Locals might bemoan Times Square’s touristy hustle and bustle, but the neon wonderland is undeniably New York City’s beating heart. Loud and chaotic, the crowded epicenter is one of the world’s most visited and recognizable tourist attractions.
This neighborhood was named for The New York Times, which moved its headquarters to the district in 1904. (the newspaper is now on Eighth Avenue; a stones throw away.) Times Square is nestled between West 42nd and West 47th Streets on Seventh Avenue. Having shaken off its reputation as a somewhat seedy area, visitors come in droves to experience the quintessential New York.
Lit up 24 hours a day, Times Square’s whirring news tickers, flashing stock exchange information and brash advertisements add to the ambience. There’s often a great assortment of local color to entertain visitors. You may find African drummers, jugglers, and dancers on any given day or night. For years the Naked Cowboy has been a tourist attraction: a street busker famous for playing guitar in his underwear. Impromptu musical performances and dramatic public speeches are common, and don’t be surprised if Mickey Mouse sneaks up behind you for a kiss.
For a more sedate experience, Madame Tussauds Museum offers celebrities immortalized in wax.
Broadway’s theater district extends off the center of Times Square. Hundreds of show-goers typically line up at the TIX outdoor booth to score half-priced tickets on the afternoon of performances in one of the 40 venues.
Those with a sweet tooth can get their fill at the enormous M&M’s and Hershey’s chocolate stores. Those seeking to watch the madness unfurl can pull up a chair in the square’s center, which is closed to passing traffic. Or, catch a movie in one of the area’s huge multiplex cinemas.
Times Square is brimming with memorabilia stores, from the upmarket to the kitschy, where you can snap up souvenirs such as “I Heart NYC” T-shirts and New York Yankees caps. There are also a wide variety of places to catch a meal, from fast-food to those famous New York delis that serve up huge bowls of Matzo ball soup and humongous sandwiches.
Times Square is located in the heart of New York City, on the west side. There’s a major subway station there and it’s easy to find a bus route through the area. Grand Central Terminal, the railway hub, is also located there.
There’s no place anywhere on the planet exactly like Times Square. To help you make the most of your time here, we’ve put together a list of some of the top things to do:
- Times Square and the Great White Way Tour
- Times Square Literary Pub Crawl
- National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
- Top of the Rock & MoMA with Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- Herald Square Times Square and Chelsea
- Best of New York Tour with Times Sq & Empire State Building
Take a look at our New York things to do page to learn about many more activities in the area.