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5 Can’t-Miss NYC Attractions With Teens

5 Can’t-Miss NYC Attractions With Teens

A few years ago, I decided it would be a brilliant idea to bring each of my husband’s three young nieces to New York City for a week when they became tweens.

I had visions of nourishing their young souls with the splendors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Philharmonic. Culinary horizons would be expanded at little neighborhood eateries and ethnic holes in the wall.

That worked out about as well as you might expect. In the end we fell back on the razzle-dazzle power of the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum. We caved in to a trip to the American Girl store. We introduced them to the classic New York pizza slice.

Kids are more open-minded when it comes to dessert, so cannoli from Little Italy were a hit.

Here are NYC activities for kids that rated highly on the tween-o-meter, and the attractions that were total flops. 

More Ideas:
• Here are 10 NYC Museums Tweens love.
• Plus, 24 NYC Desserts You Have to Try
• And 10 Suprising Things To Do in Midtown Manhattan With Kids

 5 NYC Attractions Teens & Tweens Love

Coney Island:

A big hit with both tweens, especially the Cyclone roller coaster. Be aware, the amusement parks charge by the ride and it adds up quickly. Consider sticking to Luna Park and buying an unlimited bracelet. 

the rides at coney island

Nathan’s is a must for hot dogs and crinkly fries served with a tiny red pitchfork. The right kid will love the Freak Show just off the boardwalk.

The Met:

Doable in small doses. Be wary of kid-programs with too big of an age range. Niece #1 grew bored listening to 4-year-olds excitedly answer basic questions during a workshop.

Try the sculptures (Greek and Rodin) and period furniture rooms in the American Wing. The Temple of Dendur in the Egyptian wing was a hit with both girls.

The Art Trek tour guides do a good job of engaging older and younger kids. And they will help you make your way through the museum on crowded days.

• Architectural walking tours:

In the West Village with Niece #1 we got as far as Magnolia Bakery, where cupcakes won out over tales about notable townhouses and churches.

cupcakes with pastel, flower-shaped frosting from magnolia bakery.

Relegated to the “what were we thinking” file.

Double-decker bus tour:

Hop-on, hop-off all day long. Perfect for when the kids get pooped. There are two loops, downtown and uptown.

tweens like bus tours, an easy way to see nyc

Neither kid asked to get off at any of the Uptown sites like Grant’s Tomb, Columbia University or any part of Harlem. We stopped quite a bit on the downtown loop.

• Empire State Building: A must-see that thrilled both. Ignore all the hucksters outside. Don’t forget your camera to catch that very rare site: Tweens smiling.

view of the empire state from 30 rock.

Tip: NYC CityPass provides discounts to top attractions including the Met, Natural History and the Empire State Building.[/infobox]

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Elizabeth Wine is a freelance writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered everything from travel and interior design to real estate. Her work has appeared in More, the New York Post, Newsday,  Interior Design, Smart Money and The Wall Street Journal’s