This is such a huge tourist trap. This is one of those things that gets huge tv coverage but I honestly would never participate in. I have been lucky enough to see it and experience it without being in it.
They cattle pen you in. Its only half way across the street. And you can NOT leave once you're there. So you are standing there with no food drinks or packs and no bathroom for around 9 hours.
Avoid Times Square like the plague.
Unique Suggestions If you must go to Times Square, at LEAST check out the Howard Johnson diner and/or Ruby Foo's (Best Sushi Ever. Period.) Keep away from all other restaurants in that area. They are RIDICULOUSLY over-priced and the food is terrible! You're better off heading downtown for an excellent and more reasonably priced cuisine.
Fun Alternatives SoHo, TriBeCa, Alphabet City, Lower East Side, the Village, Greenwich, Chinatown, and Little Italy. Must, must, MUST visit at some point.
When you think of New York City how do u describe it? Well...all those places are tourist traps. Probably the biggest one and the one i hate most of all is Times Square! UGH If you've never been to NYC then go of course!! But why would anyone EVER want to return?!?! No New Yorker likes to go to Times Square and at all costs we try to avoid it. Its so overly crowded and since everyone there is from a different part of the world they're all moving REALLY slow, looking up at all the bright lights (which at night its pretty amazing) and not thinking about the people around them as they walk REALLY slow. SO by the end of the day your pushing through all the people swearing to yourself and getting irritated. But then again...every one must go to Times Square at least once in their lives! The lights at night are simply amazing!!!!
Unique Suggestions DON'T go to the Hard Rock Cafe....go to St Marx Street!!! They have the most "interesting" shops and the book store there is one of my favorites in the City. They have the most off beat things and I took my friend from Norway to a little video store where they have movies that aren't mainstream and the store is in such a secretive place that he thought i was taking him to an underground strip club. lol yea he wishes! But if you like strip clubs...lol jk jk
Fun Alternatives Ground Zero isn't all that fascinating really. It doesn't even look like two massive building were standing there and its taped off so you can't even see anything worth while. The Statue of Liberty is really cool i think. Just the ferry ride over i enjoy and it's something everyone will like. Not to mention the island it's standing on is well landscaped with trees and flowers and the liking of that. Ellis Island is cool, but haughtly and a little depressing. It feels more like a prison then an anything but it's a very cool day trip. I suppose it's like the Tower of London but in New York and without all the beheadings!
So many first time visitors to New York make plans to visit Times Square almost as soon as they unpack their suitcases. My question is why? These days it really has very little to recommend it. The restaurants are designed to pull in the tourists to eat lacklustre food at inflated prices in what are often franchise operations (TGI Fridays, Olive Garden, Applebees etc.). Why visit New York with its wealth of unique eateries and end up in a McDonalds?
The stores are also making the most of their location. The electronics shops are notorious for ripping off tourists - attractive signs in the windows belie the fact that the goods on sale are often old stock, grey imports or highly overpriced. If you want good advice and discount prices, go to J&R (http://www.jr.com/) or B&H (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/) both of which offer excellent service.
So what do you get to see? Well, IMO, a lot of other tourists milling about wondering what on earth all the fuss is about! Some of the longest lines are at the hop on, hop off bus stops where masses of sight seers are trying to get back on the bus and out of there! It's almost impossible to walk down the street for the numbers of people there, the effect at night is not much better - the lights are garish and overpowering and the crowds are still there! The one thing you won't see is local people - very sensibly, they avoid this place like the plague!
Unique Suggestions Before I start sounding too curmudgeonly, there are at least three things to do that could make a visit to Times Square worthwhile:
1) Put your name up in lights at Hershey's. We did this for my son on his 21st Birthday. While my wife and daughter kept him occupied, I went into Hershey's, paid my $4.95 and, within 5 minutes, a happy birthday message to him was up in Times Square for all to see. The effect on him was magical!
2) The webcam outside of TGI Friday's. I know, very touristy but a lovely way to keep in touch with someone you've left at home! Make sure you take your mobile phone with you then call them and tell them to log on to: http://www.camvista.com/usa/ec/newyork.php3 where they'll be able to see you waving at them!
3) Not all the restaurants in the vicinity are parts of a chain. We were taken to the Mont Blanc (http://www.montblancrestaurant.com/) at 315 W 48th Street and had a wondeful "Business Lunch" for $16.50 in their lovely garden.
Times Square, which is around 42nd St / Broadway in midtown Manhattan, is both a must see for tourists AND a tourist trap at the same time...
So, you unpacked the bags at the hotel and head out to the city to be dazzled by some amazing Manhattan sights... Well, especially around dusk, Times Square is a good place to start... once.
You won't need to activate the flash of your camera, it's like friggin' daylight at midnight. The billboards and signs are very impressive for sure, but it's also a noisy, smelly and terribly crowded area. Some of the stores there, like Swatch wristwatches, are kind of fun to walk into because of the wild, whacky displays, but it soon gets tiresome.
There are lots of souvenir shops where you'll pay way too much for (often cheesy) gifts. You can do better by getting away from this place and shopping elsewhere - even if it's souvenirs from the "cheese variety" you're after for relatives/friends who dig that sort of stuff... I bought a pretty nice looking, detailed 15 inch Statue of Liberty figurine for my grandmother - she just loves things like that - just a block or five south of Times Square, and at $ 9.99 it actually cost LESS than the tiny, tacky, plastic looking ones they sell in T.S. The same goes for "restaurants" - a general rule is not to blow your money there because it's very unlikely you'll get good food and service at a decent price. There are always exceptions but this place generally is for tourists with lots of cash and little time. And don't even think about going into the electronics shops.
-Feel free to check out my "must see activities"-entry for Times Square, "The Rejuvenated Light Show District".
Unique Suggestions Take the damn pictures so you can say "been there, done that" and then get outta there ;)
Fun Alternatives It's not an alternative but the "virtual" version : webcams on Times Square :
I am not a native New Yorker. I live here now, but you apparently don't become a New Yorker until you live here for like 3 or 4 years. So I think that I can relate quite well to the visitor/tourist mentality in New York - and I have to say, I can't grasp why you'd want to stay in Times Square, eat in Times Square, or do anything for a prolonged period in Times Square. It's thoroughly unpleasant during the day. It's dirty, the stores are chock full of cheap tourist ripoff stuff, and you don't even get a really good view of what Times Square does have to offer. If I were visiting New York, I would stay on Central Park South, in the West Village or Chelsea, or on the Upper West Side. I'm telling you, these areas are so much more pleasant, reflect the true character of New York, and are all well-connected via subway to get you anywhere you want to go.
Unique Suggestions I DO think that Times Square should be seen at night, when the signs are lit up. It's a one of a kind experience. That's why I say above that TS should be seen for an hour. Ogle the lights, walk around a little bit, then leave.
Fun Alternatives For eye candy that is different from TS but equally cool, check out the very trendy new meatpacking district, which is teeming with expensive restaurants almost impossible to get into, funky galleries, boutique designers, and a new funky hotel, Hotel Gansevoort. It's just fun to walk around there, I think - but not in stilletto heels, as it's all cobblestoned.
A big tip: Pastis, the very popular French bistro in the Meatpacking district is relatively easy to get into for a 10pm dessert.
I'll try to bottle the acid ...
keep in mind I'm a typical male and hate shopping ...
I'm just curious, but isn't most of Manhattan squeeky-clean enough these days without getting to the point of nausea?
Times Square nearly made me puke.
When it came to cleaning up crime
(something that was needed) Rudy went through this town with a chainsaw.
And though I'm sure you can still find streetcrime in Manhattan (if you look hard enough), I felt like I would have to pay somebody to mug me;
and even then they would be in a hurry & likely do a lousy job of it ..
(NYPD might have the statistics to disprove some of that...)
The old '70s / '80s hangout of ' muggers & hookers & pimps: oh MY!! ' -
is now Disneyland.
Thanks Mr. Warner; thanks Mr Disney; Merci Mr Peanut....
Each to his own: if you think Times Square is great, good for you.
You'll love the Moulin Rouge in Paris too.
Fun Alternatives See if anybody good is playing at BBKing's
Times Square is nothing but where Broadway converges with 7th Avenue. It is a huge spectacle of lights and action, but nothing is really going on here. Nothing except tourists bumping into other tourists. New Yorkers avoid Times Square at all costs if possible. By all means, don't eat here...especially at the national chains. You didn't come to NYC to eat at the Olive Garden, did you???
Unique Suggestions Go see a taping of the Letterman show. Stand on line at the TKTS booth to get discounted tickets to a Broadway show. If you have young children, check out the Toys R Us (but be ready for the crowds).
Fun Alternatives For fun people watching and a more authentic NY experience (where NYers actually go to meet and hang out) go to Union Square.
Times Square...there are some things you want to see (the lights, the funny people, the crowds), there are some thing you NEED to see (TKTS booth), and there are some things that should be avoided. I try to avoid Times Square unless I HAVE to go there. It's so crowded and no-one knows where they are going. It's loud, people are rude, it's flashy (can't that cause convulsions??), and it smells bad. But I guess everyone wants to see it at night. I suggest using it just as a passing through place on the way to see a show or on your way up or downtown.
Unique Suggestions Be polite and assertive.
From 34th street to 59th Street ... and from 7th Avenue to the Lexington Avenue ... I generally avoid buying anything. Food, clothing, things generally... are more expensive in Midtown.
Unique Suggestions If you must stay in Midtown because of group bookings or theatre packages, try to venture into the surrounding neighborhoods to eat. You will find much better food ... a wider range of cuisines and prices ... and a less packaged experience of the city.
Fun Alternatives Chelsea
Upper West Side
Be VERY careful in Times Square after dark. That's when all the tourists come out.... and don't the pickpockets just know it. That's not to mention all the 'discount' electrical stores and cheap T-shirt joints (if you want a big neon sign screaming 'I'm a tourist - please mug me' wear one of the I ¢¾ New York t-shirts.) Don't touch the ticket touts. Changes are you won't get into the gig and even if you do, you'll find yourself in the cheap seats.
The ticket booth on the north side of Times Square is generally good value, although tickets for the top shows are scarce and they tend to only have a brace of the top priced tickets.
There ae a couple of cinemas on 42nd Street just past Madame Tousards, Leows and the AMC Empire where you can get in for $10. Life saver when your running short of cash.
Unique Suggestions Take as little cold hard cash into Times Square as possible. Though the police will be very sympathetic if you suddenly find your wallet / purse missing, even they have to admit there is little that they can do - they have a dozen such calls for help every night.
If you're going to Times Square at night, go, get your photos, get out again. Even better if you're going to a Broadway show, when you step out, take your photos then jump into a cab.
If you find that you do need cash and all that you have are travellers checks. Go into the McDonalds opposite the cut price ticket booth and buy a 70cent hamburger with a $50 check..... not that I'm suggesting you actually have to eat the burger..... but most other places around Times Square will insist on you buying goods up to pretty much the whole value of the check.
Fun Alternatives If you're going to NYC for the first time, then you'll be going to Times Square at least once. There's no getting away from it.
Keep your wits about you and make sure that it's only good memories you take away with you.
Times Square is the no.1 tourist trap in NYC. Many tour buses make stops here and their countless passengers will rush out for their photo opportunity with what little times given to explore the area. So, you have to be a bit patient to get that nice photo of the buildings without someone's face taking over the shot.
The restaurants & souvenirs here are also more expensive so you're better off walking somewhere else for better prices (and better quality). The Restaurant Row (between 8th & 9th Ave) and diners with decent prices are only a few minutes away from Times Square.
Unique Suggestions The Theaters of Broadway are located near Times Square so it will be a good idea to catch a show or take some photographs and eat/shop somewhere else. I was overwhelmed by the many people there so I didn't really want to hang around the area.
For the Hard Rock Cafe fans, you can purchase your T-shirts, pins & other memorabilia at their store & restaurant at the corner of W 43rd & 7th Ave.