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. Back Room

    Lower East Side | Bars/Pubs

    The atmospheric Prohibition-era touches here include tin ceilings, chandeliers, velvet wallpaper, mirrored bars, an ample fireplace, and a ...Read More

  • 2. Bowery Ballroom

    Lower East Side | Live Music

    This legendary theater with Art Deco accents is probably the city's top midsize concert venue. Packing in the crowds here is a rite of passage...Read More

  • 3. Arlene's Grocery

    Lower East Side | Live Music

    Crowds of youngsters and longtime New Yorkers pack into this former Puerto Rican bodega that's now a downtown staple for local bands, variety...Read More

  • 4. Mercury Lounge

    Lower East Side | Live Music

    You have to squeeze past the sardine-packed hipsters in the front bar to reach the stage, but it's worth it. Not only does this top-quality...Read More

  • 5. Pianos

    Lower East Side | Live Music

    With two venues for live music and DJs—the Showroom downstairs and the Upstairs Lounge—as well as a full bar that serves food downstairs, there...Read More

  • 6. Rockwood Music Hall

    Lower East Side | Live Music

    With multiple performers at each of the three intimate venues, there's so much to hear here. Expect music of all types, often from bands or...Read More

  • 7. The Box

    Lower East Side | Cabaret

    A sensation when it opened in 2007, Simon Hammerstein's Roaring Twenties–style cabaret–cum–burlesque show–cum–performance art emporium remains...Read More

  • 8. The Delancey

    Lower East Side | Live Music

    From the palm-studded rooftop deck (heated in winter, breezy in summer), to the ground-floor lounge, and down to the basement venue where DJs...Read More

  • 9. Spitzer's Corner

    Lower East Side | Bars/Pubs

    No, you won't rub shoulders with New York's infamous ex-governor Eliot Spitzer here, but you can find 40 types of craft beer on tap plus a selection...Read More

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