NYC overnight: fun things to do in the wee hours

Due to circumstances forcing me to make whirlwind travel plans today, I find myself in the position of having overnight layovers in New York this coming Sunday (2/9) and the following Saturday (2/15), from about 9:00 PM to 7:00 AM. I’m both an incorrigible night-owl and the sort who always sleeps on planes/trains, so these seem like ripe conditions to make the City That Never Sleeps live up to its name.

I’m on Amtrak, so I’ll be arriving at Penn Station. I’ve booked a room both nights at the Hotel Pennsylvania, which reviews indicate is a dump, but it’s an enormously convenient dump that offers a place to drop my luggage and a bed to flop onto should I eventually crap out. This is all I require, and for 90 bucks a night in the heart of midtown Manhattan, I figure there’s no complaining unless the housekeeping staff actually mugs me.

Anyhow, on to the actual point. I’m not usually one for itineraries, but given the time constraints, my usual strategy of “meander aimlessly until you stumble upon something interesting” probably won’t be effective.*

So, I’m here to fish for ideas. Late-night entertainment is the name of the game. Food, drinks, activities, shows, museums, theaters, weird shit to just go and gawk at; it’s all on the table as long as it’s open while I am. Location’s not much of an issue either — if it’s anywhere remotely near a subway stop, consider it fair game. I have just two specific requests, those being:

  1. No club suggestions (dance, strip, or otherwise), if you please. For a longer trip, sure, but I don’t relish traveling with a hangover. That said, interesting bars where I can nip in and have a quick one are welcome.

  2. As a native upstater, I miss me some poutine, and I know it can be had in NYC. Somebody here knows where the best example of our fine French-Canadian friends’ fare is found; of this I am certain…so please do enlighten me. (And if all the good places are closed at night, a canned-gravy facsimile will do in a pinch.) :smiley:

As always, all advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
*I did employ this method the first night I visited New York, leading to a festive overnight jaunt from Battery Park to Chinatown to Greenwich Village to Times Square to Rockefeller Center, but there was a whole lot of nothing and no one in between the highlights. I’d like to shoot for a little more efficiency, if only just.

You’re very conveniently located to Koreatown.

Juvenex spa is open 24 hours and co-ed through the night from 5pm to 7am. It’s a Korean style of spa where you do saunas and hot tubs in a set rotation You can add scrubs or massage (totally legit) for additional fees.

There’s lots of good spots to eat on just one block 32nd between 6th & 5th - from Korean BBQ where you grill meats over hot coals right at your table (I like New Won Jo but there are many to choose from) to handmade dumplings at Mandoo Bar to cafeteria style grab & go at Woorijip. Note that many of the bars on the street are on upper stories, not street level, so don’t forget to look up.

(edit: sorry can’t help you with the poutine!)

And yeah, Hotel Pennsylvania is kind of a shithole, but you really can’t beat the convenience for an early train.

Just tossing some random stuff out there…

You can pick up same-day discounted Broadway tickets at the TKTS Booth

Lucky Strike bowling on 42nd street near 11th is open till 4am on saturday nights.

The Museum of Sex at 27th & 5th Ave, is open until 8pm most days, 9pm on saturdays.

The Staten Island Ferry runs all night on the hour and half-hour for a nice view of lower manhattan and a near pass of the Statue of Liberty.

That’s quite the assortment, thanks! That Korean spa doesn’t sound like something I’d do…which is also true of this trip, so there’s all the more reason to consider doing it. And you sure can’t go wrong with Korean BBQ.

Looks like I’ll be getting in a little late for Broadway (shame, I’ve never seen a production and I’d love to). But, a nighttime ride on the Staten Island Ferry is something I meant to do last time and managed to forget existed. Probably would’ve done the same this time if you hadn’t mentioned it.

Thanks for the suggestions — random is just what I’m after!

The Sunshine Cinema down on Houston st. Has midnight movies on weekends, and the theater itself is a neat renovation job.

Bubby’s is diner-style 24 hour restaurant that offers a special “midnight brunch” menu during the overnight.

Ok, I’ve got the poutine situation sorted. One night I’ll have it at Dive 75, and the other at Pommes Frites in the East Village.

Google has been decidedly less helpful on the nocturnal recreation, though. “Best Late-Night [Whatever] In NYC” articles give bars and/or things that close at 11. Change the search term to “24-hour”, and you get three pages of articles listing the same ten businesses, two of which are a gym and a vegetable store (?). For what it’s worth, HA, they all recommend Juvenex pretty highly.

All of which is to say, I’m still open to suggestions! :slight_smile:

The Westminster Kennel Club show is at the Garden on the 10th and 11th. Maybe you’ll meet some of the dogs in the hotel. And if you call the hotel, you’ll be dialing the oldest continuously used phone number in New York City!

I’m back! And better than ever!

La Soiree - a sort of off-Broadway cabaret/burlesque/circus sideshow, has a 10 pm performance on saturday nights. Conveniently located in Union Square.

The Upright Citizens Brigade a very well regarded improv troupe, has 10:30 and midnight performances.

Alphaville a classic film noir/science fiction directed by Jean-Luc Godard, is showing at 9:50pm at the Film Forum. (closing Feb 13)

If, god forbid, it gets warm enough for a people-watching stroll, The High Line is open until 11pm.

Bars in NYC close at 4:00 AM. Don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time to hit all the bars you want.

If you want to live a little dangerously (really), check out the Wakamba Lounge, at 37th and Eighth, just a few blocks from your hotel. I think it’s still there. It’s what Times Square used to be like. A real time warp.

You know what, I retract my recommendation above. Do not go to the Wakamba. It’s a fucked-up place and bad things happen there. I don’t miss Times Square the way it used to be.

Times Square is the next subway stop north of Penn Station. It’s not as seedy as it once was and it’s expensive, but it has plenty of places open until the wee small hours.
There’s also a dive bar west of the Port Authority (it’s on 41st between the two buildings and 8th and 9th Ave) It’s a real dive; but you’ll see a lot of interesting things there.

There’s a Dave and Busters on 42nd Street which is open late. The food is so-so; but the games are great. There are also two theaters right across the street from one another by D&Bs

I like the Skylight Diner on 34th, just west of 8th Ave. It’s open 24 hours and the food is pretty good (IMO) However, they only take cash (there’s an ATM inside)

There also the Waverly Restaurant. It’s on the corner of 4th Ave and Waverly (you can walk right upstairs to it when you exit the subway) Great food (again,IMO) and it’s open late.

Too bad you don’t like clubs as there are plenty in the area.

Sixth Avenue, not Fourth. And Waverly, yes, which would be 7th Street if it were a number. Dave Van Ronk used to go there a lot, though it was MacDougal Street of which he was mayor.

I’m not getting the love for the Waverly. It’s a completely average diner you can find almost anywhere in NYC. There is not one special thing about it, except that it’s location, 50 years ago, was regarded as bohemian (which it is not today, and hasn’t been for 30 years).

Even within the realm of 24-hour diners, it’s mediocre. And its not like the 24-hour diner is a rare breed. Here, have a list of the 896 24-hour diners in NYC.

I second the recommendation of “The High Line” - a long thin park built on an abandoned elevated train track. Never been on it at night, but I’m sure it is interesting then.

I would NOT waste my time at the Museum of Sex. Not again, anyway. Much more boring than the name would imply.

The Empire State Building is open until midnight at least :). The lines are ridiculously long, and I wouldn’t bother if it’s a cloudy night, but if it’s a nice night it’s worth a trpi.

However: If you’re staying at the Hotel Pennsylvania, seriously consider throwing out your luggage when you get home - and if you can, strip to the skin at the front door and throw the clothes out as well.

If you are a straight woman, you will LOVE some of the eye candy in this show.