What to Do in New York at Night (for Non-Partiers)

Daylight Savings Time or not, now that the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, ‘tis the season to curl up under the covers and stream movies til our eyes bleed. NOT! While nothing’s wrong with the occasional steaming binge, longer nights mean that it’s time to embrace NYC’s nightlife! My clubbing days are long gone, so I won’t speak to that side of the city’s nightlife, but there’s a lot of other mischief you can get into once the sun sets.

Awaken your inner gamer.

Board game cafes NYC things to do at night

Instead of playing Candy Crush alone on your phone, why not invite some friends to one of NYC’s many board game cafes? The Uncommons in the Lower East Side is probably the OG of board game cafes, with a huge selection of games (The list of games goes on for 35 pages on their website!). If video games are more your thing, Barcade in Williamsburg will give you exactly what you’re thinking: booze and arcade games. Two Bit’s Retro Arcade on the Lower East Side supplies a similar experience, but all the games are as old or older than you. If the bar atmosphere is not your thing, check out Chinatown Fair Family Fun Center. If their games don’t draw you in, Chinatown Fair proudly proclaims all over their website that they were the place with the tic tac toe-playing chicken that Al Pacino raves about in The Devil’s Advocate.

And if board games and arcade games are too old school for you, and you’re willing to spend more than a bag of quarters, one of the VR arcades that are popping up all over NYC may be where you should spend your night. Take your pick between vrbar in Downtown Brooklyn, Jump Into the Light near the Bowery, and Hubneo VR Lab on the Lower East Side.

Dine-in at a movie theater.

800px-Encore_Dinner_Theatre_interior.jpg Things to do in NYC at night
Via Wikimedia Commons.

Dinner and a movie are quintessential date night activities, but have you ever done them at the same time? A surprising number of movie theaters in NYC allow you to get your grub on while in front of the big screen, and I’m not just talking about munching on popcorn. You can now get a decent dinner, often while lounging in a comfy chair, at eat-in theaters. Nitehawk in Williamsburg and Park Slope have been in the biz for a while, but also check out Syndicated BK in Bushwick, the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, Metrograph on the Lower East Side, and the AMC Dine-In Theater on Staten Island.

Visit one of the few late-night museums.

NYC Museum at Night.jpg
Via Steven Pisano/Flickr.

If you’ve read my rant on NYC museums, then you know my gripes about how early museums close (5PM? Seriously?). But if you’re really dying to see an exhibition or two after dark, there are a few places you can go, like the Rubin Museum and the Morgan Library & Museum; however, there is one caveat: for most museums this late night only takes one or two days a week. So make sure you check this helpful list from Timeout before you head out. 

See an off-Broadway (or an off-off-Broadway) show.

14744656398_e6f9ca1e06_o.jpg Things to do in NYC at night
Via B McEwan/Flickr.

Broadway tickets are hard and expensive to come by without weeks of planning, but seeing an off-Broadway or an off-off Broadway show doesn’t require as much coordination. You can check websites like TheaterMania to find out what’s currently showing, but venues such as BAM Harvey Theater and the Public Theater usually have something worth seeing.

Go bowling.

Via Wikimedia Commons.

These days bowling is not just a middle-aged man’s game; NYC bowling allies have really stepped their game up to prove that they are cool enough for you to spend your evening at. Head over to Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg after work where you can sink your teeth into some Blue Ribbon fried chicken as you strike out. Gutter Bar in Williamsburg and Long Island City gives you more of that traditional bowling experience, along with craft brewed beers on tap.

Learn something new.

NYC Cooking Class Nightlife.jpg
Via Jeff Kubina/Flickr.

Just because it’s nighttime it doesn’t mean that it’s time to turn your brain off just yet. Spend your evening learning something new. Places like Brooklyn Brainery offer classes on making wontons, developing your business savvy, and even on successfully breaking up. For more edutainment, head over to Caveat on the Lower East Side. Chaos theory, climate change, and women’s history has never been funnier. 

Do something active.

’Tis the season to keep it moving! So throw on some workout gear and spend your evening doing something active. It’s easy to find a fitness class anywhere in the city, but if you want something more out-of-the-box try ice skating at Bryant Park or rock climbing at DUMBO Boulders. If you really want to get your heart rate up, try crossing the Brooklyn Bridge at night. Between dodging tourists and cyclists, you’ll work up a sweat.

What do you like to do on a night out in NYC? Let me know in the comment section. And don’t forget to like and share!

NYC Nightlife Pinterest

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