How to Fall in Love with Times Square in 2 Days (Seriously)

There's an actual neighborhood hiding in America's biggest "tourist trap."

Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Times Square attracts upwards of 20 million visitors every day. It's (probably) America's most famous, most infamous, and most maligned tourist destination. But for native New Yorkers and/or seasoned visitors who don't crave a run-in with a knock-off Elmo or a plate of crab-stuffed shrimp at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Times Square is more than likely a place to avoid.

But it shouldn't be.

In this episode of the Thrillist Explorers podcast (listen here!), I spend 48 hours in Times Square in a quest to find the actual neighborhood buried beneath the towering neon screens and the world's largest Olive Garden. We visit the legendary dive bar that has miraculously survived the Disney-fication of the area, Jimmy's Corner. We discover the large-scale (and occasionally hidden!) art installations inside the Square, and the artists working to add a layer of culture to the city's "least culturally viable" area. We speak with Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar (who dole out some very tequila-centric advice). We experience a slice of "classic" New York (cocktails, mood lighting, pianos) with the always excellent Rum House and owner Kenneth McCoy. We figure out where to eat in Times Square, spend a late night walking around talking to the many characters who inhabit the area, and end up on top of 1 Times Square, right underneath the iconic NYE ball.

After all is said and done, you actually might <3 Times Square, too.

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Wil Fulton is a Senior Producer at Thrillist and a passionate doer of other stuff. For more info, you'll have to do a free background check.