11 best college hangouts in New York City

August 22, 2022

New York is too big to feel like a college town. But, in many ways, it is one, serving as home to New York University, the New School, the CUNY schools, Columbia University, Fordham University, and Manhattan College, to name a few. These students can be found all over the city, but they throng thicker in some spots—ones that sit closer to their respective campuses and also charge way less for drinks than some of this city’s definitively non-student-friendly expensive cocktail bars. Here are some of our favorites.

Photo by Jean-Christophe BENOIST on Wikimedia

1. Washington Square Park
1 Washington Square East, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Washington Square Park conveniently sits right in the middle of the New York University “campus” and just a few blocks from the New School, cementing its status as a quintessential college hang spot. In between classes, students gather and chat around the fountain and on benches while street performers and local children splash in the water; at night, especially in good weather, the park is full of students hanging out with the ghosts of 18th-century New Yorkers felled by yellow fever and buried beneath the park ground.

Photo by Jeff Hitchcock on Wikimedia

2. Morningside Park
110th to 123rd Street, Manhattan Avenue to Morningside Drive, Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Uptown, Columbia University kids hang out in Morningside Park, a 13-block strip of parkland stretching from Harlem to Morningside Heights. Students lounge on some of the park’s famed large rocks, hang by the pond or wind their way around the walking/running path before heading back to the dorms or to class. Unlike Washington Square Park, though, Morningside can get a little desolate at night, so stick to visiting it only in daylight.

3. The Heights
2867 Broadway between 111 and 112th Streets, Morningside Heights, Manhattan
This famed Columbia University bar serves a mean frozen margarita—so mean you should avoid them altogether if you’ve got class in the morning (not that it stops anyone). They also have a rooftop, which makes the Heights a prime spot in the spring and summer, though it’s heated and covered in the winter so you can drink alfresco (ish) in every season.

Photo by James and Karla Murray exclusively for 6sqft

4. Veselka
144 Second Avenue between St. Marks Place and 9th Street, East Village, Manhattan
This Ukrainian dumpling spot is a late-night hangout for college students in the East Village. Veselka serves pierogi and other Ukrainian treats at student-friendly prices, plus they’ve got a pretty solid selection of Ukrainian and local beer if you want to cap off your night with a cheap brew. Before the pandemic, Veselka was open 24 hours a day, but the restaurant has not been able to bring back overnight hours since then. The beloved restaurant now stays open until midnight.

5. Howl at the Moon
585 East 189th Street, The Bronx
Fordham students love Howl at the Moon, a no-frills sports bar located close to the undergraduate campus. Howl at the Moon serves cheap beers and well drinks, in addition to margarita bombs that will absolutely murder you if you’re above the age of 22 since college students have significantly more fortitude than post-grad adults. They’ve also got some killer pub fare, like fried chicken sandwiches and nachos, to soak up the booze so you’re not hungover during midterms.

Photo by Jazz Guy on Wikimedia

6. Peculiar Pub
145 Bleecker Street at LaGuardia Place, Greenwich Village, Manhattan
This cheap, no-frills bar is popular with NYU students, thanks in large part to its affordable brews and well drinks, and low-key atmosphere. They’ve also got bar food here, with classic bites like chicken fingers, burgers, and onion rings, in addition to some “healthier” options like wraps and salads. Though if you aren’t drunkenly gorging yourself on fried crap, are you even in college?

7. Sly Fox
142 Second Ave at East 9th Street, East Village, Manhattan
A popular dive with NYU and New School students alike, this stripped-down East Village spot offers spare seating and dangerously (blessedly) cheap beer-and-shot combos. There is no food here, not that you’d want to eat any if there were, but you can swing by nearby Veselka for pierogi post-boozing.

Photo by Jeff on Flickr

8. Koronet
2848 Broadway between 110th and 111th Streets, Morningside Heights, Manhattan
Koronet is often included on NYC’s Best Pizza lists, which is a mistake because Koronet’s slices are not actually that good. What they are, though, is GIANT, which is exactly what you want when you’re foraging for food post-night out. Koronet specializes in $6.50 jumbo slices—like, really jumbo, as in as big as a human head—which will feed even the hungriest of collegiates. It’s also open until 2 a.m. on weeknights and until 4 a.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, if that gives you an idea of the clientele they’re catering.

9. Cellar Dog
75 Christopher Street at South 7th Avenue, West Village, Manhattan
Formerly known as Fat Cat, Cellar Dog is carrying on the tradition of offering patrons a vast selection of board and table games set against live music. Games include pool, ping pong, foosball, checkers, chess, and much more. The 9,000-square-foot space also offers its own custom ice cream, in addition to an extensive drink and food menu. The venue hosts live jazz music Wednesday through Sunday from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

10. The Alibi
242 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene, Brooklyn
Once ranked second on Grubstreet’s list of top 50 dive bars in New York, the Alibi is known for attracting neighborhood regulars and packs of Pratt Institute art students. Located just steps from the university, the cash-only bar calls itself the “original Fort Greene dive bar,” offering $3 happy hour drinks, a pool table, a jukebox, and late-night hours daily.

Photo by Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr

11. St. Marks Place
8th Street from Third Avenue to Avenue A, East Village, Manhattan
It’s impossible to pick just one spot on this famed East Village stretch, which is full of college students from all over the city at all hours (and especially the late-night ones.) The dollar slice shops and Mamoun’s are particularly packed, as are the multiple sushi joints on both sides of 8th Street. Establishments aside, St. Marks is a fun collection of streets to stroll up and down and/or congregate on the sidewalk, plus it’s a prime people-watching spot. Unfortunately, it’s lost Grassroots Tavern, another college bar standby, stellar dive, though there are still some bars worth visiting.

Editor’s note: The original version of this article was published on August 26, 2019, and has been updated.


Photo on the bottom right in lead image courtesy of Pexels 

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