Guide to Traveling to Madison Square Garden for a NBA or NHL Game

New York being the metropolis that it is, means that the city is big enough for not just one team in each of the major sporting leagues in the United States but two. And you better believe that a couple of sports teams not only call New York home but also share the iconic area – Madison Square Garden.

Home to the New York Knicks (NBA/Basketball) and New York Rangers (NHL/Ice Hockey), Madison Square Garden (or just “The Garden” or “MSG” as it is often referred to) is a multipurpose arena that is hosting a major sporting or concert event almost every night in New York City.

With that in mind, there are any number of reasons you might want to visit Madison Square Garden, either as the sole purpose of your trip to New York or something interesting to do while you are in the city.

Let’s run through everything you might need to know ahead of your first visit to The Garden.

Where Is Madison Square Garden?

In the heart of Manhattan, Madison Square Garden is located in Midtown, just a 10-15 minute walk south (well south-ish) of Time Square (along 7th Avenue) and a 10-minute walk west (again, west-ish) of the Empire State Building (along W33rd Street).

Within Pennsylvania Plaza, right above Pennsylvania Station (also referred to as Penn Station), the arena is situated between 7th and 8th Avenues and spans the blocks between 31st and 33rd Streets.

Madison Square Garden’s location actually makes it extremely convent to access public transport, but we’ll get to that later in this post.

Where To Stay When Going To Madison Square Garden

The most convenient places to stay for the sole purpose of attending a game at Madison Square Garden are the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel or Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott New York Midtown, only one block away from the arena. That said, they also tend to be very expensive, even by New York standards.

A cheaper option is the Midtown West Hotel, also a city block away but you’ll find that it is a very room, more suited to an overnight or short stay than the other options.

That said, anywhere and around Midtown will be a solid option not only for a game but also for exploring the rest of New York. Check out this post for my other recommendations around NYC.

Getting To And From Madison Square Garden

Guide to Traveling to Madison Square Garden for a NBA or NHL Game

The best thing about major events, especially sporting events, at Madison Square Garden is that the arena is located right on top of one of New York’s major transport hubs, Pennsylvania Station (also referred to as Penn Station). In fact, escalators all but directly connected the two.

With that in mind, getting to and from Madison Square Garden is really easy if you are staying just outside of Manhattan or even outside of New York, as Penn Station is connected to multiple subway and train lines.

Penn Station links Amtrak, New Jersey Transit (NJT) and other MTA services directly with the arena. In addition, subway services A, B, E and 1, 2, 3 all stop at Penn Station.

If New York’s subway system is a little too confusing to start with, which is understandable – it takes a little bit to work out, you could also take an Uber (or any other ride-sharing service) or Taxi to Madison Square Garden. Just keep in mind that traffic in New York is something else, and if you are close enough, you might find it a lot fast to walk there yourself.

What about driving? As a tourist, I don’t recommend driving in New York, to begin with. There are so many other cheaper and faster ways to get around as it is. But there also aren’t any parking facilities at Madison Square Garden, so don’t worry about a car for this one.

Food Options At Madison Square Garden

Much like all American stadiums and arenas I’ve been to, there is an abundance of amazing food options within Madison Square Garden.

From the typical beers, burgers, pizza and nachos through to gluten-free and vegan vendors, there is something for everyone within the arena.

Some of the more iconic eats at Madison Square Garden include the Pastrami Sandwich from Carnegie Deli and the Five Pounder Hot Dog from Top Dog.

That said, given its location, you could also get dinner before or after a game at any number of the fantastic bars and restaurants nearby. A personal suggestion of mine is Kaboozs inside of Penn Station.

Where To Buy Team Merchandise

You can stock up on New York Knicks and/or New York Rangers gear before the game at the official Teams Store located in Chase Square just outside Madison Square Garden.

You’ll also find sports merchandise stores all around the city, particularly Time Square, that feature merchandise not only from New York’s teams but all teams across all major US sporting leagues.

There are also a couple of smaller merchandise stores within the arena if you want to pick something up during the game.

Madison Square Garden Tours

Want to take a look behind the scenes of this iconic venue? Or maybe you just happen to visit New York while neither of the home teams are playing?

Madison Square Garden runs tours almost daily, giving you more in-depth insight into the history of the arena. The tour includes a look inside the team’s locker rooms and get hands-on with some one-of-a-kind memorabilia but also take a look inside the suites that overlook the court (or rink, depending on who is playing that night).

You’ll also get a chance to see how they transition from a basketball court to an ice hockey rink.

Things To Do Near Madison Square Garden

Being in the heart of Manhattan, there is no shortage of things to see and do near Madison Square Garden. So much so that if you’ve never been to New York before, I’d highly recommend that you give yourself at least a couple of days to see more of what the city has to offer.

Spending Time in New York Before or After

Yes, as per my previous point, there is so much to see and do in New York. And while it is highly likely that you won’t just be visiting to see something at Madison Square Garden, be it the NBA, NHL or any other major event. And, if you are, at the very least, make a full weekend out of it.

That said, you could easily spend so much more time in the city. Check out this blog post for all my best advice and suggestions for New York.

Tips For Attending A NBA or NHL Game At Madison Square Garden

By American sporting venue standards, Madison Square Garden is actually very small, with a capacity for only 20,000 people. That means tickets sell out quickly for events at The Garden, especially when the New York Knicks and/or New York Rangers are having a good run heading into and in the playoffs.

With that in mind, if you have your heart set on seeing either of these teams play at Madison Square Garden, book your tickets well in advance and then book the rest of your visit to New York around the game.

The good news is both teams tend to play a series of home games in succession, so in the space of a week, there could be 3 or 4 games to choose from.

Another thing to keep in mind, as with all US sporting venues, is that you will have to go through a security check to get into the arena. Typically the main doors open an hour before the game (or concert) starts. To avoid the worst of the queues, I’d recommend getting there early.

One important note if you are attending a New York Rangers Ice Hockey match. The venue puts up protective netting behind the goals to prevent stray pucks from getting into the crowd, which doesn’t inhibit your view of the game. You’ll notice them when you first sit down, but once the action starts you won’t really see them.

However, hockey pucks can and do still find their way into the stands. The good news is that if you catch one, you get to keep it. The bad news is that if you aren’t paying attention, they can (and do hurt) if they hit you. So keep in mind to always pay attention when the puck is in play.

Fun Fact: The original Madison Square Garden opened in 1879 at the intersection of Madison Avenue and East 26th Street, and it was the first indoor arena designed specifically for sporting events in the United States.

The current Madison Square Garden, the fourth venue to bear the name, opened on February 11, 1968, at its present location on 8th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets.

For more details about Madison Square Garden, visit the venue’s website.

You can buy tickets for the latest events at Madison Square Garden here or check out the next events at the arena below.

For more travel tips for different sports and events around the world, make sure you check out the rest of my blog posts as well.

Also, make sure you check out the travel tools that I use the most to help you save some money when booking your next trip.

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About the author

Rhys Vandersyde

Traveller, Photographer, Content Creator - I've spent the last 20 years actively seeking out new destinations and new adventures. Find out more about me here: vandersyde.com.au

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