Got teens? Whether this is your first trip to NYC or you already live here and are planning a staycation with your teen, there is something in this city for everyone. We have so many favorites, we could go on forever, but here are 5 to get you started.
Travel – Start the week off by buying an unlimited metro card for you and your entourage . This works to mentally open your mind to new experiences without limitation. Want to hit 3 neighborhoods in one afternoon? Go for it – it’s free! In fact, for the tween or teen who already lives here and is still learning their way around NYC, give them a subway map and make a game of it. We like to pick a few destinations that require at least one transfer and reward points for our teens when they figure out how to get to their destination. Points can be tallied and used later in the week to “buy” treats. One of our favorites is Chocolate by the Bald Man in Union Square – a must stop! What could be better than a slice of chocolate pizza?
Scavenger hunts – your bored teen could never deny there is nothing more engaging than the competition of a good scavenger hunt. I’ve lived in NYC more than 2 decades and still learn new things each time we do one. A Saturday afternoon exploring a new neighborhood as a family is a treat everyone can get behind – even better on a weekday to avoid other tourists. There are so many options available but we’ve had a great time with Stray Boots. (update: Stray Boots now focuses on corporate scavenger hunts. Try Watson Adventures or Pogo Events for family hunts.) In many cases, you choose the neighborhood you want to explore and all tours are walkable – no more than a mile or two. Use it as an opportunity to explore and learn something about your own neighborhood or a neighborhood you don’t frequent much. Your teen may actually even stay off Snapchat for the duration of the experience. Money well spent. Here’s us doing a scavenger hunt in the Village a few years ago.
Search for the best cupcakes – So many great choices how can you possibly pick just one? Spend an afternoon creating your own cupcake tour. We love all cupcakes but there are a great many of them downtown so we’ve created a list of the downtown shops that make geographic sense to visit all in one afternoon. The tour begins in Tribeca where you can taste test 3 great cupcake shops within a few blocks of one another. Take the red or blue line to Chambers St. and start at Duane Park Patisserie at 179 Duane St.(also try the Ring Ding Bar here!), then walk to Baked TriBeCa at 279 Church St, and Billy’s bakery at 75 Franklin st, and are all great choices and quick strolls to one another. Right outside of Baked, you can hop on the A/C train at Canal st and take it to west 4th street for your next stop. Exit at the south end of the train (4th street side) and make your way to Molly’s cupcakes at Bleecker & 6th. Back out on 7th ave, hop back onto Bleecker St and walk north near toward Bleecker St Playground for the famous Magnolia Bakery(401 Bleecker at W. 11th st). No need for a meal after this tour. Maybe back home for a nap!
A day in Chelsea/ Hudson Yards: We love Chelsea market for a fun NYC experience including some really great boutique shops that allow for a shopping experience different from the one you get in every other city. You and your teen are bound to find a few treasures at the Artists and Fleas market in there – not to mention some great food in the Chelsea Market itself including The Lobster Place and Buon Italia. An hour or two wandering the cobblestone streets of Chelsea dodging model photo shoots will make your teen really appreciate that they are in NYC. Bonus: You can slyly pop into the innovatively designed Whitney for an hour to get your art on. If your teen gets tired of the art, they can snap some cool instagram pics on the outdoor patios that are on every floor. Next up – an afternoon walk on the Highline (make sure it’s a weekday – weekends are horrendously crowded!). Watching the NYC traffic at the 10th Ave overlook (near 16th st) is a great photo op. Stay on the Highline and head towards NYC’s hottest new neighborhood – Hudson Yards to get a gander at the Vessel. Grab an early dinner at the fun and creative mediterranean spot Death Ave. on 10th Ave and 28th st., or the amazing new Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards where everyone can choose their own fare and come together for a meal. End your evening with your teen at Spin – A Ping Pong Social Club on 23rd st for a little family ping pong competition. The smile on their faces when they beat you at ping pong will be priceless! And you can chalk off another successful event for their memory banks.
Museum tour: Did you know that most museums in NYC are Pay What You Wish? Yup! In such an expensive city, museums are a chance to soak up some culture at a greatly reduced price. Many special exhibits require an additional price but if you are doing the Museum 101 tour, take advantage of those free tix. My younger kids always enjoyed a visit to the Guggenheim because the circular structure of the building is so fun to explore. We would start at the top and work our way down. and go a few times a year to see whatever they were showing at the time. The Museum of Natural History is an obvious choice and is sure to please the whole family. My older teens go there frequently with their friends. We’ve spent many an afternoon at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. They always have some fun and interactive exhibits. The list of NYC museums is endless and doesn’t always have to be art focused. Do a little research and you are sure to find a way to add a little culture to their lives!