Best Things to Do in NYC With Teens: 12 Attractions You Should Not Miss

by Jen
Best Things to Do in NYC With Teens
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Ready for a trip to the bustling streets and iconic landmarks of the Big Apple? When visiting New York City, prepare for a plethora of experiences awaiting you and your family. Dive into our list of the best things to do in NYC with teens. From awe-inspiring views to hidden urban gems, these activities are both unforgettable and uniquely New York!

For restless teenagers looking for their next big adventure, New York City will never disappoint. It is, after all, The City That Never Sleeps! Dive into this guide to discover the most exhilarating and unforgettable things to do in New York City with teens. From the dazzling lights of Times Square to world-renowned museums, NYC promises an adventure at every corner.

Known for its iconic skyline, New York City is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and experiences. But what truly sets the city apart for families with teenagers is its pulsating energy and endless array of activities tailored for the young and young-at-heart. Whether it’s the thrill of a Broadway show, the allure of Central Park’s vast expanse, or the mesmerizing views from the Empire State Building, the city offers a unique blend of modern urban charm and timeless landmarks.

From Manhattan to Brooklyn, there’s no dearth of attractions and experiences in NYC. And that’s precisely why it’s essential to know which spots will resonate most with your teens. To guide you on this exciting journey, I’ve curated a list of my top recommendations for a memorable NYC trip with teenagers. Dive in!

The top places to visit in NYC with teens right now
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Best Things to Do in NYC With Teens

NYC is not just any vacation spot; it’s a treasure trove of experiences. Dive deeper to uncover unique NYC places to visit with teens that go beyond the usual tourist trails. From iconic city attractions and rich cultural hubs to serene pockets of nature amidst urban chaos, NYC has it all.

Whether you’re in the mood for the bustling energy of Times Square or a peaceful stroll in Central Park, the must sees in NYC are diverse and captivating. So, gear up and delve into the best attractions in NYC for teenagers. These promise an unforgettable journey through the city’s myriad offerings.

1. Explore the Artistic Wonders at the MET

Looking for the best things to do in NYC with teens? Let’s talk art! And not just any art, but a journey that spans millennia, right in the heart of the city. Welcome to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or as most folks call it, the MET.

Situated majestically on the edge of Central Park, the MET is like a time machine. One moment you’re exploring the vibrant streets of modern-day New York, and the next, you’re transported to ancient Egypt. For teens with even a hint of curiosity, the museum’s Egyptian wing is pure magic. The Temple of Dendur is an unforgettable experience, with its grand pillars and stories etched in stone.

When the sun’s out and the city’s buzzing, the rooftop garden is the place to be. Imagine this: panoramic views of Central Park, the city stretching out before you, and some truly mesmerizing art installations. It’s a chill spot, perfect for those candid photos or just some good old-fashioned relaxation.

And here’s a little insider tip: the MET loves its young visitors. They’ve got workshops, interactive sessions, and even teen-only events. So, whether your teen’s an aspiring artist or just looking for a cool place to hang, the MET’s got you covered.

Visiting MET is one of the best things to do in NYC with teens.
Discover the ultimate teen experience: Millennia-spanning art in the heart of the city at the MET, the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

2. Cycle Through the Iconic Central Park

New York City is a bustling metropolis, but amidst its towering skyscrapers lies a green oasis: Central Park. For travelers wondering where to visit in NYC with teens, this slice of nature in the heart of the concrete jungle is among the best destinations. There’s no better way to explore it than on two wheels.

Central Park spans over 840 acres, offering a myriad of trails that weave through scenic landscapes, historic monuments, and serene lakes. As you pedal along, you’ll come across iconic spots like the Bethesda Terrace, Strawberry Fields, and the Central Park Zoo.

Feel the breeze on your face, listen to the sounds of nature, and share laughs with your teens as you navigate the winding paths. Along the way, you might even stumble upon street performers, artists, and local New Yorkers soaking in the sun or having a picnic.

If you’re not keen on bringing your own bikes, no worries! There are plenty of rental shops around the park, offering bikes for all ages and skill levels. And if you’re up for a guided experience, join one of the many cycling tours available. They’ll take you through the park’s highlights, sharing fascinating stories and fun facts. When visiting NYC with teens, cycling through Central Park should be high on your list!

Central Park offers a teen-friendly green oasis; a prime destination for exploration on two wheels.
Central Park offers a teen-friendly green oasis; a prime destination for exploration on two wheels.

3. Uncover Secrets at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

New York City is a treasure trove of experiences, and for families with a penchant for history and technology, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a must-visit. Anchored on the Hudson River, this massive aircraft carrier-turned-museum offers a deep dive into maritime and aviation history.

As you step aboard the USS Intrepid, you’re not just entering a ship; you’re stepping into a world of stories, heroics, and innovations. The flight deck is adorned with a collection of aircraft from different eras, each with its unique tale.

From supersonic jets to reconnaissance planes, the array is nothing short of impressive. And if you’re pondering what to do in NYC with teens, the interactive exhibits here are a surefire hit. They offer hands-on experiences, allowing visitors to get a feel for life aboard an aircraft carrier. You can even explore inside a submarine for a unique adventure.

But the museum isn’t limited to the skies and seas. The Space Shuttle Pavilion houses the Space Shuttle Enterprise. This gives teens and adults alike a glimpse into space exploration’s thrilling world. And for those with a keen interest in espionage, the British Airways Concorde and the submarine Growler offer insights into covert operations during the Cold War.

Explore the city's history and tech at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – an aircraft carrier-turned-museum on the Hudson River.
Explore the city’s history and tech at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum – an aircraft carrier-turned-museum on the Hudson River.

4. Savor the Majestic NYC Skyline from The Edge

When you think of New York City, the iconic skyline immediately comes to mind. And while there are numerous vantage points to admire this architectural marvel, none are quite as breathtaking as The Edge. Perched 1,131 feet in the air, this sky deck offers unparalleled views of the city. This makes it one of the best things to do in NYC with teens.

As you step onto the glass floor, the city sprawls beneath your feet. This offers a bird’s-eye view of landmarks like the Hudson River, Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building. The panoramic vistas, combined with the thrill of being so high up, create a memorable experience. For families seeking NYC things to do with teens, The Edge provides an adrenaline-pumping experience!

More than just a viewing platform, The Edge is an architectural masterpiece in the heart of the Hudson Yards. The modern design, combined with interactive exhibits and a champagne bar, ensures that visitors of all ages have something to look forward to. Whether you’re capturing that perfect Instagram shot, learning about the city’s history, or simply soaking in the views, The Edge promises an outing that’s both exhilarating and enlightening.

The Edge is a thrilling glass-floor view for families with teens seeking iconic landmarks from breathtaking heights.
The Edge is a thrilling glass-floor view for families with teens seeking iconic landmarks from breathtaking heights.

5. Discover All Things Film at the Museum of the Moving Image

In the heart of Queens lies a cinematic gem that’s a must see in NYC with teens: the Museum of the Moving Image. This unique institution celebrates the art, history, and technology of film, television, and digital media. This offers visitors a chance to delve deep into the world of the moving image.

From the early days of silent films to the latest digital innovations, the museum showcases the evolution of media. Interactive exhibits allow teens to step into the shoes of filmmakers. They can try their hand at stop-motion animation or even dub their voice over classic scenes. It’s not just about watching; it’s about experiencing the magic of cinema firsthand.

One of the museum’s standout features, and undoubtedly one of the coolest activities in NYC for teens, is the Behind the Screen exhibition. This immersive experience takes visitors on a journey through the filmmaking process, from the initial idea to the final cut. Ever wondered how those spine-chilling sound effects in horror movies are made? Or how a film’s score can tug at your heartstrings? This exhibition unravels these mysteries and more.

Beyond the exhibits, the museum boasts an impressive collection of film memorabilia. This includes iconic props, costumes, and artifacts from some of the most beloved movies and TV shows. And for those with a passion for gaming, there’s a dedicated section that traces the history and evolution of video games.

Explore The Museum of the Moving Image, where the art, history, and tech of film, TV, and media come alive.
Explore The Museum of the Moving Image, where the art, history, and tech of film, TV, and media come alive.

6. Experience Broadway Magic at Its Finest

The bright lights, the captivating performances, the standing ovations—there’s nothing quite like a Broadway show. And when you’re in New York City, catching a live performance is an absolute must. For families, it’s one of the top NYC attractions for teens that promises an evening of entertainment and awe.

Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, the Broadway district is home to some of the world’s most iconic theaters and productions. From timeless classics like “The Phantom of the Opera” to contemporary hits like “Hamilton,” there’s a show for every taste and preference.

And the best part? Many productions offer special matinee performances and discounted tickets for younger audiences. This makes it one of the most affordable places in NYC for teens. And for young adults with a passion for the arts, it’s an opportunity to see their favorite stories come to life on stage. The experience is complete with elaborate sets, costumes, and live orchestras.

After the show, the experience continues. The Broadway district is buzzing with energy, from themed diners where you can grab a post-show bite to souvenir shops stocked with memorabilia. And who knows? You might even spot a cast member or two!

Immersing in the magic of Broadway is one of the best things to do in NYC with teens.
Immerse in the magic of Broadway: promising unforgettable entertainment and awe-inspiring performances.

7. Take an IG-Worthy Selfie Atop The Vessel

In the ever-evolving landscape of New York City, The Vessel stands out as a modern architectural marvel. This honeycomb-like structure, located in the heart of Hudson Yards, offers a unique blend of art, architecture, and adventure. This makes it one of the best places in NYC for teens.

As you approach The Vessel, its shimmering copper-clad design immediately captures your attention. But this isn’t just a structure to admire from afar. It’s an interactive experience, inviting visitors to climb its 154 flights of stairs, traverse its 80 landings, and discover new perspectives of the city at every turn. And for those who love a good photo op, the panoramic views from the top are simply unbeatable.

While it’s undoubtedly one of the most intriguing places in NYC to visit, The Vessel is more than just a climb. It’s a symbol of NYC’s innovative spirit, blending art and functionality in a way that’s both captivating and inspiring. Teens, in particular, will appreciate the blend of physical activity and aesthetic appeal. This makes it a perfect spot for both exploration and relaxation.

Surrounding The Vessel, Hudson Yards offers a plethora of dining, shopping, and entertainment options. From upscale boutiques to gourmet eateries, there’s something to cater to every taste. And with its central location, it’s an ideal starting point for further city adventures. Is this one of the best things to do in New York with teens? You bet!

The Vessel shines as a modern marvel – a honeycomb-like structure and an artful, adventurous must-visit in Hudson Yards for teens.
The Vessel shines as a modern marvel – a honeycomb-like structure and an artful, adventurous must-visit in Hudson Yards for teens.

8. Wander The High Line, Where Greenery Greets the Clouds

Amidst the urban sprawl of New York City, The High Line emerges as an oasis of greenery, art, and innovation. This elevated linear park, built on a historic freight rail line, winds its way through the city, offering a unique vantage point of the bustling streets below.

Starting in the Meatpacking Districtand stretching up to Hudson Yards, The High Line is a testament to NYC’s ability to reinvent and rejuvenate. As you stroll along its pathways, you’re treated to a mix of wildflowers, grasses, and trees, all carefully curated to reflect the park’s naturalistic design. But it’s not just about the flora; interspersed throughout are art installations, murals, and sculptures, adding a touch of creativity to the landscape.

The High Line offers a refreshing break from the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s one of the coolest NYC things to do with teens, thanks to its blend of nature, art, and architecture. Whether you’re admiring the views from the elevated walkways, lounging in one of the many seating areas, or participating in one of the park’s interactive programs, there’s always something to engage and inspire.

Beyond the greenery and art, The High Line also boasts various food vendors, offering a taste of NYC’s diverse culinary scene. From gourmet popsicles to artisanal coffee, there’s a treat for every palate.

The High Line blooms as a green, artistic oasis – an elevated linear park on a historic rail line offering a distinct view of bustling streets below.
The High Line blooms as a green, artistic oasis – an elevated linear park on a historic rail line offering a distinct view of bustling streets below.

9. Be an Undercover Agent for a Day at SPYSCAPE

New York City is full of surprises, and for those with a penchant for mystery and intrigue, SPYSCAPE is a thrilling discovery. Located in the heart of Manhattan, this modern museum delves into the shadowy world of espionage, offering a blend of history, technology, and interactive experiences.

As you enter SPYSCAPE, you’re immediately immersed in a high-tech environment reminiscent of a spy movie set. Interactive stations challenge visitors to test their skills in areas like hacking, code-breaking, and surveillance. Discover your inner spy through a series of assessments as the museum determines your spy profile, revealing if you’re more of a cryptologist, a hacker, or perhaps an intelligence operative.

For teenagers, the allure of SPYSCAPE is undeniable. It’s one of those unique places in NYC for teenagers that combines education with entertainment. The museum’s galleries explore real-life spy stories, from World War II codebreakers to modern-day cyber espionage. Interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations, and authentic artifacts bring these tales to life, offering a deeper understanding of the role espionage has played throughout history.

Uncover intrigue at SPYSCAPE, a modern museum that immerses enthusiasts in espionage's history, technology, and interactive wonders.
Uncover intrigue at SPYSCAPE, a modern museum that immerses enthusiasts in espionage’s history, technology, and interactive wonders.

10. Learn About the Galaxy in Hayden Planetarium

The universe is vast, mysterious, and endlessly fascinating. For families seeking a cosmic adventure without leaving the city, the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History is the perfect destination. More than just a planetarium, it’s a gateway to the stars, and meandering its knowledge-filled hallways are one of the best things to do in NYC with teens.

Housed within the iconic Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Hayden Planetarium offers a mesmerizing journey through the cosmos. The state-of-the-art projection system transforms the dome into a canvas of stars, galaxies, and celestial phenomena. As you recline in your seat, expert narrators guide you through the wonders of the universe, from the birth of stars to the mysteries of black holes.

Aside from star shows, the planetarium’s exhibitions delve into the intricacies of our universe. Whether you’re exploring the scales of the cosmos, understanding the forces that shape galaxies, or marveling at the beauty of celestial objects, there’s always something to captivate the curious mind. It’s undoubtedly one of the best places in NYC for teenagers with a passion for astronomy and space exploration.

Beyond the celestial, the surrounding American Museum of Natural History offers a plethora of exhibits, from dinosaur fossils to cultural artifacts. It’s no wonder this is among the best things to do in NYC with teenagers!

Embark on a cosmic journey at the Hayden Planetarium – offering a stellar experience for families with teens.
Embark on a cosmic journey at the Hayden Planetarium – offering a stellar experience for families with teens.

11. Navigate the Labyrinths of The Museum of Illusions

In a city bursting with iconic landmarks and cultural hubs, the Museum of Illusions emerges as a delightful anomaly. Nestled in the heart of Manhattan, this unique space challenges perceptions, tickles the mind, and offers a playful escape from reality. It’s a testament to the fact that the best things to do in NYC with teens aren’t always the most conventional.

As you step into the museum, you’re greeted with a series of optical illusions, interactive exhibits, and mind-bending puzzles. Walls appear to move, floors seem to tilt, and familiar perspectives are turned upside down. It’s a space where the laws of physics and logic are playfully bent. This makes it one of the most intriguing cool destinations in NYC for teenagers.

The museum is a fun exploration of the human mind, showcasing how our brains process information and how easily our senses can be deceived. For teens, it’s an opportunity to learn about cognitive science in a fun, hands-on environment. Whether they’re navigating the vortex tunnel, playing with the holograms, or laughing at the distorted reflections in the mirror room, there’s never a dull moment.

Beyond the illusions, the museum also offers workshops, escape rooms, and interactive games, ensuring that visitors of all ages are engaged and entertained.

The Museum of Illusions defies convention, playfully challenging perceptions and offering a unique escape.
The Museum of Illusions defies convention, playfully challenging perceptions and offering a unique escape.

12. Traverse the Terraces and Art Trails of the Whitney

Art has a unique way of speaking to the soul, and for those keen on contemporary and modern American art, the Whitney Museum of American Art is a treasure trove. Located in the vibrant Meatpacking District, this museum boasts an impressive collection that spans the 20th and 21st centuries. This makes it one of the best things to do in NYC with teens.

The Whitney’s architecture itself is a testament to modern design. Its terraces offer stunning views of the city skyline and the Hudson River, providing a serene backdrop to the artistic wonders within. As you navigate the museum’s spacious galleries, you’re treated to a diverse array of works, from paintings and sculptures to installations and multimedia exhibits.

For teens with a budding interest in art, the Whitney provides a platform to explore and understand the nuances of American art. The museum’s collection includes iconic pieces from artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, and Jeff Koons. This offers insights into the evolution of artistic expression over the decades.

Beyond the permanent collection, the Whitney is renowned for its temporary exhibitions, which often spotlight emerging artists and contemporary themes. These exhibitions provide a fresh perspective, ensuring that there’s always something new to discover. It doesn’t matter how many times you visit – there’s always a sense of novelty and excitement waiting for you.

Exploring Whitney Museum is one of the best things to do in NYC with teens.
Explore contemporary American art with teens at the vibrant Whitney Museum;

Frequently Asked Questions: Visiting NYC With Teens

Looking for more content on the top things to do in NYC with teenagers? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to NYC:

What are the operating hours for most attractions in NYC?

Most attractions in NYC, especially the popular ones for teens, typically open between 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM and close around 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. However, some places, like observation decks or entertainment venues, might have extended hours. It’s always a good idea to check the official website of the attraction before planning your visit.

Is New York OK for kids?

Yes, New York City is a destination that can be enjoyed by visitors of all ages, including children. While the city is often associated with business, arts, and nightlife, it also offers a wide variety of family-friendly attractions and activities. Here’s an overview of what families with children can enjoy in New York City:

Attractions and Activities for kids in New York

  1. Central Park: With playgrounds, rowboats, a zoo, and open spaces for picnics and play, Central Park is a favorite spot for families.
  2. Museums: Many museums in New York offer interactive exhibits for children, such as the American Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and the New York Hall of Science.
  3. Broadway Shows: Some Broadway and Off-Broadway shows are suitable for children, including classics like “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.”
  4. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: A ferry ride to these iconic landmarks can be an exciting adventure for kids.
  5. Times Square: With its bright lights and bustling atmosphere, Times Square is often a hit with older children. The M&M’s World and the Disney Store are popular spots.

Are there any age restrictions for teen activities in NYC?

While many activities in NYC are suitable for all ages, some might have age restrictions, especially those that are more adventurous or require certain physical capabilities. It’s recommended to check in advance, especially for activities like escape rooms or certain adventure zones.

Interior view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring captivating artworks.
Interior view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, featuring captivating artworks.

How can I get discounts on tickets for teen attractions in NYC?

Many attractions offer student discounts, so carrying a valid student ID can be beneficial. Additionally, consider purchasing city passes or combo tickets, which often provide discounted access to multiple attractions. Websites and apps dedicated to NYC tourism might also have seasonal offers or special deals.

Is Manhattan safe for kids?

Yes, Manhattan is generally considered safe for children and families. This is especially so when taking standard precautions that you would in any major urban area. Many families live in and visit Manhattan, and there are plenty of kid-friendly activities and attractions. Here are some considerations to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

Safety Precautions

  1. Supervision: Always keep an eye on your children, especially in crowded areas like Times Square or busy subway stations.
  2. Crossing Streets: Manhattan’s streets can be busy, so teach children to look both ways and only cross at designated crosswalks.
  3. Public Transportation: The subway is generally safe, but it can be crowded. Hold hands with younger children and be mindful of belongings.
  4. Nighttime Safety: Like any city, some areas may be less safe at night. Stick to well-lit and populated areas if you’re out after dark with children.
  5. Emergency Contacts: Make sure children have your contact information, and establish a meeting place if you get separated.

What’s the best way to navigate NYC with teens?

NYC has an extensive public transportation system. This includes buses and subways, which are cost-effective and efficient. If you’re looking to explore multiple attractions in a day, using the subway can save time. Alternatively, walking is a great way to soak in the city’s vibe. This is especially true in pedestrian-friendly areas like Times Square or Central Park.

Final Thoughts on Exploring NYC With Teens

New York City, with its vibrant energy and endless offerings, is truly a playground for all ages. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the city never ceases to amaze with its dynamic blend of history, culture, and innovation. For families with teenagers, the Big Apple presents a unique opportunity to bond, explore, and create lasting memories. From the dizzying heights of observation decks to the intimate corners of art galleries, the city caters to every whim and interest.

So, the next time you’re planning a trip or a weekend outing, let NYC surprise you with its myriad of teen-friendly adventures. After all, in a city that’s always evolving, every visit promises a new story to tell.

The top things to do in NYC with teens for all types of travelers
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