Big is the buzz in Times Square, where giant TV screens, towering skyscrapers, and Broadway theaters play starring roles alongside megastores and over-the-top street performers. Love it or hate it, Times Square is the flashy and flashing heart of Midtown, and a visit to New York demands a photo op there. Just don’t forget that there’s plenty more to see and experience beyond this famous crossroads of 7th Avenue and Broadway.
Luckily, you needn't go far to get away from the crowds. Drift west to 9th Avenue—also known as Hell’s Kitchen (where the restaurant scene is heavenly)—and calmer side streets, home to a mixed bag of locals, many of whom work in the theater industry. There are lots of eclectic restaurants, pretheater dining options, and cute boutiques for shopping. Head over to the Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue) and discover Bryant Park’s Zen green space, stretched out like a yoga mat at the back door of the New York Public Library (another refuge from Midtown madness).
You can score good seats to some of the hottest Broadway and Off-Broadway shows for half the going rate at the TKTS booth in Duffy Square at 47th Street and Broadway. Although people think of Broadway as the heart of the theater scene, few theaters actually line the thoroughfare. For some of the grande dames, head west on 45th Street. There are several Broadway beauties here, including the Booth, the Schoenfeld, the Jacobs, the Music Box, and the Imperial. On the southern side of 45th Street there's the pedestrians-only Shubert Alley, distinguished by colorful posters advertising the latest hit plays and musicals, and the Shubert Theatre, one of Broadway's most lustrous gems. Head west along 44th Street to see the Helen Hayes, the Broadhurst, the Majestic, and the St. James.
You might be surprised to learn that Chelsea is not the only gallery hub in the city; 57th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues is home to some of the city’s most prestigious galleries, including Marian Goodman and the Marlborough Gallery.