A Visit to Times Square, Done Differently

If sensory stimulation is what you crave, Times Square is a good choice
If sensory stimulation is what you crave, Times Square is a good choice | © Frederick Bass / Getty Images
Photo of Alex Wexelman
Staff Writer13 December 2019

After you see the bright lights of Times Square, New York City’s most famous block of ultra-expensive advertising, make the most of your day by visiting the best things to see and do near this landmark, from museums to theaters and parks.

Times Square has come a long way since its gritty 1970s incarnation. The fluorescent lights advertising X-rated movie screenings have morphed into family-friendly advertising for global brands like Coca-Cola.

It might underwhelm in person, but Times Square is emblematic of New York City. Once you’ve checked the obligatory M&M’s store off your list, make the most of your day with Culture Trip’s guide to things to do and see around this New York landmark.

Richard Rodgers Theatre

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The Richard Rodgers Theatre
The Richard Rodgers Theatre has 11 Tonys for Best Play or Best Musical, most recently for the blockbuster ‘Hamilton’ | © Richard Levine / Alamy Stock Photo

The hub of the Theater District lies in Times Square, so it’d be silly not to take in one of New York’s cultural exports. The Richard Rodgers Theatre is just one of many where you can see a top-notch musical. Named for the composer of the illustrious songwriting duo Rodgers & Hammerstein, the theater was built in 1925 and has since housed 11 Tony Award-winning Best Plays and Best Musicals, making it the reigning champ by numbers.

Madame Tussauds, New York

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Wax figures of the Music Group the Beatles at Madame Tussauds
The Beatles come together at Madame Tussauds | © Brad Barket / Getty Images
New York is the center of the universe, so it isn’t uncommon to have a celebrity sighting while here. But if you really can’t leave until you bump into Leo or Cher, Madame Tussauds offers the next best thing: lifelike wax figures that won’t mind if you want to pose for a photo. Where else can you see President John F Kennedy in the same room with ET (I mean, apart from heaven)? It’s family-friendly fun that’s been entertaining visitors since 2000, and even longer at its original London location.


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The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden, designed by famed architect Philip Johnson, occupies the courtyard at MOMA | © anton havelaar / Alamy Stock Photo
The Museum of Modern Art is even more modern after its recent renovation, which resituated and recontextualized some of the collection’s best-known pieces while breaking out ones that had never, or had rarely, been seen by the public. Some of the world’s pre-eminent art is on display at MOMA, with highlights ranging from Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon to a Frida Kahlo self-portrait and soup cans from Andy Warhol. So even if you’ve been before, MOMA is worth a repeat visit.

Bryant Park, New York

Library, Park
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Bryant Park
Bryant Park features four acres of sprawling lawn in the center of midtown | © Thomas Northcut / Getty Images
As much as the city is defined by its architecture, its green space is worthy of admiration. Bryant Park, with four acres (1.6 hectares) of sprawling lawn in the center of midtown, is conveniently located and a great spot for a respite. Coffee shops and casual dining options surround the outskirts of the park, so grab a latte and take a seat at one of the tables or lie in the middle of the grass, if the weather permits. There are chessboards, a mini lending library featuring books and magazines and, in the cold months, kiosks hawking goods at the Winter Village.

Rockefeller Center

Building, Cathedral, Park
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Rockefeller Centre
30 Rockefeller Plaza is an imposing Art Deco skyscraper that forms the centerpiece of Rockefeller Center | © Lex van Doorn / Alamy Stock Photo

Consisting of 19 buildings, 14 of which are beautifully molded in the Art Deco fashion of their day, Rockefeller Center is more than just an ode to the eponymous family’s wealth. In the winter, the famous ice-skating rink makes for a movie moment as you glide by the towering Christmas tree seen round the world, and in summer (or any season) a tour with an NBC page can land you free tickets to The Tonight Show.

The Morgan Library and Museum, New York

Bookstore, Library, Market, Museum, Music Venue
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The Morgan Library & Museum
Pierpont Morgan's immense holdings range from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains | © Bruce yuanyue Bi / Alamy Stock Photo
JP Morgan, a titan of the financial world, was the proprietor of this collection that’s housed in a New York City landmark building named for Charles Follen McKim, who executed its Neoclassical design. Consisting of manuscripts, printed books and libretti, the library and museum holds an unassailable trove of original literary treasures. The Morgan displays autographed and annotated scores from Beethoven, Chopin and Mozart, among others, as well as paintings from Van Gogh, Cézanne and Rembrandt. And then there are the books: a journal belonging to Henry David Thoreau, a manuscript for Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and nine of Sir Walter Scott’s novels, including Ivanhoe. The museum also has rotating exhibits that are a veritable delight for lit lovers as well as more casual readers and art enthusiasts.
These recommendations were updated on December 13, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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