Looking for all the very best things to do in NYC for teens that won’t leave them rolling their eyes and not so low key exclaiming, “God mom/dad, this is so lame.”
Yup, I get it. I have lived in NYC for 30+ years and used to nanny for some local teens. Therefore, I know exactly what you should and should not do when exploring NYC with teens.
So, if you want to plan a trip to NYC that your teens will actually enjoy then check out this massive guide to the best things to do in NYC with teens.
Because this comprehensive local’s is postively overflowing with expert advice and secret tips that will help you plan the perfect trip to NYC.
This way, by the end of your vacation, your finnicky teen will be wondering “Umm, when can we come back?”
And a statement like that truly is all any parent wants to hear with exploring NYC with teens.
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Table of Contents
Best Hotels in NYC
Not sure where to stay when traveling to NYC with teens? If so then have a look at my insider picks for the best places to stay in NYC, regardless of your budget.
- Pod 39 (budget) – Pod 39 is an epic, budget-friendly hotel (around $120 per night) in Murray Hill that sits inside a historic home from 1918. It’s also situated near some of the best Indian food in the city and boasts modern rooms with TVs, night stands, comfy beds, etc.
- The Duffy Times Square by Kasa (midrange)– Well-located in Hell’s Kitchen, rooms at this mid-range hotel are well-priced and feature Belgian linens, WiFi, iPod docks, amd flatscreen TVs. Plus, rooms overlook a stunning central courtyard and create a beautiful ambiance for guests to enjoy,
- Lotte New York Palace (luxury)– Easily one of the best hotels in the city this 4.5-star hotel sits within a historic 19th-century mansion that is across the street friom St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Lavish suites also feature WiFi, flatscreen TVs, and designer toiletries, and there is a fabulous on-site spa and French bakery too.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – Midtown Manhattan
1. Rockefeller Center
Whatever time of year you travel to NYC with teens, take them to the Rockefeller Center.
After all, this vast commercial complex is spread out across 48th Street and 51st Street. It is also instantly recognizable thanks to movies like Elf and The Godfather.
Plus, the observation deck at the summit of the Rockefeller Center is open year-round.
So, hold onto your hats (literally) because Top of the Rock looms 50 feet (260 meters) above the city streets.
Therefore, even the most stubborn teen won’t be able to resist a gasp, whether you visit at sunset or after dark when the city lights sparkle below.
Just do yourself a favor and sidestep the risk of bickering while waiting in line and secure your Top of the Rock Observation Deck Ticket in advance so that you can actually enjoy one of the best things to do in NYC for teens.
Address: 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112, United States
Hours: Top of the Rock is open daily from 9:00 am to 11:00 pm.
Price: Tickets start at $40 per adult with the last entry at 10:15 pm.
How to Get There: Take the B/D/F/M to Rockefeller Center and walk from there.
Now, does your teen strike you as a prodigy? Have they got a penchant for solving problems, reading people, and getting out of sticky situations? Well then they could well be a future spy in the making.
And you’re in luck because NYC is home to the epic spy museum, Spyscape, where visitors can become secret agents for the day.
Over the course of your visit, you will roam through seven espionage-themed galleries and tackle everything from cyber hacking to surveillance.
Thoroughly interactive and immersive, Spyscape is one of the edgiest things to do in NYC for teens of all ages.
Plus, you’ll each walk out with a personal profile detailing your skills, as developed by the former Head of Training at MI6. FYI, that’s where James Bond works.
Also, because, this probably won’t be the only museum you visit in NYC, my tip is to invest in the New York Go City Explorer Pass.
You’ll purchase admission to 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, or 10 rad NYC activities and attractions from a whopping choice of 95. Yeah, it’ll save you a ton of money.
Address: 928 8th Ave, New York, NY
Hours: Open Thursday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Friday from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Saturday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. And the last admission is 90 minutes before closing.
Price: General admission starts at $39 per adult.
How to Get There: Take the W Line and get off at 57th Street Station.
3. Empire State Building Observatory
As you probably already know, the Top of the Rock isn’t the only platform in NYC that delivers badass 360-degree views.
Perhaps even more legendary, the Empire State Building is the ultimate emblem of NYC and one of the best things to do in NYC for teens.
See, upon completion in 1931, the skyscraper reigned as the tallest building in the world for over 40 years.
So, long before your traveling teens arrived on the scene this building was standing loud and proud and became a total legacy!
Now, in addition to the standard 86th-floor deck, there’s a brand-new, fully-enclosed lookout on the 102nd floor.
Also, speaking as a local and from personal experience, you really don’t need to cough up for the upgrade to have an awesome view.
Because, on a clear day, you can see right across NYC toward the Statue of Liberty. And, if you’re super lucky, you can get an eyeful of six states.
Again, you’re going to want to snap up Empire State Building Tickets & Skip-the-Line admission in advance.
Trust me, this will streamline the experience of getting around NYC with teens.
Address: 20 W 34th St., New York, NY 10001, United States
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, except on Friday/Saturday/Sunday when they open at 9:00 am.
Price: Tickets start at $44.00 per adult.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6 train to 33rd street and walk from there.
4. See a Broadway Show
Catching a Broadway show is one of the best things to do in NYC for teens at night. It’s cultural, it’s fun, and it’ll leave the whole family buzzing with delight.
Based on the Disney animations that no teen will ever, ever, grow out of, these productions are backed by hit songs and award-winning scores.
Marvelous sets and extravagant costumes will also sweep you along for a ride of adventure and comedy.
Plus, both of these shows are pitched for kids aged 6 and up. Therefore, you can take the whole family along if you have younger kids in tow.
Or, how about even more magic? Then try Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Lyric since this show picks up 19 years after Harry and co defeated Lord Voldemort.
But, this one is suitable for kids over 10. As is the new cult phenomenon, KPOP, at the Square Theater.
5. Fashion Window Walking Tour
So, what to do in NYC with teens hooked on Gossip Girl and fashion? Well, don’t worry because there’s a tour for that.
After all, NYC is synonymous with fashion and you only have to step out of your Manhattan hotel to see how the city lures in the apparel-obsessed.
However, you can distract your fashionable teens from spending their allowance with this engaging tour.
See, the NYC Fashion Window Walking Tour is a 2-hour guided strut down Fifth Avenue. AKA, the home of Saks and Bergdorf Goodman. Plus, the flagship stores of Prada, Adidas, and more.
Throughout the tour, you’ll explore the area’s creative window installations and what’s trending while digging into the stories behind the brands.
Of course, a top spot on the tours is Tiffany’s, where Holly Golightly became an icon.
By the way, the tour starts at the WindowsWear Museum at Berkeley College. So, you might want to stop for a visit before embarking on the tour.
Address: WindowsWear Museum at Berkeley College.
Hours: Departs Tuesday through Friday at 3:00 pm and on Saturday at 12:00 pm.
Price: Starts at $35.00 per person.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6 train to 33rd Street station and walk from there.
6. Madame Tussauds New York
So, NYC is teeming with A-listers at any given moment. But, your chances of bumping into one while enjoying the best things to do in NYC for teens is pretty slim.
However, Madame Tussauds brings all your dreams to fruition.
Hailing from London, the “world’s greatest wax museum” crossed the pond after over 150 years of wowing travelers in the UK.
So, step inside, and wander through a wide variety of themed galleries. Heck, you can even flex your biceps alongside the Hulk and rub shoulders with President Biden and VP Harris in the Oval Office.
Meanwhile, the Glow Gala is devoted to the biggest names in showbiz. For example, Ariana Grande, RuPaul, and the Kardashians, just to name a few.
Yeah, the wax figures are so remarkably realistic that you might be convinced you’re actually rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.
Yeah, you can have a total ball tricking the folks back home with tons of rad photo ops with your fave stars.
Now, you know what I’m going to say. Yup, book Madame Tussauds entry tickets way in advance of traveling to NYC with teens.
Address: 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, United States
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm with extended hours until 10:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Price: Starts at $44.00 per person.
How to Get There: Take the 7/S train to Times Square and walk from there.
7. NYC movie & TV tours
Ask your offspring to list a couple of their favorite flicks and series and chances are that a bunch of these shows will be set in NYC.
So, while in the city, you can work as a team to track down those iconic backdrops.
Because visiting iconic NYC movie and TV locations is easily one of the best free things to do in NYC for teens.
And places like Central Park, the MET steps, and the “Ghostbusters” fire station at 110 N Moore Street are all easily accessible to anyone visiting NYC with teens.
Now, while there are a bunch of great movies and TV tours in operation in NYC worthy that are worthy of your time, the general Manhattan TV and Movie Bus Tour is led by a local actor and covers a wealth of locations that have been featured in both recent and older shows.
However, this 2.5-Hour Bus Tour to Superhero Film Locations is “super” if your family has bonded over Marvel and DC Comics.
Alternatively, the 3-Hour Gossip Girl Sites Bus Tour follows in the chic footsteps of Upper Eastsiders Blair, Serena, and Vanessa. XOXO.
8. The FRIENDS Experience
Now, while your kids won’t have grown up with FRIENDS, it’s likely that at least be familiar with the show thanks to Netflix and reruns on TV.
If not, well, that’s the perfect way to decompress back at your NYC hotel after a day spent pounding the pavement.
Anyway, the Friends Experience is a recreation of key sets such as Monica’s apartment, Chandler and Joey’s apartment, and Central Perk.
The latter, by the way, actually has a coffee bar so you can wrap up the 60-minute experience with a hot chocolate.
Of course, the entire thing is one great big photo shoot. So, you can capture some epic pictures to commemorate one of the best things to do in NYC for teens.
Heck, you can even recreate Ross’s immortal pivot on the stairwell and enjoy a friendly game of foosball.
And as a fully indoor activity, the FRIENDS™ Experience is one of the best things to do in NYC for teens in the rain.
Pro Tip: You can visit the Flatiron Building while you’re here and then grab some delicious Italian food at Eataly afterward.
Address: The Friends Experience, 130 E 23rd St, New York, NY 10010, United States
Hours: Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Price: Starts at $39.50 per adult.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5/6 train to 23rd Street station and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – Lower Manhattan
9. 9/11 Memorial & Museum
Now, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is one of the more sobering activities to do in NYC with teens.
But, it’s an important moment to reflect on and to pay tribute to the lives lost and affected by the attacks.
And your 9/11 Memorial & Museum Timed-Entry Ticket will include admission to the museum, memorial, glades, and twin pools.
Within the museum, you will encounter artifacts and hear stories about the victims, their surviving families, and those instrumental in saving lives on 9/11 (like my bro who is a police chief now).
Plus, you will see the Survivor Tree. Although severely damaged, this pear tree still stands after the attacks.
And in addition to the 2001 attack, the museum is attributed to all those affected by the 1993 attacks.
And while exploring the complex, you can tune into the audio guide – which is included with your ticket.
Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
Hours: Open Thursday through Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Museum tickets start at $26 for adults.
How to Get there: Take the 1 to Rector Street, the 2/3 train to Park Place, or the 4/5 to Wall Street station and walk from there.
10. Ellis Island
Alright, Ellis Island is one of the things to do in NYC for teens and families in general.
Once a busy immigrant inspection station, Ellis Island welcomed 12 million immigrants to US soil in its heyday.
So, boat tours to Ellis Island depart daily from Battery Park.
And this Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Ferry package covers a roundtrip on the ferry with access to Ellis Island and Liberty Island.
Furthermore, admission to all museums is covered and you’ll get an audio guide to listen to as well.
And during yiour full day out, you’ll get to explore the islands at your leisure.
Plus, you can even chat about the experiences of families arriving in NYC for the first time.
And with the boat and island setting, Ellis Island is an easy way to inspire teens to connect with history. If you want, you can decide whether or not to pay to do a bit of genealogical research while you’re here.
Address: Ellis Island
Hours: The museum is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm but check their website for any seasonal time changes.
Price: Tickets start at $31.00 each.
How to Get There: Take the 4 or 5 train to Bowling Green and then walk to the ferry terminal in Battery Park.
11. Statue of Liberty
Now, with the Ellis Island excursion requiring practically a whole day, this might not gel with your NYC itinerary.
However, catching a view of the Statue of Liberty is one of the essential activities in NYC with teens.
Therefore, this Statue of Liberty Express Skip-the-Box-Office Cruise might fit in better with your plans.
Essentially, the 50-minute trip circles around Liberty Island and offers a closer look at the monument. Plus, an entertaining guide will beguile you with tall tales about Lady Liberty herself.
And, as you approach optimum viewpoints, the captain will slow the vessel so you can snap a photo…or 10.
However, you’ll not step foot on the island itself.
Anyway, these cruises are perfect if you want to get out in the harbor. Because even on a rainy or windy day, excursions continue to run.
Address: 22 Battery Place
Hours: Cruises depart daily every hour, on the hour from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4/5 train to Bowling Green and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – The Upper East Side
12. The MET
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the MET, is one of the top cultural things to do in NYC for teens.
Because, well, hello, art.
And, there’s a lot of it. As the largest art museum on the continent, the permanent collection at the MET holds around 2 million works.
These span paintings, armor, costumes, and decorative art from all across the globe.
So, spending a couple of hours at the MET will provide endless food for thought, with plenty for teens to mull over.
Also, as one of the city’s busiest attractions, DEFFO get there early. Especially when exploring as a family. You can even confirm tickets in advance to save time on the day.
Alternatively, book a Metropolitan Museum of Art Guided or Self-Guided Tour. Yeah, this listing gives you the option to explore with a guide or to join an orientation – after which you can roam freely around the museum.
Address: 1000 5th Avenue, New York, New York (Between East 80th and East 84th Street),
Price: Pay what you wish for NJ, NY, and PA residents with a valid form of ID. Everyone else will have to pay $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students (free for children under 12.).
Hours: Open Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
How to Get There: Take the 4,5, or 6 train to the 86th Street station and walk from there.
13. Central Park
We’ve already mentioned Central Park in passing.
But, this is one of the number one attractions to go to in NYC with teens. And, you really should dedicate at least a half day to exploring this incredible greenspace.
See, Central Park covers 843 acres of land in Manhattan – making it even bigger than Vatican City.
However, the main bits to see are located in the southern half of the park, below the reservoir.
Here, you’ll find the Lake, Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, the model-boat pond, the carousel, the ramble, the sheep’s meadow, and dozens of statues.
Plus, Central Park is the setting of one of the prettiest castles in New York State! FYI, that’s Belvedere Castle.
And, then there’s Central Park Zoo, which will work like a charm on younger teens and tweens.
Come rain or shine, sleet or full-on snow, Central Park is a must. In fact, visit in winter and you can skate up at Wollman Rink too.
Or, rent a bike during the warmer months.
Address: Central Park
Hours: Open daily from 6:00 am to 1:00 am.
How to Get There: Take the 1 train to Columbus Circle and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – Upper West Side
14. American Museum of Natural History
Ticking off a couple more museums is one of the best things to do in NYC for teens on a rainy day.
Even better, when the facility is brimming with super rad relics of natural history!
And the American Museum of Natural History is such a place since it holds 33 million objects relating to prehistoric creatures, dinosaurs, and space.
Some say it’s the world’s best museum for families. And you can see what all the fuss is about and snap up an American Museum of Natural History Ticket online now.
On the other hand, you could book an NYC American Museum of Natural History Guided Museum Tour since this will help you understand the exhibits and focuses on the highlights.
However, just in case you need a little more inspiration, other teen-friendly museums in NYC include:
- The Brooklyn Museum and Botanic Garden
- The Whitney Museum of American Art
- The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
- The Museum of the City of New York (also on the Upper West Side)
And guess what? Admission to all of these amazing institutions is covered by the New York Go City Explorer Pass. So, hint, hint, get yours now.
Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5102
Hours: Currently open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Price: Tickets are $28 for adults, $22.50 for seniors (60+) and students with a valid ID (discount tickets are available for residents of NY, NJ, and CT with valid ID), and $16.50 for children between 3 and 12,
How to Get There: Take the B (weekdays only)/C train to 81st Street station and walk to the museum there. You can also take the 1 train to Broadway and West 79th Street and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Kids – Chelsea
15. The Edge
The Edge is one of the youngest observation decks in NYC.
Situated in Hudson Yards, the platform also protrudes a mighty 1,131 feet (345 meters) above the Chelsea area.
In fact, The Edge is the highest open-air sky deck in the Western Hemisphere. And, its innovative suspended design gives you the sensation of flying.
And for even more next-level awesome thrills, you can tackle the City Climb. Basically, that entails leaning out from the skyscraper over the city.
But, rest easy because your trusty harness will ensure your feet don’t leave the glass.
And when done in tandem with the City Climb, The Edge is one of the most daring things to do in NYC for teens.
Just be aware that while The Edge is open to everyone, only daredevils aged 13+ can tackle the City Climb.
And by now, you deffo know the drill. So, secure your Edge Observation Deck Admission Ticket ahead of time to avoid a family squabble while standing in line.
Address: 30 Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001, United States
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Price: Starts at $38.00 per adult.
How to Get There: Take the 7 train to Hudson Yards and walk from there.
16. The Highline
Hot on the heels of Central Park, the High Line is one of the most unique urban green spaces…ever.
See, once upon a time, this elevated park was a railroad. It eventually fell into disarray and was slated for demolition.
That is until the community stepped in with a revolutionary plan to utilize the space. Thus, this 1.45-mile-long park was born and is now yours for the walking.
Plus, it links the West Village with Hudson Yards and is a joy any time of year, with tons of greenery in summer.
And while the Big Apple isn’t exactly the cheapest destination for vacationing families, there’s no charge to hike the High Line.
Therefore, this is one of the best ways to explore NYC with teens for free.
Plus, you’ll get a healthy dose of fresh air (and killer views) while enjoying the best things to do in NYC for teens.
Address: Since the Highline spans 1.5 miles, click here for an entry point near you.
Hours: Open daily from 12:00 am to 8:00 pm
How to get there: Click here for transportation information since it will depend on your starting point.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – SOHO
17. The Museum of Ice Cream
The Museum of Ice Cream is one of the “coolest” things to do in NYC for teens with a sweet tooth.
Because this entire facility is brimming with ice cream-themed installations! And, it’s fully immersive and totally cultural.
Especially since you can indulge in an UNLIMITED number of ice cream treats and learn all about the history of the world’s favorite dessert.
You’ll also get to test out NYC’s highest indoor slide and play in the sprinkle pool too.
As a result, the Museum of Ice Cream is equally popular among adults as well as with teens and kids.
Therefore, appease your blood sugar by grabbing your Museum of Ice Cream Entry Ticket ahead of time.
Trust me, this place is a “cream” come true.
Also, keep an eye out for seasonal and holiday specials at the museum. Plus, Night at the Museum events are held sporadically.
Address: 558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
Hours: Open Thursday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $39 for adults and free for children 2 and under.
How to Get There: Take the R/W Train to Prince Street Station or the B/B/F/M train to Lafayette Street and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – Hell’s Kitchen
18. Intrepid Air and Space Museum
Now, one final museum to see when you’re visiting NYC with teens.
And the Intrepid Air and Space Museum is no usual museum. Because, the collection here is actually displayed aboard an aircraft carrier, aka The Intrepid – a National Historic Landmark that is docked at Pier 86.
Impressively, Intrepid fought in World War II where it endured five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike.
However, rather than being put into retirement, the ship later served in the Cold War and then in the Vietnam War too.
So, exhibits onboard include the space shuttle Enterprise, the guided missile submarine Growler, and a British Airways Concorde.
Plus, stay tuned for Operation Slumber events. This overnight experience at Intrepid is suitable for families with teens and kids as young as 6.
And remember that New York Go City Explorer Pass I’ve been mentioning? Well, it includes admission to the Intrepid Air and Space Museum too.
Pro Tip: Head to Hanger 3 where you can jump on the simulator.
Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Price: Tickets are $33 for adults, $31 for seniors (65+), and $24 for children (4-12).
How to Get There: Take the M42 bus to the stop at 12th Avenue and W 42nd Street and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – Coney Island, Brooklyn
19. Luna Park at Coney Island
Coney Island is one of the best days out in NYC with teens, especially in summer.
Because, this Brooklyn neighborhood is where you’ll find some of the best beaches in New York.
Plus, it’s the location of Luna Park – a seaside amusement park that is fun for the whole family.
Because roller coasters here include the historic Coney Island Cyclone and the zany Tickler.
But, beyond these, you’ve got a full spread of thrilling rides for tweens and young adults, plus mellow amusements for little siblings.
As a day at Coney Island can add up (and the rides are addictive), it makes sense to buy this Luna Park Coney Island 4-Hour Unlimited Ride Pass.
This way, you can enjoy four hours in the park with unlimited access to all the best rides. This way you can even return to your favorites for a second ride.
Address: 1000 Surf Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11224, United States
Hours: Open Friday through Monday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and Wednesday/Thursday from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
Price: Wristbands start at $45.00 each.
How to Get There: Take the N train to Coney Island and walk from there.
Best Things to do in NYC for Teens – Concourse, the Bronx
20. Yankee Stadium Classic Tour
Catching a sports game is one of the most unforgettable things to do in NYC for teens who love sports. As is booking a Yankee Stadium Classic Tour for the family.
So, if you want to see the stomping ground of the New York Yankees, you’ll need to take the subway to the Bronx.
Essentially, these tours run for 60 minutes and are led by a knowledgeable guide who will tell you everything you coudl ever want to know about the park.
Then, after meeting up with your guide at the Hard Rock Cafe outside the stadium, you’ll explore Monument Park, the press box, and the pitch side.
Plus, you’ll get up close to baseball artifacts in the museum – like Babe Ruth’s bat and Lou Gehrig’s Jersey.
And, if you buy that New York Go City Explorer Pass already mentioned, the tour is covered.
Address: E 161 St, The Bronx, NY 10451, United States
Hours: Offered daily from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.
Price: Starts at $30.22 per person.
How to Get There: Take the 4 or D train to Yankee Stadium and walk from there.
Map of the Best Things to do in NYC for Teens
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