New York City

New Yorkers are fond of the "work hard, play hard" maxim, but the truth is, Gothamites don't need much of an excuse to hit the town. Any day of the week could easily be mistaken for a Friday or Saturday; the bottom line is that when the the mood strikes, there are always plenty of choices in this 24-hour city. Whether it's raising a glass in a historic saloon, a dimly lit cocktail den, or a swanky rooftop lounge; checking out the latest band; or laughing it up at a comedy show, it isn't hard for visitors to get a piece of the action.

The nightlife scene still resides largely downtown—in the dives and speakeasies of the East Village and Lower East Side, the classic jazz joints and piano bars of the West Village, and the Meatpacking District's and Chelsea's "see-and-be-seen" clubs. Midtown, especially around Hell's Kitchen, has developed a vibrant scene, too, and plenty of upscale hangouts dot the Upper East and Upper West Sides. Brooklyn and Harlem are go-to destinations for in-the-know locals.

Keep in mind that when you go is just as important as where you go. A club that is packed at 11 pm might empty out by midnight, and a bar that raged last night may be completely empty tonight. Time Out New York magazine has a good list of roving parties (, as does Urban Daddy ( Scour industry-centric websites, too, like Eater and Grub Street, which catalog the comings and goings of many a nightlife impresario. New York magazine and the New York Times have listings of cabaret and jazz shows, the latter mainly in its Friday and Sunday Arts sections. Bear in mind that a venue's life span is often measured in months, not years. Phone ahead or check online to make sure your target hasn't closed or turned into a polka hall (although, you never know—that could be fun, too).

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  • 1. The 18th Room

    Chelsea | Bars/Pubs

    Referencing the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which banned alcohol, this "secret" cocktail den is a great find. Enter through the...Read More

  • 2. Barracuda

    Chelsea | Bars/Pubs

    The drag shows and freewheeling, flirty dance nights are what lure a mostly male crowd to this cute, casual neighborhood hangout, far less...Read More

  • 3. Gotham Comedy Club

    Chelsea | Comedy Clubs

    This 10,000-square-foot club—complete with a chandelier and roomy downstairs lounge—showcases popular headliners such as Roy Wood Jr. and Kate...Read More

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    Chelsea | Bars/Pubs

    At this gay sports bar, the plentiful flat-screen TVs and cheap Budweisers draw athletic enthusiasts of every stripe, from athlete to armchair...Read More

  • 5. Porchlight

    Chelsea | Bars/Pubs

    At this southern-inflected bar you can have your cocktails and eat your fried oysters and smoked cheddar biscuits, too. Located in far West...Read More

  • 6. Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre

    Chelsea | Comedy Clubs

    Raucous sketch comedy, audience-initiated improv, and classic stand-up take turns onstage here at the city's absolute capital for alternative...Read More

  • 7. The Half King

    Chelsea | Bars/Pubs

    Writer Sebastian Junger ( The Perfect Storm ) is one of the owners of this would-be literary mecca, though the ambience is more publike than...Read More

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