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35 Things to do in New York City with Teens that You’ll Both Love

Tonya Prater, Owner

Planning a trip and finding things to do in New York City with teens can be intimidating and overwhelming.

How do you know what to see and what to do with so many fantastic options?

I’ve been right where you are but now that I’ve made the trek to NYC with my kids on several occasions, it’s one place that I am repeatedly drawn to- and so are my kids!

So if you’re looking for fun things to do in NYC you’ve come to the right place. And the best thing? Our suggestions don’t just work for tweens or teens, these are fun things to do in NYC for young adults (and older ones) too.

Aerial view of the New York skyline on a sunny afternoon

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I’d always dreamed of visiting New York City but didn’t set foot in Manhattan until my oldest son wanted to see the Big Apple for his 18th birthday.

I wish I wouldn’t have waited so long to explore such a great city and now I’m making up for lost time, having visited many times since.

To help you plan a trip you and your teens will both love, it’s important to select your attractions carefully. I’ve put together some ideas of things to do in NYC to get you started.

If you’d rather visit NYC with your significant other rather than your teen you may be interested in this article ——-> Best Hotels in New York City for Romantic Weekends

The New York CityPASS® ticket can save you up to 39% on the top attractions in the city- click here to learn more and discover how much you can save.

A CityPASS® ticket includes the following:

  • Empire State Building
  • American Museum of Natural History

    And your choice of admission to three of the following NYC attractions:
  • Top of the Rock® Observation Deck
  • Ferry Access to the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
  • 9/11 Memorial & Museum
  • Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Guggenheim Museum

I’ve bought and used a New York City CityPASS® ticket on several trips to the city.

Not only does it save you money on admission and some souvenir stores at the attractions, it can also save you some time waiting in line which is a big deal when you’re trying to pack a lot in to a short period of time.

Things to do in New York City with teens

35 Things to do in New York City with Teens   

Put on your most comfortable walking shoes, grab your camera or cell phone and hit the streets of New York City and make some memories that will last a lifetime.

From the most well-known and iconic to a few lesser known attractions and tours, we’re providing suggestions of things to do when visiting the city. Keep in mind that you’ll never be able to do everything on this list on a short weekend trip.

New York subway, Times Square station
  1.  Ride the subway.
  2.  Hail a taxi.
  3.  Have your picture taken in Times Square.
  4.  Ride the free Staten Island Ferry. This is one of the oldest ferries operating ferries in the state of New York.
  5.  Visit your teen’s favorite store. When I visited with my daughter, we had to seek out every Forever 21 in the city.
  6. Pose with Dum Dum at the Museum of Natural History. Tip: Plan to watch A Night at the Museum BEFORE you visit and use this as a guide to find all the exhibits mentioned in the movie. *
  7. Take a stroll through Central Park. Or, if you prefer a bit of direction you can also book a guided walking tour to explore all the highlights of the 800 acre area. Some highlights: Ride the carousel in Central Park., see Cleopatra’s Needle, the Balto Statue, the Strawberry Fields, the Loeb Boathouse, Alice in Wonderland Sculpture, the Castle and the Rambles.
  8.  Take a cupcake tour in the West Village. Taste yummy cupcakes and make your own custom cupcake. Don’t’ worry about the calories. You’re in New York City! You’ll walk it off.
  9.  Grab a slice of pizza. I actually suggest that you combine sightseeing with a relaxing bus ride. Check out the Slice of Brooklyn Pizza Tour. My daughter and I loved our tour with Tony, our tour guide. This was one of our favorite NYC experiences. Read my review here.
  10. Walk the Highline. Book a tour if you wish to discover all the secrets of the skyscraper-filled Manhattan complex.
  11. Stroll along the boardwalk on Coney Island or rest your feet on a NYC TV & Movie Tour.
  12. Watch a Broadway Show.
  13. Visit the Color Museum NYC for a fun, completely Instagrammable experience.
  14. Walk or bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. Rent your bike here.
  15. Visit the galleries at the MoMA or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  16. Slurp down a Frrrozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3, an iconic NYC establishment. Keep in mind that this drink is HUGE. My daughter and I shared it and couldn’t finish all of it.
  17. Get your candy fix at Dylan’s Candy Bar.
  18. Head to the top of the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center. *
  19. Watch a taping of the Today Show. This website has some good information.
  20. Visit one of the many cathedrals. We enjoyed stepping inside St. John’s there is a fee to enter for sightseeing but if you’re stepping inside to pray or worship, there is no charge. Guided tours are also available.
  21. Pay your respects at the National 9/11 Memorial.
  22. Watch a parade.
  23. Skate in Rockefeller Center.
  24. Experience something new and eat at one of the ethnic eateries.
  25. Visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
  26. Take your picture with the bull in the Financial District.
  27. Eat your way through the Chelsea Market.
  28. Purchase a souvenir from a street vendor.
  29. Learn about NYC at the Tenement Museum or the Museum of New York City.
  30. Visit the free Fashion Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
  31. Take the official walking tour of Grand Central Station.
  32. Grab a Cannoli in Little Italy or Brooklyn.
  33. Sample chocolates at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar.
  34. Check out the latest technology with a visit to The Apple Store. The cube on 5th Avenue is one of the coolest Apple stores in the world.
  35. And finally, take a tour of Manhattan or one of the other boroughs. You can book a cruise around Manhattan island here.

A Must-Have Resource for Exploring New York City

If you’re going to be traveling in New York City with teens, you want to be confident in where you’re going. A great map will help to map out your attractions and plan your trip. Don’t wait until you arrive in the city and then hope to find one.

THE Resource you want to buy ahead is a copy of Frommer’s New York City Day by Day. This is the best resource I’ve found and it’s been updated to include post-pandemic reopening information. 

This guidebook can provide dining, lodging, and attraction information but THE reason I suggest it is because of the pull-out map that is included in the book.

I’ve used the map on each of my visits to NYC and have lent my book and map out more times than I can count. This book will be the best $ you’ll spend when planning your trip. Trust me on this.

Save Time and Money on your Trip to New York City with Teens:

When looking for the best things to do in NYC with teens you may want to figure out how you can save a bit of money in the process.

things to do with teens in new york city

Use our 3 Day NYC itinerary to save you time and money when traveling with teens.

You may enjoy reading these posts as well:

The Super Tour of NYC is a great way to see a lot of NYC while resting your feet.

Where to Stay in New York City with Teens:

If you’re spending a few nights in New York with teenagers, you may want to Compare New York City Hotel Reviews & Ratings to find the Best Hotel Deal!

My daughter and I stayed at The Yotel which was really fun and trendy, but not for everyone. Make sure you read my post to find out if it’s for you. ——> The Yotel: Hip and Trendy Lodging in New York City 

Explore New York! Save up to 15% at select hotels OR check the dates you’ll be in the city to see current availability and rates.

The New Yorker Hotel: New York City

The Library Hotel: a Must Stay for Book Lovers

Pin the image below so you’ll have a list of things to do with teens in nyc when you’re ready.

35 Things to do in New York City with Teens

Bistra | The Magic of Traveling

Friday 23rd of June 2017

Great! SO New York will offer plenty of opportunities to entertain parents with teens, too!

Tonya Prater

Saturday 24th of June 2017

Yes! There is so much in NYC to entertain people of all ages.

michele h peterson

Thursday 22nd of June 2017

Thanks for the great list! It sounds as though there are lots of tasty things to do ( and plenty of chocolate sweets) in New York City!

Tonya Prater

Saturday 24th of June 2017

Sweet treats are a must when traveling with my teen but the pizza was a huge hit as well.

leah

Thursday 22nd of June 2017

My best friend heads to NY in January! I'll definitely be showing her this! x

Tonya Prater

Saturday 24th of June 2017

I hope she gets some ideas! Thanks for stopping by.

Carrick - Along for the Trip

Sunday 1st of January 2017

Hi Tanya!

Thanks for the great to-do list! I'm the only one who's visited NYC out of the family, so this is a great reference to work from when we finally get there. There are so many musts on the list!

We love the idea of a CityPASS. We used one in Chicago earlier this year and loved it. Have a great 2017 you guys!

Safe travels,

Carrick

Cay

Monday 3rd of October 2016

Forget Dylan's. Overpriced and really not so "New York-y." Go to Economy Candy on the border between Chinatown and the Lower East Side. A true NYC institution. You've never seen so much candy in such a small space.

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