New York City gets a second wind once the sun goes down. After all, it is the city that never sleeps. But where are the best places to experience New York’s nightlife?
We’ve put together our top 10 after-dark attractions, featuring everything from sky-high viewing decks to a special Broadway Supper Club. So get your party clothes on and take the city by storm…
1. Catch the ferry
The Staten Island Ferry travels 5 miles between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street on lower Manhattan. The views are stunning, with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island taking center stage. The ferry runs through the evening, and it’s completely free. What better way to see the bright lights of the Lower Manhattan skyline?
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2. Friday night is art night
The best things in life are free. So come and enjoy some of the best entertainment in town at the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ First Fridays. There’s something different each month, so throw caution to the wind and just take your chances. From DJ sets to live jazz bands, from video displays to Q&A sessions with experts, who knows what you might find.
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3. Spend a night at the museum
Target First Saturdays give you the chance to explore the Brooklyn Museum until 11pm. On the first Saturday of every month you can enjoy the free art and entertainment, or just wander through the current show. If there are movies or classes available, make sure you turn up early to try and get tickets. There’s a Michelin-starred restaurant here too. But if Saul restaurant is too extravagant, the bar is open all evening, and the Counter Café serves food too.
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4. Get some jazz in your soul
Look out for KT Fridays at the Rubin Museum of Art, where you’ll be entertained by Naked Soul and Jazz at the Rubin, movies and talks. Staff regularly pick out favorites from the museum collection to talk about. Grab a drink at the K2 Lounge, and perhaps some special pan-Asian tapas. If you get here between 6pm and 7pm you’ll catch Happy Hour, with 2-for-1 specials on many drinks.
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5. Be bowled over
Brooklyn Bowl is a music venue, bowling alley and restaurant. So why would you need to go anywhere else? Enjoy the Blue Ribbon fried chicken and wash it down with locally brewed beer. Try and get a lucky strike – the bowling lanes are right next to the stage, so you don’t have to go far to hear some great music. Mention Sunday Night Special to get 50% off any lane after 8pm on Sundays.
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6. Get observing
The Top of the Rock is a 3-level observation deck at the Rockefeller Center. The 67th floor is completely covered, the 69th has glass windshields and the 70th is open to the elements. So if you want a truly 360-degree view of NYC at night, head straight for the top. You’ll find great shopping areas and eateries when you come back down to earth too.
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7. Look down on NYC
The Empire State Building’s observation deck is on the 86th floor, with 360-degree views. Ask for a handheld device and get an insight into your view from every direction. You can rent high-powered binoculars too. If you go to the 102nd floor via the manually operated elevator, you can see up to 80 miles away on a clear day.
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8. Go indoor rock climbing
How high can you go? Brooklyn Boulders is a fun and challenging indoor rock climbing experience. The staff here can show you the ropes whether you’re a beginner or an old hand. And if you haven’t got a head for heights don’t worry. There’s also yoga, capoeira and a range of fitness workshops.
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9. Cross the water
Imagine a full moon, a crystal clear sky and all the lights of Manhattan reflected in the East River below you. A walk across Brooklyn Bridge is magical at night. The pedestrian walkway is 1.1 miles (1.6 km) long and takes about an hour to cross (including photo stops).
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10. Go down below
Experience nightlife as the New Yorkers do. Feinstein’s / 54 Below offers you world-class dining, elegant surroundings and unforgettable performances by Broadway’s best. Just down the street (and down the steps) from Times Square, the club is known as Broadway’s living room, with 3 shows every night. No table is more than 24 feet from the stage, so no matter where you sit, you really do get the best seat in the house.
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You haven’t ticked off a city until you’ve experienced its nightlife, so be sure to get out in New York City after dark. Over summer and during special holidays, there are also events, festivals and fireworks to keep you entertained too. And if a Broadway show is right up your street, check out our guide to the Best Broadway Shows.