Planning vacations with activities that interest adolescents can be difficult, but there are plenty of things to do that will be fun for them and for the whole family.
If you’re looking for things to do in NYC with teens, check out our list of the top attractions and activities, including…
- Empire State Building Observatory
- Madame Tussauds New York
- NYC Movie & TV Tours
- BEAST Speedboat Thrill Ride
- Luna Park at Coney Island
- Yankee Stadium: Classic Tour
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square
- and more…
Save on Admission to Attractions Teens Will Love
Many of these teen-friendly New York attractions are available on the New York City Explorer Pass®.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 50% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.Note: the below ads are not affiliated with SmartDestinations.com
See the City From Above
Guests of all ages love visiting the Empire State Building, one of the nation’s most famous landmarks. As long as your teen is not afraid of heights, you can travel right up towards the top of the building and see New York City like never before.
The building is open to visitors from 8am to 2am daily, so you should plan to go as it opens or as it closes to avoid crowds and lines.
For another great aerial view of the city (one with arguably clearer views), check out the Top of the Rock Observation Deck. This beautiful art deco skyscraper is a must for anyone looking for that perfect Instagram of the city below.
Want more info? Compare Top of the Rock vs Empire State Building.
Hang with Your Favorite Celebrities at Madame Tussauds
Located right in Times Square, Madame Tussauds New York is a huge hit with teenagers.
With over 200 life-like wax figures of their favorite celebrities, movie stars, TV and movie characters, pop cultural icons, athletes, and more.
You should also plan to spend some time at Madame Tussauds’ immersive exhibits, such as Kong: Skull Island - where you’ll travel deep into the island’s tropical environment and be challenged to find artifacts from Kong: Skull Island the film alongside the 18-foot multi-sensory animatronic Kong and a wax figure of Captain James Conrad.
Getting In: Madame Tussauds New York tickets are available on the New York City Explorer Pass.
See Where Their Favorite TV Show Was Filmed
Teenagers will also love seeing film locations for their favorite movies and television shows.
On Location Tours, the city’s only official movie/television location tour, offer these exciting showings to thousands of people every week.
One of our favorites is the wide-ranging NYC TV and Movie Sites bus tour. Other speciality tours include focuses on “Gossip Girl,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Sopranos.”
Speaking of TV, a trip to the legendary “30 Rock” (30 Rockefeller Center, home of NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall) is another great idea for traveling with teens.
Though the 67th and 69th floors have outdoor terraces, the 70th floor of the building has an open air 360-degree view. There are GPS-activated audio/visual guides to tell you the names of the places you see. 30 Rock also has many shops and restaurants for before or after your visit.
Getting In: New York TV & Movie Sites Tour tickets are available on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Get Out on the Water
There are so many cruise options around NYC that it’s practically impossible to choose just one.
Whether you’re interested in a serene cruise that highlights the local landmarks, a ferry that brings you out to the Statue of Liberty herself, or a BEAST Speedboat Thrill Ride that’s sure to rock your world, there’s a perfect cruise out there for you.
Getting In: BEAST Speedboat Ride tickets are available on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Visit Coney Island
A visit to historic Coney Island is a must for any traveler to NYC, regardless of age. Head to Luna Park on Coney Island for a delightful afternoon of classic rides and thrilling experiences.
While younger kids will probably get the most out of the traditional rides like the animal carousel, teens will appreciate the old-school vibe and will certainly love the boardwalk feel. Don’t forget the cotton candy and boardwalk hot dogs!
Getting In: Luna Park at Coney Island tickets are available on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Enjoy Engaging Tours
Popular tours that will be fun for teenagers include an in-depth look at the iconic Madison Square Garden, home to innumerable concerts and sporting events. This all-access tour is a great way to go behind the scenes.
For more generalized tours, bus options can be really fun. One of the most unique tours in all of New York City is THE RIDE – the only tour that’s part tour, part comedy theater. Cruise the city in a fully-equipped bus and enjoy performances by your amazing tour guides, who will entertain and inform you with everything from comedy routines to trivia to karaoke.
Any sports fan should consider a visit to and tour of Yankee Stadium. Gain a new appreciation for the New York Yankee franchise and baseball history on a guided tour of legendary Yankee Stadium.
Getting In: The below options are available on the New York City Explorer Pass…
Check Out the Weird Stuff at Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
Ripley’s Times Square is a must-visit destination for teens who love all things weird and wonderful.
From quirky exhibits of real-life artifacts and natural wonders to the really cool “Little Apple” exhibit which showcases NYC in miniature, there’s plenty of neat stuff to go around at Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
For the really active kids, there’s also the Impossible LaseRace – a great opportunity to challenge siblings and friends to see who can make it through the most successfully!
Getting In: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! NYC admission is available on the New York City Explorer Pass.
Wander Central Park
Central Park is the heart of NYC. This urban paradise is acres upon acres of ponds, trails, picnic spots, baseball diamonds, statues, forests — they’ve got it all (there’s even a zoo!).
For a fun, stress-free way for your teens to enjoy their Central Park meanderings, scope out a bike rental.
It allows them to cover more ground and burn off some of that extra energy. The whole family can even take a guided bike tour to see the major sites of the park and then some.
Explore Fun Museums
Museums aren’t typically places for teens to hang out, but New York City has world class museums that almost everyone can love, including…
- Museum of Modern Art
- American Museum of Natural History
- Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum
- and many more…
The Museum of Modern Art, or MoMa, features works by Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol. Even the most reluctant teens will be impressed by the works on display there.
The American Museum of Natural History includes a Planetarium, amazing dinosaur skeletons and fascinating exhibits on the human brain, space and more. You can catch an IMAX movie, see a space show and shop at the Museum store. On your way out, take a stroll through neighboring Central Park to enjoy the city scenery.
Scientifically-inclined teens will also love a visit to the USS Intrepid, an iconic aircraft carrier that is now a museum. It’s a great place to explore your interest in all things aviation, and military history as well. Be sure to also pay a visit to the Space Shuttle Pavilion for a truly exciting experience.
Getting In: A bunch of museums are available on the Explorer Pass. Check out our post that covers a bunch more of the top museums in new york.
Roam Times Square
For teens who love pop culture, make sure you take a trip to the famous Times Square.
The area is filled with shops, restaurants and incredible glowing signs. Your teenager will certainly love seeing MTV Studios, the location of the New Years Eve ball drop and the New York Hard Rock Café!
Check out our post on things to do in Times Square for more fun ideas in the area.
Spend a few hours in Times Square- grab a bite to eat at Planet Hollywood, shop in the massive Forever 21 and (if you’re lucky) snag a photo with the Naked Cowboy.
Remember to Save on Admission
There you have it. Our list of some of the top things to do in NYC with teens during your upcoming trip.
Remember, many of these great activities are available on the New York City Explorer Pass, where you can save up to 50% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Consider adding a few of these teen friendly options to your vacation itinerary. Enjoy!