Whether it’s a concert, a boxing match, or an esports championship, you’ll find the biggest events of the season at Madison Square Garden. “The World’s Greatest Arena” is also home turf for the Knicks, the Rangers, and the Liberty. No matter what brings you to the Garden, the surrounding area offers plenty of opportunities for dining, shopping, and sightseeing.
1. Madison Square Garden All-Access Tour
4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10001
Get an up-close look at how the Garden works behind the scenes. From the high-flying Chase Bridges to the tucked-away inner workings, this tour is an informative, entertaining exploration of the arena’s past and present. A must-do for sports fans (you’ll see rare memorabilia of historic athletic events, visit the teams’ locker rooms, and possibly see a live practice), this is one of the city’s highest-rated tours even for non-jocks. Book in advance at tripadvisor.com.
2. The Pennsy Food Hall
2 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, NY 10121
Whatever you’re craving, there’s likely a vendor at the Pennsy Food Hall serving it up. This expansive venue, located directly next to the Garden, boasts six chef-driven concepts served in a sleek industrial space. From vegan pastries at The Cinnamon Snail to made-to-order sandwiches by celebrity butcher Pat LaFrieda, there’s something to suit every taste. Enjoy a pint of craft brew with your meal at the outdoor beer garden, or sample the range of specialty cocktails and wines by the glass at The Pennsy Bar.
3. Bryant Park
Between 5th and 6th Avenues and between 40th and 42nd Streets
Known as “Manhattan’s Town Square,” this beloved year-round destination features both indoor and outdoor spaces for recreation, relaxing, and dining. Each year, the Winter Village creates a winter wonderland in the heart of the city, complete with ice rink (free admission!), skating classes, and rinkside pop-up food hall and bar. in the warmer months, enjoy movies on the lawn, music and dance concerts, and specialty picnics with themes like ballet, opera, and Shakespeare.
4. Culture 36
247 W 36th Street, New York, NY 10018
This outpost of the local micro-chain Culture Espresso serves up brews from a single roaster at a time, providing a mural of flavors throughout the year. Rotating exhibits feature the work of locally and internationally known artists and photographers. Daily deliveries from some of the city’s best-loved bakeries keep the pastry displays full and fresh, while signature chocolate chip and oatmeal-cranberry cookies are baked in-house all day long.
5. Keens Steakhouse
72 W 36th Street, New York, NY 10018
With warm wood paneling, Turkish carpets on the floors, and an oversized oil painting of a reclining nude over the bar (captioned “Miss Keens”), this ultra-classic steakhouse is a relic of another century. Their menu is as time-honored as their decor, featuring USDA Prime porterhouse steaks, a storied wine list and selection of single malts, and a near-legendary mutton chop. In addition, the restaurant’s collection of more than 90,000 smoking pipes is one of the world’s largest: it’s provided pipes to luminaries including Babe Ruth, Douglas MacArthur, and Liza Minnelli. Thousands of these “churchwardens,” as the clay pipes are known, adorn the low ceilings–look up and you might spot a famous name among them.
6. Houdini Museum of New York at Fantasma Magic
213 W 35th St, Suite 401
Get a peek into the life of the world’s greatest magician at New York’s greatest magic shop. This fourth-floor shrine to the famed escape artist includes memorabilia from his career from handcuffs to a daunting iron-bound chest wrapped in chains — all of which he would routinely slip out of in front of admiring audiences. Regular live demonstrations show how Houdini mastered his craft, and you can even watch an animatronic Houdini slip out of a straitjacket. The rest of this vast four-story shop boasts a wide selection of tricks, props, and instructional tools so you can take a little magic home with you.
7. Hanamizuki Cafe
143 W 29th St, New York, NY 10001
Need just a quick bite before heading into the Garden? This chic, minimalist cafe specializes in omisubi, Japanese rice balls stuffed with a variety of fillings. Choices range from light, vegan-friendly kinoko (mixed mushrooms, zucchini, and scallions) to more substantial cha-su pork and Japanese-style ground beef curry with egg. Four varieties of miso soup (reviewers rave about the BLT-style) round out your meal, and you can finish up with a matcha roll cake for a little something sweet. At just $11, the lunch special (two rice balls, one soup, and assorted pickles) is a thrifty as well as tasty option.
8. B&H Photo Video
420 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10001
For shutterbugs, filmmakers, and electronics geeks of every stripe, a visit to B&H is like a pilgrimage. The world’s largest independent photo/electronics store, it boasts everything from selfie sticks to professional-grade video editing equipment. The staff’s knowledge of (and love for) their subject is immediately apparent Take advantage of their expertise with a class or workshop to help improve your photo skills. Time your visit carefully, though: to honor the Sabbath, B&H is closed on Saturdays.
9. Tír Na Nóg
254 W 31st Street, New York, NY 10001
Whether you’re toasting your team’s success or drowning memories of their defeat, this friendly Irish-style bar fits the bill with hearty pub grub, free-flowing Guinness (or 23 other brews on tap), and plenty of Celtic ambience. Diners praise the updated pub classics with an American twist, giving special shout-outs to the pan-seared branzino, braised short ribs, and shepherd’s pie. In October 2018, Tír Na Nóg was voted the Best Irish Pub in the World at the Irish Pubs Global awards in Galway — an accolade that’s hard to beat. Tables fill quickly on game nights, so consider making a reservation at opentable.com.
10. Pocha 32
15 W 32nd Street #2, New York, NY 10001
When the game goes into overtime or the band takes an extra encore, you’ll probably leave the Garden ready for a late-night snack. Open until 4 AM every day, Pocha 32 is a great place for a post-midnight ramble. Sate the appetites of your whole hungry crew with the boodae jungol, a meaty take on the traditional Korean “army stew” that easily serves four. The drinks lineup includes four fruity varieties of fruity cocktail soju, each served from a hollowed-out piece of fruit — reviewers say the watermelon is extra-refreshing.