Heading to New York City with teenagers? I tested these with four kids from 12-17 (two boys and two girls) and they were a big hit for all involved.
One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Take the 48 second elevator ride to the One World Observatory for stunning views and several restaurants. Tickets are pricey, starting at $26 for kids and $32 for adults, but it’s worth the splurge. www.oneworldobservatory.com
Right next door is the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Book a museum tour guide and you’ll get much more out of it, adding elements of hope, unity and rebuilding to the raw emotion here. A guided tour costs $17/youth and $44/adults; without a guide $15/24. Absolutely worth the splurge! www.911memorial.org
A novel way to travel the city is by water taxi. Get off and on as many times as you want in a day and see the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty and more as you go from pier to pier in various parts of the city. A day pass runs $31/adults and $19/kids, which isn’t bad considering cab fares; plus there are no traffic snarls. www.nywatertaxi.com
My friend, Anna, also loves to take the Roosevelt Island Tram, one of the cheapest ways to see the New York skyline. It costs only $5 round trip and is free if you have a subway pass. The tram carries passengers from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and back.
It’s kind of cliche, but the Statue of Liberty was a big hit. The ferry ride over provides a different view of the city and even the teens who weren’t sold on the idea loved it. Buy tickets well ahead of time and absolutely take one of the early morning ferries to beat the heat and the crowds. The boat also stops at Ellis Island. If you want to climb to the crown of Lady Liberty, book months in advance. Ticket prices range from $9-21. www.statuecruises.com
The High Line is an elevated public park and pathway that gets you up off the street and gives you a different experience walking through Manhattan’s west side. Converted from an old rail line, it runs nearly a mile and a half from the Meatpacking District, through Chelsea to West 34th St. The pathway features food carts, performance spaces and more. No charge. www.thehighline.org
MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, is a great way to get kids interested in art. Our teens who went loved the funky, crazy works they saw. A couple of hours is probably all they’ll want here, but it is time well spent. Adults: $25 Kids are free. www.moma.org
In the evening, head to Times Square where the lights and gigantic screens take top billing. Be sure to people watch, too. The cross section of humanity is astounding. Beware, we saw a troupe of women wearing nothing but thongs and body paint. It’s NYC so anything goes.
Experience Broadway! TKTS and other outlets offer discounted theater tickets. We saw “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” It was the first show for the boys in our group and they loved it! In fact, seven out of eight of us did. There was some strong language so always check online to find out if the show you want to see is appropriate. I also look for reviews on the venue, which usually have tips on choosing good seats.
Take in a university tour even if your student isn’t interested in New York after high school. The experience will help him think about big versus small colleges and city versus country. Most tours need to be booked in advance so take care of that before leaving home.
After miles of walking, pamper yourselves with a foot massage. Our group of eight spontaneously popped into one of New York’s many salons after dinner one evening. Even the boys loved their first time foot soak and rub.
And, of course, shop ’til you drop, checking out everything from inexpensive street goods to the super expensive designer shops on Fifth Avenue. Our teens loved seeing it all! Don’t miss the trendy shops in Soho and Chelsea.
Next: Great places to eat in NYC with or without teens.
By the way, I receive no compensation from any of the places mentioned. These are straight up reviews without influence.