"You can’t help but get caught up in the excitement while staring at all the bright lights."
Do you have that one place where, no matter how many times you visit, you still feel giddy when you get off the plane? For us, that place is New York City. It doesn’t matter how well-travelled we think we are, whenever we visit New York, it’s like we are seeing the big city for the first time.
When we go to a place as exciting and electric as New York City, we can’t wait to see all the iconic tourist attractions again and again, and Times Square is the mother of them all.
Getting its name in 1904, when the New York Times set up its headquarters between Broadway, 42nd Street and 43rd Street, in what was then known as Long Acre Square, this beautiful skyscraper became the centrepiece of the square. When the area was renamed Times Square, it secured the coveted address of One Times Square.
"You can see it on the big screen, at the movies, and on TV shows, but until you’ve seen Times Square in person, you don’t really understand just how out of this world it is."
The New York Times eventually moved its offices, but the tower remains. It’s mostly vacant today and instead of housing tenants, it hosts a grid of billboards that command some of the most expensive real estate in the city. You may recognise the building from the yearly New Year’s Eve celebrations where the famous ball drops at midnight.
Times Square is known as the “Heart of the Great White Way”, with Broadway running diagonally through its centre. This is the beating heart of the Broadway Theatre where marquees light up the streets that branch off in every direction.
We always stay in the Broadway Times Square Theatre District, not because we go to a lot of Broadway shows, but because we love Times Square.
You can see it on the big screen, at the movies, and on TV shows, but until you’ve seen Times Square in person, you don’t really understand just how out of this world it is.
The moment you enter Times Square, billboards promoting the hottest Broadway shows, Hollywood blockbusters, and hippest retail brands surround the square as skyscrapers emerge from behind. The energy of the crowd instantly takes hold as you join the more than 350,000 people that walk through each day. You can’t help but get caught up in the excitement while staring at all the bright lights.
Don’t get too caught up in the view, Minnie Mouse, Spiderman, or the Statue of Liberty might sidle up beside you to pose for a picture. It’s all in good fun, but be sure to give some spare change if you do happen to pose with 'Spidey' in the centre of his hometown. If you are lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) the Naked Cowboy may come by to serenade you. We haven’t had the honour of seeing him yet, but then again, we tend to visit New York more often in the cooler months.
It only takes about 15-20 minutes to walk around the entire square but there is so much happening, you’re going to need much more time than that. The square isn’t actually a square at all, but more like a stretched out triangle where pedestrians can walk free from traffic or relax on long benches and metal chairs.
If you want to relax inside, there are countless eateries in and around the square, ranging from popular chains like Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesdays, to institutions like the Shake Shack; known for its best shakes and gourmet burgers.
For a true New York experience, you must pop into a classic Italian eatery. Our top pick is Carmine’s Italian on 44th street. It’s a family style restaurant, where patrons share giant portions of pasta, seafood and meat.
Rock n Roll lovers should stop for a drink at the Hard Rock Café and marvel at the wall of guitars lining the entrance. We may travel a lot, but we always tend to visit Hard Rock Cafés around the world and the Times Square location was at the top of our list.
For the best view of Times Square, head to the set of red bleachers in the centre of the square, they make for a great meeting point. Here you can take a perch and relax whilst watching the chaos around you unfold, as the billboards of the One Times Square building twinkle in the distance.
While you are there, go to the TKTS booth below the bleachers, for discounted Broadway Tickets. You can see the classics Broadway revivals or the hottest opening shows. A trip to New York isn’t complete without experiencing the live theatre that made it famous.
"We never tire of the energy of Times Square. For us, it’s the perfect spot to start our New York City sightseeing adventure."
There are so many famous sites within walking distance, that once you’ve taken in the madness of the square, it’s just a matter of choosing the direction to explore more of the Big Apple. We always take a short stroll to the broadcasting centre of the city. Without fail, we check out the marquee of Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show’s and try to spot stars entering the Ed Sullivan Theatre. But it’s the Rockefeller Centre gets us every time. We’ve seen it in so many classic movies and TV shows. It takes us back to a bygone era, where men wore top hats and tails and we take a walk through memory lane pointing out spots where it’s been featured in our favourite movies. From skating on the ice rink to raising the Christmas tree, the Rockefeller Center more than lives up to its iconic status.
When we were in New York last year for Christmas, we made sure to see the world famous Rockettes Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall; located just two short blocks from the main Square. We thought our New York friends would mock us for going, but it turns out, they all think it’s great too!
New Yorkers may tell you that they avoid Times Square at all costs, but when you visit the city, you can’t miss it! Times Square embodies what the city is all about: A chaotic mix of people from different cultures and countries coming together to celebrate the excitement and wonder that is New York City. It’s the land of opportunity where dreams are made and hopes are high. When Sinatra sang “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere” he was probably picturing Times Square.
About The Author
Married couple Dave and Deb founded ThePlanetD after cycling the continent of Africa in 2008. Since then they’ve been inspiring adventure in everyone through 106 countries on 7 continents. Since then, ThePlanetD has been named as one of the Top 10 Influencers in Travel for 2017 by Forbes Magazine. They’ve won numerous photography and blogging awards including back-to-back gold medals for best travel blog at both the Society of American Travel Writers and the North American Travel Journalists Association.