downer – and that’s putting it mildly.
Pro Tip: Per usual, book your tickets well in advance (you don’t actually have a choice at the moment since it’s timed entry only) to avoid long lines. Also, plan your visit for sunset for the best views ever. No, really. This is NOT a drill.
Address: 285 Fulton St, New York, NY 10006, United States
Hours: Open daily from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm with the last admission at 8:15 pm (hours may change so check their website for more details).
How to Get There: Take the 1,2, or 3 train to Chambers Street and walk to One World Observatory from there.
Price: Tickets start at $38 per person,
Other Fun Things to do in NYC at Night
15. Staten Island Ferry
You know what I love about the Staten Island Ferry?
Not only does it give you supremely awesome views of the Statue of Liberty at any time of day – since the ferry runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week – but it is easily one of the best free things to do in NYC at night.
Yup, you read that right. And there’s no need for a double-take since the Staten Island Ferry is totally free to use. In fact, it’s cheaper to ride now than it was in 1817 when the ferry first opened and tickets cost $0.25 each!
So, if you want to be like one of the super-cool locals, skip the Statue of Liberty cruise altogether and board the Staten Island Ferry at the, you guessed it, “Staten Island Ferry Terminal” in Battery Park.
Trust me, it’s huge and hard to miss since it’s on your left (as you enter the park) and the building itself has enormous letters that say, “Staten Island Ferry Terminal”.
You can also expect the ride between Manhattan and Staten Island to last around twenty-five minutes, with the best views of the Statue of Liberty being from the right-hand side of the ferry.
You will also have to get off the ferry once you arrive in Staten Island and then reboard another ferry that is bound for Manhattan. Yeah, it’s kind of annoying but super easy to do since ferries depart every 15 to 30 minutes.
Pro Tip: If you can, try to find a window that opens so that you don’t have to take pictures through dirty plexiglass. You’ll also want to avoid the ferry during rush hour – weekdays between 6:00 am and 9:30 am and then again from 3:30 pm to 8:00 pm – since it gets jam-packed with commuters.
***Want to enjoy the ultimate night out in NYC? Then take a look at this awesome, 60-minute sunset cruise around New York Harbor. Not only is this cruise reasonably priced, but you’ll also get awesome panoramas of the Manhattan skyline. So, get your tickets now and start planning the date night in NYC.***
Address: Staten Island Ferry Terminal, New York, NY 10004
Hours: Ferries depart every 15 to 20 minutes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How to Get There: Take the 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green and then walk to the ferry terminal in Battery Park.
16. Grand Central Terminal
Easily one of the best free things to do in NYC at night, Grand Central Terminal is routinely open until 2:00 am (although all of the stores here will be closed by then) and a great place to check out in the evening since the hordes of hurried commuters that inundate the building daily will be long gone.
Therefore, you can take advantage of primo photo ops while savoring the architectural majesty of a beaux-arts style building that was initially built in 1913.
Afterward, take in the stunning marble floors, the chic marble countertops, and the instantly recognizable main concourse with its constellation embued turquoise ceiling.
And if you visit a little earlier in the day, you can do fun things like:
- Experience the Whispering Gallery – It’s near the basement-level Dining Concourse in the basement and is just outside the Oyster Bar. Just stand diagonally across from someone, speak into the wall, and your companion will be able to hear you from all the way across the room.
- Check out the basement-level Dining Concourse – There are tons of great places to eat here, including Shake Shack, Magnolia Bakery (get the banana pudding), and Doughnut Plant.
- Visit the Great Northern Food Hall – They serve awesome Scandinavian-inspired food here and a run a fantastic holiday market here in the winter.
- Grand Central Market – This is like a supermarket/farmer’s market where you can get insanely fresh and delicious eats from local vendors who sell fruit, cheese, bread, baked goods, pizza, and more.
- Transit Museum Store – Cute MTA-inspired souvenirs you can take home with you.
- Drink it Up at the Campbell – It’s a chic, 20s era, speakeasy bar right that should not be missed.
- Self-guided audio tour – To learn more about the fascinating history of this amazing place, head to the Tours Office (on the Main Concourse) and pick up an audio guide for a 30 to 60-minute tour of the building. The office is open daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and guides are $12 for adults, $11 for students, and $10 for seniors/children.
Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Hours: Open daily from 5:30 am to 2:00 am.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6/S/7 train to Grand Central Terminal.
17. Times Square
Read this blog even a little bit and you know how much I absolutely DETEST Times Square. Yeah, I know a lot of people love it but I personally just think it’s a giant NYC tourist trap that is absolutely overflowing with creepy Elmo and Elsa characters who walk around, constantly trying to get paid to take a picture with you.
Yup, definitely not my scene but if this sounds like one of the many fun things to do in NYC at night to YOU, then, by all means, go for it.
I mean, it’s open twenty-four hours a day, sits at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and is filled with a vibrant assortment of neon advertisements and glowing theater marquees.
So, if you plan to see a Broadway show, you can definitely stop by before or after and take a photo or two. Just be aware of your surroundings since pickpockets have been known to frequent the area, especially if you’re here after dark.
It’s also routinely packed with tourists since more than 50 million people visit annually – something that sounds very anti-fun to me.
Pro Tip: Again, be on the lookout for pickpockets and watch out for people dressed up as cartoon characters. They regularly troll this area and will charge you to take a photo with them.
Address: 89 E 42nd St, New York, NY 10017
Hours: All day, every day.
How to Get There: Take basically any subway line to Times Square since this is basically the center of the city.
18. Late Night Dining
If you have a hankering for some delicious, late-night snacks, then you have come to the right place! Because NYC truly is the city that never sleeps and is is home to a ton of delicious restaurants that are routinely open until the wee hours of the morning.
So, if your idea of “fun things to do in NYC at night” includes eating your weight in pizza and pierogis, then check out some of my fave light night eateries listed below.
- Mama’s Too – They serve delicious pepperoni pizza squares on the Upper West Side and are open until 11:00 pm.
- Taco Mix – This authentic taco joint is usually open until 4:00 am, offers outdoor seating, has locations throughout the city, and serves up delicious “al pastor tacos” that are stuffed with freshly roasted pork and topped with roasted pineapple and salsa.
- The Penrose – An Upper East Side sports bar that serves food until 11:00 pm. Try the mac and cheese with smoked gouda and the short rib sandwich and chase it down with a rum old-fashioned.
- Guantanamera – This mid-town Cuban restaurant routinely serves food until 11:30 pm (get the calamari in garlic sauce) and even hands out free hand-rolled cigars on Friday and Saturday nights.
- Donburiya – This Asian-inspired, midtown pub is usually open until 2:30 am (at least before the pandemic) and serves up delicious ramen and katsu curry.
- Empanada Mama – Open until 5:00 am, this Columbian hotspot is a great place to go on the west side for spicy arepas, chicken soup with cilantro and rice, frozen margaritas, and, of course, corn empanadas filled with beef.
- Friendship BBQ – if you feel like you can haul ass to Queens, then stop by this epic Chinese eatery. It’s open until 12:30 am and offers up delicious skewers of meat that are roasted to perfection. Try the “Xingjiang Special Lamb” since it’s the house specialty.
- Baekjeong NYC – A midtown, Korean BBQ spot with tabletop grills that is open until 11:00 pm most nights. Get the short rib or brisket.
- Veselka – This iconic lower east side restaurant has been in business since 1954 and is open twenty-four hours a day (currently until 11:00 pm during the pandemic). Stop in and try the $19 meat platter, which includes Borscht, two meat pierogies, two potato pierogies, and meat-stuffed cabbage with mushroom gravy.
- 886 – This Taiwanese restaurant in the Village is open until 11:00 pm on the weekends and is known for its danzai mian (shrimp and pork noodle soup), tomato and egg stir-fry, and beef noodle soup.
- Prince Street Pizza – Get the “Spicy Spring” (aka pepperoni atop spicy red sauce) slice here any time before midnight on the weekends. You’ll also have to stand up while enjoying your slice since this is a no-frills kinda place.
19. Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge
Easily one of the best free things to do in NYC at night, a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is an essential part of any NYC itinerary.
It’s also just an all-around awesome thing to do in the evening since the bridge is open twenty-four hours a day and the city basically glows to life after the sun goes down – giving you a totally unique skyline view.
However, to really get the most out of your experience, wear comfy shoes, bring a buddy (It’s late at night and safety can be an issue. I mean, I know you’ve seen all those Law and Order episodes and you definitely don’t want to become the show’s next great plot twist), and traverse this mile-long pedestrian walkway from Brooklyn to Manhattan for the best views.
Although that being said, it is a lot easier to access the bridge from Manhattan so I guess it really just depends on what is most important to you.
So, if this is one of those fun things to do in NYC at night that you want to try for yourself, then you can get to the bridge in Brooklyn by using either the underpass on Washington Street or by going to the intersection of Tillary Street and Boerum Place).
And if you want to walk across the bridge from Manhattan, just enter the walkway from the northeast corner of City Hall Park, which sits on Centre Street.
Pro Tip: Be sure to stay on the areas of the walkway that are designated for pedestrian use so that you don’t get mowed over by a rogue bicycle. Also, be sure to explore the DUMBO area of Brooklyn beforehand since it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city.
Address: Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY 10038
Hours: Open all day, every day.
How to Get There: Take the C train to High Street/Brooklyn Bridge station or the 2/3 train to High Street station and walk to the bridge from there.
Map of the Most Fun Things to do in NYC at Night
Additional NYC Travel Resources You’ll Love
- Best Areas to Stay in NYC
- The Ultimate NYC Bucket List
- An Expert’s Guide to Summer in NYC
- 25 Best views in NYC
- Secret NYC Tips from a Local New Yorker
Well, that just about wraps up this hella long post about the 19+ best things to do in NYC at night!
What do you think? Did your favorite late-night hot spot make the list? If not then let me know in the comments below because I would love to hear from you!