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 Campbell

    Midtown East | Bars/Pubs

    Classy tipplers and well-dressed commuters pack into this Grand Central Terminal bar (especially during the evening rush), but you can still...Read More

  • 2. Village Vanguard

    West Village | Live Music

    This prototypical jazz club, tucked into a cellar in the Village since the 1940s, has been the haunt of legends like Thelonious Monk and Barbra...Read More

  • 3. Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden

    Astoria | Bars/Pubs

    Warm summer nights and cold, frothy beers have been savored by locals for over 100 years at the Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. With pitchers...Read More

  • 4. Ear Inn

    SoHo | Bars/Pubs

    Since the early 1800s, this watering hole (at one time also a bordello) has been a sturdy New York landmark in a rapidly changing downtown....Read More

  • 5. Fanelli's

    SoHo | Bars/Pubs

    Linger over lunch or a beer at this well-worn neighborhood bar and restaurant, a down-to-earth SoHo landmark that's been serving drinks (and...Read More

  • 6. Keens Steakhouse

    Midtown West | Bars/Pubs

    Single-malt scotch aficionados have a delicious dilemma trying to select from 200-plus varieties on the menu at Keens. Given its location just...Read More

  • 7. King Cole Bar

    Midtown East | Piano Bars

    A justly beloved 1906 Maxfield Parrish mural of "Old King Cole" himself, as well as his artful court (made famous by the 18th-century nursery...Read More

  • 8. Lantern's Keep

    Midtown West | Bars/Pubs

    The elegance of cocktail culture from another era is alive and well at Lantern's Keep, an intimate lounge tucked behind the lobby of the Iroquois...Read More

  • 9. McSorley's Old Ale House

    East Village | Bars/Pubs

    One of New York's oldest saloons (established in 1854) and immortalized by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell, McSorley's is a must if you...Read More

  • 10. Minton's Playhouse

    Harlem | Live Music

    The jazz institution that once featured big-name performers such as Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington is now a sophisticated supper club with...Read More

  • 11. Old Town Bar

    Gramercy | Bars/Pubs

    The proudly unpretentious bi-level Old Town is redolent of old New York, which makes sense since it's been around since 1892. The low-key atmosphere...Read More

  • 12. Pete's Tavern

    Gramercy | Bars/Pubs

    A historic landmark (where O. Henry was a loyal customer), this is one of the bars that claims—with its 1864 date—to be the oldest continuously...Read More

  • 13. Sardi's

    Midtown West | Bars/Pubs

    Head to this Broadway institution to drink in vintage Midtown Manhattan at the compact bar, surrounded by caricatures of theater, film, music...Read More

  • 14. White Horse Tavern

    West Village | Bars/Pubs

    According to New York legend, writer Dylan Thomas drank himself to death in this historic West Village tavern founded in 1880. When the weather...Read More

  • 15. Lenox Lounge

    Harlem | Live Music

    This impeccably detailed Art Deco lounge opened in the 1930s and hosts jazz ensembles, blues acts, and jam sessions in the Zebra Room. The restaurant...Read More

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