How to Have the Best Booze-Free Night in New York City

No fake ID? Taking it easy after a crazy night on the town? No problem. This list of exciting after-dark hotspots has got you covered.

Comedy club, many of which can be found in the nearby West Village, are a common non-alcoholic night out activity. (Photo by Shawn Paik)

It’s no secret that New York City has some of the best nightlife in the world. If you’ve ever walked down Third Avenue after 8 p.m., you know the feeling of sensory overload from the dive bars and clubs packed with people. However, if you’re under 21, you might be looking for some other ways to spend your precious weekend nights. Whatever your reason for not drinking, here are some wholesome ways to explore all the city has to offer after dark.

Cafe Wha?
115 Macdougal St.

Known for once hosting famed performers like Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen, Cafe Wha? features a variety of live performances every night.

Steinhardt sophomore Arnell Nur Karina recalls a time when she attended a Michael Jackson tribute at the cafe.

“It’s always a good time,” Karina said. “They played all [Jackson’s] hits, and the customers had the opportunity to dance freely around the restaurant. Everyone had such high energy, and it was a really fun night.”

There is a $10 cover to get in, but it is free for musical acts on certain nights. Cafe Wha? also offers group packages, a great option for large parties. There’s no question about it — Cafe Wha? is definitely a great place to relax and enjoy music. And who knows, maybe you’ll get to see the next Dylan or Hendrix before they make it big.

People’s Improv Theater
123 E. 24th St.

With notable alumni like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Nicole Byer and Ellie Kemper, the People’s Improv Theater is a chic comedy venue open to all ages. The shows are relatively inexpensive at $10 a ticket; there are also certain free shows on Wednesdays. The theater offers jams for $3 and open mics for $5 if you want to put your jokes to the test.

CAS sophomore Sydney Catron attended a comedy show and had no regrets.

“The comedian was interactive with the audience, and [it’s] perfect for big groups,” Catron said.

If you live in Gramercy Green, definitely suggest this venue to your friends — it might be the only way they’ll make the trek to you for a change.

Carolines
1626 Broadway

If you’re really in need of a good laugh after a hard week of classes, look no further than Carolines, a stand-up comedy nightclub in Midtown. They’ve hosted top names like Dave Chappelle, Tracy Morgan and Kathy Griffin.

SPS sophomore Aggie Dent was ecstatic when she was able to watch her favorite comedian perform.

“I saw Bill Burr,” Dent said. “He was so funny. [There were] lots of fun people, and it was a good way to meet people as well.”

They also offer special packages for parties over 12, which makes Carolines a perfect option for friends’ birthdays and other special events. Your experience at Carolines is sure to be worth navigating through the hell that is Times Square.

Regal Union Square Stadium 14
850 Broadway

Tired of getting computer viruses from downloading movies before they make it to Netflix? Before you rush down Broadway, stop and check out Regal Union Square.

Dent loves how convenient the theater is for NYU students.

“I always unexpectedly run into friends at this theater,” Dent said. “And they have really good popcorn.”

Whether the movie match is action-packed, horror-inducing or a romping rom-com, Regal Union Square is a perfect place to catch the latest releases.

College culture glorifies drinking, which can create pressure to imbibe in order to have a social life. Luckily, in New York City, there are plenty of other ways to have a fun night out. Whether you’re looking to relax with live music or crack up at a comedy show, there’s something for everyone to enjoy on a Saturday night without the Sunday hangover.

Email Lauren Gruber at [email protected]

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