10 Things to Do in NYC with Tweens


Know someone who still needs supervision but is itching to have fun? Sounds like you have a tween on your hands. Fortunately, New York City is well-equipped to entertain and inspire your preteen kids—and score you some great family memories in the process. Here are 10 ideas (fine, 14, we couldn’t resist a few bonuses) to get you started.

1. Get your programs signed after a Broadway show

Manhattan's Broadway has lots of family-friendly musicals to see. After the show, hang out by the exit and make your program into a real keepsake with the stars’ autographs (tip: BYO Sharpie).

Photo: Julienne Schaer

2. Catch a few thrills on the rides at Coney Island

Do your kids like to live on the edge (and are they tall enough)? Get ’em in line for the Thunderbolt or Cyclone roller coasters—and make sure you’ve got the stomach to join them. Slightly tamer excitement can be had on the log flume ride or the 150-foot-tall Wonder Wheel.

Photo: Daniel Krieger

3. Eat some NYC pizza at an old-school pizza parlor

Or it can be somewhere new, whatever—just make sure you find an appropriate place for a cheesy slice, a charred coal-oven pie or a Neapolitan-style pizza. Paulie Gee’s, Totonno’s, Joe’s—the list goes on.

4. Skate the ramp at Homage

The centerpiece of this skate shop is an area for classes and all-ages open-skating sessions; don’t forget to look at the designer decks if you’re in need of a special gift for your young skater.

Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

5. Inspect a guided missile submarine on the USS Intrepid

Climb aboard a decommissioned aircraft carrier to see warplanes, the inner workings of a ship, a test space shuttle and the USS Growler—a cramped sub where sailors spent months at a time at sea.

Photo: Christopher Postlewaite

6. Take to the air by the Bronx River

Best known for its habitats for western lowland gorillas, leaping lemurs and Himalayan snow leopards, the Bronx Zoo has a feature that can put you up in the trees like some of its denizens: its aerial adventure center, which has a zipline and a ropes course. Kids as young as 7 can take part.

7. Come eye to eye with predators at the shark tank

The New York Aquarium’s Ocean Wonders: Sharksis its latest permanent exhibit, gathering nearly 20 species of the sharp-toothed fish by the Coney Island boardwalk (and yes, these animals can all be found in the deep waters off of New York’s shores).


Photo: Brittany Petronella

8. Hit the heights at one of Manhattan’s sky-high observatories

It’s always a kick to see the City from above. The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock and One World Observatory make folks of all sizes feel like the kings and queens of the world.

Photo: Tagger Yancey IV

9. Sketch pictures of wildflowers at the High Line

This westside elevated park has all kinds of uses: picnic spot, Instagram haven, observation deck for Chelsea architecture…but it’s also a great place to admire nature and put your kids’ observation and art skills into effect.

Photo: Marley White

10. Cut a short film at Museum of the Moving Image

This cinematic museum offers lots of ways for aspiring directors to get creative: doing a bit of animation, trying their hand at sound editing . . . just make sure that the half dozen vintage video games at the end of the exhibit serve as a reward rather than the main attraction. Come to think of it, how long has it been since you’ve played Donkey Kong?

Photo: Scott Frances

Bonus idea: Learn the finer arts of undercover work at Spyscape

Kids can test their detection and code-breaking skills here—which, along with the miniature world of Gulliver’s Gate and the 3-D wizardry of National Geographic Encounter, has brought a new level of techno-immersive attraction to Times Square.

Bonus idea, part two: Commune with nature in Snug Harbor

The arcing Allee, the Chinese Scholar’s Gardens rush of waterfalls and calm koi pond, and a maze of greenery are among the sights and sounds that make this Staten Island shoreside attraction stir all the senses.

Bonus idea, revisited: Play a round of scientific mini golf at Rocket Park

At the New York Hall of Science’s nine-hole course, keep in mind the kids will be learning about law-of-motion principles—gravity, propulsion—while trying their best to best your scores. As for the “rocket” part, two 100-foot spacecraft, once under NASA’s charge and then donated for World’s Fair display, loom above the field of play.

Another bonus idea: Eat your way along Arthur Avenue

You can watch homemade pasta get cut at Borgatti's, sample fresh ricotta and mozzarella at Calandra's, see cannoli filled to order at Madonia and chow down on giant, cured-meat-and-cheese-filled sandwiches at Mike's. Best to plan on some down time—or a very long, slow walk—after visiting the Bronx’s Little Italy.

More fun for all ages

NYC Activities with Teens

NYC Activities with Young Kids