Best Nightlife in New York

In the City That Never Sleeps, the Party Goes All Night

Asking someone to rank the best nightlife in the city is an impossible task. Just like with restaurants or nail salons, there's simply too many extraordinary ones to possibly make this list complete. Still, the list featured here is a mix of wild and crazy, and slow and sultry spots to heat up any type of New York night. 

If you're looking to dance your butt off, check out Le Bain. Rising high above the city's skyscrapers, the floor to ceiling windows will give you energy to groove all night. In Brooklyn? Output has the sound system and the sweaty crowd to keep you moving until the sun comes up. 

For those looking for something more low-key, The Mulberry Project could be calling your name. Underground, dark and delicious, you'll find bartenders who know exactly how to make your night turn up right. 

For fun and games like ping-pong, pool and board games, skip across town for another underground playground: Fat Cat Billiards. The bonus there? Live jazz and a cheap cover will keep you entertained for hours on end. 

In the city that never sleeps, there's more than enough for everyone to have a little fun. Below, we give you a sneak peek at ten of our favorite nightlife destinations. 


Cross the river into Brooklyn and take in the gorgeous skyline views from the rooftop of the Wythe Hotel. The Ides is an Art-Deco spot that's a bit more understated than some of the other flashier bars on this list, but that doesn't make it any less special. The one thing to keep in mind is that it's fairly small and gets crowded quickly, so if you're hoping for a seat, go early. Weather permitting, they've also got a rose bar in full force all summer, making this *almost* too-cool-for-school Williamsburg spot one of the trendiest and freshest hotel bars around.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: With unobstructed views of Manhattan, it's the best way to bask in the city's glow.

Andrea's expert tip: Grab dinner downstairs at Reynard before heading to the roof. It doesn't disappoint.

Read more about The Ides at the Wythe →

Lower East Side

What is there to say about Bar 169 that hasn't already been said? A dive in the truest sense of the word, this Chinatown haunt practically beckons you in off the streets to make bad decisions �" tequila shots and oysters, anyone? A leopard print pool table stands proud under swinging fringed lights, while patrons watch the occasional solo burlesque dancer sway her hips and shake her ta-tas for dollar bills. Vaguely reminiscent of your strange uncle's basement, but with enough 90s grunge to keep you flying high all night, Bar 169 is where you go when you want to blend in while still feeling supremely in-the-know and weird, all at once. Unsurprisingly, it's the perfect place to end your evening.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's one of the last standing dive bars in the city.

Andrea's expert tip: The margaritas are surprisingly delicious.

Read more about Bar 169 →

West Village

Jazz, board games, billiards, ping pong, tabletop shuffleboard – is there anything that Fat Cat doesn't offer? Not really, unless you're a stickler for windows. After waiting in the inevitable line that's queued up at the front, pay the (nominal) cover and climb down the stairs to this basement playground. Sprawled over what seems like a ridiculous amount of space for a New York bar, Fat Cat draws all kinds of locals for wholesome-ish fun, brought to you by buckets of PBR and good old-fashioned competition. During the week, jazz legends mix-and-mingle on stage with amateur performers for late night, after hours shows that are equal parts inspiration and music industry networking.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Where else can you listen to good jazz while beating your friend in ping-pong?

Andrea's expert tip: Arrive early and skip the $3 cover.

Read more about Fat Cat NYC →


Output is one of the few clubs in Brooklyn to hold its own against Manhattan's heavy hitters. The club is armed with a Funktion One, one of the best sound systems in the city, making it powerful against the big guys in more ways than one. You'll find more plaid-clad hipsters than stilleto'd models here, but that doesn't mean you won't have to wait if you show up late. Once inside, the main room bumps with high-quality electronic talent, the adjoining Panther Room offers a more intimate listening experience and the rooftop gives you a place to cool down before heading back in for more.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The party here is likely to go the latest of anywhere on the list.

Andrea's expert tip: Get there no later than 11 pm to avoid an hours-long wait.

Read more about Output →

Brooklyn Bowl
Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Bowl

Sure, you could come to Brooklyn Bowl to lace up a pair of slick shoes and hurl a couple rocks in the direction of a bunch of pins. But even if you're not into a game of 10-frames, you should still add Brooklyn Bowl to your top list of nightlife joints to visit. In fact, most people at Brooklyn Bowl aren't bowling. Instead, they're catching up on their favorite musical acts – or learning about a new one. In addition to the games, this venue has live shows every night of the week, from little known rising stars to musician royalty, including Talib Kweli, RJD2, The Hold Steady and St. Lucia.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's got bowling and live bands. What's not to like?

Local Expert tip: Come for the entertainment, stay for the surprisingly good food.

Read more about Brooklyn Bowl →

Chicago-style improv is alive and well in the Big Apple thanks to the efforts of this energetic group of comedians. Indeed, founders Matt Besser, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, and Matt Walsh all hail from the Windy City, and their unique brand of cutting-edge comedy has been raising eyebrows and breaking ribs since the late 90s. Don't be surprised if you show up to catch a show, only to encounter familiar faces gracing the stage. Their Sunday night show - Asssscat 3000 - is a local favorite, and guests line up for hours, rain or shine, to score tickets for the free 9:30PM show. Tickets are available for the 7:30PM showing, but the shows get more outrageous as the night wears on.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's cheap, hilarious and always a good time. Sunday nights are extra special.

Andrea's expert tip: Get into line by 7PM on Sundays to guarantee yourself admission for the free show at 9:30.

Read more about Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre →

Westlight at The William Vale Hotel
Photo courtesy of William Vale

Perched 22 stories high on the rooftop of The William Vale hotel is Westlight, a chic, swanky joint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Though it'll cost you a pretty penny to pass the time here, you're paying not just for the drinks, but also for the jaw-dropping aesthetics. In fact, few - if any - places rival the sweeping views of Manhattan's skyline. Most say the food is passable, though nothing special, so consider ordering something small or skipping eats all together in favor of one of the bartender's expertly mixed cocktails. Is Westlight the trendiest, bougiest place in Brooklyn? Probably, but with a views like these, who cares?

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's in the hottest neighborhood in town with views to match.

Andrea's expert tip: There's (always) a line. Make a reservation to skip it.

Read more about Westlight at The William Vale Hotel →

With arguably the chicest bathrooms and sexiest views in NYC, Le Bain is notoriously one of the hardest doors in the city. Perhaps that's because this lively club is connected to The Boom Boom Room, one of Manhattan's exclusive celebrity watering holes, or maybe it's the hot tubs built directly into the dance floor. Either way, dress to impress and try not to take it to heart if you're turned away once (or more) before gaining entry. If you happen to arrive early, you'll have better luck, but beware that the club stays fairly empty until the clock strikes midnight.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's still going strong after years on top ten lists just like this one.

Andrea's expert tip: There's no way around it - this is a tough door. Go early or risk waiting on line for hours.

Read more about Le Bain at the Standard →

Those looking for a weird, over-the-top, Burning Man-esque romp in dance party form should look no further than House of Yes. This once illicit venue is now perfectly legal, though your mouth will still likely hit the floor upon walking in. Some have called it the best party in New York right now. Others refuse to try to explain it. And they're right - House of Yes is best experienced rather than talked about. Expect loud beats, twirling circus performers, men in pseudo-drag and scantily clad women dancing next to guys in flannel drinking a beer. The theme? Borrowed from Burning Man, it's anything goes and everyone's welcome, which is refreshing, to say the least.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: It's what you think about when you think about a warehouse party in Bushwick.

Andrea's expert tip: Wear whatever, bring whomever, be totally, unapologetically you.

Read more about House of Yes →


Meet Andrea Wien

Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.

When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll...  More About Andrea