Known as “the crossroads of the world,” Times Square is the cinematic epicenter of New York City, showcasing one of the most popular commercial intersections in the world. Famous for both its iconic attractions and over-the-top billboards, and captured on the silver screen in thousands of movies and TV shows, how do you survive the inevitable sensory overload of Times Square?
See a Show
If you really want to experience Times Square, you must see a Broadway show. Not just for theater “geeks,” they have a show that will satisfy just about anyone, from the classics like Phantom of the Opera and Chicago to the downright dirty and hilarious Book of Mormon or Avenue Q. Traveling with the kiddos? The Lion King and Newsies are great family friendly entertainment the whole crew can enjoy.
Shell shocked by ticket prices? As an insider tip, head down to the theater early in the day and ask if they have a raffle for today’s show. Many giveaway a few really good seats to their fans – completely free. Should you not get a raffle ticket, the TKTS booth in Times Square sells last minute tickets at highly discounted rates and the more flexible you are with show times and what you want to see, the more you can save. Alternatively, you can tour the interior of these landmark theaters to get an interesting perspective on how these productions are made.
Know Where to People Watch
Right by the TKTS booth, the red stairs at Duffy Square offer one of the best viewpoints of Times Square and its massive sweeping LCD screens. Located between 45th and 47th streets, and Broadway and Seventh Avenue, depending on when you go, the screen in front of Olive Garden becomes an interactive game board for people on the steps.
Another great place to people watch is in front of American Eagle. With dozens of tables spread along Broadway, the biggest pedestrian area in Times Square, you can sit down and interact with the giant screen, or simply take in the street performers and all the action around you – including the Naked Cowboy.
Hop Between Unique And Crazy Attractions
Beyond the action on the street, Times Square has a lot more craziness to offer indoors at the Museum of Sex, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, and Madame Tussauds. Ripley houses a collection of over 20,000 photographs and 30,000 artifacts, most of which all have to be seen to be believed. Think the tallest man in the world, the longest tongue, and other quirky stuff. Madame Tussauds, on the other hand, houses extremely realistic wax statues of celebrities like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Barack Obama, and many more awaiting your photo opps. And the Museum of Sex, well, the name says it all…
Debate Between M&M’s and Hershey’s
The Hershey’s Store was the original chocolatier in Times Square and for a year, it showcased its candy as the small, modern version of Willy Wonka’s famous Factory. The intense smell wafting down the streets is hard to resist, but today, is rivaled by the much bigger M&M store which opened right next door. Lacking the same charm and powerful scents, it’s a visual feast for the eyes, an immense collection of everything colorfully M&M. Which chocolate maker does it better? That is for you to decide.
Celebrate New Year’s Eve
If you are in New York City on December 31 and want to partake in the monumental event, make sure you are in Times Square early during the day to stake out a spot, as crowds inundate the entire area. Televised worldwide, the ball drop began over 100 years ago when the first Waterford crystal was lowered on a pole. Arguably Times Square’s most famous moment, it’s a chance to get up close and personal with your favorite celebrities, celebrate the New Year, and toast at midnight. Just be sure to wear warm clothes, as it gets really cold!
Be a night owl… a very late one
Everyone tends to explore Times Square in the afternoon, tucking in around midnight. But pop a Red Bull and stick around, as special things tend to happen after dark. Have you ever wondered how movies can shoot scenes without a million people walking through the area? While everyone else is asleep, film producers set up for their best shots. Scout the area, and if you see colored signs warning you “not to park at so and so for the filming of x”… you know what to do.
Take a breather
Whether it’s daytime or night, the crowds in New York City can get overwhelming and even unbearable. Bryant Park is located right next to Times Square and a great spot to picnic. They also show movies in the park at night in the summer for free – a great date or family outing. Situated just behind the New York Public Library, take your time to appreciate this architectural marvel.
You can also walk a few blocks north to Central Park or a little further afield to Rockefeller Center to get one of the best views of the skyline from the Top of the Rock.