Broadway tourist guide: How to plan a theatre-filled trip to the Big Apple
Here's how to plan your trip to New York to see Broadway theatre, and experience the best theatre, restaurants, and sightseeing the Big Apple has to offer.
Planning a trip to NYC? It simply wouldn’t be complete without seeing a Broadway show (or even a few). New York is a theatre capital of the world with hundreds of shows to discover on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and beyond. And if you’re looking to see as much theatre as you can while you’re here, you’re in the right place.
Here’s how to make the most of your trip to New York, whether you’re here for a whirlwind weekend or an extended stay. Read on for Broadway ticket buying tips, plus recommendations for what to do before, after, and in between your shows.
Get your theatre tickets early.
The best way to fit as much theatre into your trip as possible is to plan ahead, so you know exactly what you’ll be seeing and when. This is especially important during the holiday season, when tons of people are on winter break and are planning vacations. Take your time to browse what’s playing in New York, and make a list of every show you want to see.
And don’t forget — Broadway shows are great, but there’s plenty of Off-Broadway shows to see, too. Getting tickets to Off-Broadway shows is a great way to diversify your theatregoing trip, since there are so many types of theatre to see across the city. Shows range from opulent operas at The Metropolitan Opera to immersive experiences to new plays and musicals like the ones on Broadway, but which are being performed in more intimate spaces.
Attend matinee and evening performances.
If you want to see as much theatre as possible, plan your trip for the days of the week when you can see two shows a day! Most Broadway shows offer a matinee and an evening performance on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and some add a second show on Sunday as well. Plan your trip during these days for the best chance of fitting in the most shows.
In addition, plenty of shows, namely some Off-Broadway shows, deviate from this schedule, offering matinees on different days. Winnie the Pooh: The Musical, for example, hosts 10 a.m. performances that definitely won’t conflict with your evening plans. And freestyle love supreme on Broadway has 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. performances on Saturdays, which, at a tight 90 minutes, you could either fit in before a traditional 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. evening show, or after a matinee (or another 90-minute show with a 7 p.m. curtain). If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could even try to fit in three shows in one day with a schedule like this!
Take advantage of Rush and Lottery tickets.
We did just say to get your theatre tickets in advance, but sometimes plans change last-minute or you decide to fill more of your free time with theatre. Rush and lottery tickets offer a chance to get last-minute seats for a performance a few days in advance or even, in the case of rush tickets and some lotteries, the day of. Certain shows have rush tickets available right at the box office, and others host lotteries and distribute rush tickets digitally. Read our guide to all the New York shows that currently offer rush and lottery tickets. Lottery tickets are subject to chance, and rush tickets are subject to limited availability. But if you’re lucky, you might be able to get some extra shows into your schedule!
Grab a bite at a restaurant in the Theatre District.
If you’re going to a Broadway or Off-Broadway show in the Theatre District, there are plenty of restaurants nearby that cater to theatregoers. Restaurants like Sardi’s, Glass House Tavern, and Joe Allen are just some of the go-to restaurants for the Broadway crowd — and you never know who you might spot there. The restaurant-packed Hell’s Kitchen district and Restaurant Row is nearby, and the stretch of 46th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues is lined with eateries conveniently located near Broadway. Check out our guide to restaurants to eat at before or after a Broadway show.
Buy some souvenirs.
Memorabilia from a show is a great way to support the show and take it with you long after it’s over. Show memorabilia ranges from apparel (that you can wear if you see the show again!) to mugs, posters, and much more. Plus, more than any generic NYC souvenirs, show merchandise is a great conversation starter. You might discover fellow fans if one of you is wearing or carrying something from a show. If you talk with them, they might have recommendations for more theatre to discover, whether during the rest of your trip or the next one. Theatre merch also makes for great gifts!
Get into the holiday spirit around the city.
New York has plenty of holiday shows to get you in the spirit, from A Charlie Brown Christmas to Nutcracker Rouge to the timeless Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. But in between shows, make the most of a holiday trip by going to see the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and ice skating while you’re there, or taking your skates to Bryant Park or Wollman Rink in Central Park. And if you want to get some holiday shopping done, check out the winter markets in Columbus Circle, Bryant Park, Union Square, or Grand Central Station.
Get tickets to a Broadway show.
So what are you waiting for? Browse shows to see while you're in town, and get ready to see some theatre in New York on your trip. No matter who you're travelling with (or if you're flying solo), plan your trip to New York and see the best musicals, plays, and more that the city has to offer. Get your tickets to a show in New York today on New York Theatre Guide.