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One of the most common phrases teenagers utter is, “This is boring.” Unfortunately for parents, these complaints don’t disappear simply because the aforementioned adolescents are on vacation — and, in fact, sometimes those announcements are even more frequent when teens are taken out of their natural habitat.
While most adults consider New York City a destination overflowing with interesting things to see and do, teens might not agree that visiting museums and landmarks is the greatest way to spend a day. But there are actually cool things to do in New York that teens will love — and not one is even remotely boring. Follow our handy guide to traveling with teens in the city that never sleeps.
Broadway ShowsMany modern Broadway plays are based on popular movies, so there’s a good chance that at least one will appeal to teenagers. A perfect example is “School of Rock,” currently on stage at Winter Garden Theatre. Based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, this show featuring amazing kids playing awesome rock ’n’ roll will definitely have teens and adults pledging allegiance to the band.
Another great teen-friendly show is “Something Rotten” at St. James Theatre. With the lead character immediately announcing, “God, I hate Shakespeare,” teens will likely relate to the Renaissance playwright who can’t scoop the Bard. But when Shakespeare himself rocks “Sonnet 18” with the swagger of Mick Jagger, he proves why he’s the guy who put “I am” into iambic pentameter. Parents and theater-loving teens will also appreciate the subtle — and often not-so-subtle — nods to famous Broadway shows.
Brooklyn Pizza TourTeenagers and pizza are a match made in heaven, so the Original Brooklyn Pizza Tour from A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours is a guaranteed hit for families with teens. After boarding a bus in Union Square, visitors get to cut the lines at two iconic Brooklyn pizza joints, as well as tour some of the locations of famous movies shot in the borough. According to Marc Sauve, tour guide for A Slice of Brooklyn (and a Brooklynite), “Brooklyn is a party, and there's only one food guaranteed to be welcome at every party: pizza. And no one loves pizza and partying more than teenagers.”
New York CityPassNew York CityPass is a great value for families visiting the city. Not only does it save money and time (pass holders often don’t have to wait on regular lines), but kids’ CityPasses encompass those up to age 17, which, as any parent of a teenager knows, makes this little gem an even bigger bargain. Among the attractions included in the pass are the Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial Museum and two visits to the Empire State Building (one at night and one during the day). Discounts for merchandise are also offered in the booklet.
SNL: The ExhibitionNot far from Top of the Rock on Fifth Avenue is “SNL: The Exhibition.” Celebrating the 40th anniversary of “Saturday Night Live” (SNL), this interactive exhibit takes visitors through a typical week at the live sketch comedy and variety show, from table read to live show. Along the way, guests will encounter iconic costumes, props and sets, as well as see clips of some of the most famous sketches. The final stop is simulated “showtime,” with an amazing multimedia presentation starring Tina Fey. SNL is not only quintessentially New York, but is also something that teens and parents can equally appreciate and enjoy. The exhibition is currently scheduled through the summer.
Top of the RockIn New York, it seems mandatory to go to the top of a very tall building. While lines at the Freedom Tower and Empire State Building can stretch up to several hours long, Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center is a great alternative. Though the building is not quite as tall, the wait is much shorter (or, in the case of our 8:30 a.m. Sunday morning tickets, nonexistent).
There are three decks for various degrees of thrill-seeking: indoors on the 67th floor, outdoors (with glass) on the 69th floor and outdoors (with no glass) on the 70th floor. Unlike the Empire State Building, the highest deck is included in the ticket, and according to my teenagers, the absence of glass is very important — no glass equals potential danger, which apparently considerably ups the cool factor. Timed tickets can be purchased online in advance, and CityPass holders can also use kiosks to bypass the line.
Yankee StadiumFor families with baseball fans, a tour of Yankee Stadium is a must-do in NYC. The tour begins in the Yankee Museum, where World Series rings and trophies are on display alongside personal items, such as one of Babe Ruth’s bats, which he notched every time he hit a home run. From the museum, tours head to Monument Park, where every Yankee player whose number has been retired is honored, as well as others who have impacted the Yankee organization. Last, guests visit the press box for spectacular views of the entire ballpark (and great photo ops).