Last minute NYC musical or show strategy? Other things to do.
March 18, 2017 6:56 AM   Subscribe

We're visiting NYC March 23-25th, and while brainstorming what to do, we are thinking it would be fun to get last minute show tickets on or off broadway. I remember seeing last minute ticket deals from vendors on the street when I visited as a kid. Do such places still exist, and is this still a viable strategy? Also, any additional ideas for a NYC visit next weekend are welcome.

We are staying in the West Village.

Things we have done previously: circle line cruise, the Rock, Time Square, Hell's kitchen flea market, jazz clubs, Empire state building.
Things we like or may want to try: great food of all varieties (not fancy or $$$$), a comedy club, unique or bizarre shops, other less touristy but interesting aspects of NYC.

Thank you!
posted by Mikey51 to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you thinking of TKTS? This usually works as long as your goal is "see a Broadway show" rather than "see a particular Broadway show". (For that, you can try the individual show's cancellation lines.) I haven't done it in a few years, but I think the South Street Seaport location is usually much less mobbed than Times Square.
posted by damayanti at 7:27 AM on March 18, 2017

I would download the TodayTix app which lists on/off broadway shows at pretty reasonable prices.

As far as comedy, Comedy Cellar in the village is the "famous" club - one of those places that tourists and non-tourists all seem to enjoy a ton (though pricey - comes out to about a $40-50 between tickets and two drink minimum).

My favorite "non-touristy" thing to do in the neighborhood though is to drink cheap beer and play ping pong while listening to live jazz at the Fat Cat on Christopher st (or maybe it's touristy, everything is touristy these days).
posted by windbox at 7:28 AM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: By "last minute from vendors on the street", do you mean like you went to the box office right before the show started and got a ticket at the box office? Or, like, a scalper?

Focusing on the former: yes, some shows still do have same-day, last-minute tickets, but you won't find that with the super-popular shows like HAMILTON or anything. But you can try your luck. Or, you can check out one of the TKTS booths which sell discounted tickets for same-day shows; you'll have to wait in line, and you won't get to choose from EVERYTHING on Broadway, but this is how my parents would always get their tickets when the family came to New york.

Or you can check out off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway - the off-off-Broadway stuff is almost guaranteed not to be sold out, so you can walk up to the box office and probably get in. (The quaity varies, of course; so pick up a copy of TIME OUT NEW YORK, which you can find free in a lot of places, to read their reviews and recommendations first.)

In terms of alternate ideas - it sounds like you haven't ventured out to Brooklyn, so maybe come check us out, especially since there are 3 cultural landmarks within two blocks of each other:

* You're in the West Village, so you can take the 2 or 3 train to the Eastern Parkway stop. Look for the exit that says "Brooklyn Museum" and take that exit - you will come out right in front of the Brooklyn Museum, which has a small, but fantastic, colllection - Egyptian, American, and feminist art in particular. I think they have a Georgia O'Keefe exhibit opening soon.

* The Brooklyn Museum is small enough that you can reasonably leave after only a couple hours. Directly BEHIND the Brooklyn Musem, you have the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, another "small but armed" place - it may be a LITTLE too early for much to be in bloom, but the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden section is a really nice walk. They also have a bonsai collection inside the conservatory that's worth a look.

* If you enter the Garden from that north end, there's an exit at the south end that puts you directly across the street from a portion of Prospect Park that has some cool stuff to check out. I've heard this part unofficially referred to as the "Children's Area" - the first thing you'll see is a carousel, and just next to that is a small historic house with some hands-on exhibits about the first colonial residents of Brooklyn. And then just past that is Brooklyn's Zoo, which I find myself visiting now and then to visit the meerkats and the spider monkeys.

* If that actually sounds too touristy - try just the museum, but then leave the museum and make your way to Grand Army Plaza - no more than ten minutes' walk away - and then find the start of Vanderbilt Avenue and start walking. Vanderbilt is one of the "main drags" in the neighborhood of Prospect Heights, and therefore has a number of small shops and restaurants - including Ample Hills, which I maintain is home to the best ice cream in New York. (The line will be long if you stop in. Don't worry, it moves fast, and is worth it.) If you do this, you have a choice of turning around and going back when you get to Atlantic Avenue (a pretty busy cross-Brooklyn street), or crossing it and keeping going (step lively when you get the green light and you'll be fine). If you cross it and keep going, within a block you'll end up in the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill neighborhood, which is just plain pretty. There is stuff to see on Vanderbilt, but if you're in Fort Greene you should stray down side streets; this is one of the big "Brownstone Brooklyn" neighborhoods. The area around Fort Greene Park is especially pretty. Or, take a left on Fulton Street and follow that for more shops and restaurants (especially check out Greenlight Books). You'll also find a couple of different options for subways back to the West Village - there is a C train at the intersection of Fulton and Lafayette.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:31 AM on March 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

You can also find tickets on
posted by brujita at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2017

Avoid; they have crazy fees.

You can try for discounted tickets, or use TodayTix or use this page for rush and lottery policies.

Or just get tickets now for Come from Away, if you can get them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:27 AM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Since you went to the Hell's Kitchen flea and like great non-fancy foods, check out the Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg. They will still be at their winter market location at 1 Hanson Place. Take the 2/3 train to Atlantic Ave and head toward the old, tall building with the clock.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:06 AM on March 18, 2017

If you haven't seen it before, I recommend Phantom of the Opera - I saw it for the first time on Broadway and fell head over heels, and IIRC the tickets weren't hard to get, even last minute.
posted by Tamanna at 10:42 AM on March 18, 2017

We've used the South Street Seaport TKTS booth with success before - like others have said you'll have to queue, and pick from what's available (and it very definitely won't be everything) but you'll get something on short notice - and picking from things you mightn't normally choose to see might mean you luck out on something amazing (like we did with Porgy and Bess a couple of years back)
posted by parm at 11:10 AM on March 18, 2017

The Metropolitan Opera sells $25 rush tickets - only online - every morning. I did that recently and got great seats.

The Prospect Park Zoo that Empress Callipygos mentioned also has red pandas!
posted by moonmilk at 2:20 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can also enter the Hamilton lottery. Most likely that will just result in you being able to say you entered the lottery, but hey.
posted by nat at 2:25 PM on March 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nthing TodayTix. Headout is another app that may be a little cheaper. But I have had better service with TodayTix. They both meet you at the show with your tickets.
posted by ihadapony at 3:27 PM on March 18, 2017

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