Brooklyn Bridge, free things to do in NYC at night

15 Best Things to Do in NYC at Night

They say that the Big Apple is the City That Never Sleeps, and it’s true because you can find all kinds of fun things to do in NYC at night. There are countless nighttime attractions in NYC, as well as activities for kids, teens, and adults. So, no matter who you’re traveling with, you’re going to have a great time!

In this guide, I’ll tell you the top places to go at night in NYC, from free viewpoints to the most iconic landmarks. And if you’re looking for the best nightlife in NYC, I’ve got you covered with the city’s finest rooftop bars, speakeasies, and clubs.

Keep reading to discover where to go in NYC at night and to download my map with all these attractions and activities.

1. Night helicopter tour, one of the best things to do at night in NYC

An evening air tour over the Big Apple is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in NYC at night. While we have an article on the top helicopter tours in New York City, I think this night flight is the perfect choice if you want to take a tour after dark.

Night helicopter tour, things to do in nyc at night

1. Night helicopter tour, one of the best things to do at night in NYC

This specific tour departs from Linden Airport in New Jersey, and you’ll get a safety brief before taking to the night skies. Then, you’ll spend 30 minutes admiring the birds-eye view of NYC as it glitters beneath you.

Flying over the city after dark is a romantic thing to do in NYC at night as a couple, too. If you’re looking for a unique date idea, consider sharing this magical experience with your partner! Together, you can see some of New York City’s most iconic landmarks from a completely new perspective, such as Yankee Stadium, the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, and several historic bridges.

2. See the views from an observation deck, a fun thing to do in NYC at night

A great alternative to a helicopter ride is visiting one of the best observation decks in NYC. While you can go to most of the city’s observatories during the day, I think they make for a better nighttime attraction in NYC. Besides, some of these decks double as a lounge, so if you go after dark, you can enjoy a drink while taking in the views.

For example, The EDGE at Hudson Yards is the highest rooftop bar in the city, and the tallest outdoor sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. Located on the 100th floor, it features a unique design with angled glass walls and a triangular platform that juts out 80 feet from the side of the building. If you stand at the edge, you’ll feel on top of the world, and you basically are since the deck is 1,100 feet high.

The EDGE, things to do at night in new york city

2. See the views from an observation deck, a fun thing to do in NYC at night

The Summit at One Vanderbilt is even taller, at 1,210 feet high. It’s part of the 4th-tallest building in NYC and has a multi-level deck with interactive art galleries.

Also, if you have the New York Pass, you’ll have access to three of the most popular observatories in the city. First, the Empire State Building has an indoor deck on the 80th floor and an observatory with indoor and outdoor sections on the 86th floor. You can get a ticket here, but if you want to access the 102nd-floor deck, you’ll have to pay an extra fee.

Secondly, One World Observatory at One World Trade Center is an impressive 1,268-foot-tall sky deck overlooking all of Manhattan, so I highly recommend it. Finally, the Rockefeller Center’s Top of the Rock observation deck is on the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors, and grants you unobstructed views of the city, so it’s one of the best places to go in NYC at night.

3. Go to Times Square, a place with the best nightlife in NYC

Visiting Times Square is one of the best things to do in Manhattan, and the nightlife in Times Square is unmatched. Here, you’ll find nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and all kinds of entertainment, from theaters and TV recording studios to street performers.

Times Square, nightlife in times square

3. Go to Times Square, a place with the best nightlife in NYC

Some of the best restaurants here are Tim Ho Wan, Los Tacos No. 1, Danji, Pure Thai Cookhouse, and Becco. There are also some awesome bars and nightclubs in Times Square, NY, like 1 OAK, Marquee, Paradise Club, Bar 54, and The Rum House.

If you’re looking for things to do at night with family in NYC, Times Square has attractions for the under-21 crowd, too. Check out Hershey’s Chocolate World, M&M’s World, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, or Madame Tussauds. Dave and Buster’s is a family-oriented entertainment complex, and Bowlmor Lanes has a bowling alley, arcade, billiards room, and sports bar.

4. Take a night cruise, the best couples thing to do in NYC at night

Again, the Big Apple takes on such a magical glow after dark, so if you’re looking for more things to do at night for couples in NYC, consider taking a night cruise.

This Harbor Lights night cruise is a lovely 2-hour twilight cruise to do with your partner. There is a full bar on board as well as indoor seating and an outdoor viewing deck, so you won’t miss any of the attractions. The cruise is narrated, so you’ll hear some interesting facts about NY landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.

NYC buffet cruise, things to do in new york city at night

4. Take a night cruise, the best couples thing to do in NYC at night

Another option is this dinner cruise aboard an all-glass boat. Sail through New York Harbor while enjoying a chef-prepared meal at your private table. The dinner option includes a three-course meal with dessert, dancing, and live entertainment from an acoustic trio, all while taking in the beautiful Manhattan sights.

These are two of the best boat rides in New York City, and there’s no doubt that this is a romantic thing to do in NYC at night!

5. Visit Broadway, one of the best places to go in New York City at night

It’s impossible to talk about New York City without mentioning Broadway, and seeing a Broadway show is one of the most popular things to do in NYC at night. Whether it’s your first Broadway performance or your 100th, these shows will never cease to amaze you.

Broadway, things to do in nyc in night

5. Visit Broadway, one of the best places to go in New York City at night

We’ve seen Aladdin, The Lion King, The Phantom of the Opera, and Wicked, and we must agree that watching a Broadway play or musical is one of the best things to do in NYC. Everything is top-notch, from the acting and singing to the costumes and set design. Plus, you can find a variety of shows, from classic cabaret to world-famous musicals.

Spending a night in the Broadway Theatre District is a nice thing to do for date night, or you can make it a family outing. So, if you’re wondering what to do in NYC in the evening with kids, get some tickets to one of the top family productions.

6. Have a night at the museum, a cool thing to do in NYC at night with kids

Another fun thing to do at night in NYC with family is visiting a museum. Lots of museums have after-hours events and specials, and this can be a good thing to do if you’re stuck with a rainy evening. There are so many museums in the Big Apple, and while we have a guide on NYC’s top museums, I’ll give you a few ideas here.

First, the Brooklyn Museum is open until 11 pm on the first Saturday of the month. This Beaux-Arts building is one of the largest museums in the city and holds art collections from Africa, Europe, North America, Oceania, and Japan.

The Met, new york downtown at night

6. Have a night at the museum, a cool thing to do in NYC at night with kids

The Guggenheim is another popular museum that hosts Art After Dark on select Fridays. Its building was designed by the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, and is most recognizable for its rotunda. Inside, you’ll find some of the best Post-Impressionist works and abstract paintings by masters like Kandinsky and Chagall.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is perhaps the most famous art museum in NYC, and its ancient Egyptian and Roman galleries are super popular. It’s open until 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays. If you want to specifically see 20th and 21st-century art, the Whitney Museum of American Art has works by Pop artist Andy Warhol and Abstract Expressionist George O’Keeffe, among others. It’s open until 10 pm on Fridays.

Those last three museums are included in the New York Pass, as is the Museum of Sex, an entertaining nighttime attraction in NYC for adults.

7. Go clubbing, a fun way to experience the best NYC nightlife

As you can imagine, the Big Apple never really sleeps, so if you’re looking for the best nightlife in NYC, I have a few recommendations.

First, the Electric Room in Chelsea is a trendy nightclub with a specialty cocktail menu, while Le Bain is a flashy penthouse club and rooftop bar at the nearby Standard Hotel. Le Bain has a cutting-edge sound system and regularly hosts acclaimed DJs, so it’s the best place to go if you want live music and dancing.

Somewhere Nowhere, best nightlife in nyc

7. Go clubbing, a fun way to experience the best NYC nightlife

Somewhere Nowhere is one of the best rooftops in NYC, specifically at the Renaissance NY Chelsea Hotel. It’s actually a multi-level lounge and has a pool deck and a garden-inspired roof terrace. 1OAK is down the street from Chelsea Market and is known for its celebrity clientele.

Over in the Bowery, Public Arts at the House of X is an immersive and interactive performance venue where you can dance to house and techno.

Finally, if you’re in Brooklyn, check out Elsewhere, a huge performance space in Bushwick with live music, DJs, and a roof terrace. Avant Gardner is another great nightclub and music venue in Brooklyn where DJs like Alesso and David Guetta perform.

8. See the Skyline light up, a romantic thing to do in NYC at night

For a low-cost way to spend your night in downtown New York, visit some different lookout spots for beautiful views of the skyline.

Brooklyn Bridge Park has several scenic viewpoints where you can see the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, the piers on the East River, and Midtown Manhattan’s skyscrapers. Two popular spots at the park to check out are Pebble Beach or the New York Skyline Lookout at Pier 1.

Manhattan skyline, things to do in manhattan at night

8. See the Skyline light up, a romantic thing to do in NYC at night

Domino Park, near the Williamsburg Bridge, is another Brooklyn park with nice views. If you go at night, you’ll be able to see the sparkling lights of the Lower East Side across the river.

If you’re willing to cross over into New Jersey, you can get incredible views of NYC and the Statue of Liberty. Frank Sinatra Park, in Hoboken, is a waterfront park with a pavilion where you can sit back and enjoy the Manhattan skyline. Another good place is Liberty State Park in Jersey City, which sits less than half a mile from Liberty and Ellis Islands.

This bus tour is a cool thing to do in NYC at night if you can’t decide on a viewpoint but want to see the Manhattan skyline at night.

9. Enjoy a delicious dinner, something you must do in New York City at night

You’ll get hungry at some point during the night, so let me tell you some of the most famous NY foods you should try. You’ll thank me later!

First, it goes without saying that some New York-style pizza is a must-have, so check out Lombardi’s in Little Italy or Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn. Some other places to go in NYC at night for a quick bite include Gray’s Papaya for hot dogs and Katz’s Delicatessen for pastrami sandwiches.

NY-style pizza, things to do at night in new york city

9. Enjoy a delicious dinner, something you must do in New York City at night

When it’s time for dessert, you can’t go wrong with a NY-style cheesecake from Junior’s or a sweet treat from Magnolia Bakery or Levain Bakery.

If you want to enjoy a sit-down meal, treat yourself to one of the best restaurants in NYC, like Dhamaka, which serves incredible Indian cuisine. Ernesto’s is a great Spanish restaurant specializing in Basque cuisine, and the historic Gage & Tollner serves delicious American food and cocktails. Also, Cadence is an innovative restaurant with vegan soul food, serving dishes like fried okra, maple buttermilk cornbread, and blueberry cobbler.

10. Get drinks at a rooftop bar, a late-night thing to do in NYC

Lounging on a rooftop bar with a cocktail in hand may be the best late-night thing to do in NYC, especially with friends. A rooftop bar is a nice alternative to a nightclub since you can enjoy New York’s nightlife scene without the pounding music and glaring lights. Plus, the views are insane!

Our favorite venue is 230 Fifth, which has live DJs, an igloo bar, and sweeping views of Manhattan, including the Empire State Building. The bar serves great cocktails, and it’s definitely one of the best rooftops in NYC.

NYC skyline, cheap things to do in nyc at night

10. Get drinks at a rooftop bar, a late-night thing to do in NYC

It’s also worth visiting the Castell Rooftop Lounge, a trendy rooftop terrace at the AC Hotel in Midtown. It has everything you want – cocktails, city views, and a cozy fireplace. Over in the Bowery, The Crown is another boutique lounge offering panoramic views of the city, as well as unique drinks and small plates.

Moreover, JIMMY at Modernhaus SoHo is an artsy, intimate place to go in NYC at night for drinks. It features indoor and outdoor areas overlooking the Hudson River, so if you’re looking for something to do in NYC as a couple, head here after dinner.

11. Take a ghost tour, a spooky thing to do in New York City at night

Taking a ghost tour is a fun thing to do in NYC at night with friends, and most of these tours are lighthearted, so it’s something you can also do with family. These types of adventures give you a new perspective of the city and its history, and you’ll visit some cool sites that you might have otherwise missed.

Haunted Manhattan, things to do in midtown nyc at night

11. Take a ghost tour, a spooky thing to do in New York City at night

Most of the haunted tours and attractions are in Manhattan, and this Greenwich Village ghost tour is one of the best ghost tours in New York City. Over the course of two hours, you’ll visit some of the creepiest places in the neighborhood, such as the Hanging Tree in Washington Square Park and the Murder House, which is said to be the home of 22 spirits.

You’ll also go to the haunted Church of the Ascension, the Emma Lazarus House, and the Brown Building, the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Plus, you’ll travel as a small group, which makes the tour even spookier.

12. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a free thing to do in New York City at night

Earlier, I mentioned Brooklyn Bridge Park, but I also recommend walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only is it one of the best free things to do in NYC, but it’s a lovely NYC attraction at night, too.

Brooklyn Bridge, unique things to do in nyc at night

12. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, a free thing to do in New York City at night

This iconic bridge is over 130 years old and stretches over 6,000 feet across the East River, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. It takes about an hour to walk across the bridge, but it’s worth taking your time and admiring the views of the waterfront and the skyline all lit up.

The best part about visiting this place in NYC at night is that you can see the cityscape reflected in the water. As you make your way across the bridge, you’ll have sweeping views of New York in all directions, so there are lots of great photo opportunities here. And if you go with your partner, it can be quite a romantic way to end the night.

13. Visit a speakeasy, the best thing to do in NYC at night for adults

Without a doubt, one of the best parts of being in a big city is finding the hidden speakeasies. These intimate, secret bars have tons of personality, not to mention amazing drinks, so visiting one of them is a fun thing for adults to do in NYC at night.

The city’s speakeasies are relics of the country’s Prohibition past when the buying and selling of alcohol were forbidden in the 1920s and early 1930s. Since these bars were essentially hidden from the public, it can be tricky to find them, so I recommend this tour that takes you to some of NYC’s best-kept secrets like McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest Irish pub in the city.

NYC speakeasy, late night attractions nyc

13. Visit a speakeasy, the best thing to do in NYC at night for adults

If you’d rather visit a speakeasy on your own, I recommend Please Don’t Tell (PDT), a dimly-lit bar with a James Beard Award. The entrance is at the phone booth in Crif Dogs hot dog shop. Dear Irving Gramercy is a time travel-themed cocktail bar with a cozy vibe, and Little Branch (LB) is an underground bar with a large menu of handcrafted drinks made by expert mixologists. It’s next to the Comedy Cellar on 7th Avenue.

Dropping by a speakeasy is a great way to mingle with the locals and meet new friends, so it’s an awesome late-night thing to do in NYC!

14. Ride the Staten Island Ferry, another free thing to do at night in NYC

The Staten Island Ferry is a staple of the Big Apple, and if you’re looking for cheap things to do in NYC at night, a ride on the ferry won’t disappoint. The ride is free, so you can take multiple trips, although I recommend doing the journey after dark when the Statue of Liberty is beautifully illuminated.

Manhattan skyline at night, things to do in new york city at night

14. Ride the Staten Island Ferry, another free thing to do at night in NYC

The ferry goes back and forth from Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan to St. George Terminal on Staten Island, going past Liberty Island and the iconic statue. The ride takes about 25 minutes, so it’s one of the best things to do with kids in NYC since you don’t have to worry about keeping them occupied for too long.

The views from the ferry are stunning, especially on the way back to Manhattan. If you can, get a sit on the front upper level and enjoy the skyline views. You can check the Staten Island Ferry schedule here.

15. Attend a TV show taping, a unique thing to do at night in New York City

Finally, attending a TV show taping is something you can’t do in most other cities, so if one of your favorite programs is recorded in New York, look for a free ticket to a filming.

Lots of late-night talk shows film here, and being part of the live studio audience is a cool thing to do in NYC at night. There is a wide selection of popular shows, but you’ll have to check the website to see which shows are currently filming.

NBC Studios, night time in nyc

15. Attend a TV show taping, a unique thing to do at night in New York City

For example, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah films at the Viacom CBS headquarters, and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is recorded at the Ed Sullivan Theater, both on Broadway. So, if you’re a fan of these two hosts, watching their show live is a fun, cheap thing to do in NYC at night.

Two other wildly popular productions, Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon are filmed at NBC Studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and you can get tickets to join the studio audience. Besides, NBC Studios is the venue for several other well-known TV shows and films, and it’s close to other cool sites like the Top of the Rock and Radio City Music Hall.

With that, you’re ready to plan your night out in the Big Apple! Be sure to check out this tourist map of New York with all the nighttime attractions in NYC that I mentioned.

If you have any questions or you’d like to add your recommendation, feel free to leave me a comment below. Until then, have a great night in NYC!

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COFOUNDER & TRAVEL JUNKIE

Hi, I'm Ascen, a globetrotter based in Philadelphia, USA. I enjoy exploring new landscapes and creating in-depth travel guides for Capture the Atlas.

I have felt a special connection with nature and all the inhabitants of the planet since I was a kid. I am passionate about discovering new countries and especially their wildlife, but no matter how many places I visit, I will always belong to the remote beaches of Almería, in Southern Spain.

You can know a little more about me here.

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