Late-Night New York City
January 26, 2010 9:01 PM   Subscribe

In a few weekends, I'll be in New York City, a place I only skimmed the surface of when I was younger. I'll have Saturday at noon until mid-afternoon Sunday completely free. Since I don't have much money, I don't need much sleep, and my time is short, I wouldn't mind skipping that $20 hostel bed, pulling an all-nighter, and seeing more of the city. There's been plenty of previous questions about how to do NYC on the cheap, but any suggestions on how to continue to do NYC on the cheap in the dead of night?

This thread on napping in New York might be pretty helpful if I start to wane in the hours before my flight.
posted by SpringAquifer to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Let's break your challenge into time-slices, since what's available to you will be a function of what's open. It'd help if we had some sense of:

1) What your budget might be
2) What kinds of things you'd like to do (museums? concerts? food? bars?)
3) Are you solo, or traveling with someone else?
4) Are you comfortable with taking some long walks, weather permitting?

With that, I'm thinking your time breaks up as follows:

Noon-6pm: daytime activities - museums, galleries, tourist sights
6pm-midnight: evening activities - dinner, concerts, touristy evening places
midnight-4am: Nightlife. Bars, clubs, etc.
4am-10am: post-pubcrawl meal, nap potential, catching the sunrise, more involved breakfast.
10am-departure: more shopping, touristy things.

Your challenge will be from about midnight to 9am, especially from 4am-onwards (when the bars close). Do you drink? Would you be comfortable hanging out in a bar all night and talking to people, or would you be looking for something else to do?

After the bars close, your options are basically the various late-night/24-hour restaurants, and walking around. If the weather's good, sunrise in NYC is a beautiful sight (and there are many, many places you could choose from to try and catch it). If you've got good shoes, walking around the city at that hour is kind of magical - it's really the only time the city is actually almost quiet.

Some further info on your likes/dislikes would be a big help, especially if there's some idea of what you envision your dream night being - don't worry, we'll tell you if it's reasonable or not. ;)
posted by swngnmonk at 9:25 PM on January 26, 2010

There's always a lot of interesting stuff on Nonsense NYC. I think it would be cool to be on top of something tall come sunrise.
posted by shinyshiny at 9:44 PM on January 26, 2010

there's a 24-hour apple store where you can go to check email and kill time, but I wouldn't recommend it for the entire night.
posted by acidic at 10:00 PM on January 26, 2010

Depending on what you're looking for, here are a few ideas:

If you drink, and you're the type of person who enjoys walking around and doesn't like to stay in one place for long, try a pub crawl of epic proportions. I did this a couple months ago with some good friends, and it was great. We'd just walk a couple blocks, stop when we found an interesting looking bar, have 1 beer, and then keep walking. We went from Park Slope in Brooklyn all the way to the East Village in Manhattan. We timed it right and crossed the Manhattan bridge right at sunset. I've been living here for 3 years, and I have to say that was the best time I've ever had in the city. Of course, this can get a little expensive depending on how long you go, but My Open Bar can help ya out.

After the bars close, other than settling in at a 24 hour diner, my suggestion would be to find a party to go to, meet some people there and stay up all night with them. I'm not sure if that is your kind of thing, but it could be a lot of fun, and you could make some great friends. You can probably find something cool to attend one one of these sites.

If you're going to be in town February 20th, you could catch Bioluminescence - a party put on by the NYC Burning Man Community. It says it goes till 4am, but it will probably go later than that, and your chances of making new friends who might let you crash at their place are pretty good.

Another idea is, after the bars close, take the train out to Cony Island. It'll take you about an hour to get there, and you can chill on the beach and watch the sun come up. Plus, you could doze while on the train since Cony Island is the last stop.

Also, if you need a nap in the middle of the day, Central Park is nice if the weather is good. I've seen business men in suits stretched out on the grass taking a quick nap on a nice day.
posted by bloody_bonnie at 10:22 PM on January 26, 2010

Odessa is a great diner on the east side that's open all night. Good place for breakfast after clubbing.
posted by xammerboy at 10:55 PM on January 26, 2010

Please, don't sleep on the train. Not only is it a good way to get your stuff stolen, but the NYPD has been cracking down on anyone using more than one seat.

If you like music, there's no shortage of concerts on any given night. Check out OhMyRockness for a list of free shows.

You might want to consider stashing your luggage somewhere so you don't have to lug it around with you. Apparently this place in Midtown near Penn Station will do that for about $10 bucks.

Odessa is definitely a good choice for a late night snack if your'e in the East Village, but make sure you go to the northernmost one (closer to 8th/St. Marks); there's another 'Odessa' right next to it which is crap.
posted by dantekgeek at 11:56 PM on January 26, 2010

Also, if you need a nap in the middle of the day, Central Park is nice if the weather is good. I've seen business men in suits stretched out on the grass taking a quick nap on a nice day.

Indeed, but in February...probably not.
posted by jckll at 7:48 AM on January 27, 2010

Do not underestimate NYC, especially in the winter. Ours is a harsh city, even if you live here. You will be very cold and very tired starting at about 6 AM if you drink too much, or likely even if you do not. That said, noon to noon certainly can be done (even without hard drugs), but it is not the easiest thing.

How old are you? NonsenseNYC, as mentioned above, is a great resource for some all-nite block-rocking warehouse parties (among other things), mostly in BK, occasionally in Manhattan, but they often cater to the under-30 (or even under 21) set.
posted by Damn That Television at 8:51 AM on January 27, 2010

Native New Yorker here (that doesn't make my answer the best but it gives it credibility, I hope)

First important thing I thought of that no one else has asked yet is, what day of the week will you be there? There's going to be a big difference if its a saturday vs a tuesday. Yes, NYC is alive all the time in someplace or another but certainly you'll have a much easier time finding an after hours gig and people to hang with after the bars close on a friday or saturday.

That being said, getting trashed until the wee hours may be loads of fun but it's not the most sensible strategic choice once you find yourself at 6am in the bitter Feb cold, drunk and wishing you could just pass out somewhere warm. So, if you do go out, switch to water at some point so you can keep your wits about you when youre ready to hit the trail again.

What you can do, is save a few tourist activities for the 4am to 7am slot. Even though times square is a really touristy attraction, whats cool about it is less so everything IN it like the mega stores and cheezy chain restaurants and more so the impressive display of lights, something that was one of a kind in the world (once). I've always liked it even when it was super shady in the 70's and 80's. So at 4 or 5am, its going to have the least amount of people and you can really take it in while it's still dark.

Afterwards you can catch the sunrise facing east, looking over the east river, and the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. That would be a really beautiful sight. One of my favorite places to do this is from the back side of the Pier 17 shopping mall on the far end of the Fulton street market. I'm not sure if they close it off but if you walk along the dock adjacent to PIER 17, along the river there are a few rows of bleecher-like seating facing the river with a spectacular view. If its closed, just walk north along the river a bit and you will have the same view albeit less panoramic and under the shade of the Brooklyn Bridge. If you decide to do this by day, go inside the mall to the top floor, walk past the food court and out the glass doors at the end. Its the same view but even better because youre 50 feet higher and they even have reclining chairs there you could take a nap in.

As for napping, one suggestion is the lobby of the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square. It's a massive lobby with lots of different nooks with couches. Assuming you don't lay out 180 degress like a homeless person, if you took a snooze on one of those couches I doubt anyone from the hotel would bother you. The lobby itself is on the 7th or 8th floor I think.

As for saving money. Not many people actually know this but the prices for the city subsidized museums like the Metropolitan and the Natural History are *suggested* prices. Since the city gives them money, they are obligated to let you in for a penny if you want. They may give you a nasty look when you buy your ticket but who cares. Lots of pizza stands are open at 5am after the bars let out. A slice is roughly $1.50-2.00 otherwise youre getting ripped off. Two slices and a soda will run you about $5.00. Thats a cheap and tasty meal.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Ill let you know if I think of anything else.

Have fun!
posted by postergeist at 10:48 AM on January 27, 2010

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