Times Square is the throbbing heartbeat of New York City. Smack dab in the center of Manhattan, millions of tourists flock here every year to take in the sights and sounds of the city. Find out who should visit Times Square, how to get there, how much time to budget, and why you might want to skip this experience.
Why You Should Visit Times Square
Iconic: When one thinks of New York City, it’s not uncommon to immediately think of Times Square. You must visit this icon at least once in your lifetime.
Architectural: Though hidden behind billboards and tickets, there are plenty of impressive buildings. The Times Building—though maybe not the most ornate example of architecture in the city, is impressive in its own right. The Broadway theaters’ interiors are well worth visiting for a few photos.
Historic: Times Square became Times Square when the first subway line was routed here in 1904. It became an area of ill repute in the 1970s and was cleaned up in the 1990s, partially thanks to the Walt Disney company. There are plenty of layers of history to peel back in this neighborhood.
Kid Friendly: I can’t think of many kids who wouldn’t enjoy the bright lights, big TV screens, and the giant M&M store in Times Square.
Musical: In addition to the street performers, you can see an array of musicals and concerts here. There’s also a statue of George Cohen in the center of the square.
Shopping/Fashion: You’ll find dozens of stores on every block here. Aside from Walt Disney, consumerism is one of the main driving forces behind Times Square’s revival.
Religious: Though I would heed against running around claiming Times Square to be a religious experience, the Times Square Church is a non-denominational church that offers a great way to see gospel as a tourist.
Comedic: Caroline’s on Broadway is one of the most iconic spots in NYC for a live comedy show. Do as the comics do, and head to the Stage Door after the show for a drink. Or, get tickets to a live taping of the Tonight Show or the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Theatric: The Times Square Theater District is where you can see some of the biggest musicals and shows. Take a photo on the red steps at the TKTS booth, but try one of my theater ticket hacks before buying a ticket here.
Cinematic: Countless movies and TV shows have filmed in Times Square, including The Deuce, Friends with Benefits, and Vanilla Sky. Check out a comprehensive list of movies filmed in Times Square.
How Much Does It Cost to Visit Times Square?/Money Savers:
Times Square is free to visit!
How Much Time Should I Budget for Times Square?/Time Savers:
Fly-By: 15 minutes is all you need to walk up Broadway from 40th Street to 47th Street.
In-Depth: 90 minutes will give you plenty of time to take photos, stop in stores, and check out the TKTS booth.
Need to Know:
- Times Square is very crowded all the time. Make sure your kids stick with you, and have a plan for if you get separated.
- Disney-esque characters hang out in Times Square for photos. But these guys are just as much employed by Disney as I am by Oprah. They also look a little mangy. They’ll also charge you for the photos (but they won’t tell you about the fee until after you’ve posed). Are they safe? Sure. Do I let them touch me? Nope. Do others enjoy the experience? I guess. Just a heads-up.
Why You Should Skip:
If you hate crowds, avoid Times Square like the plague. Still, I think you should at least peep your head into Times Square–just to get the experience.
When to Go to Times Square:
Early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds. (Times Square is safe at nearly all hours of the day or night.)
How to Get to Times Square:
Walking: Walk to Broadway and 40th Street. You’ll figure out the rest. Just follow the bright lights.
Subway: Take the A, C, E, Q, R, N, W, 1, 2, 3, or shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square/42nd Street.
Taxi/Car: Ugh, just don’t. It takes for-ev-er to get into Times Square by car. But if you must, just tell your driver to take you to Broadway and 40th Street.
Bus: Nope. I’m putting my foot down on this one. The bus is a waste of your time in this case. Walk or take the subway. Just do it.
Related Attractions/Other Ways to See:
There’s no substitution for seeing Times Square in person. You gotta go. What are you waiting for? Go right now!
Need more inspiration on how to focus only on what you love in NYC? Check out a full list of attractions.
Don’t forget to read a few articles on how to hack New York City, so you can see more, do more, and stress less!