Is Times Square a tourist trap? Should you avoid it? Here are some Times Square facts so you can decide for yourself.

TImes Square is home to over 50 billboards
Times Square is neon central

Apparently visiting Times Square in New York City is now considered tacky? It’s now too touristy and not something that sophisticated and cool New Yorkers do? Where are people coming up with this nonsense?!

The crossroads of the world is how many New Yorkers refer to Times Square.

News flash! We New Yorkers all go there. Not only do we go there, but we also LOVE IT! We love the energy. We love basking in the legendary neon lights of Broadway. We love looking at the costumed characters and marveling at their increasingly audacious outfits. We love the electricity, the edginess, the sheer massiveness of it all. We love the in-your-face dynamism in summer, winter, spring, and fall. And it’s probably the coolest place in the city to get all your NYC souvenirs. 

Yeah, sometimes it’s tacky but it’s still a massive sensory overload and we love being a part of it. In a city like New York that defines excitement, Times Square is at the center of it.

There are tons of things to do in Times Square. You’ll find some of the best restaurants, unique shopping opportunities and unparalleled people-watching.

Check out the bizarre street performers, get half-price same-night tickets to award-winning Broadway plays and musicals or chow down on an authentic Argentine empanada from local food trucks – Times Square is ground zero for authentic ethnic foods.

And if you’ve got kids, or if you’re a big kid yourself, don’t miss Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum and Madam Tussauds Wax Museum.

Here is a collection of Times Square facts sure to pique your interest.


Times Square Fact #1: Times Square’s fascinating history.

So how did Times Square get its name? Did you know it hasn’t always been called Times Square?

Established since the 1880s, Times Square once went by the name Longacre Square, named after a carriage district in London. It took the name Times Square from the New York Times headquarters, which in 1904 moved to One Times Square.

Where exactly IS Times Square? It is at the intersection of 7th Avenue, 42nd Street and Broadway.

Times Square sits right smack in the center of New York City’s Theater District which is bordered by 6th and 8th Avenues in the east and west and 40th and 53rd streets to the south and north.

On August 14, 1945, Times Square hosted the largest crowd in history when over 2 million people gathered to celebrate the U.S. victory in World War II.

Here is one of my favorite Times Square facts. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, Times Square was a seedy run-down neighborhood infested with porn shops, X-rated movie theaters, live sex shows and decrepit tenements.

If you watch the Academy Award winning movies Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver, you get an idea of what Times Square was like way back then.

In the 1990s and 2000s the city invested heavily in cleaning up the area and revitalizing it. The effort resulted in a booming tourist attraction which welcomes 50 million visitors a year, much more than any other NYC tourist attraction.

In 2009 the city closed Broadway to cars and created car-free spaces and wide plazas for pedestrians to frolic in.

Times Square is now the home to giant walls of over 50 billboards that generate over $20 million in income each year. The displays are legally required to have a certain amount of neon in order to maintain the flashy, neon-infused excitement Times Square is famous for.

Times Square is also the location of the famous New Year’s Eve ball that millions of people watch drop in order to ring in the New Year. In fact, it was on December 31, 1907, when the first ball started its descent together with the countdown to the New Year.

To be there in the middle of it all, to participate in the countdown, to feel the anticipation and excitement is a feeling everyone should have at least once in a lifetime.

Times Square is the crossroads of the world

Times Square Fact # 2: Times Square is not really a square.

Here’s one of the many fun facts about Times Square. It’s not actually square! It’s made up of two triangles, where Broadway cuts through the grid.  You can see how it’s two triangles in the picture above.

You can also see the largest LED display in the world, a 37-foot high sign owned by the NASDAQ.

Times Square Fact #3: Times Square has the best entertainment.

Another Times Square fun fact and reason why Times Square is the crossroads of the world is that it has almost unlimited entertainment possibilities. There are hundreds of Broadway plays and musicals in the area, from big-name blockbusters with stratospheric price tags like “Hamilton” to cherished revivals like “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

But the best performances may be the humble off-off Broadway gems you happily luck into one night while considering entertainment options, or the long-running play you’ve already seen but want to see again…and again.

Check out Times Square’s Red Steps TKTS booths for highly discounted tickets for the same day’s performances. There is always a good selection to choose from.

If TV is more your thing, you can tour NBC studios, which lets you go behind the scenes of popular shows such as The Today Show and MSNBC. You can also try to snag tickets to a recording of Saturday Night Live.

It’s also home to some rather colorful characters, such as the Naked Cowboy. Don’t be surprised to find some superheroes walking around, too.

Times Square Fact #4: Times Square has the best music.

Want music? Times Square has that, too, big time. A wide range of musical talent regularly performs live at the Broadway Plaza come rain or shine. Some of the best jazz clubs call Times Square home. 

Over the past 20 years, the recently renovated Iridium has built a reputation as a destination for some of the best rock, blues, and jazz in the city. You don’t go to the Iridium to listen to music, you go to experience it.

And then there’s Birdland. Named after jazz legend, Charlie “Bird” Parker, this place has been around since 1949. Birdland has hosted the greatest of the jazz greats including Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and many, many others.

It is the very definition of the classic jazz club; great acoustics, comfortable, roomy interior – everybody gets a good seat to see the band – small but tasty menu, serious drinks, great performances and all for an admission of $25 to $50 depending on the artist and a $10 cover.

This is jazz heaven. The rumor is that a large percentage of the patrons are regulars, some frequenting as often as once a week.

Times Square Fact #5: Times Square has the best international cuisine.

You want to talk food? It’s a well-known fact about Times Square that it has some of the best food, anywhere.

Head down the side streets of Times Square for some of the best food in the city. Some will tell you the food in Times Square is a tourist rip-off. Sure, there’s some of that, but anyone over the age of 12 should be able to recognize a tourist rip off restaurant when they see it and know to steer clear of it.

There are some fine restaurants in the area with names that are probably familiar to you like Sardis with their great steaks and perfect martinis, Victor’s Café with their tasty Cuban fare and Latin music, and Carmine’s for classic Italian.

The culinary variety in Times Square reflects the ethnicities of the people that inhabit it; Chinese, French, Vietnamese, Argentine, Japanese, Mexican. You name it, it’s there, waiting for you to explore.

Can’t make up our mind? Stroll down Restaurant Row on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues to become even more overwhelmed with the myriad of culinary options there; Brazilian, Thai, Greek or Spanish. And while you’re there stop by Swing 46 for a drink and swing lessons you can practice all night to the sounds of the Big Band.

Take your photo at the red stairs TKTS platform, one of New York City’s best Instagram spots.

Times Square Fact #6: Times Square has the best hotels.

Another one of the many facts about Times Square is that there is no shortage of places to stay the night. There are six huge hotels you can stay in, and others aren’t that far away. As you might guess, they aren’t cheap.

If you can swing the hefty price tag for one or two nights, it’s totally worth it. There’s the Marriott Marquis Hotel, famous for its 45-story high lobby. If hip, modern décor is your thing, try W Times Square for its amazing views.

If you’re looking for something a little different, you can try Yotel New York. It has an ultra-modern atmosphere with high-tech guestroom features such as a Techno Wall containing a flat-screen television, charging ports for portable electronics, and a motorized bed.

There’s even a robot that handles your luggage, storing it for you before or after check-in. While it’s not right on Times Square, it’s a short walk at only two blocks away.

Then there are the standbys, Sheraton New York, Doubletree Guest Suites, and Crowne Plaza Times Square, each having their own classic charm and appeal.

For a more complete guide, see where to stay in New York City based and what you want to see and do.

Times Square Fact#7: Times Square shopping is “A Thing.”

What do the Times Square shops sell? Well, you’ll certainly encounter lot of typical tourist souvenirs, but there are also unique gifts and finds. Times Square is a good place to peruse theater paraphernalia that you are unlikely to find anywhere else.

Most shops in Times Square stay open until 10 pm or midnight. That’ll give you tons of time to explore the area and shop at stores like as Sephora, American Eagle Outfitters, Muji, H&M and other national and international brands.

One of the fun things to do in Times Square is to check out the M&M’s World or Hershey’s Chocolate World. You can get a major chocolate fix at both stores as well as customized treats. It makes for a yummy memento of your visit to New York. Little kids – and big kids – will love official merchandise of favorite cartoons at the Times Square’s Disney Store.

The holiday season in New York City is very special and a major event with massive Christmas trees, dazzling store displays and Christmas decorations. You can shop in Times Square for a unique Christmas memento to remember your visit.

Times Square Fact #8: Times Square is still popular, even if it is considered “too touristy.”

And maybe the most important of all the Times Square facts…to whoever is telling tourists to avoid Times Square like the plague, NOBODY’S LISTENING! I recently checked out Trip Advisor’s comments from tourists who visited Times Square. Here is a random sampling of their reviews from all over the world:

Always a must do when you visit NYC. The lights, the shops, the smells of delicious food, the people! Put on your walking shoes.

I love Times Square. Great places to walk around, easy access to uptown and downtown via subway.

You may love it or hate it and you will certainly be surrounded by lots of other tourists, but Times Square is a must see and a spot in NYC that can’t leave you indifferent. I personally always enjoyed going through it.

Times Square is a must see for anyone that will travel to New York! The night lights are over the top! You can shop to 2 am or 3 am in the morning! You are blocks away from Broadway.

L.A., it's nice, but I think of sunshine and people on rollerblades eating sushi. New York, I think of nighttime, I think of Times Square and Broadway and nightlife and the city that never sleeps. Jimmy Fallon Read more at:… Click To Tweet

A massive commercial junction where all things 21st century seem to collide. Love the red stairs provided for serious people watching!

Times Square is such an iconic place it’s hard to not be wowed. The lights and nonstop action are awesome.

Such a surreal experience just standing in Times Square and watching the world go by. I was in New York whilst it was snowing and that just made it more special! From the billboards to the people on the street entertaining, the place just bursts with character and life!

These are people who embrace, rather than fear, the occasional jolts of energy that life gives you. They are not likely to avoid Times Square like the plague. They’re going to see and experience for themselves what all the hype is about. And they are going to love it.

Times Square is neon-capital of the world

Even people who’ve never been to Times Square think it’s cool. Did I mention that every year for 10 seconds on a freezing December night, the world counts down the new year with us in Times Square? You can get some of the best New York City Instagrammable moments in Times Square.

There's nothing like the feeling of being in Times Square for New Year's Eve. It's such a great rush. You feel like the whole world is there. People from all over the world coming to celebrate together. Read more at:… Click To Tweet

So, let’s knock it off, guys. Stop misleading tourists and stop pretending you’re too cool for Times Square. Your secret is out. You love it, everybody knows it, and that’s cool enough.

Things to do in Times Square at night and after a Broadway show

If you’re looking for some things to do in Times Square at night, we’ve got you covered for drinks, shows and more. Many Broadway shows have their final bows after 10:30 PM. But in New York City, being the city that never sleeps, the show does indeed go on.

Where to go after a Broadway show. Times Square signage

Things to do in Times Square if You’re Craving the Spotlight after a Broadway show

One of the most popular things to do in Times Square at night is to take your turn as a star at Don’t Tell Mama, the world-famous entertainment destination. Located in the heart of New York’s theater district, 343 W. 46th Street, this bar is one-of-a-kind, offering a piano bar, restaurant, and two separate cabaret rooms.

Things to Do in Times Square at Night if You Can’t Get Enough of Theater

Perhaps one show in one night isn’t enough…If you’re still itching to see another show after your show, check out the popular cabaret venues scattered across the city. Feinstein’s/54 Below is a popular concert hotspot, located on 254 W. 54th Street, and one of the most popular things to do in Times Square at night.

This club is home to many traveling Broadway professionals, so you may run into some familiar faces.

If you’re looking for more of a new and funky venue to see a performance, Green Room 42 may be the right option for you. This entertainment hall offers a wide variety of performances by your favorite Broadway stars as well as an amazing menu.

things to do in times square at night

Things to Do in Times Square at Night if You Love Arcade Games

Maybe you’re feeling a little competitive after your Broadway show. If you want to be the next Pinball Wizard, fill up your game card for an evening of air hockey or Dance Dance Revolution.

The Fishbowl, located at 210 West 55th Street, is where Midtown Manhattan meets upscale game room. This arcade boasts a 5,000-gallon fish tank, classic games and bowling with a cocktail in hand.

Or, if you’re looking to enjoy a full-sized bowling alley, go to Frames, located at 550 9th Avenue. Open until 2 AM on the weekends, this all-inclusive entertainment center has 28 lanes, private VIP rooms, dining and cocktail service, a ping pong room, billiards lounge, and private karaoke.

Things to do in Times Square if You Want to Grab a Drink

One of the most perfect things to do in Times Square at night is to enjoy a drink with a date or friend right after a Broadway show. Enjoy happy hour at a few of our favorite bars while discussing your favorite moments from the performance.

Or, stop by the classic watering hole, Glass House Tavern, which is favored by actors after they’ve taken their bows. Prior to curtain, it’s a welcome place for audience members to indulge after the show.

No matter what your favorite things to do in Times Square at night, NYC offers a large variety of bars, arcades, restaurants, shows and concerts to enjoy after 10:30 p.m.

Now that you have a list of things to do in Manhattan after your show, find last-minute Broadway tickets for you, a date or a friend. After you select a show, choose from the list of entertainment suggestions to enjoy once your performance is over.

If you’re headed towards Greenwich Village and are still in the Broadway show vibe, sing your favorite songs from the performance or take part in some group singing.

Grab a shot of liquid courage at Marie’s Crisis, a popular piano bar located at 59 Grove Street. If you love karaoke and classic bar drinks like Bud Light and mixed drinks, then this is the perfect piano bar for you.

How to get to Times Square

You know that saying “all roads lead to Rome?” You could say the same about Times Square. All roads and subway lines lead to Times Square. You can get to Times Square from just about anywhere in New York City.

The Times Square–42 Street Station is served by several subway lines – N, R, S, W, 1, 2, 3, 7 and the new Q line. From Grand Central Station, you can take the S train, also known as the Shuttle, to Times Square.

Where to stay in Times Square and other Manhattan neighborhoods. 

Still can’t get enough of Times Square and New York City? Check out these posts.

Don’t forget to stock up on valuable reference guides to help you maximize your trip.

Do you have other cool Times Square facts? Do you still want to visit it after reading all of these Times Square facts? I sure hope so.


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  1. Cover at birdland is $25 to $40, not $10, that’s merely the minimum. Times Square is a crowded tourist trap but tourists are gonna tourist I guess.

    1. Opps! You are correct. I have made the correction. I appreciate you taking the time to read and submit a thoughtful and useful comment. Have a healthy, beautiful New Year!

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Talek Nantes

This blog was created to inspire your travels and to explore experiences in fascinating locations. What you will find are thoughts on how to immerse yourself in local culture, food, history and people. On your way to these adventures I hope to provide you with useful information to help you get there. Come see the world with me!

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