How to Plan a Night Out in New York City
A New York City night can turn on a dime. One moment you’re wandering the city streets, and the next moment, you’re getting drinks with a handsome stranger at a bar and end the night at a piano bar at the village. Or maybe spontaneity isn’t really your speed and you need to plan your Friday night, your vacation, or your sister’s bachelorette party in three months. So whether you’re looking to follow the whims of the evening or need to solidify some concrete plans, we’ve got some great tips on how to make the most of your evening hours. There’s only one rule: The night is always young, and you can always do more.
Plan by borough and neighborhood.
New York is pretty contained and neighborhood hopping isn’t that difficult, thanks to Uber, Lyft, and, well, the subway. You could start with dinner in Chelsea, move to a musical in Midtown, and end the night with cocktails on the Upper West Side. But it might be hard to borough hop or move from Washington Heights to the Lower East Side, so make sure you plan your locations strategically. Every area of the city has its own charm (jazz clubs in Harlem, piano bars in the West Village, dive bars downtown), so just figure out what you want your vibe to be, select the central point of the evening, and start planning your extravaganza.
No night is complete without some live entertainment.
Seriously, you can’t go wrong with the entertainment options in NYC. From Broadway shows to concerts to comedy acts to cabaret shows, there’s something for everyone on the menu. If you’re feeling ambitious, it’s even totally doable to see a musical at 8PM and then make a late-night comedy show or cabaret performance after. Many cabaret clubs, Feinstein’s/54 Below and Birdland Jazz, are located right in midtown so you might even be able to grab a drink between shows.
Budget it out.
We get it: New York can be expensive, so make sure you’re calculated costs effectively. If you’re spending big bucks on the Broadway musical, maybe check out a dive bar or a cheaper comedy show after? Or if dinner is set to be the main event, a free piano bar like the Duplex or Marie’s Crisis is great to stop by after your feast. Want to spend all your money on shows? There are plenty of cheaper food and drink options that can keep you going from show to show.
Buy tickets in advance — or wait until day-of.
Look, this one comes down to personality: Are you a planner or are you more spontaneous? Luckily, there are options for both ends of the spectrum. Some of the hottest shows sell out in advance, so you might want to nab your tickets early (especially if you’re planning with a bigger group), but you can also get some really hot same-day deals particularly for Lottery and Rush tickets. (Sometimes, Lottery and Rush are the only ticket options!) Either way, if you’re planning a full shindig, we recommend at least a little advance planning. And we’ve got your tickets up to 30+ days in advance.
Try something new.
There are so many things to do in New York City that stepping outside of your comfort zone is always encouraged. Never tried Ethiopian food? Get ready to eat with your hands. Scared of attending a comedy show? Dip your toe in with an emerging standup. Never sung piano-side at a cabaret bar? Well, you never know where the evening will take you, so just ride the wave and most of all, enjoy the night.