Ah, New York City—the concrete jungle where dreams are made, and teenagers can be notoriously hard to impress. Fear not, fellow travelers, for I’ve crafted a guide to keeping those high-energy, perpetually hungry, and easily bored creatures we call our offspring entertained in the Big Apple. Buckle up, because we’re about to take a bite out of the city that never sleeps, and trust me, neither will your teens.

Things to do in NYC with teenagers

In no particular order here are some of our family’s favorite things to do in NYC with teenagers. Since they are teenagers they can be quite picky! Hopefully, this list will make things easier for you!  If you need to stick to a budget, be sure to read our 16 Free Things to do in NYC post! I also recommend buying The New York Pass to save money or a CityPASS. If you are looking for a NYC itinerary with teenagers we’ve got that too! 3 Day NYC Itinerary with Teens

1. Biking in Central ParkCentral Park

Kick off your adventure with a bike ride in Central Park. It’s like the Instagram story they’ll actually want to post, complete with scenic views and enough paths to ensure they won’t text you about being bored (at least for an hour). The well-paved paths meandered through the parks’ iconic spots, such as the Bethesda Terrace, Strawberry Fields, and the Central Park Zoo. You can rent bikes from one of the many stands around Central Park.

2. American Museum of Natural HistoryNatural History Museum in NYC

Next, unleash your inner Ross Geller and dazzle them with the wonders of the American Museum of Natural History. Dinosaurs, space, and the human body—oh my! It’s like a WiFi-free zone where they’ll actually learn something.

3. Guggenheim MuseumGuggenheim Museum

For a twist on the typical museum visit, the Guggenheim’s spiral layout and modern art will have your teens debating whether they’re looking at art or if someone just left their laundry on the floor. Either way, they’re engaged.

4. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Show them that learning can be cool with a trip to the Intrepid. Planes, submarines, and spaceships—all the ingredients for the perfect Snapchat story.

5. Thrift ShoppingThrift shopping in NYC with teenagers

Teenagers love feeling unique, and what’s more unique than thrifting in NYC? It’s like a treasure hunt, but instead of gold, they’re searching for vintage tees and retro sneakers. I kind of hate what my kids wear, but I guess that’s just part of raising teens. 

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6. QC NY SpaQC NY Spa

If the city hustle gets overwhelming, a family day at QC NY Spa can be the chill pill everyone needs. They might roll their eyes at first, but wait until they hit that salt room and hot tub over looking the city!

7. 9/11 Memorial and Museum9/11 Memorial and Museum

A visit here is a profound experience that offers a mix of education and reflection. It’s an important reminder of resilience, history, and the spirit of New York. Skip the line tickets.

8. Eating in Hell’s Kitchen

Mom's Kitchen and Bar in Hell's Kitchen NYC

Mom’s Kitchen and Bar in Hell’s Kitchen NYC

With the myriad of cuisines available, your teens’ hunger (and pickiness) can be curbed in Hell’s Kitchen. From gourmet burgers to authentic Thai, it’s a culinary adventure without the flight.

9. Walking the High LineWalking the High Line with teenagers

An elevated park built on a historic freight rail line; it’s the perfect backdrop for their next viral TikTok dance, plus it’s a great way to digest after Hell’s Kitchen.

Perched a few stories above the hustle and bustle, this verdant runway offers a scenic detour through the concrete jungle, where the only traffic jams are caused by photo-ops and leisurely strolls. Here, you can meander, all while sidestepping the city’s frenetic street life below. It’s like New York waved a magic wand and turned a relic of its industrial past into a green ribbon winding through the skyscrapers, offering both a breath of fresh air and a unique perspective on the city.

10. Top of the RockViews from the Top of the Rock

For breathtaking views of the city skyline, head to Top of the Rock. It’s like seeing New York City through the eyes of a superhero, minus the cape and the responsibility. On our last visit here I was stunned how many new buildings have gone up in just six years. If you haven’t been lately it’s worth a re-visit. They’ve added a photo opportunity and a bar. 

11. See a Comedy Show

End a day with laughter at one of NYC’s iconic comedy clubs or better yet at Radio City Music Hall. It’s a chance for your teens to realize you’re not the only one with bad jokes. Eden and I got lucky on our last visit and got to see Ronny Chieng and John Oliver at Radio City Music Hall.

12. Broadway ShowWicked show review

No visit to New York is complete without the razzle-dazzle of a Broadway show. It’s where the energy of the city converges into a spectacle of talent, storytelling, and glittering costumes. Watch their eyes light up (and phones go away) as the curtain rises, immersing them in a world where artistry knows no bounds. If you haven’t seen Wicked I highly recommend seeing it. Buy Wicked tickets in advance. 

We have a list of lottery tickets to various shows in NYC in our NYC Travel Guide

13. Have Hot Chocolate or a Milkshake at Junior’s

the New Yorker shake at Junior’s

the New Yorker shake at Junior’s

After the show, meander over to Junior’s for the quintessential NYC hot chocolate experience. It’s like a warm, chocolatey hug in a mug, perfect for discussing the night’s performance and taking bets on how many Instagram likes their Broadway selfies will get.

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14. Pier 15

For a change of pace, head to Pier 15 at South Street Seaport. It offers stunning views of the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, and an excuse to take panoramic shots that scream “I’m in New York!” It’s a serene moment amidst the city bustle, where even the most screen-addicted teen can’t help but admire the view.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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15. Bumper Cars on Ice at Bryant Park (winter) or Ice Skating

Depending on the season, Bryant Park transforms into a whimsical playground. In winter, trade traditional skating for bumper cars on ice—an activity so hilariously fun, it’ll have your teens forgetting to check their notifications. In warmer months, the ice rink becomes a lush green space perfect for picnics, movies, and yes, more TikTok content.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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So there you have it, a whirlwind tour of NYC that promises to keep your teenagers entertained, fed, and maybe even enlightened. Remember, in New York City, the adventure doesn’t stop because the city doesn’t sleep—much like your teens during a Netflix binge. Happy travels!

 

16. Hell’s Kitchen Dessert Tour with “Like a Local Tours”

Hell's Kitchen Food TourSweeten your trip with a Hell’s Kitchen Dessert Tour with “Like a Local Tours”. Eden and I did this the last time we were there and it was a sugar rush of epic proportions. Navigating through the vibrant streets of Hell’s Kitchen, we were treated to an array of indulgent delights, from artisanal chocolates to the fluffiest pastries I’ve ever laid taste buds on. This tour wasn’t just about satisfying our sweet tooth; it was a backstage pass to the neighborhood’s rich history and culture, served up by our knowledgeable and engaging guide. Whether you’re a dessert aficionado or just looking to sprinkle a little fun into your NYC visit, this tour is a must-do. It’s the perfect way to bond over the universal language of sweets, and I can’t recommend it enough for parents and their grown kids or teens—or anyone with a penchant for the sweeter things in life. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you! Book this in advance

17. Statue of Liberty and Ellis IslandStatue of Liberty

Both are profound to see an highly interesting. Take a sheet of paper and a crayon so if you find your ancestor on the wall you can make a rubbing of it. Get Tickets.

18. Empire State Building

Completed in 1931 and standing 102 stories tall the Empire State Building is a great place to grab photos and see the city. If it is cloudy, skip this. The New York Pass offers free entry and skip the line at the Empire State Building or you can purchase skip the line tickets separately. 

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19. The Ride

Step aboard The Ride, and buckle up for a bus tour of NYC that throws the usual snooze-fest to the curb. Forget the monotone drone of a guide through earphones; this ride’s got live entertainers who know their way around a tune and a punchline, often with a side of sass. As the city’s streets unfold before you, expect to be ambushed by a parade of impromptu performances – think rappers dropping beats, dancers breaking moves, and maybe a surprise or two. Tailor-made for the Snapchat generation, it’s the kind of tour that makes history class look like nap time. And a little insider tip: while the city lights at night are tempting, trust me, you’ll want to catch this spectacle in broad daylight. Buy tickets in advance
 

20. Ice Skating or Roller Skating at Rockefeller Plaza

Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza

Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza

You already likely know that you can ice skat at Rockefeller Plaze but did you know in the summer you can roller skate? Imagine lacing up for a whirlwind of twirls and whirls, not on the icy expanse you’d expect in the heart of winter, but on the smooth, slick surface of Rockefeller Center—transformed for the summer into a roller skater’s paradise. Swap out your woolen mittens for a pair of knee pads and let the summer breeze ruffle through your hair as you glide, spin, and maybe occasionally wobble, under the watchful gaze of Prometheus.
 
It’s the quintessential New York summer experience—roller skating where ice skaters usually reign, offering both tourists and locals alike a delightful twist on seasonal fun. So, who needs ice when you’ve got wheels and a playlist that keeps the vibe rolling from dawn till dusk?Rockefeller Plaza charges for ice skating and skate rentals. Military members get 50% off tickets at Rockefeller!
 

 

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Get Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex or Safety Wing (often cheaper).

Book Flights

I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner!

Book a Place to Stay

I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.

If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.

Rent Clothes

Rent clothes for your trip with Travel Style Expert for only $50 a month! The first 30 days are free!

Choose Activities and Tours

To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available. Groupon also tends to have a lot of local travel deals.

When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals. If I am going somewhere in Mexico or the Caribbean I use Apple Vacations.

Rent a Car or Take a Lyft

More often than not Lyft is cheaper than Uber. Use my Lyft link for an $18 credit! For a car rental in any country, I recommend Hertz or Discover Cars.

Save Money on Gas

Upside, a free app gets you cash back on gas! Use promo code RV2Q2 to get an extra 15¢/gal bonus on your first purchase.

Get a Visa

I use iVisa to get all of my Visas.

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