Top 10 Things to Do in New York City at Night

Truly the city that never sleeps, New York City is known for its nightlife. When the sunsets, you will have dozens of ways to spend your night and we hope to help guide you through the overwhelming options by providing you with a quick top 10 things to do in New York City at night. In addition to Broadway and comedy shows, hearing live music, bar-hopping or ballet watching, we’ve also listed night tours. Be sure to take advantage of our links included in the post to find out in-depth information on how to save money on these activities and more.


(1) ENJOY A  BROADWAY SHOW Top 10 things to do in New York City at Night 

This one is, of course, no surprise. One of the best ways to enjoy the city’s nighttime offerings is to take in a Broadway show. Don’t assume that it’s out of your price range. There are multiple ways to get discounted theater tickets and enjoy some of the best theater in the world without blowing your budget. See the video below and our post How to get discount Broadway theater tickets for all the tips and tricks. For other ways to find deals and discounts on Broadway shows, click here.  Also, consider off-Broadway and off-off Broadway shows, which are cheaper (and sometimes better!) than the famous shows.

Tip: If you do go to a show, you’ll probably find our Things to Do in Times Square post helpful.


 


(2) VIEW NEW YORK CITY FROM UP HIGH

What could be more magical than a 360-degree view of New York City glittering at night? The top three city’s skyscraper observation decks are open at night – Empire State Building (until 2 am);  Top of the Rock (until midnight) and One World Trade Center Observatory (summer time until midnight, after Labor Day until 8 p.m.). If you aren’t sure which of the three to visit, we’ve put together a list of the pros and cons of each of them.   

New York City's skyline @fotolia

 

If you prefer to stay close to the ground, see our post on where you can go to see the Best New York Skyline Views.  One of the best, and free, views of NYC’s skyline is from walking over the Brooklyn Bridge at night.

 


(3) SEE STAND-UP COMEDY  OR IMPROV

Big on the list of New York’s nightlife is enjoying a comedy club. Prices for entry into the best clubs are no laughing matter. With drink minimum requirements, your costs can add up. But if you follow the suggestions in our post on Stretching Your Dollar at The Best Comedy Clubs, get all the laughs you can handle, while saving some green!

Also, improvisational theater can be hysterical and is usually very cheap. Many famous comedians got their start doing improv, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus from Seinfeld. (See our Self Guided Tour of Seinfeld’s New York). 

Two very popular and affordable improv theaters are:

Upright Citizens Brigade is one of the most famous improv theater venues in the country. Founded by four comedians including Amy Poehler of Saturday Night Live. U.C.B. has two locations in NYC, one in Chelsea and one in the East Village. Many performances are free, with the highest ticket price at $12.

Peoples Improv Theater (PIT)  has several shows every night at 3 locations. Tickets are as cheap a $1. Most shows are $5-$7.

Tip: Why not try for tickets to see Saturday Night Live the best free comedy in NYC! Read our post, How to get Saturday Night Live Tickets (or Standby Tickets) to find out everything you need to know about ticket availability or how to get stand-by tickets.

 


(4) ENJOY AN OPERA, BALLET OR ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE AT LINCOLN CENTER

One stop-shopping can be found at Lincoln Center, home of The Metropolitan Opera, The New York City Ballet, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra and several other residents performing arts companies. To see what is currently being performed, check their calendar.  Another option for musical performances is Carnegie Hall.

 


(5)  VISIT A MUSEUM

A number of museums stay open until 8 pm and some even later. The Rubin Museum of Art has their super fun K2 Friday Nights, the museum’s café is transformed into the K2 Lounge, offering a special pan-Asian tapas menu to accompany the evening’s DJ and programs. The Brooklyn Museum is open late on Thursdays until 10 p.m.

But even better is their oh-so-popular First Saturdays, with free admission until 11 p.m. It takes place the first Saturday of each month offering engaging and eclectic free art and entertainment programs every month (except September), from 5 to 11 p.m. For a list of other museums open certain nights of the week until 8 or 9 pm see the museum section in our comprehensive list of free things to do in NYC.

 


(6) TAKE A NIGHT WALKING TOURManhattan Night Tour Rockefeller Center Atlas

We offer many different New York night tours.   The contrast of experiences by day vs. by night means that you should consider taking both the day and night versions of the same tour.  Not all tours run daily, so we recommend that you take a look at our full calendar to see which tours are offered during your time in New York.  We also offer anytime GPS-enabled audio tours, which you could, of course, take at night.  You might want to take a read on our suggested places to take in the New York skyline.

Among our night tours are:  

 


(7) TAKE A NIGHT BUS OR BOAT TOUR

Many people are surprised to find out that not only is the Staten Island Ferry free, it also runs 24 hours a day and makes a great nighttime option, especially to see the Statue of Liberty up close. Occasionally, we offer our fully guided hop-on, hop-off, pay-what-you-wish night bus tour.  Please check our calendar to see if our bus tour is offered during your time in New York.  Below are some other bus tour companies that offer evening tours.  Find out which NYC night tour is best.  Be sure to check out our full comparison bus tour page. Another way to enjoy seeing the city at night, in warmer months is to take a  night cruise. Be sure to read our comparison post on New York boat tours.

Staten Island Ferry runs 24 hours a day.

 

 


(8) SEE LIVE JAZZ

Apollo Theater ShowtimeNew York City is known for its high-quality jazz clubs and late night sessions. For downtown recommendations check out our list of music venues in Greenwich Village.  You can also consider visiting  Harlem – the district that made jazz a household word in the post WWI era. Around the original Swing Street, West 133rd and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard are affordable jazz haunts. Paris Blues, Bill’s Place and Shrine are among the best. And for a one of a kind. Make yourself familiar with the neighborhood during one of our Harlem tours. During that tour we visit the famous Apollo Theater for its Wednesday’s Amateur Night, the Apollo has been discovering legends like Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill since it opened in 1934. 

Tip:  If you enjoy live music and performances, don’t forget that New York City has some of the best subway musicians, buskers, and performers. Our post about Where to find New York City Street Performers and Subway Music will lead you right to them!

 


(9)  GO DANCING

New York is known for its variety of dance clubs catering to your taste in music and kind of dancing you enjoy. Some of the best places to go dancing are located in Brooklyn and here are some Brooklyn’s dance clubs and bars we recommend. If you prefer to stay in Manhattan, here are the 12 hottest nightclubs in Manhattan recommended by Spoiled NYC.

For those of you looking to salsa dance, here’s a comprehensive calendar of salsa and mambo music across the city at bars and clubs. For the swing dancer in you, the scene is alive and kicking in New York City. This Week in Swing has a great listing of weekly events in addition to the ongoing calendar of where to get your ‘6 foot’ on the dance floor.

If you are looking for some drinking and dancing, New York Pub Crawls offers a relatively affordable way to hit the city.  They offer crawls that end at major dance venues from anywhere between $16-$26 a person.  Price includes drink specials and entry, but you will have to pay for most of your drinks.

Viator offers several nightlife tours, including a Rooftop Lounge Experience and a Sex and the City Night Out.  (If you are a SATC fan then you won’t want to miss seeing where Carrie lived. Look at our post on how to find Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment.)

 


(10)  GRAB A DRINK OR TWO

It’s no surprise that one of the most popular activities in the city is to hit the town and grab a drink. You can do this by taking a tour, many of which you can learn about on our post “Best Pub Crawls and Bar Tours in New York City” or you can go it alone and use our list of some of the best, and affordable, bars.

Combine your drink with a fabulous view of New York City by visiting one of these 10 Rooftop Bars with Skyline Views of Manhattan.

Want to mix in some history with your drinks, grab a pint or cocktails at one of New York’s oldest bars. A complete listing can be found at out post Historic New York City bars. And if you want to get a head start on your night, find out about the best Happy Hours around New York City.

 

 

(11)  SEE A SPORTS EVENT

New York City is home to some of the best sports teams and all year round you can attend a sports event at night. If you’re a fan of baseball, basketball, football, hockey or tennis, there are games and matches all year round. Even if you aren’t typically a sports person, seeing a sports event can still be so much fun. New York sports fans are die-hards so just watching the spectators is exciting! 

Baseball – April to October

NYC is home to both the Yankees and the Mets, and each team has its own stadium.  The Mets play home games at Citifield Park in Queens and the  Yankees play home games at Yankee Stadium. For information on visiting Yankee Stadium, for a tour or a game, see our post, Yankee Stadium Tours and Tickets.  For discounts on tickets, check out Groupon, where sometimes you can get a great deal.

Basketball – October to April

One of the most thrilling sports to see and New York has two of basketball’s famous champion teams: The Knicks and The Nets.  The Nets play out of the relatively new Barclays Center located in Brooklyn, just north of Park Slope. The Knicks can be found at Madison Square Garden (MSG) in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. Another great team also calls MSG home: The New York Liberty, one of the top teams in the WNBA, Women’s National Basketball Association.

For information on tickets and how to find discounts for a tour of Madison Square Garden, check out our post on the  Madison Square Garden All Access Tour. While you are in Midtown here’s a list of 50+ Things to Do in Midtown Manhattan {2017}.

Football – September to February

For some amazing football, you will have to head out to the MetLife Stadium in nearby New Jersey where both New York’s teams, the Jets and the Giants play.  There are plenty of public transportation options so don’t let leaving Manhattan deter you from seeing a game.

Hockey   – October to April

NYC has two awesome hockey teams, the Rangers and the New York Islanders. The Rangers play out of Madison Square Garden and the Islanders are over in Brooklyn at the Barclay Center.

Tennis –  late August to early September

One of the four Grand Slam matches is held right here in New York City and is one of the most popular sporting events of the year. Matches are played from 11 am until late into the evening, with some hard-fought 7 pm matches lasting until midnight on the rare occasion. Now that is a night to remember!

 


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Written by Courtney Shapiro
 

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