What teenagers really want to do in New York

Check out these tried-and-tested successes for entertaining teens in the Big Apple.

By Ellen Himelfarb
Published 6 Feb 2022, 06:00 GMT, Updated 7 Feb 2022, 10:30 GMT
Baseball at Yankee Stadium.

Baseball at Yankee Stadium.

Photograph by Alamy

Sure enough, New York has plenty of reliable ways to keep the kids entertained, but what do the children really want to do? With two teens to amuse, we (mum and dad) hunted down the must-do family experiences that wouldn’t break the bank — with some surprise hits. Case in point: we all preferred the slick new Edge Observation Deck at Hudson Yards to the classic Empire State Building experience. For one, tickets are cheaper (from $31 [£23] per person, compared to $36 [£27]) and kids love the glass floor 100 storeys above ground. Plus, the 360-degree views are superlative and feature the Empire State Building itself. Book in half an hour before sunset to catch the changing light across the city. 

Edge observation deck at Hudson Yards.

Photograph by Getty Images

New York Ferries are just as scenic as the expensive cruises around Liberty Island, yet they cost the same as the subway ($2.75 [£2]), and passengers under 1.1m go free. We hopped on one at the East 34th Street pier and got off in Dumbo. Zigzagging boardwalks link together beaches, bandstands and antique Jane's Carousel, with cinematic Manhattan views. After a whirl on the wooden horses, we sat outside the Time Out Market with tacos and watched locals sashay past with their designer dogs.

Jane’s Carousel, overlooking Brooklyn Bridge.

Photograph by Julian Mackler

The Central Park Conservancy runs 90-minute family tours around the area they call Turtle Pond from $5 (£3.75) per family (two adults, up to four children), where staff share their knowledge of all things reptilian, including the resident red-eared terrapins. When the girls got weary, we settled down on a bench in Strawberry Fields to watch buskers play The Beatles’ songs.

We also strolled the High Line to Little Island, the floating pleasure park at Pier 54 that opened in 2021. The response? Meh. But we then hit the vintage stores of CHELSEA and design market Artists and Fleas, and an hour flew by as we sifted through costume jewellery, novelty tees, sports memorabilia and licence plates, rounded off with huge slices at Stella's Pizza

Of all the sporting events in the US, one of the most hallowed is baseball at Yankee Stadium, with tickets from $10 (£7.50). Don’t know the rules? No matter: a Yankees game is as much about the vibe as the sport. Feel the buzz of the fans, tuck into some hotdogs and watch the sun sink behind the bleachers. 

How to do it
British Airways flies from Heathrow to New York’s JFK Airport. 
Quad rooms at the Washington Square Hotel start at $205 (£153), room only. 
Rooms at the M Social Hotel Times Square New York start at $112 (£84), room only. 

Published in the March 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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