Things to do in New York City

Rock the Yacht

A nighttime party on the river with the lights of the city twinkling across the waters is the perfect way to end a day in NYC or celebrate a special occasion. Grab some friends for three hours of rocking the yacht with dancing, party food and artisanal cocktails. Hornblower’s newest luxury yacht is the only way to party on the river with both classic throwback music and smash hits. Imagine Lady Liberty lighting up the night for you as you capture ideal mementos with backdrops such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Skyline glowing in the dark. Rock the Yacht departs from Pier 15 on Friday and Saturday. Boarding begins at 8:30 PM.

Empire State Building

Visiting the Empire State Building at night is a totally different experience from a day time excursion. Open until 2:00 AM, the last ride up is at 1:15 AM. Ride up to the highest open-air observatory in New York, step outdoors on the 86th floor to see the city’s massive spectrum of lights in all its 360-degree glory. The Hudson and East Rivers will reflect the lights and contribute to the sparkling display. The tower is typically lit in white but the computer driven LED light system is capable of displaying 16 million colors which can change instantaneously. If your visit coincides with a special light show you’re in for an ultra special experience. The music-to-light shows are synchronized to music simultaneously broadcast on iHeartMedia stations.Lightings celebrate holidays and special occasions. You can check here to see the calendar of past shows to get an idea of the kind of shows that occur about a dozen times per month. Plug in the date of your visit here to see what color to expect when you are there.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge and Stroll Around DUMBO

Take a leisurely 1.6 mile walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan. Enjoy the views, and even though you may not see the twinkling stars, you’ll certainly see plenty of other twinkling lights as you cross the river to DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to the trendy neighborhood of cobblestone streets and converted warehouses packed with restaurants and bars. Thursday evenings in the summer bring free live music to the massive archway under the bridge, and interactive art installations mean you can leave your mark. Looking back toward Manhattan is breathtaking, and you can return by train if you prefer.

Top Of The Rock

If you’d rather see the Empire State Building in its iconic landscape lighting up the night sky, rather than be in it looking at other buildings, head to Top of the Rock Observatory Deck. If you go at dusk, you can get the best of both worlds by seeing the city day and night. It’s an incredible view at night with a million dots of light across the horizon. If it happens to be a day when the Empire State Building is putting on a colorful light show, this is also a great place to watch that. You’ll have sweeping views of midtown and downtown Manhattan. Admission is on a timed ticketing system, so while it costs a bit more to go at sunset, the payoff is that the crowd is limited. There are three decks; the first includes the Radiance Wall and gift shop, the second is entirely outdoors, and the third is on the 70th floor, also with an open-air roof deck free of a glass enclosure.

Times Square

The most entrancing experiences in Times Square happen at night. This is when the billboards are brilliantly lit and the area is buzzing with energy. Head to the red TKTS (tickets) steps for crowd watching. The iconic red glass steps were built to cover the ticket office where you can get discounted tickets for Broadway and Off-Broadway shows for the same day. They are the result of a design competition in 2008 and when you are up there overlooking Times Square, it’s a totally different experience from walking the streets. Be sure to stay until Midnight Moment. At 11:57 PM every night, the billboards come alive with the world’s largest synchronized digital art exhibition.

Staten Island Ferry

The 24-hour free service is way less crowded at night without the commuters. The shuttle runs between the Whitehall Terminal at the tip of Manhattan to the St. George Terminal on Staten Island, on the hour and the half hour. While the ferry is huge, accommodating more than 4000 people, at night you shouldn’t have any trouble getting close to the railing for beautiful views and photo ops. If it’s the Statue of Liberty you want to see during the 25-minute voyage, traveling from Manhattan you’ll want to be on the right (starboard) side and from Staten Island you’ll want to be on the left (port) side. While there is not a lot of nightlife on Staten Island, there is the Flagship Brewing Company, started by a group of local beer enthusiasts. Thursday through Saturday they are open until midnight, Tuesday and Wednesday until 10 PM and Sunday until 8 PM. There are about 15 beers on tap, communal seating, and music.

Dinner and A Movie

Nitehawk Cinema has two locations, at Prospect Park and Williamsburg neighborhoods, both in Brooklyn. A server comes to your table while the lights are on to take your order, you enjoy your meal (or popcorn; or martini) while watching a movie and pay at the very end. Old shows like Casablanca and Some Like It Hot may be playing, or you might catch something obscure that you never heard of before. Either way, this place gets very high marks for the food so on the off-chance you don’t like the movie you’ll still have a great evening. Enjoy Risotto Balls, a Charcuterie Plate, a Nitehawk burger or veggie burger, Shrimp Tacos or a Fried Chicken Sandwich. Catering to all taste buds, Nitehawk is sure to please.

Queens Night Market

If you’re in New York on a Saturday night between April and October, check out the city’s first night market held at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens. Also known as Queens International Night, the upcoming year features more than 45 food vendors from around the world (but you can still get fried ice cream,) at least a couple dozen art vendors, and live music performances from 5:00 PM until midnight. The family-friendly open-air market is located at the New York Hall of Science, so if you see rockets, you’re in the right place. Parking is very limited so it is recommended that you take public transit.

Pub Crawl New York

Pub Crawl New York has your night all planned for you! Bring friends or go solo and meet new people from around the world as well as locals. Events begin in a relatively calm atmosphere and increase in intensity throughout the night, and you arrive at your final venue at about midnight. All Crawls begin at 9:00 PM and most of them are on Friday or Saturday, though a few are on other days of the week. Options include West Side, East Side, Lower East Side and more. There’s no need for transportation between pubs; they are all within walking distance of one another. Proper attire is considered neat and trendy. In other words, no flip flops, old tee shirts, tank tops or baseball caps.

Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

Have you heard of Amy Poehler, Matt Besser, Matt Walsh or Ian Roberts? They’re among the founders of this Improvisational theatre and training center and there is something playing nearly every night of the week at a reasonable cost. Whether it’s improv, sketch or comedy, if you’re into deep belly laughs this is the place to go. Examples of recent shows include:

  • Great Moments In Comedy Made Worse – Performers are given scripts to famous sketches from comedy history and have to act them out on the spot.
  • The Law Firm: Law and Disorder – Have you been wronged by someone in your life? Watch as this improv group transforms one audience member’s testimony into a fully improvised show.
  • Higgins: The Instagram Show – Improv team Higgins would love to take a look at your Instagram feed and make an entire show based on what they see.
  • Party Planning With Party City – They’re here to plan your party and give you insight into how it might go.

The Duplex in Greenwich Village

This neighborhood delivers both day and night. The Duplex is a destination for arts and entertainment that opened in 1950. In their own words, they deliver “nightly performances as varied and colorful as the streets of the West Village.” Downstairs is the Piano Bar where the Duplex staff, comprised of some of Manhattan’s elite pianists and singers, host a non-stop party of music and comedy.Upstairs has banquette seating, hightop tables and stools, and the smallest stage in the village with the biggest talent. Some late night events are “uncultured” throwbacks to the 60’s and 70’s.The Duplex Cabaret Theatre is an Off-Broadway venue that has built a reputation for hosting new and emerging talent as well as well-established Broadway talent and great musicians.

The Way Station

New York City has unique places to go and things to do for every kind of person, and if you’re a bonafide nerd visiting the city, you’ll be really excited to hear about The Way in the Prospect Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. The lively nerdvana (“a place or state of happiness and fulfillment for nerds,”) is decorated with sci-fi artifacts and steam-punk inspired art. Fill your night with astronomy trivia, comedy, live music, or “nerdeoke.” The bar serves craft beers and cocktails. Check their calendar for special events like Biology on Tap, Geeks Who Drink Trivia Night or Parachute Jump Night.