As cliché as it sounds, New York really is a helluva town. There is something for everyone (actually, LOTS of somethings!), and as such can be overwhelming when planning a trip. Especially when traveling with notoriously hard-to-please teens and tweens.
And while you can’t go wrong with the classic New York City attractions (Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Central Park and the Museum of Natural History), we’ve rounded up six different – yet 100% “New York City” – destinations that are guaranteed to please even the most jaded, eye-rolling adolescents. Who knows, they might even put down their phones for a minute!
An easy area to explore by foot, there is much to do at the very tip of the island. There’s the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, along with One World Observatory – which offers stellar 360-degree views of New York and beyond. Across the street, Brookfield Place often has fun family-oriented events along with the upscale (and delicious) food court Hudson Eats – which includes Umami Burger, Black Seed Bagels and Sprinkles Cupcakes. Nearby Tribeca is home to the wonderful Children’s Museum of the Arts, which younger tweens will love for the hundreds of hands-on activities for making and creating (and a perfect refuge for a rainy day). And downtown is also where you’ll find the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, which everyone should walk over at least once while in New York. It’s a magnificent structure and a fun, easy walk, which once on the other side deposits you in……….
Photo credit: Children's Museum of the Arts
Brooklyn now rivals Manhattan in terms of popularity by tourists and residents alike, and with good reason. The gorgeous and expansive Brooklyn Bridge Park has amazing views of Manhattan, and the DUMBO district offers lots of cool shops and eateries to explore (favorites are Almondine and Jacques Torres Chocolates). Hop an Uber or Citi Bike and check out all that this borough has to offer - top of our list being Brooklyn Flea. Brooklyn Flea is a vast market filled with new and vintage goods and jewellery, locally made crafts, and lots of unique and delicious food. The perfect spot to pick up one-of-a-kind souvenirs and gifts. Your sneaker-obsessed teen will love Kith – part sneaker shop, part cereal café. And your younger tweens will have a blast at the newly renovated Brooklyn Children’s Museum. Older kids and teens adore exploring the funky neighborhoods of Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
This lesser known neighbor of Soho (which has sadly turned into your basic mall), NoLiTa (for “North of Little Italy”) is the place to bring your foodies. It’s hard to narrow down the list of places to hit but sure-fire winners (a.k.a., Instagram-worthy) include Economy Candy, Morgenstern’s Ice Cream, Tacombi, Jack’s Wife Freda, Seamore’s, Ice and Vice, Doughnut Plant and Pizza Beach. There are loads of upscale and one-of a kind shops for your trend-hunters, along with the wonderful New Museum and Tenement Museum.
For a one-of-a-kind experience, take the 7-minute ferry ride from the tip of Manhattan to Governor’s Island. Originally used as a military base, the island was opened to the public in 2010 and your architecture and history buffs will love exploring. There’s surrey and bike riding – the island is only 2 miles in circumference, making it perfect for a family ride (and you cannot beat the views), and the island always hosts fun and interesting kid-centric activities and cultural events.
Meatpacking District/The High Line
Another truly unique “New York” destination, the Meatpacking District and High Line should not be missed. The High Line is a 1 ½ mile long elevated park that was formerly an abandoned rail track. Today it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, filled with beautiful wildflowers and plantings, outdoor art installations, killer views of New York City and seasonal cultural events. Be sure to head downstairs from time to time to discover the cool and industrial Meatpacking District (for the shoppers in your group) and Chelsea Market (for your foodies). Head a little further north to treat your history buffs to a tour of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (and don’t miss Underwest Donuts – a donut shop in a car wash! – while you’re there), or further south to check out Pier 25 at Hudson River Park – with great playgrounds, mini golf and sailing.
Photo credit: Underwest Donuts
Photo credit: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum Complex
It is virtually impossible to resist the charms of the Village. Winding cobblestone streets, lovely, impeccably maintained brownstones, and dozens of cafes, bakeries, vintage stores and more. It’s teen/tween paradise. Half the fun is in just meandering about, “discovering” a cool little shop or cafe. It’s hard to go wrong in this part of town but some can’t-miss spots are: Sockerbit (for unique Swedish candies and treats), Buvette (super-charming French bistro), Washington Square Park (some of the best people-watching in town), Aux Merveilleux (a stunning patisserie), and Old Rose at the Jane Hotel (a cool spot located in the hotel where the survivors of the Titanic stayed). Washington Mews – a private gated street that’s open during the day - is magical. And get bonus points for being “in the know” by pointing out the narrowest house in New York (75 ½ Bedford Street) along with the oldest freestanding house (121 Charles Street).