Need to kill time before catching a Knicks game (I know, I know) or Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden? Here are some of the best spots to dine, drink, shop, and play around the world’s most famous arena.
Houdini Museum of New York
Less than a five-minute stroll from the Garden, this spellbinding space houses a spectacular collection of Harry Houdini artifacts—among them one of the legendary magician’s famed straitjackets, along with a pair of metal mitts and a coffin he once broke out of while manacled. The free exhibition is tucked inside the Fantasma Magic shop, where you can take home a dizzying array of duplicitous devices—from trick decks and locks to faux bunnies and bottle caps. 213 West 35th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)
Jam-packed with stores, restaurants, and bars, this always-buzzing enclave—whose main span stretches from Fifth Avenue to Broadway along 32nd Street—offers plenty to see and do. Stock up on cartoon facial masks or fruit-shaped lotion at one of the myriad beauty boutiques, from Nature Republic to Tonymoly, or grab a pastry and bubble tea at Grace Street Cafe or South Korea–based bakery Paris Baguette. For an authentic Korean meal, try one of these delectable eateries—or get a quick bite at Food Gallery 32, which serves up scrumptious fast food, including bulgogi rice bowls and croissant taiyakis. For finer dining, head to Gaonnuri—an upscale restaurant perched on the 39th floor, where you’ll find a suave bar with an impressive collection of spirits, toothsome tabletop barbecue, and awesome panoramic views of the city.
Soak up incredible views of the Empire State Building and the surrounding cityscape at this chic space at the top of the Refinery Hotel, just a 10-minute walk from MSG. The stylish bar boasts a slew of delectable plates, from Maine lobster “nachos” to a “whacked up” 16-ounce rib eye—not to mention a superb cocktail list prepared by expert mixologists (get the Exotic Whiskey Smash or the frosé). The retractable glass roof and cool outdoor lounge make it an ideal hangout no matter the time of year. 63 West 38th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)
With more than 150 bottled beers, 25 drafts, and some 65 Irish whiskeys, this laid-back joint—NYC’s largest Irish pub—is a great spot to pregame before the big game. Apart from the well-endowed bar, the warehouse-like tavern touts a dart alley and billiards room, not to mention numerous TVs for your sports-viewing pleasure. 133 West 33rd Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues)
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
This petite space is the perfect place for the sartorially inclined to pass the time—showcasing free exhibitions year-round. The current show, “Fashion Unraveled,” “examines the concepts of imperfection and incompletion in fashion,” while another exhibition, dedicated to the history of pink—“a punk, pretty, and powerful color”—is slated to open in September. 227 West 27th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)
The Pennsy Food Hall
Conveniently located right next door to the Garden, this 8,000-square-foot grub hub—featuring a large patio with oversize picnic tables and stadium seating—is home to a handful of high-end eateries, from meat mecca Pat LaFrieda to the vegan-friendly Little Beet. Play a round of ping-pong at one of the dedicated tables or snag a stool at the bar, which serves up specially crafted cocktails inspired by the artist performances and events happening at MSG on any given day. 2 Pennsylvania Plaza (off Seventh Avenue)