Enjoying New York at night does not need you to immerse into the nightlife scene (though do so if that's your mood!) There's lots to do at night in New York, from watching the sunset and watching the city light up to dining out and drinking cocktails. Here are my top five nighttime activities in New York:
WATCH THE SUNSET
The most iconic city in the world to watch the sunset has to be New York City. When you're in New York, check the sunset time and choose a location to see it from. If you leave your sunset location to chance, you'll most likely end up in the streets of New York City, where the sunset is frequently obscured by skyscrapers.
My favorite place to watch the sunset in New York was near the Brooklyn Bridge. Not only do you get stunning views of the Brooklyn Bridge, but because you're across the water from Manhattan, you also get those classic nighttime vistas of New York City. The ideal location is on Pebble Beach in Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the right side of the Brooklyn Bridge facing the city. A shingle beach and a row of stone seats are available.
The sunset views of New York City from here are breathtaking. The city can be seen over the lake, and the lights are beginning to illuminate. On either side, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, and Jane's Carousel, a restored carousel from 1922, produce a golden glow at night. After dusk, you may board a $2.75 ferry across the water from Dumbo in Brooklyn to Manhattan. I definitely recommend taking the ferry back because being on the water 'under' the city lights is an incredible experience.
UP THE EMPIRE STATE OR TOP OF THE ROCK
The nighttime skyline of New York must be seen from the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock. While we know that many people visit these structures, they are both pricey to visit. We only went to the Empire State Building and had a great time. Many visitors, however, choose to visit the observation deck at Top of the Rock because it provides views of the Empire State Building. Personally, I believe there is something 'awesome' about having climbed to the top of the Empire State Building.
The Empire State Building is best visited 30-45 minutes before sunset. This gives you enough time to capture the beautiful light of golden hour (immediately before sunset and the greatest time to shoot shots), the sunset itself, and the city at night. The Empire State Building does feature some museum-style information and inside photo opportunities, so plan ahead of time to view these.
An indoor observation platform is also available at the Empire State Building. You'll immediately take the lift to the inside floor, but don't stay too long because the room is closed in and the windows are scratched and smeared, making images from here look bad. Instead, go straight through and up to the open-air 86th level for a stunning view of New York City at night.
MUSEUMS & GALERIES
Is the weather not cooperating? Many of New York City's museums and galleries stay open late, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Before you travel, double-check the opening hours and days, as New York's museums and galleries are closed on certain days of the week. The following are some of the top museums and galleries for night owls:
- On Friday and Saturday nights, the Metropolitan Art Museum is open until 9 p.m.
- The Guggenheim Museum is open until 6 p.m. most days and until 8 p.m. on Saturdays.
- On Saturdays, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is open until 7 p.m.
- The International Center of Photography Museum is open most days until 7 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays.
Going to attend a Broadway show is one of the best ways to experience New York at night. The majority of the theaters are located in and around New York's Times Square, which is a beautiful sight at night with its high rise billboards and dazzling lights.
Chicago, Moulin Rouge, and The Phantom of the Opera are all classic Broadway shows. We went to see Hadestown, a modern retelling of the old Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice that seemed very current. The show was great in our opinion.
What's a night out in New York without a few drinks? New York City is brimming with excellent cocktail bars, some of which require reservations and others which accept walk-ins.
The Ragtrader and Bo Peep Cocktail and Highball Store - We reserved a table at The Ragtrader but were permitted to walk-in after missing our reservation. This cocktail bar is conveniently positioned just two blocks from the Empire State Building, making it an ideal place to end a nocturnal excursion up to the top. The Ragtrader bar is housed inside an ancient garment factory and features decor such as fashion art prints and rag bunting. Make sure to take a seat inside, where the ambiance is fantastic. When it comes to cocktails, you must try the El Guapo, a sour cocktail made with tequila, fresh cucumber, lime, and agave syrup.
The Tippler - Located beneath Chelsea Market's international gourmet scene, The Tippler is an underground cavern with inventive cocktails and DJ evenings. The bar stays open until 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and until midnight on weeknights, making it ideal for those looking to party late in New York. Not to mention that Chelsea Market is open late, so go inside for late-night tacos at Los Tacos No. 1. (the best tacos in NYC).
SAFE AT NIGHT?
Tourists can feel comfortable in New York at night, as the city has a low crime rate. New York is actually one of the safest cities in the world, yet, like with any city, you should still be cautious.
The majority of crime in New York occurs in Harlem, the Bronx, and other boroughs that are unlikely to be visited by most tourists. Even in the city, however, it is vital to be alert of pickpockets and put your money in a secure location (not in your back pocket!). It's also a good idea not to leave valuables unattended or to go about at night with your camera around your neck.
Much of New York is still humming and active at night, but certain areas are deserted, and it's advisable to avoid those calmer regions as well. Central Park is closed at night, and the majority of crime in the park occurs at night. New York's financial center is also frequently abandoned at night, making it less safe.
We found New Yorkers to be quite pleasant and willing to assist us with instructions. Before you go out at night, plan your route and know where you're going to avoid winding up in quieter regions of the city, and stick to well-lit, popular locations.