Family Travel: New York City With Teens
Family Travel: New York City with Teens!
If you are planning a trip to New York City with teens this post is for you. I love visiting New York City. I was born in Manhattan and spent part of my childhood in Northern New Jersey. My parents emigrated from Jamaica to New York City while in their 20s. They loved all the excitement, the mix of cultures, the sophistication and the food. We spent a lot of time visiting museums, going to Broadway shows, eating in Chinatown and visiting Rockefeller Center. They gave the gift of New York City to my brother and I and Im happy to now pass that gift onto my nieces. When my nieces were children we made our first trip into New York City from Connecticut. I looked forward to exposing them to all those great things my parents shared with me. We have since made several trips into NYC. We have been to the top of the Empire State Building, had lunch in Chinatown, visited the Museum of Natural History & the Statue of Liberty on Liberty island, watched Wicked and Mary Poppins on Broadway, had Easter brunch at Tavern on the Green and enjoyed all the Christmas decorations and cheer in Rockefeller Plaza. But, for their 13th and 16th birthdays I wanted to do things specific to their interest as teenagers. I scoured the internet sending them articles on New York City with teens to get their opinions on activities. We had a blast and I hope you will too if you are planning a trip there. Here is the breakdown on my weekend in New York City with teens.
Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn
Filmaholics will love catching a flick at this Brooklyn outlet of the Austin based chain. Its located inside the recently developed City Point Center in Downtown Brooklyn. The entire family can watch current movie hits as well as random cult classics. All of this while ordering drinks and meals from the comfort of stylish leather recliners.
Whats even better about this theatre is that you can also fit in some shopping time without having to leave the building. You can stop at Target, Century 21, and Trader Joes to name a few. If you still want to grab a bite to eat head down to the basement where you will find the Dekalb Market Food Hall. There are so many food options to satisfy your palettes.
445 Albee Square W. 4th Flr BK, NY 11201 | 718-513-2547 | Website
See Where Their Favorite Tv Show Was Filmed
If you’re looking for some more guaranteed interest from your teens, then something that engages their love of media is a smart bet. Your best option is On Location Tours, which offers exciting tours to thousands of people every week. They’re the citys only official movie/television location tour and have tons of options to choose from. One of our favorites is the wide-ranging NYC TV and Movie Sites bus tour. Other specialty tours include focuses on “Gossip Girl,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Sopranos.”
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New York Public Library
This flagship location of the NYC public library system was established in 1895 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965. It is easily recognizable by the two lion statues situated on either side of the entrance.
The library houses approximately 125 miles of stacked books, about 53 million items, and many exhibits including the original Declaration of Independence.
Tours of the library are provided FREE of charge. Click on the button below for tour schedules and library operating times.
476 Fifth Avenue NY, NY, 10018 | 917-275-6975 | Website
Pm Grab Lunch At Hudsons Yards Before Climbing The Vessel
There are plenty of great lunch spots at Hudsons Yards, and to be honest this itinerary doesnt allow for any lingering but its worth the speedy meal because The Vessel is a sight to behold. Unusually for a tourist attraction, entrance here is free, though it does require some forward planning. We booked our tickets a week before and had quite a good choice of times, but in peak tourist moments you may need to plan further ahead still.
The Vessel is a huge architectural delight a kind of real life Dali painting where staircases lead into staircases and even the least athletic teen will find themselves unable to resist a race to the top.
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A Tv Show From The Studio Audience
Many TV shows are taped or broadcast live from New York City. Some shows that may be popular with both you and your late teen are The Daily Show with Jon Stewart , Saturday Night Live , Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon . Tickets for these shows are free and given out in different ways, either by mail, online registration at the show website, and/or standby passes handed out the day of the show. If you can score a ticket, it’s one of the best bargains in the city. To witness one of these shows as part of the live studio audience can be exhilarating, even if you aren’t a fan to begin with. If traveling with a younger teen, take her on an equally exciting behind-the-scenes tour of the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center .
Save On Admission To Attractions Teens Will Love
Many of these teen-friendly New York attractions are available on the Go New York pass. Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. See all available passes, attractions & prices Learn more. Consider adding a few of these teen friendly options to your vacation itinerary. Enjoy!
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Winter Markets Are Still Open In February Visit The Winter Market In Bryant Park
Starting in October , it is time once again for the best winter market in New York City to open its doors. The Winter Village in Bryant Park is not only the largest winter market in the city but also by far the nicest on account of its adjacent ice rink and places to shop and eat. This along with its amazing location among all the skyscrapers makes for an amazing winter experience.
Stand In Awe Of The Federal Gold Reserve
If you want to see more gold than you will likely ever see again, stop by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. More than 80 feet beneath the sidewalk is a special vault built into the bedrock housing thousands of gold bars from central banks around the globe. Most of the gold arrived during and after World War II, when countries wanted to store their money in a safe location.
The vault contained more than 12,000 tons of gold at its peak. Today you can see around 7,000 tons, which is approximately 5% of the gold ever mined. Located on Liberty Street in the Financial District, the Federal Reserve offers free tours to the public Monday through Friday. With only two tour slots per day, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., its recommended you make reservations.
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See The City From Above
Guests of all ages love visiting the Empire State Building, one of the nations most famous landmarks. As long as your teen doesn’t have a fear of heights, you can travel right up towards the top of the building and see New York City like never before. The building is open to visitors from 8:00 am to 2:00 am daily, so you should plan to go around when it opens or when it closes to avoid crowds and lines.
The evening views provide especially compelling sights of the city skyline all lit up, so consider a late-night visit, too. For another great aerial view of the city , check out the Top of the Rock Observatory. This beautiful art deco skyscraper is a must for anyone looking for that perfect Instagram shot of the city below. Want more info? Compare Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building.
Fun & Safe Activities To Do At Home
Want free access to NBA league pass? How about free practice for the SAT or HSE? Or is a Mario Kart tournament more your speed? Trying to stay fit and want a free subscription to a workout app?
- The Department of Youth & Community Development has several services that are available for youth, adults, and families! Check out the opportunities here, and sign up for the activities that interest you. Text to get updates directly to your phone. You can also follow them on , , or at @NYCyouth to get the most up-to-date announcements via social media.
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/11 Memorial & Museum
September 11th marks one of the darkest days in American history, and while there may not be flashy activities or rides, every family should visit the memorial when visiting New York City. A day that none of us should ever forget, 9/11 is forever remembered at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Located at the World Trade Center, the museum tells the story of this dark day through media, narratives, and a collection of memorabilia devoted to 9/11.
Explore The Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum
If I had to personally choose my favorite museum in New York City, the Intrepid would be at the top of the list. If your teen is into science, aviation, or military history then this museum is the place to visit.
To better help prepare your family for a visit to the Intrepid Ive linked out to a brief video from fellow New York City Vlogger John Barr from Here Be Barr. Check out his extensive coverage of the Intrepid below.
- Entry to the museum is FREE on select Fridays from 5 P.M. to 9 P.M.
- I suggest you carve out 2 to 3 hours to cover the entire museum.
Pier 86, W 46th St, NY, NY 10036 | 212-245-0072 | Website
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The Best Way To Explore New York City Is Riding On Top Of A Bus
The best way to explore New York City is riding on top of a bus. There are Bus Rides or Tours that entertain your whole family while providing you a chance to experience New York in an exciting way.
Our favorite bus tour is The Ride. It has a bus with stadium-seats facing the windows, which are not actually windows but several floor-to-ceiling TV screens. A funny comedian is very likely to be your host on the bus, adding up to the amusement. This bus tour is an interactive and entertaining tour that will take you around some of the most iconic areas in New York City.
Big Bus New York, Gray Line City Sightseeing, and Open Loop New York are some other great rides that take you through the amazing picturesque views of the busy city.
You definitely need to experience these rides at least once on your tour.
Best Skyscraper Views Of Nyc
Looking down at the sparkles of New York City from the sky-kissing buildings is something you cannot ignore when at this place, but they dont come for free. The urban hustle, tall megastructures, flowing waters, green parks mix up to form a very attractive blend of sight in NYC.
The most famous and best skyscraper views of New York City can be seen from Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, and Empire State Building. When visiting these mind-blowing tall buildings, your teens will surely be in awe. You can easily enjoy the bare eye views or use built-in binocular platforms to get a full 360° coverage.
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M& ms World Times Square
This store is massive at about 25,000 Square Feet over a couple of floors. Its nice to walk through and check out the extensive variety of M& M candies, toys, and merchandise.
1600 Broadway NY, NY 10019 | 212-295-3850 | Website
Cool Fact: The biggest M& Ms Store is located in Leicester Square in London. It boasts 35,000 Square Feet over 4 Floors. Now thats Huge!
Native New Yorker Tip: The prices are a little on the high side so bring extra cash .
Embark On A Coney Island Adventure
Chinatown, the East Village, DumboNYC is filled with fascinating neighborhoods to explore. But if we have to pick the best area for teens to check out, it’s Coney Island. Its warm-weather attractions are adolescent catnipthe beach, the thrilling amusement park rides, the glorious junk food. But it’s an intriguing destination even in the off-season, especially if you add nearby Russian enclave Brighton Beach to your itinerary. It’s like taking a trip to another country for the price of a MetroCard swipe.
A version of this article was first published in March 2016, but it has since been updated. Sonia Gonzalez contributed additional reporting.
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First Evening: Settle Into Your Hotel And Grab A Mocktail In The Roof
We didnt want to break the bank with our intercontinental minibreak though there are certainly plenty of ways to do just that. But with a teen and a tween to entertain, we knew our budget was going to be blown on adventures, and we would be out a lot, so we felt it would be silly to splash out on super-luxury hotel. Little did we realise when we booked a 3 night stay at the Yotelin New Yorks Hells Kitchen district, that this hotel would be right up there in the kids list of top NYC experiences.
Check in is done via a smart screen on the ground floor, but once you take the lift into the heart of the hotel, it is instantly clear that the Yotel is a very cool New York hot spot. All minimalist chic and sharp interiors, this hotel has no budget-feel about it. Our family room was perfect a double bed and a bunkbed, the views of the New York skyline exactly what we needed to set the scene.
The view from our window on night one
But Ill be honest it was breakfast in the Green Fig restaurant and the incredible left luggage situation operated by a real life robot that really had the boys in awe.
Stay At The Knickerbocker Hotel
We stayed at the Knickerbocker which was a gorgeous hotel just steps from Times Square. It was expensive, but worth it!
First of all, the rooms were huge and very luxurious. More importantly, it was one of the few hotels in New York City that offered two queen beds in a standard room. In my experience, most hotel rooms in New York City are small and barely fit one bed. Rollaways are illegal and not offered.
The location was amazing with easy access to all New York City attractions. The service was exceptional. Finally, the hotel had a killer roof top bar that we seemed to end up most nights happily hiding from our kids.
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Best Things To Do In New York City With Teens
Here are some of the best travel spots to consider for your family trip to New York City, along with some travel tipsto keep in mind. These spots are great because they appeal to both teens and adults, making them the perfect places to visit while touring New York City with an audience who is famous for being unimpressed by pretty much everything.
Day One: 7am Breakfast At Westway Diner 614 9th Ave
The great thing about jetlag is youre up early and full of energy, so no better reason than to walk a few blocks to the Westway Diner and sample some true American breakfast treats. Whether its waffles and bacon, pancakes with eggs, or porridge and an endless coffee pot, it will set the scene for your first day in NYC.
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Have Shake Shack Burgers
Since we covered the best milkshakes in town, we have to get your teens to taste the best burgers in town as well. Walk your way down from Herald Square to Madison Square Park. Inside the small park next to the famous Flatiron Building, youll find one of the many Shake Shack locations.
You can sit outside in the park and enjoy the view of the Empire State Building and the Flatiron Building. Finding the most fun things to do in New York City with a teenager doesnt have to be complicated. A Shake Shack burger is always a great idea.
Spend Your Summer Experiencing New York City
New York is a city of distinct places: the bustling shops of Chinatown and Spanish Harlem, the stately museums, the neighborhood brownstones. New York is about neon lights, taxi horns, street music, bookstores, landscaped parks and ten million inhabitants working together each as unique as the next. New York City is dynamic, rich in layers, and always alive. This makes it the perfect training ground for filmmaking and acting. The city challenges and stimulates students on every shoot, every step of the way.
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Shoot At An Archery Range
It has been a long time since our family last visited an Archery Range. If I remember correctly my daughter and her mom struck the targets more often than me. I still believe there was something wrong with the bows and arrows I used .
If you are looking to create some fun memories with your teenagers then I highly recommend carving out some time to visit one of these Archery Ranges.