INSIDER'S GUIDE TO TIMES SQUARE




Times Square is so famous as the location of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop, you may not be aware that it’s also an affordable, fun and kid-friendly place to visit year-round. During the Christmas and New Year celebrations hotel prices rise dramatically, but during the rest of the year accommodations in Times Square are surprisingly affordable. Located in the heart of midtown, staying here is both easy and convenient, no matter what else you’re planning to do. Times Square is not really a square, it’s more of a rectangle, ranging from 40th to 52nd Street (north/south) and 8th and 6th Avenues (east/west). In the 1980s the district was considered an unsavory and sordid part of town. But much as changed since then, and if you haven’t been back for a visit, you’re in for a real surprise! Today, Times Square is an entertaining and exciting place for the whole family. Often referred to as the “crossroads of the world”, it’s quintessential New York City -- a highly stimulating environment packed with billboards, lights, people and activities. Here’s a list of our favorite things to do in Times Square:


1| HOP ON A CITYSIGHTSEEING ALL AROUND TOWN TOUR BUS


If this is your first time to New York (or your first time doing the tourist thing), the perfect way to kick off your adventure is with a complete overview of the city. This CitySightseeing 2.5 hour double-decker, open top bus tour will take you through Uptown, Downtown and Brooklyn and it begins and ends in Times Square.
A “hop-on hop-off ” tour means you’re free to hop off at any stop along the way to explore on foot, and simply hop back on later to continue the tour. This bus tour has several added bonus inclusions as well, which make it a real bargain for the price.


Address:

The “official” departure location is between 47th and 48th Streets on 8th Avenue, but the company now has mobile and paper ticket scanning capability on all buses -- meaning once you purchase your ticket, you can hop right on the bus at any stop - no need to traipse across town to exchange a voucher for a ticket or start at the first stop if it’s not convenient.


Hours:

Stop and start times vary slightly by route, and buses generally run every 20 minutes.


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2| VISIT MADAME TUSSAUDS NEW YORK



Madame Tussauds is so much more than a wax museum; it’s an iconic “must do” New York Experience. With no velvet ropes or barriers to keep you from interacting with the world’s most recognizable icons, you can pose with the all the greats -- from George Clooney and Meghan Markle to George Washington and Princess Diana and everyone in between. But the fun doesn’t stop there in this fully immersive, one-of-a-kind destination. With over 85,000 square feet of interactive entertainment, you won’t be just looking at wax statues -- there’s plenty of actual ‘experiences’ to be had as well -- from fighting zombies to ‘ghostbusting’ or having high tea with the British Royal Family. Take in the Marvel Super Heroes in a 4D film adventure with all sorts of special effects, and head into the tropical Skull Island where you’ll encounter a giant animatronic head that breathes, snarls and roars. Don’t leave without visiting the Dylan’s Candy Bar located inside with floor to ceiling sweets. There is truly something fun for everyone at Madame Tussauds -- and chances are you’ll enjoy it much more than you expected to.


Address:

234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036


Hours:

Sunday - Thursday, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm Friday & Saturday, 10:00 am - 10:00 pm


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3| SPEND THE AFTERNOON IN TIMES SQUARE PLAZA


There has never been a shortage of street performers in Times Square, but in 2016 the city brought some order to the chaos by creating an “official zone” to showcase the talent - a different kind of “broadway stage” in Times Square Plaza. Download this “cheat sheet” that identifies “Chill Zones” where you can sit, nosh, and people watch; “Designated Performance Activity Zones” where street performers and characters are consolidated (from Elsa and Elmo to fake Buddhist Monks, you can see them all here); and even a guide to the pedestrian “Express Lanes” which will help you avoid the crowds when you’re ready to be on your way. It wouldn’t be New York if you didn’t encounter street performers and this is a great way to spend an afternoon for virtually no cost (though tips are both expected and appreciated), where everyone in your group will see something fascinating. Look for a caricature artist -- these make great personal souvenirs!


4| ENJOY A SHOW AT THE NEW VICTORY THEATER


If you can, by all means see a Broadway show while in New York. But if you’re travelling with kids or you simply can’t afford tickets, this off-Broadway option might just be the answer. A totally new theater experience for the entire family has opened at the New Victory Theater, located just off-Broadway, on 42nd Street. With a mission to make theater and the arts available to all, dance, circus, opera, and music shows from around the world are offered at affordable prices and are appropriate for viewers of all ages. To ensure children have an amazing theatre-going experience, the staff is trained to engage them, and there are booster seats available. An activity area lets kids practice juggling and balancing, the café menu and furniture is designed to accommodate both adults and picky eaters, and lockers are available to stow those all that extra gear little ones require. This theater consistently gets great reviews.


Address:

209 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036


Hours:

Showtimes vary, please Click here to see the schedule.


5| FEEL BIG AT GULLIVER’S GATE




Based on the book Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Gate is a miniature world such as the one encountered by Lemuel Gulliver in the fictional land of Lilliput. A world of miniatures covers 50,000 square feet showcasing more than 25 cities from five continents. Over 200 master craftsmen from around the world have created this technologically advanced museum of miniatures with hundreds of hidden scenes and interactive elements. You’ll see a mini Times Square, Grand Central Station, Central Park, and so much more of just of New York alone. Interact with scenes from around the world including the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, and a futuristic airport as well as a marvelous model train. You’ll travel through different time zones and historic periods, promoting lots of opportunities to talk with kids about the world. When you enter, you’ll be given a key that operates some of the most intricate models anywhere in the world. Get yourself scanned to create a 3D image of you and your group to be permanently placed in this magical world!


Address:

216 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036


Hours:

Daily, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm


6| EAT WHERE THE LOCALS EAT


There is no shortage of places to eat in New York City - in fact it can be really hard to decide where to go. If you’re looking for something you can’t find at home, we highly recommend you make time to eat breakfast or lunch at the local favorite: Margon Restaurant. It won’t wow you from the outside (in fact, without reading this recommendation you’d probably never consider giving it a try) and it’s certainly not fancy on the inside. But this authentic Cuban cafe serves some of the best food in the area. Order at the counter, and find a seat along the sides or and back of this long, narrow restaurant. You can get an American breakfast platter of eggs, Virginia ham or bacon, home fries and coffee for around $5.50 and small or large bowls of Creamy Latin Oatmeal. Omelettes, a BLT, and side orders of meat round out the breakfast menu. Lunch is served until 5:00 PM and the menu is quite extensive. In addition to Cuban sandwiches, you’ll find various chicken dishes including chicken chunks for kids, pork chops, beef or oxtail stew, or ham. Of course, yellow rice and red beans is a standard offering. You’ll likely smell the terrific aromas half way down the street and you’ll be looking for just a “hole in the wall” but once you taste the food you’ll find that it is truly something to rave about. NOTE: It is crowded at lunch time when all the working people teem out of their offices for midday breaks, but if you can get there a little before or after the rush hour you should be able to get a seat.


Address:

136w 46th Street, New York, New York


Hours:

Monday - Friday, 6 am - 5 pm Saturday, 7 am - 5 pm Sunday, CLOSED


7| VISIT THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENCOUNTER OCEAN ODYSSEY




Dive into this groundbreaking, immersive new entertainment experience in the heart of Times Square. This breathtaking, interactive underwater journey uses cutting edge technology to transport you to extraordinary places and rarely witnessed moments in the deep sea. This is not an aquarium -- it’s so much more and so much less -- it’s truly an “encounter” where you’ll be able to play with sea lions, get up close to a majestic humpback whale, visit an illuminated coral reef at night, and discover the incredible stories of National Geographics ocean explorers. Even better, this state-of-the-art exhibit has no real animals in captivity. Animals stay in safely in the ocean, while technology brings you to their world . Stunning, photo-realistic animation makes you feel that you are really there, underwater, going where you’ve only dreamed of being. Engaging commentary about the ocean, pollution, conservation, and all the marvelous creatures that call the ocean home and an ocean sound room make this encounter educational as well as magical. Children and adults alike will be awe-struck by love going through the kelp forest and mirror maze, never knowing that they are getting a great education.


Address:

226 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036


Hours:

Sunday - Thursday, 10:00 am - 9:00 pm Friday & Saturday, 10:00 am - 10:00 pm


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8| KICK UP YOUR HEELS WITH THE ROCKETTES



Radio City’s legendary dance company, the Rockettes, is famous for their precision and glamour, and the Radio City Stage Door Tour gives you a peek behind the curtain, brining you face to face with a real Rockette. As one of the largest indoor theaters in the world, it’s center stage for all kinds of different shows, from musicals to comedy to popular musicians. In this tour you’ll see the great stage, the magnificent Wurlitzer organ, and learn the history and some secrets of past performers. The hall has been around since 1932 when Rockefeller and Samuel (Roxy) Rothafel determined to build a theater that was both beautiful and affordable for ordinary people. The Art Deco interior combines industrial and precious materials resulting in a sophisticated and elegant look. Learn all about the technical aspects of stage work, and have a picture taken with a Rockette!


Departure Location:

1260 6th Avenue (corner of 50th St), New York, New York, 10011


Departure Times:

Daily from 9:30am-5:00pm


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9| ENJOY A SLICE (or two) OF HEAVEN.


Located in a renovated old cathedral complete with stained glass windows and a beautiful stained glass domed ceiling, it’s easy to see why John’s of Times Square is often referred to as “pizza heaven”. This is where you want to go to to find authentic thin-crust New York pizza. Baked in 800 degree coal-fired ovens by pizza chefs who have gone through months of extensive training, you’ll want to eat the whole pie (which is good, because they don’t sell it by the slice!). Eat here…you won’t be disappointed.


Address:

260 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036


Hours:

Open everyday, 11:30 am - 11:30 pm


10| RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT




Two streets over from John’s Pizza is Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You may have been to a Ripley’s before but this one is different, with interactive “experiences” and more than 500 oddities. First, see the huge assortment of unreal curiosities from around the world. This is always fascinating, especially for those seeing it for the first time. Robert Ripley traveled to more than 200 countries searching for items that were difficult to explain, were strange and odd. His collections were first shown at World Fairs, which led to the creation of museums. Smash Dash is a new, crazy race against time where buttons light up and buzz all around you as you chase them down and give them a good smash. The more buttons you hit, the higher your score. Kids love the colorful room where they can challenge each other and spend energy. Experience a vortex tunnel and Black Hole, see eclectic works of art celebrating all kinds of musicians, and finally, you can pay extra to participate in Ripley’s Relic, an Escape Room. This adventure is good for ages 5 and up, and you’ll work together to solve intricate puzzles in order to escape within 15 minutes. Altogether, a Ripley’s afternoon is a great way to bring out the inner explorer in both kids and adults, and enjoy time together being amazed.


Address:

234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036


Hours:

Sunday - Wednesday, 10:00 am - 11:00 pm Thursday - Saturday, 10:00 am - 1:00 am


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11| STOCK UP ON SWEETS


The sweetest time ever can be had in just one block in Times Square, where the Hershey’s store sits just across from the M&M store. Yes, they are stores, but not JUST stores. At Hershey’s you’ll find Hershey’s Times Square candy balls, a free sample when you enter, and a s’mores making kiosk. Who doesn’t love a s’more? Visit this chocolate lovers dream to see everything chocolate plus Twizzlers in lime, orange cream, and every other imaginable flavor Find kisses dolls and other imaginative gifts that make great souvenirs for any candy lover in your life. The best tourist trap on earth for M&M fans is right nearby with 3 floors of the multi-colored round candies. Huge dispensers with loads of different colored M&Ms, (including a caramel flavor!) makes choosing your purchase a lot more fun. Find tee-shirts and socks with M&M themes, stuffed pillows, and fun knick knacks. Create your own mixes and use the Personalized Printer to print a special message or someone. Be sure to step into the mood analyzer to discover your “M&M personality.” Kids will totally love this store.


Address & Hours:

Hershey’s - 20 Times Square Building, 701 7th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Open Everyday, 9:00 am - Midnight
M&Ms- 1600 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
Open Sunday - Thursday, 9:00 am - Midnight
Open Friday & Saturday, 9:00 am - 1:00 am


12| VISIT BRYANT PARK



While not exactly Times Square, Bryant Park is so close and such a popular destination you won’t want to miss it. Known as Manhattan’s “town square”, there are free activities all year round, lush seasonal gardens, dining, and so much more. Every day, the Carrousel and Ping Pong are open from 11 AM until 8 PM. You’ll find neat porches where you can sit and eat, holiday shops in season, juggling, monuments, and even wifi if you have some work to do or need to get online while on vacation. If you are there in the winter time, the ice skating rink is a highlight for all, whether you want to rent some skates and spin around the rink or simply sit and watch. It’s an all-time favorite activity either way, and you can sip on hot cocoa as you admire the skaters. Also in the winter you’ll find the holiday open air markets with lots of fun and funky gift options. It’s a winter wonderland like no other. In other seasons, sit and relax over a cup of coffee or cold drink, enjoy a picnic lunch, attend story time with the kids, or watch a magic show. You can even visit an outdoor Reading Room to peruse magazines and newspapers, do crossword puzzles, or even attend a literary event or workshop. Any time is the right time to visit Bryant Park…you won’t want to miss this beautiful oasis surrounded by the skyscrapers of Manhattan.


Address:

Bryant Park is bordered by Fifth and Sixth Avenues and 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown.


Hours:

Park is open daily from 7:00 am - 10:00 pm


13| MIDNIGHT MOMENT

Every night at 11:57 pm you can see the world’s largest digital art exhibition come to life on the street in the heart of Times Square. For three fantastic minutes, all electronic billboards are synchronized into one digital art display in the largest coordinated effort in history. Midnight Moment has been in existence since 2012 and the display and artist collaborations change monthly. Presented by the Times Square Advertising Coalition and curated by Times Square Arts, this is a marvel worth seeing.


Address:

Junction of Broadway & 7th Ave


Hours:

Daily, 11:57 pm - Midnight