It is impossible to visit the city of New York without going to Times Square! This famous landmark is an integral part of New York and its history, as well as an emblematic site with an extraordinary atmosphere.
There’s a reason why Times Square is known as “the heart of the world” and it is definitely one of the first places you have got to visit when you get to New York City – no matter what time your plane lands 😉
Why go to Times Square?
Everybody knows Times Square and its 27 famous red steps that sit atop a TKTS booth. This square, located in the borough of Manhattan between 7th Avenue and Broadway, is also known as the Crossroads of the World. It is the perfect place to realise how absolutely gigantic the Big Apple really is – you’ll be surrounded by huge buildings and large advertising screens displaying all kinds of advertisements.
Of course, Times Square has also been the set of some of the most iconic movies and series there is, such as Vanilla Sky starring Tom Cruise, Now You See Me, Spider Man 3 starring Tobey MaGuire, or even Glee.
You don’t know what to do with all that information? Don’t worry, I’ll now tell you about everything you can see and do in Times Square👇
Which activities can one do in Times Square? ✨
Are you travelling soon? Don’t forget to book your activities in advance! Depending on when you visit New York, there will be many tourists. If you absolutely want to see a Broadway musical, for example, you better have your tickets for the show of your choice already booked because they sell out fast.
As for the museums near Times Square, you can book a time slot on the official websites to make sure you’ll get to enter and not have to queue! The good thing about Times Square is that it is at the centre of everything. Central Park as well as the MET and its art collection are also nearby.
What to see and do in Times Square?
As I said before, do not hesitate to go to Times Square as soon as you land in New York City. Once there, you can start by climbing the stairs to really see the greatness of the city. Right away, you will see many buskers with whom you can take pictures 😃
Don’t miss the Naked Cowboy who walks around playing the guitar in white kangaroo briefs, boots and Cowboy hat 🤠
If you want to take pictures with one of these street performers, just know that a tip is mandatory since 2016. You will have to pay 2 or 3 dollars to take a picture. Moreover, the more performers in your picture, the more you’ll have to tip!
Go see a musical in Broadway
This neighbourhood is especially lively and dynamic at nightfall. In the early evening, there are many musicals you can go see on Broadway, in the heart of Times Square. The most famous include The Lion King, Cats, Aladdin and the iconic Phantom of the Opera – there are representations all year round! 🎭
What to do in Times Square? Go shopping!
Many brand stores can be found on Times Square. Some are even absolute attractions for all ages! You cannot visit the Crossroads of the World without entering its M&M’s Store – the special New York City goodies and the M&M’s, sorted by colour, are a sight for sore eyes. Don’t miss the Disney Store either – even more spectacular than the one in London! – or the Levi’s Store.
If you want to buy clothes, you’ll find an H&M, Gap or American Eagle Outfitters, among other stores. Interesting tidbit: for a purchase of more than $10, you can be photographed on the last floor of the store. Your picture will then appear 15 minutes later on the screens outside the store. This will be your moment of fame on Times Square! 😄
Attend the New Year's Eve Celebration
The square will definitely be packed tight: every year, approximately a million people wait for the countdown while watching other countries’ celebrations on a big screen.
A concert is also held every year and just a few minutes before midnight, a huge ball, the Waterford Crystal, is hoisted on the roof of the One Times Square Building (which used to be the New York Times’ offices). Then, the ball drops down at midnight 🥳
This experience is incredible and the event is broadcast live on television and watched by millions!
Times Square guided tour ✨
It is absolutely possible to discover that place through a guided tour! Indeed, most of the city’s guided tours include Times Square, as it is one of the world’s most famous and visited places 🤩
Other tours that last around 2 hours focus exclusively on Times Square and Broadway, which is near the square. Such is the case for the guided tour that I am recommending here. Having a local guide will allow you to really discover the place’s secrets and history, as well as the city’s. Your guide will also share their good deals and advice with you so the rest of your trip goes smoothly! 👍
The price of this tour is about £33.
Enjoy good American meals
Most of the restaurants in Times Square are themed restaurants such as Planet Hollywood, located at 1540 Broadway, or Hard Rock Café. There you can eat salads, fries, burgers, sandwiches, and much more! 🍔
If you want to eat fish or seafood, head to Bubba Gump, a restaurant inspired by the Forrest Gump movie and located at 1501 Broadway, New York City. It was actually my first stop when I first travelled to New York City, and I did not regret it 😁
You can also buy food to go from a food truck; or go for a romantic meal at a chic restaurant such as Le Bernardin (French cuisine) or R Lounge (American cuisine). If you're more into Italian food, I suggest La Masseria.
Another unmissable restaurant that you’ll find near Times Square is Shake Shack, a famous fast-food restaurant chain which was created in New York and is still expanding in the world.
To discover more great restaurants, you can definitely check TripAdvisor – and especially the reviews left by locals and tourists both 😉
Visit Times Square's museums
Of course, you can find a few of New York’s emblematic museums on Times Square:
- Madame Tussauds is a museum that displays a large collection of wax statues. There is of course one in London, but their collections are different!
- The Ripley's Believe It or Not! is sadly definitely closed now,
- The Broadway Museum.
You cannot book visits to these museums on French or British booking websites, so again, I recommend going to their official websites or even on TripAdvisor for more information.
How to get to Times Square?
Times Square is located in Manhattan, between 42nd Street and Broadway. Its full address is W 46th Street & Broadway Ave, New York, NY 10036.
To get there from your hotel, the easiest way is to take the New York underground. Several lines stop in the area: R, N, W, Q and 1, 2, 3 and 7. You can get off at either Times Square – 42nd Street or Times Square – 49th St. You can also stop at the Port Authority station and go to Times Square on foot. It makes for a nice, short little walk.
Where to sleep in New York City? 🛏️
If you are leaving soon but are still wondering where to sleep in New York City, I have a recommendation for you! If you want to stay in Times Square itself, it is possible, but it most certainly will exceed your hotel budget… That’s why I suggest looking a bit further. The Lucerne Hotel, located in northern Manhattan (between Central Park and the Hudson River), is the perfect place for a stay! It offers a ticket booking service – all the better for your visits. Besides, this hotel includes a gym, a French restaurant as well as several meeting rooms. A night for 2 costs approximately $253 😉
The history of Times Square
Times Square, which has now become the most famous square in the world, was a popular place for horse hires in the late 19th century. It was then called Longacre Square and didn’t change its name to Times Square until 1904, when the famous newspaper The New York Times set up its offices in the One Times Square building.
By the 1920s, Times Square was a very lively area known for its big venues, music halls, theatres and hotels. It was also an advertising paradise: the first ad was displayed on the wall of a bank, at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway. Afterwards, the biggest brands started rushing to get an advertising place.
However, from the 1950s until the 1990s, Times Square went through a dark time. The square became a place of debauchery, prostitution and delinquency. In the end, the new mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, decided to make it one of the most dynamic districts in the city – and he succeeded! 🙌
With its year-round events and large gatherings, Times Square has become one of the most famous and visited squares in the world, which earned it the nickname I mentioned before, the Crossroads of the World 🏙️
What you need to know about Times Square
- Every day, about 365,000 people walk through Times Square.
- You don’t need a ticket to visit Times Square
- Every December 31st, one million people gather there. Actually, there were even 2 million people there to welcome the new millennium – year 2000.
- Times Square is a non-smoking area. You’ll be fined $50 if you get caught (about £39)!
- How much energy do you think Times Square consumes? Well, no less than 161 megawatts of electricity at its peak! ⚡
- Every night at 11:57 pm, the screens darken and display art images. That’s what is known as the Midnight Moment! As always in New York City, the view is amazing 🤩
- Between 7th Avenue and Broadway, a sound system playing background music hides underneath the subway mouth.
You have reached the end of this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful! 😃 Of course, Times Square isn’t the only place to see, and you should definitely discover other emblematic places in the city, such as the financial district of Wall Street, Central Park or the Empire State Building 😊