Tourist Activities for Tweens & Teenagers

So you have a teenager (or tween) coming to visit or you are looking for something fun to do with your own energetic young adult.  What are some fun, slightly more grown up and erm, "cooler" things you can do with them?  Here are some suggestions from local moms & dads.

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General advice:

"I think with teens it really depends on the teen. When I was a teen I really loved going to art museums, off broadway shows and for exotic ethnic food. Others teens visit NYC and want to go shopping and eat pizza. So you need to get a feel for them."

"In addition to the normal stuff, think outside the box and show them the city most tourists never see. Teens love to feel like they got the inside scoop."

 

American Museum of Natural History

Aquarium
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The beach
"Day trip to Fire Island or Robert Moses Beach."
Read more PSP member reviews about nearby beaches here.

Brooklyn Bridge Piers
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What parents say: "Brooklyn Bridge Park (Piers 1-6) "great green space, ice cream, playground at Pier 6, and/or take the ferry to Governor's Island from Pier 6 and rent bikes there."
"They could walk the Brooklyn Bridge and then do a taste test of the pizza places on the Brooklyn side to determine which one they think is "the best"."

Brooklyn Boulders
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What parents say: "Brooklyn Boulders for indoor rock climbing" and "it's the largest climbing gym on eastern seaboard!

Brooklyn Flea Market
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The flea marketed is located in Fort Greene and Dumbo on certain days. Check website for details.

Brooklyn Robot Foundry
What parents say: "maybe contact fun local activities (School of Rock, Brooklyn Robot Foundry) and ask if they'd let him visit for an hour or two for a fee?"

Bronx Zoo

Bus tours
"No clue if they still do them, but what about those bus tours to spot famous NYC sites from TV and movies."

Central Park
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What parents say: "In Central Park the Conservatory Garden is beautiful and very uniqe. Enter at East 104th St. But it's not for lounging on a towel. They would probably like the scene in Sheeps Meadow too."
"Central Park, maybe have a caricature drawn"
"I would say definitely central park.  Check out the artists on the streets - can get a fun portrait done. I have always wanted to do that. And walk around and see the street performers there. Check the website - there might be a free concert. There is also a little pond where you can rent RC boats.  Museum on Natural history has a cool section with armor and weapons (yay!) and of course dinosaurs but he probably over that (Met has those too). The armor is pretty cool."

Chelsea Piers
"If he likes golf, you can go to the Chelsea Piers and they have a driving range that overlooks the water which is pretty cool.

Chinatown
What parents say: "Chinatown is interesting to walk through too. Find oddd things to eat like black sesame ice cream or wasabi ice cream!"

Compleat Strategist
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"Compleat Strategist near the Empire State if he likes games."

Coney Island
read a review of Coney Island from a real tween!

Cyclones Game in Coney Island
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DUMBO & the Brooklyn Bridge
What parents say: "Just walked the bridge and had Juliana's pizza with visitors. It was a cold day, and we got there when it opened, so no lines. There's a shake shack down the block as well, and Jacques Torres chocolate."
"Walk around DUMBO.  Your kids can run around- vistors love the view and being right on the water.  Stop by Jaques Torres for a treat."

Dylan's Candy Bar
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Food:
"Farmers Market at Grand Army Plaza."
"Food - real NYC pizza! (look for a Original Ray's pizza!!)"
Eat from a food truck!!
"Take them to puglia's for Italian food, Ferraro for cannoli, dim sum in China Town, Indian food and window shopping in Jackson heights."
"And also there is an ATM that dispenses cupcakes near Bloomingdales. They will like that."
"Take them for rainbow bagel at the Bagel Store in Williamsburg."

Firefighter museum

Forbidden Planet
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What parents say: "Forbidden Planet if he likes comics."

Freedom Tower
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What parents say: My nephew just turned 15 [and we] did the Freedom Tower with him - the observation deck - and it's an incredible view and a neat experience. My girls are 3 and 6 so we steered clear of the 9/11 Museum, which I think is only recommended for kids over 12. AMNH is always good and Ellis/Liberty Island is on our list. Have fun!

Governor's Island & South Street Seaport
What parents say: "free ferry leaves from Pier 6. You can rent bikes on the island. There is also an outdoor trapeze school there. Think you have to sign up ahead of time."
"You can always go down to South Street Seaport and take a boat ride out to Governor's island and back.  You can get off at Govs island or just go back and forth. OR the SI Ferry, goes right by the Statue of Liberty. That's a fun ride."
Note: this activity is SEASONAL. It closed winter months and opens sometime in May.

The Highline
What parents say: "Highline! Only been once but I'd say the earlier the better."

Intrepid
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What parents say: "My nephew just turned 15 and has always liked the Intrepid. It's pricey but you can get a 20% off coupon from smartsave.com. They have a newish pavilion that houses one of the space shuttles, which is really cool, as well as a submarine you can climb into and a ton of other stuff."

Jazz
What parents say: Take them to a jazz club at night (many are perfectly happy to have children and teens attend as long as they don't sit at the bar). There's even an "underground" jazz performance, hosted by Marjorie Elliott in upper Manhattan, every Sunday in her living room. It's been happening for decades.

Jekyll & Hydes
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Little Italy
What parents say: "- Walking around Little Italy esp at night is fun."

Lego Store
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"Big lego store at Rockefeller center if he is still into lego."

Lou Tannens Magic Shop
"Lou tannens magic shop on 34th st if he likes magic.

Luna Park

The Math Museum
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The Met
What parents say: "The met has good family tours if they like art."

Museum of Art and Design
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"If they are open to culturey things consider the Museum of Art & Design."

New York Public Library
What parents say: "Get picture taken with the "lions" on the public library"

NYU
What parents say: "Wander around NYU."

Pier 25
What parents say: "Pier 25 in tribeca – mini golf, skate park, playground (if 12 yo’s still do that I don’t know), ice cream, and a block up the street wait for the free kayaking and kayak for 20 minutes.  I’ve done this with my 4 y.o and my 16 y.o niece and everyone was happy."
"The playground at Pier 25 that has a fun water feature & mini golf (along the Hudson River on West St @ N. Moore)."

Planetarium
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Prospect Park
What parents say: "Rent bikes and bike the loop in Prospect Park."
"Get a geocaching app on your phone and geocache Prospect Park."

Ripley's Believe It or Not in Times Square

Iceskating at Rockefeller Center
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"Ice Skating at either Rockefeller Center or Central Park for sure."

School of Rock
What parents say: "maybe contact fun local activities (School of Rock, Brooklyn Robot Foundry) and ask if they'd let him visit for an hour or two for a fee?"

Shopping
"My niece is 19 and since about 17 has been obsessed with consignment store shopping in Brooklyn. We hit the places on 5th Ave and also go over to Williamsburg. She also really like smorgasburg and Artists and Fleas."
"Take them shopping at Brooklyn Industries."

Smith Street
What parents say: "Bead store on Smith Street and make a bracelet or something else."

Serendipity
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"Serendipity for giant sundaes."

Skateboarding
What parents say: "Skateboarding park under Manhattan Bridge, Manhattan side, or the one at Chelsea Piers.

Smorgasburg
"Smorgasburg (the all food market) on Saturday."

Sony Wonder Lab

Sports
What parents say: "A Cyclones, Mets, Nets or Yankees sports game."

Super Hero Supply
What parents say: "Super Hero Supply, she can be "De-villain-ized"; ask the staff to show her the secret back room (if you don't know, this is a Dave Eggger's shop that supports literacy, on 5th Ave)"

Uncommons
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If the weather is crummy or they need a down day, they could check out the Uncommons, a board game cafe near Washington Square Park.

The Tenement Museum
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What parents say: "The Tenement Museum is absolutely fantastic and is not the museum most tourists flock to. There are lots of tours to choose from, including one that centers around foods from the LES. Seeing the old tenements has been interesting for even the most museum skeptic of teens who has come to visit us. Bonus: so much good food and shopping to check out after the museum.

Theater
What parents say: "A light, funny bit of theater."
"See if you can get tickets for something at the Victory Theater."

Top of the Rock
What parents say: "Top of the Rock is fun as well as Empire State building. TOR is easier usually bc of crowds at ESB."

Water Taxi
Water Taxi from Dumbo to Manhattan

Washington Square Park
What parents say: "Washington Square Park in the village. Good people watching and I think kids skateboard and stuff."

 

More ideas from PSP parents:

Join the Tween Group to see if any parents have shared events that are going on in the 'hood - and feel free to ask!

Check out if any Places that offer Classes for Tweens/Teens have 1 day Workshops

More ideas from around the web:

Things To Do With Teenagers in NYC