Today, I am sharing my three day New York City trip with my teenage daughter! Discussing all the things you need to know about when visiting New York City with teens.
New York City Trip with Teen Daughter
We have settled back in after our whirlwind trip to New York City. I am so excited to share our trip with you. We had a great time and it will certainly be a trip we never forget.
When my daughter turned thirteen, we surprised her with a trip to New York City. We had talked about doing an experience trip for our kids’ 13th birthdays, so the trip was not a complete surprise. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, our trip was delayed eighteen months. But the wait was completely worth it!
In fact, I think it was even better to wait until my daughter was over 14 years old. New York City is not for the faint at heart and you have to be prepared to walk a TON! Because it was just the two of us, we moved at a very fast pace. I am not sure that my younger boys could have kept up with all of the walking.
This was a trip of a lifetime and I am going to share some tips with you in case you want to visit New York City with kids and teens!
What to Know Before You Go
It can be overwhelming to plan a trip to New York city with your family. You have to figure out where to stay and how to get there. There is the question of whether it is safe or not. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a trip to New York city with your teenage daughter!
How to Get to NYC
We took a short flight to Newark, New Jersey. We opted to take a taxi ride into the city after our flight. It is not a cheap option and cost almost $100. Depending on where your hotel is located in the city, this price will vary.
There is the option to take the subway into town. We arrived late on Friday night so I did not feel comfortable with that option.
Where to Stay
The hotel options are plentiful in New York City. You want to do your research on where you want to be located in the city. This is really a personal preference. Some areas are safer than others, so you definitely want to get an understanding on your options.
We opted for the Art House Hotel on the Upper West Side. The positives of this hotel was that it was in a seemingly very safe area of the city. We were located in a residential area just a few blocks from Central Park.
There were so many restaurants and cafes near our hotel. It was a really cute area. This is farthest North I would stay when visiting New York City with kids. Our location did involve a lot of walking and taking the subway.
If you are looking to be in the heart of the city, you might opt for a location further south in Midtown or even SoHo or Lower Manhattan. For us, the Upper West Side was perfect as we liked coming back to a quieter, safe area at night. But, for most things, we did have to take the subway or a Taxi to get there.
When looking for a place to stay in New York City, I mapped out how far away each attraction was from our hotel. Plus, I made sure there were good food options near our hotel.
Is New York City Safe to Visit with Kids?
The number one question I have been asked on Instagram about our trip is if we felt safe. The short answer is Yes! We have visited many cities and I have lived in Chicago, so I feel pretty comfortable in big cities.
But, since I was visiting New York City with my teen daughter, I was a little more aware of our surroundings. I certainly wanted to keep my daughter safe. We stayed together at all times and even making sure to be very close together when going to restrooms or in stores.
I will say that I have visited New York City before and this trip, I felt like the city was less crowded. I can recall being in Times Square when it was wall to wall people. Perhaps we came at a less peak time of tourist season or perhaps the city is still making it comeback after the pandemic.
We felt comfortable taking the subway during the day but we did not take trains at night. We always took a taxi back to our hotel at night.
Where to Eat
I knew several people who had recently visited New York City and I asked them where to eat. No one had any big recommendations. The thing with New York City is that there are so many places to eat and so many good restaurants.
So a quick google search on where you are at and what restaurants are nearby is all you need to find one! I used the google reviews to make quick decisions on nearby restaurants.
With the exception of one meal, we did not have any dinner reservations. But, we didn’t eat at any place that was too fancy.
It can take a bit of research to plan your trip to New York City. You want to find out if you need reservations for any of the places you want to visit. Often you can make same day reservations like we did for the Empire State Building. But if you are going during a busier time of year, you will want to book earlier.
As of right now, you will need proof of one dose of vaccination for anyone twelve years old and older to visit restaurants and most indoor attractions. Have your cards with you at all times because you will be showing it a lot.
3 Days in New York City with Teenage Daughter Itinerary
If you and your teen have a love of big cities, are up for adventures and do not mind walking ten plus miles a day, then New York City is for you! New York City is a great place for teens. There is unlimited shopping, any kind of food they could want and so many attractions! There is no way a teen could be bored in New York City. Here is what we did on our three days in New York City trip!
Day 1: 9/11 Museum, Financial District Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown
Technically, we had four days in New York City. But, we arrived late at night on our first day. The next morning, Saturday, we woke up bright and early. Our hotel brought in fresh pastries from Patis Kosher Bakery. The croissants and muffins were amazing! We ended up eating breakfast at our hotel for two out of the three days because the foods was so good!
We had a reservation at the 9/11 Museum for ten a.m.
Since our hotel was on the upper West Side and our day was going to be spent down in the city, I knew we would not be back until later. So we packed up our backpacks and hopped on a subway to the World Trade Center. We used the City Mapper App and Google maps to navigate our entire trip.
City Mapper was VERY helpful for navigating the subway. It told you exactly what subway to take. I found that Google Maps was more helpful (and reliable) for getting around the city by foot. If you have Apple Pay set up on your phone or watch is it so easy to pay for the subway. You just tap your phone and walk right through the gate! This was so convenient!
This museum is a MUST do with your teen. I wasn’t sure if my daughter would get as much out of it as I did but she was really moved by the museum. A big tip about visiting the 9/11 Museum is to go EARLY and get your tickets in advance. We were the first group to go in so the museum was not too crowded and we did not have to wait long in line. I could see how the line could get very long later in the day.
We took out trip going through the museum. It was a really quiet and solemn experience. No one was really talking and I did not see anyone on their phones.
After we went to the museum, we walked about the memorial. Overall, we spent about two hours in the museum and memorial. You could certainly spend even more time here!
Wall Street and Brooklyn Bridge
Next, we had a loose plan to cover more areas in lower Manhattan. So we grabbed a pretzel from a street vendor at Wall Street. The best way to keep a teenager happy in New York City is to constantly feed them!
After a brief walk through of Wall Street (since it was Saturday it wasn’t very exciting) we walked over to the Brooklyn Bridge. We didn’t necessarily plan to walk the entire bridge, but once we got started, we didn’t want to stop.
This was an awesome experience and we took a lot of pictures!
While we could have stayed longer in Brooklyn and explored more of the neighborhood, we wanted to get back over the bridge. We opted to take the subway instead of walking the mile plus back.
Next, we headed to Chinatown. Of all the areas we visited in New York City, Chinatown was the most crowded. It was a little overwhelming at times, but I am still glad we visited the area. We popped into a couple shops and picked up some treats for the rest of the family.
We found candy and Doritos and Lays Chips in Chinese packaging. My daughter knew her brothers would love these gifts!
Since we were still stuffed from lunch, we opted out of eating anything in Chinatown. But, there are so many options, it would have been fun to eat there!
Upper West Side Dinner
By this point in the day, we were officially tired! I think we had walked over 20, 000 steps and it wasn’t even dinner! We took the train back to our hotel to take a little break. We were so tired that we ventured in our neighborhood for dinner.
Our dinner was at Playa Betty which was just a few blocks from our hotel. We came home and crashed in bed!
Day 2: Bagels, Central Park, 5th Avenue, Broadway, Times Square, Broadway and Empire State Building
Just writing out all the things we did on day two of our New York City trip sounds exhausting! Today, we took our time getting up and moving because we knew we had a long day ahead. We started off with bagels from Bagels and Co and then came back to our hotel to get ready.
That morning, we decided we wanted to see New York City from high above so we booked tickets to see the Empire State Building at night! Our tickets were not until 8:30 at night, so we knew we had a long day ahead again!
After breakfast and once we were ready, we headed just a few blocks to Central Park. We were pleasantly surprised by a Farmer’s Market on our walk and we stopped at a few vendors to grab some cookies for later in the day!
We took our time walking through Central Park and ended out of the Park near Park Avenue.
In the park, we checked out the street vendors and found these adorable matching bracelets (2 for $10) made of wood from trees in Central Park.
One of my daughter’s favorite parts of New York City was Central Park. We came back to the park later on the trip (more on that later).
Once out of the park, we worked our way through 5th Avenue and Rockefeller Plaza. We grabbed a few more treats for the boys at the Nintendo store.
Since it was a Sunday, there was not much to see at the Today Show studios. It would certainly have been fun to visit this area on a weekday morning!
We also window shopped along 5th avenue’s designer stores. My daughter had us stop in a few of her favorite stores like Lululemon and Nike. Hopefully your teen has a bit of spending money of their own in New York City if she likes to shop!
Of course you have to stop in one of the I Love NYC gift shops and get a kitschy New York City souvenir!
Next, it was on to Times Square. Certainly an eye opening experience. There was a lot going on here and so many people. It was not a place we wanted to spend too much time in but you have to take some photos to prove you went there! We stopped into a couple of shops including Hershey’s World and the M & M store. But, again, everything was so busy in Times Square, we did not linger!
We grabbed smoothie bowls a few blocks away from Times Square. This was the only meal in New York City we did not like!
Waitress on Broadway
After lunch, it was time to head to the Sunday matinee of the Waitress. The show was amazing. We did not want it to end! We were lucky enough to see Sara Bareilles as Jenna.
The show was probably our favorite part of the trip. We were a little bummed because they did not pass out pies after the show as it has been in the past. Yet, we could smell actual pie baking during the show. I think now you can purchase pie to take with you after the show. That was a little bit of torture. Ha!
After the show, we had to hurry to our dinner reservations. We opted to take a taxi because it would have been a half hour walk. I have seen so much about this iconic restaurant that originated the Frozen Hot Chocolate.
Funny enough, we opted for a big sundae instead of the Frozen Hot Chocolate. While the food was so good at Serendipity, I am not sure I’d opt for it again. The restaurants is VERY small and you are crammed all in together. You felt like you were eating dinner with the tables next to you.
Plus, the food portions were so big and the prices were high. If we go again, we would definitely share a dinner. Or maybe we would just come for dessert.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Empire State Building
Once we were done eating, it was time to head to our Empire State Building reservation. We opted to walk the almost two miles from the restaurant to the Empire State Building. Okay, maybe I didn’t tell my daughter exactly how far the walk would be. But, I wanted to walk off that huge dinner!
The walk was well worth it. We came across St. Patrick’s Cathedral We were able to walk right in and take a look around. It was absolutely stunning at night and my daughter said she was really happy we got to go inside.
Another highlight of our New York City trip was going to the top of the Empire State Building at night. The Empire State Building is so iconic and it is truly a New York institution. It is so amazing you can view New York City on an open air terrace 86 stories from the ground!
We even witnessed a guy proposing to his girlfriend. I bet that happens here every night!
The views were spectacular and I would highly recommend visiting the Empire State Building at night.
After our visit at the Empire State Building, we were done for the day. We took a taxi back to our hotel.
Day 3: High Line, Chelsea and Central Park
The last day of our New York City trip was just as busy as the first two days. Our flight was not util 9 pm at night, so we got a full day in New York City.
We started with breakfast at our hotel again. Then, we packed up our stuff so we could check out of the hotel. They were able to keep our baggage all day for us until we were ready to go to the airport.
High Line and Chelsea Market
One of my favorite things from my last trip to New York City was the High Line. So, I wanted to take my daughter to this area. We started at the North end of the High Line and we got see the Vessel in the Hudson Yards. This is a very cool structure that is unfortunately closed to visitors.
We enjoyed the serene walk along the High Line as it was not busy on a Monday morning. Currently, on the weekends, you need to make reservations to walk the High Line. There are several places you can stop and take a break along the High Line. We were happy to rest our feet and enjoy the scenery.
Then, at the end of the High Line, we were at the Chelsea Market. This area is filled with amazing food options and many upscale stores. We grabbed lunch at one of the many vendors in the Chelsea Market.
After exploring the market, we wanted to start to make our way back to our hotel. We still had several hours but we wanted to do some shopping in Midtown. So, we walked from the Chelsea Market to the 5th Avenue area. We even walked through the Diamond District. It was an unintentional walk through but it was certainly memorable. This is one area you do want to be aware of your surroundings as it is very busy and a little overwhelming. There are a lot of solicitors and mostly men trying to get you to visit their jewelry stores.
Biking in Central Park
After some shopping, we decided to explore central park by bike. We rented two bikes (there are a lot of rental companies near Central Park). One thing to know is that there are a lot of serious bikers coming through Central Park, so you really have to pay attention and stay out of their way! We were tired but we learned quickly that we had to pay attention. Since we our legs were so tired from walking, it was even harder to bike. We stopped in an open green space and just relaxed. My daughter was happy for the downtime and we enjoyed all of the people watching.
We were there right around the time that kids were getting out of school, so we really enjoyed seeing all the different groups of kids! We talked to each other about what it would be like to grow up in New York City!
Our final stop in Central Park was the Belvedere Castle. We had to walk our bikes up narrow walkways but it was worth the effort! The views of Central Park were so pretty and this mini castle was really neat to see.
After we dropped off our bikes, there was time for one more stop!
So we walked to Levain Bakery which was right by our hotel. These legendary cookies are out of this world! We got one chocolate chip cookie and one chocolate with peanut butter chips cookies and split them between us both. They were so good that we went back into the store and bought a few more to bring home!
Funny story, my daughter’s bag was stopped through the security check at the airport and it was the cookies that caused the issue! Thank goodness we still got to bring them home.
We would definitely come back to Levain Bakery the next time we visit New York City!
After the cookies, it was time to go back to the hotel, grab our bags and take a taxi the airport.
More NYC attractions to do with Teens
We certainly covered a lot of ground on our New York City trip and we loved every place we visited. On the way home, we talked about a few things we would do next time.
Other Cool Places to Go:
- Boat Tour to Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty When we planned our original trip, visiting the Statue of Liberty was on the itinerary. But this time, I didn’t want to schedule too much so that we had some flexibility. So, we just saw Lady Liberty from far away.
- Shop in So Ho and Greenwich Village We covered a lot of neighborhoods but we did not make it to SoHo and Greenwich Village. There are eclectic and unique shops in these neighborhoods.
- Take a Food Tour What teen does not love to eat? We certainly did our own food tour in NYC but we would have loved to go on one of these official Food Tours.
- Go on a Haunted Walking Tour Since we visited in the Fall, a ghost tour would have been a lot of fun. This is on my daughter’s list for her next visit to NYC.
- Visit a Museum There are over 100 museums in New York City! There is a museum for everyone. Our hotel was near the Museum of Natural History. Next time, we would like to visit the MET.
- Afternoon Tea at the Plaza This would be a splurge, although everything is expensive in New York City! But, it would be fun to dress up for an afternoon tea at The Plaza Hotel.
- Double Decker Bus Tour We had planned to get tickets for a bus tour. These buses allow you to hop on and hop off at various attractions. You can cover a lot of ground on a bus tour. Next time, if we wanted a break from walking, we will do a bus tour!
- NBC Studio and Top of the Rock If you are visiting during the week, you could catch the Today Show filming in Rockefeller Plaza. Or you could get a good view of the City on the Top of the Rock.
- Check out Clothing Thrift Stores We stopped at one high end thrift store while in Chelsea but we wished we would have checked out more! You might be lucky to snag some designer goods at a discount.
There are so many things to do in New York City with teens. It is honestly hard to narrow down what you can fit in during a three day trip!
Final Thoughts on Visiting New York City with Teens
New York City is a great place to take teenagers. It is a really eye opening experience and teens get to experience culture and diversity like no other place.
My best advice about planning a New York City trip with teens or kids is to set realistic expectations. Teens can get hungry and tired all the time. I tried to go with the flow of my teenage daughter. When she had enough sightseeing, we took a break. When she was hungry, we stopped to eat. Nobody wants to deal with a cranky teenager!
You want to go to NYC with a game plan. Schedule some things in advance so that you have some set things to do. But, also leave time for some spontaneous activities! Each day we had 1-2 activities planned and then we filled in the rest of the day with things we decided to do once we were there.
Lastly, bring comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Bring lots of layers because you can go from hot to cold and back to warm in the matter of minutes. I was glad my daughter packed well and was prepared for the different temperatures.
Traveling with teens can be daunting. You are looking for ways to keep them entertained, off their phones and happy to be with you! New York City is a place that you can have a lot of fun with your teen!
Have you visited New York City with your kids?