Just hearing those words, “The Big Apple,” makes you want to visit New York, right? NYC is the epicenter of fun and entertainment. A family vacation in New York City is an opportunity that most people don’t think about as their first choice but surprisingly it is the perfect place to enjoy a family vacation, especially with your teens. There are so many wonderful things to do in New York City, that it’ll be worth every moment you spend there with your family. Give New York some serious consideration for your next family vacation. This Ultimate NYC Travel Guide will help make your travel planning easy for everyone.
Best Things to do in New York City with Teens
Here are some of the best travel spots to consider for your family trip to New York City, along with some travel tips to keep in mind. These spots are great because they appeal to both teens and adults, making them the perfect places to visit while touring New York City with an audience who is famous for being unimpressed by pretty much everything.
One of the most iconic places that New York has to offer is 162 years old, 843 acres Central Park. Situated in the heart of this beautiful city, it is one of the most breathtaking parks you can ever visit. This absolutely massive city oasis is so huge, it has a zoo, conservatory, boathouse, playgrounds, and even a castle. Whether a nice, leisurely stroll is on your agenda or you want to take in the zoo or garden, this iconic city park is filled with beauty and excitement to entertain everyone in the family.
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Whether you're smelling fragrant blooms or appreciating their spirit-boosting colors from afar, spring is a special time in Central Park. Conservancy staff and volunteers planted more than 45,000 bulbs in Conservatory Garden this past November in preparation for spring. Swipe left to see! Which spring flower brings you joy? 🌷
The Central Park Zoo
This iconic Central Park Zoo is a winner when it comes to family fun. With exhibits and activities for every age group, even your teenage kids would love it here when they see they have a chance to take selfies with leopards, sea lions, or monkeys. Their wildlife lineup is extensive, offering opportunities to see all sorts of exotic creatures as they go about their daily lives.
Do your kids love ice skating? Well then, add this one to your list. It is the most exciting spot for skating lovers, and this would prove to be an icing on the cake. Where else can ice skate with views like this? One of the most popular skating rinks in New York City, Wollman offers lessons in ice skating and hokey, as well as world-class private events.
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Museum of Natural History
This will easily become the favorite spot for the kids when they will meet Rexy, a giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, or Dum Dum. The American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world, offering a wide variety of exhibits to explore with the family. With so much to explore, you and your family could spend all day here discovering new things.
Included in your general admission are 45 permanent exhibit halls, plus the Rose Center for Earth and Space. Special exhibitions, giant-screen film, or the Space Show will cost extra but worth the extra price per ticket. It’s an excellent way to explore the wonders of the natural world and keep your kids engaged and excited.
9/11 Memorial & Museum
September 11th marks one of the darkest days in American history, and while there may not be flashy activities or rides, every family should visit the memorial when visiting New York City. A day that none of us should ever forget, 9/11 is forever remembered at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Located at the World Trade Center, the museum tells the story of this dark day through media, narratives, and a collection of memorabilia devoted to 9/11.
The Empire State Building
Although the Empire State Building no longer retains its title as the tallest building in the US, it’s definitely worth a visit. Located in Midtown Manhattan, this iconic skyscraper has a rich history spanning decades. Be sure to take the kids to the 86th and 102nd-floor observatories for sweeping views of the city.
Arguably the most iconic of all places in New York City, Rockefeller Center is a can’t-miss stop on your NYC trip. Rockefeller Center is home to many hit NBC shows including Saturday Night Live, The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and more, along with Radio City Music Hall, the channel Gardens, Top of the Rock Observation Deck, and a wide range of shopping and dining, as well.
The kinetic atmosphere and vast array of activities are enough to keep even the most uncooperative teen excited about visiting. Whether skating, taking in a view, or just stopping by for a bite to eat, and a little shopping, Rockefeller Center should be on anyone’s list.
Statue of Liberty
For decades, the Statue of Liberty was the first thing many immigrants to this country saw as they made their way toward a better life. Take the Staten Island Ferry to this iconic piece of American history, and enjoy one of the many guided tours of the statue. While they can be expensive, they’re worth it for a deep dive into the history of Lady Liberty herself.
Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum
A big hit for everyone in the family, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum has a huge collection of wax figures from Hollywood celebrities to sports icons and more. Kids of every age will particularly enjoy the marvel area, offering full-sized Marvel superheroes, even the hulk! In addition, they have a 4D theater with all sorts of fun viewing opportunities. You can also read about our Nashville Madame Tussaud or Hollywood Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum visit.
Times Square is one of the first things anyone thinks of when they think of New York City, and it’s the perfect place to take the entire family. From the giant billboards we all recognize to fun shops like Hershey’s Chocolate World store and the absolutely massive Disney Store on 45th street, the entire family will find something they love about this NYC hotspot.
Madison Square Garden
One of the things to do in New York City that you can’t miss is a visit to Madison Square Garden. Dubbed “The Worlds’ Most Famous Arena”, Madison Square Garden hosts the biggest acts and the best of the best talent. An absolutely huge venue, Madison Square Garden has a vibe that is unduplicated anywhere in the United States, no matter what type of show or sporting event you take in.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable structures in all of New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge has a popular place in pop culture, appearing in everything from Marvel comic books, movies, and video games to movies and television shows. The bridge has a walking and cycling path, so the family can take a stroll down one of the most famous bridges in all of America. If you want some memorable shots, visit the bridge right before sunset.
The Best Way To Explore New York City is riding on Top of a Bus
The best way to explore New York City is riding on top of a bus. There are Bus Rides or Tours that entertain your whole family while providing you a chance to experience New York in an exciting way.
Our favorite bus tour is ‘The Ride’. It has a bus with stadium-seats facing the windows, which are not actually windows but several floor-to-ceiling TV screens. A funny comedian is very likely to be your host on the bus, adding up to the amusement. This bus tour is an interactive and entertaining tour that will take you around some of the most iconic areas in New York City.
Big Bus New York, Gray Line City Sightseeing, and Open Loop New York are some other great rides that take you through the amazing picturesque views of the busy city.
You definitely need to experience these rides at least once on your tour.
Best Skyscraper Views of NYC
Looking down at the sparkles of New York City from the sky-kissing buildings is something you cannot ignore when at this place, but they don’t come for free. The urban hustle, tall megastructures, flowing waters, green parks mix up to form a very attractive blend of sight in NYC.
The most famous and best skyscraper views of New York City can be seen from Top of the Rock, One World Observatory, and Empire State Building. When visiting these mind-blowing tall buildings, your teens will surely be in awe. You can easily enjoy the bare eye views or use built-in binocular platforms to get a full 360° coverage.
Ferry Rides For Amazing Views
There’s nothing like a peaceful ferry ride with family through the blue waters of New York. From viewing the famous Statue of Liberty to watching New York’s famous buildings with a panorama of Brooklyn Bridge will surely make you fall in love with the city all over again.
Seeing a Broadway show is a must
If you are looking for an amazing show, full of casts and characters that are stunning, there is no better place than Broadway. From Cats, King Kong, Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, or Matilda, there is a show fitting for you or your teens. If you make the trip to New York City, seeing a Broadway show is a must!
Fun Restaurants to eat in NYC
No tour is complete if you don’t experience the fun restaurants in NYC.
In particular, Di Fara Pizza, Ellen’s Stardust Diner, Indian Kitchen, the Original Soup Man, or Shake Shack will take the lunches and dinners to a whole new level of awesome.
Your kids will especially love New York’s famous Dylan’s Candy Bar for some seriously delicious, fun and unique desserts.
From Chinese, New York Pizza, to Sub-continental cuisines, New York City will not disappoint you in dining.
While a vacation is fun for both parents and teens, keeping them safe in a big city like New York should be a priority. My teens are almost adults now, so we do give them a little freedom of sightseeing on their own with extra precautions. If you are wondering how can I monitor my child’s text messages without them knowing, I installed a monitoring app on their phones which really helps.
What are your favorite things to do in New York City?
Traveling to New York should be fun for your whole family. The lights, the tall buildings, the epic Broadway shows…Narrowing it down isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it!
There are literally hundreds of fun things to do in New York City that you will not run out of places to explore!
If excitement and adventure are what you are looking for on your next family vacation, then don’t delay and start planning your next vacation to New York City. Your teens will love every second of the trip and I am confident everyone will create some amazing memories that will last a lifetime!