Fun Things to Do in NYC for Teenagers

By Maria Magher
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Even apathetic teenagers can get excited about the city that never sleeps. Simply walking the streets of New York City and visiting iconic landmarks such as Times Square or Chinatown can be exciting for teenagers. The Big Apple offers many activities to suit all tastes, so you can find something to do whether your teenager is interested in the arts, prefers to get out and be active, is a gourmet foodie or has other interests.

Sports and Outdoor Recreation

Teens who like to be active or spend time outside will find plenty to do in New York City. The Trapeze School New York at 353 West Street offers classes on aerial dance and trapeze skills. Single classes are available for visitors, and the school has an open-air setup along the Hudson River in the summer. The Sports Center at Chelsea Piers at the intersection of 20th Street and Hudson River Park offers everything from rock wall climbing to indoor basketball to ice skating. You don't have to be a member to gain access to the 150,000-square-foot club; you can pay for access to specific classes and activities. Of course, Central Park offers plenty of outdoor activities, such as walking or running one its many trails, renting a paddle boat, riding a horse or renting a bike.

Arts and History

New York City has dozens of museums catering to all types of interests. If your teen isn't much for classic art, head to the Guggenheim Museum or the Whitney Museum of Modern Art. Both have experimental modern art, and the Guggenheim is an architectural marvel unto itself. The High 5 Program from Arts Connection sells tickets to theater showings, art exhibits, dance performances and film screening for just $5 to students. New York City has many historical museums and sites, as well. Teenagers may be most interested in visiting the National September 11 Memorial and Museum on the location of the former World Trade Center. Many teens know people affected by the September 11 attacks and would have grown up hearing about them, and they would be interested in learning more about the events of that day.

Shows and Entertainment

Dozens of shows are taped in New York, and you can sit in on many of them. Teenagers might enjoy attending popular shows, such as "Saturday Night Live" or "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." Just check the age requirements beforehand and be prepared to wait a long time in line. Sign up for On Location Tours to see the places where popular television shows and movies were shot, such as "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City." Head over to the Empire State Building Observatory or the Top of the Rock Observatory to see beautiful views of the city. If you go to Top of the Rock, you can also visit Rockefeller Plaza and take part in an NBC studio tour or go ice skating in the winter.

Food and Tours

New York City is known for its food. Some teenagers might get a thrill out of getting a hot dog from a street cart or a bagel from any deli. Sign up for Scott's Pizza Tours to get a slice of NY pizza from the city's first pizza shop, Lombardi's, and a few other notable pizza shops. Teenagers might also enjoy eating at the famous Carnegie Deli, which features enormous portions of salads, sandwiches and treats such as NY-style cheesecake and milkshakes. Teens with more sophisticated palates might enjoy exploring the city's wide variety of ethnic restaurants, including Austrian, Persian and South African, among many others.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.