Parents know that teenagers can be tough to please, but NYC offers plenty of experiences they won’t find in their hometowns or on their phones. These attractions give young visitors a chance to explore interests in the arts, fashion and sports; have some good ol’ family fun; and maybe even put their skateboarding skills to use. Teens might even admit to having a good time at the museums, shops and landmarks in our guide below.
The color-coded racks of this secondhand boutique—which has three locations in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan—are ripe for fashion discovery. With a little luck and a good eye, teens can unearth name-brand and designer duds that fit virtually any style and budget: from barely worn Gap jeans to vintage DVF boots.
Bronx Zoo Treetop Adventure
With the new Bronx Zoo zip line, visiting the zoo is much more than a walk in the park. Kids over 7 years old (who meet height and weight requirements) can soar 50 feet in the air for a 400-foot-long ride through scenic foliage and over the Bronx River.
This hip bowling alley doubles as a 21+ concert venue most evenings, but reserves Saturday and Sunday afternoons for all-ages frames. Strike up some friendly competition with the fam, fueled by a crowd-pleasing menu of snacks by Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken.
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park is a favorite for photo ops thanks to its captivating views of the Manhattan Bridge and Lower Manhattan skyline. After capturing the perfect ’gram, check out the park’s roller-skating rink, food vendors and public art installations.
This Gowanus spot is a haven for skaters, offering a robust selection of gear for skateboarding and snowboarding. Skaters of all skill levels can also take lessons with friendly staff at the on-site skateboard academy. Need equipment? They’ll rent you some.
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Budding fashionistas can delve into the history of clothing designers, textiles and trends throughout the exhibits at FIT’s galleries. As a bonus, admission to the exhibits is free, as it (almost always) is for the museum’s book talks, film screenings and other fashion-focused events.
Museum of Food and Drink
For teen travelers who tend to only get excited around mealtime, this Brooklyn museum is a must-see. The museum centers around a single, seasonal exhibit. Currently on view is Chow: Making the Chinese American Restaurant, which includes a timeline of Chinese restaurant menus, a fortune cookie machine and, of course, food to sample at a chef-run tasting station.
A dark theater may be well-suited for teenage brooding, but the moviegoing experience at Nitehawk is nothing to mope about. Relax in a spacious seat while waiters take your food and drink orders, delivering selections directly to you during a screening.
Nuyorican Poets Café
This storied East Village café is a landmark for self-expression that welcomes artists and audience members of all ages. Teens can pop in to shows (with affordably priced tickets) throughout the week to watch locals do their thing—or, if they’re bold enough, take to the stage themselves and perform poetry, jazz, rap or hip-hop during open mic nights.
One World Observatory
Snapchat opportunities abound from the top floors of the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Besides OWO’s 360-degree, photogenic appeal, there’s also the draw of the thrilling 47-second elevator ride, virtual tours of NYC landmarks and a restaurant 1,250 feet up in the air.
TV Show Tapings
Though some made-in-NYC shows require audience members to be over 18, many allow those 16 and up to get in on the action. These include The Rachael Ray Show, Late Night with Seth Meyers and Saturday Night Live. The early morning, sign-wielding audience of Today includes all ages—and the chance to wave to family and friends back home. For more policies and ticket information, check out our full guide to attending TV show tapings in NYC.
Watching a comedy show at this celebrated theater (there’s a smaller location in the East Village) often means seeing recognizable funny people from popular movies and TV shows—or, at the very least, seeing the next wave of up-and-comers crack you up. Performances, including sketch, improv and variety shows, admit all ages—but kids 16 and under must attend with an adult.
Take teens out to the ball game, where they can cheer New York City’s own 27-time World Series champions (as their fans will surely remind you, that’s more than any other team has won). In soccer season, they can see the Bronx’s Major League Soccer team, NYCFC. Even the sports-averse will find something to cheer about with the stadium’s hard-hitting food vendors. On days when there are no games, stadium tours usually take place.