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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/MK Feeney

The coolest things to do in Times Square

Yes, there are indeed seriously cool things to do in Times Square. It's not just a tourist trap after all!

By Joseph Alexiou and Leah Butterfield

As the city's notorious epicenter of tourism, New Yorkers avoid Times Square at all costs—which is a shame because there are many great things to do in Times Square. The area is one of the best places to go shopping in NYC, especially if you're on the hunt for cheap and high-quality jeans. There are also some really delicious Times Square restaurants hidden between the awful ones. And have you seen the best Broadway shows NYC has to offer? They're definitely worth braving the crowds.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to Times Square, New York 

Best things to do in Times Square

Sake Bar Hagi
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nels

1. Sake Bar Hagi

Restaurants Japanese Midtown West

Tucked away just a block from Times Square’s Olive Garden, this Japanese eatery is full of a younger, hipper clientele. (Hard to believe, we know.) The sake here is so killer it’s a favorite among the city’s Japanese expats.

The Rum House
Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

2. The Rum House

Bars Lounges Midtown West

In 2009, this rakish, 1970s-vintage piano bar in the Edison Hotel looked destined to go the way of the 99¢ peep show. But the team behind Tribeca mixology den Ward III ushered in a second act, introducing some key upgrades (including serious cocktails) while maintaining the charmingly offbeat flavor of the place. Forget you're a stone's throw from Times Square while listening to nightly live jazz acts and sipping dark-spirit–heavy tipples.

Hello, Dolly!
Photograph: Julieta Cervantes

3. Broadway shows

Theater Broadway

As much as we love Chicago and The Phantom of the Opera, sometimes new Broadway shows just seem more exciting than the old standbys. From family-friendly musicals to romantic dramas, the Great White Way has something for everyone.

4. Dave and Buster's Times Square

Attractions Arcades and amusements Midtown West

There's no shame in going to a Dave and Buster's. (Yes, even one that is located in Times Square). You'll be entertained for hours inside the combination bar which serves food and offers classic arcade games. What's better than playing your childhood favorites like Pac-Man, Skee-Ball and Pop-A-Shot? Playing them while you're drunk!

Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge
Photograph: Courtesy of Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge

5. Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge at Moxy Times Square

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown West

Most rooftop bars rely on their expansive vistas to woo the crowds, noting the sky-high vantage as the main attraction. For Magic Hour, the spot from TAO Group that crowns the Moxy Times Square hotel, its view of midtown and the Empire State Building is just a footnote. The team plays up the idea of an “urban amusement park” in its palatial 10,000-square-foot space, with rotating carousel seating, a topiary garden and Foreplay, a putt-putt course filled with animal statues in NSFW positions.

Jimmy's Corner
Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin

6. Jimmy’s Corner

Bars Sports Bars Midtown West

Neither fancy, flashy nor touristy (in this neck of the woods, that’s saying something), the slender dive bar is a veritable boxing shrine. Another major selling point? The drinks are cheap, which is a rare treasure to find in central Manhattan.


7. Margon

Restaurants Cuban Midtown West

Although across the street from the livelier Havana Central, this hole-in-the-wall Cuban eatery has a big following of native connoisseurs, so you know it’s the real deal. Try the octopus salad (trust us).

Photograph: Courtesy Cory Brackett

8. Rudy’s Music Store

This guitar mecca is one of the last remaining shops—and sites of cultural authenticity—on what used to be Manhattan’s “music row.” Helmed by the husband-and-wife team who founded it in 1978, the shop boasts a constantly evolving selection of new and used guitars and accessories. If you feel like shelling out the big bucks, check out some of Rudy’s custom guitars, like the ones he created with crooner Mark Knopfler.

Have you been to Rockefeller Center?


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