New York City is an incredible place to visit at any time of life, but it’s especially exciting for families with teens and tweens. In an effort to help you design a weekend trip to New York City with your own teens, we’ve put together this 3-day itinerary.
When I asked my kids where their favorite place is, my oldest, Noah, immediately responded with, New York City, and the other two quickly agreed that it’s one of the greatest as well. My kids have grown up going to NYC, off and on their whole lives because my dad and stepmom live in New York. I must say that as they’ve gotten older the trips have gotten better. Why? There are two reasons. #1 – Because teens love NYC. #2 – There’s an insane amount of things to do here.
3-Day NYC Itinerary for Families with Teens and Tweens
Remember this is just a starting point. There’s an emphasis on food because teenagers eat a lot and an emphasis on places they can get great Instagram photos while still absorbing history and culture. Take these suggestions and customize your trip to best suit your family. And if you are on a tight budget, be sure to read our 16 Free Things to do in NYC
post! I also highly recommend buying The New York Pass
to save money.
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
You cannot visit NYC without seeing the Statue of Liberty. That would just be un-American. To make sure you don’t miss out, I recommend doing this on the first full day.
Morning: Kick off your morning with breakfast followed by a tour of the Statue of Liberty. Get Tickets.
Breakfast: Head to Hole in the Wall, an Australian cafe, for a creative breakfast. They have two locations, including one in the Financial district.
Avocado toast at Hole in the Wall
Statue of Liberty: You have to catch a ferry to get over to the Statue of Liberty and there is sometimes a long wait. On the way back, the ferry stops at Ellis Island. Here you have the option of getting off and touring Ellis Island. I highly recommend you do this. Kids will find searching for their last name on the wall at Ellis Island fascinating. Buy advanced tickets.
Lunch: After you are done touring the Statue of Liberty have lunch at The Malthouse. The Malthouse has an excellent Sunday brunch with a bottomless cocktail option that moms of teens deserve! This restaurant is very close to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, which means after lunch you are ready to head there.
9/11 Memorial and Museum
One of the things that I put off while the kids were younger was visiting the 9/11 Museum
. I was told to wait until the kids were older, and I would agree. Kids need to be at least 11 before they visit. Once they are teens they are equipped for the intensity of the 9/11 Museum. The museum is extensive and goes in-depth. This is a vital part of our history and a highly educational experience. Jonah was 10 when we visited and he was not able to make it more than halfway through. Skip the line tickets
Empire State Building
Teens love having good photos for their social media accounts, and there is no better place for awesome photos than the Empire State Building. It was completed in 1931 and stands at 102 stories tall. The New York Pass offers
free entry and skip the line at the Empire State Building
or you can purchase skip the line tickets
The Ride is a highly engaging bus tour in NYC. Instead of listening to facts about the city over earphones, there are two people singing and joking sarcastically live. Along the way, you encounter all kinds of live-action, including rapping, dancing, and more. Needless to say, this is a far better way for teens to see the city. After riding at night I only recommend doing this during the day. Buy tickets in advance
Dessert: After you finish the Ride have milkshakes and hot chocolates at Juniors. Juniors has the best hot chocolate in the city. Maybe it was because it was 8 degrees during our last visit to the city, but when we stopped in to warm up with a mug of hot chocolate, I swear it tasted like heaven. They also serve milkshakes with a slice of cheesecake on top. They have multiple locations in NYC, including near Times Square.
Today you enjoy being in the city by doing a little sightseeing, catching a show, and of course eating great food.
Breakfast: Today have breakfast at The Flying Cock an Irish bar. They offer a bottomless for 90 minutes during which you can get unlimited Bloody’s, Mimosa’s or Bellini’s for $22.
Top of the Rock
Another fantastic place to enjoy the sweeping views of New York City and Central Park is Top of the Rock. Top of the Rock is part of Rockefeller Center. If it’s winter, be sure to take them ice skating in Rockefeller Center, just so they can have bragging rights. The New York Pass offers free entry and line skip at Top of the Rock. At night you will not be able to see Central Park, so you probably want to go during the day. Buy tickets in advance
Go Ice Skating
Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza
If you visit during the winter months, there are multiple places to go ice skating. Bryant Park offers free ice skating, but you have to rent the skates. Rockefeller Plaza charges for ice skating and skate rentals. Military members get 50% off tickets at Rockefeller!
Lunch: Head to one of the Clinton Hall locations for lunch and keep in mind that they do not open until noon. They’ve got fantastic hamburgers and chicken sandwiches, but they’ve also got some crazy combinations like waffles and cake. I realize this is not the healthiest lunch choice, but teens’ metabolism is stellar so why not!
Teenagers love taking photos. While you walk around, keep your eye out for street art because there’ are cool murals everywhere!
Dinner: Since you will be seeing a show tonight you will want to dine near all the Broadway shows at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. This will warm you up for the show since the staff sings and dances!
See a Show
Visiting NYC without seeing a show should be illegal. Broadway is packed full of talent and a variety of shows. If you haven’t seen Wicked
before, I’d highly advise that you see this show. Buy
Wicked tickets in advance.
Although shows are expensive, you can get discounted tickets in an assortment of ways. Two apps that I recommend are TodayTix and tkts
. Located in Times Square, there is a half-price ticket stand underneath the bleachers. They will have a list of discounted shows each day. From what I could tell the prices were the same on the app and at the ticket stand. We have a list of lottery tickets to various shows in NYC in our NYC Travel Guide
Dessert: After the show, go grab dessert.
Breakfast: Have a unique breakfast at the Korean restaurant, Her Name is Han. It’s always fun to try new foods and the chances are high this will be a completely new food experience.
Grilled Pork Japjae Brunch Set at Her Name is Han
Most teenagers enjoy shopping, and NYC has just about every store imaginable. In Times Square, you will find American Eagle, H&M, Forever 21, and Express. NYC has all kinds of pop-up shops going on all the time. To find them, just google NYC pop-up shops.
Visit a Market
There are a few markets in NYC, including the Chelsea Market. The Chelsea Market is open every day and has lots of shops and eateries. Plus, it’s a cool space which means teens can get more cool photos. Plan to eat lunch at the street taco shop and don’t leave without heading up to the High Line.
Lunch: Have lunch at the taco place inside Chelsea Market.
Walk the High Line
The Highline in NYC
The High Line is an old railway that ran through the city that they have converted into a pedestrian green space a few stories up. You can avoid busy streets by walking along this instead.
Chill Out at Bryant Park
A perfect stop during your day is Bryant Park. In the winter months, you can ice skate and shop. In the summer you can play free games like kubb and have a drink outside at the Southwest Porch.
Dinner: You cannot leave the city without having good Italian. You can basically find good Italian everywhere, but my favorite so far has been at Osteria Morini in Soho or Tony’s Di Napoli near Times Square.
Blue Man Group
The Blue Man Group is always entertaining to teens and parents. It’s somewhat interactive and super funny. They perform at the Astor Place Theatre in the East Village, between Astor Place & East 4th Street. Buy Blueman tickets in advance.
Dessert: Tonight, have dessert at Black Tap. Chances are you’ve heard of this place. It used to be difficult to get in, but they’ve opened up multiple locations. If you’re interested in grabbing a burger and a freak shake you will love this place.
Where to Stay in NYC with Teens
There is a plethora of hotels to choose from in NYC. We’ve stayed in a different hotel every time, based more or less on price.
Hampton by Hilton in Chelsea NYC
On a Budget
: If you are on a budget, stay at the Hampton by Hilton in Chelsea. Amenities include free breakfast! Book this hotel
Residence Inn East NYC
Middle of the Road
: Residence Inn East
is a nice in-between, not cheap, but not too expensive. This hotel has breakfast included as well, which will save you at least $25 a day up. Book this hotel.
A suite at Row NYC
: I highly recommend splurging on a suite or penthouse. Row NYC
offers a fairly reasonable penthouse just one block from Times Square. The location is ideal and the ability to spread out over two bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms makes a world of difference for families with teens or tweens. On-site is Citizen Kitchen, a conglomerate of tasty places to eat. They have nine affordable eating options found inside Citizens Kitchen, including sushi, tacos, lobster rolls, donuts, and more. Book this hotel.
I could add many more places to see, things to do, and places to stay, but this is everything you need for a successful trip to NYC with teens.
Of course, there’s always more to do if you stay a few more days you could go to Ripley’s Believe it or not!, or go on a food tour or bike through Central Park. You can try to score tickets to one of the tv shows like SNL or Jimmy Fallon, but they are lotteries. One thing is for certain, no matter what you do, your teenagers will love New York City.
Save 40% on New York’s 6 best attractions with CityPASS – Shop Now!
How to Get Around in NYC
NYC isn’t difficult to get around, because there are lots of options. If it’s nice outside and less than a 30-minute walk, we usually walk. The subway is the cheapest option typically, but for a family it might be the same exact price to take an Uber. Do not rent a car because you will be paying at least $50 a day to park it.
Uber and Lyft are available in New York City. You can use my Uber invite code: meagans343ue, for a free ride up to $15.
Or use my Lyft invite for a $50 credit!
Also available in NYC and often cheaper is Via. You can use my Via referral code for a $10 credit: meagan7t8
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Thank you for this!