Tuesday, April 15, 2014


#13inNYC: New York City with a Teen

We just returned from a long weekend in New York with Grandma, my 13-year old Daughter and myself.  Here is what we did in New York City with a Teenager:

My kids have seen a lot of great places in their young lives, but for their 13th birthday, I have promised them, I would take them on a special trip to any place in the continental United States they would like to go.  My daughter was the first to receive this birthday gift and she choose New York City. My mom had taken me several times, so I thought it would be a fun trip to take Grandma along with us too.

An avid lover of theater and history, this came as no surprise.  I love NYC and have been several times for both business and pleasure. So I immediately started planning all the great things I wanted to take her to see and do.  I asked for advice from family and friends, and I searched online for things you must see & do with a 13 year old in NYC. 

I had a great big list – one that could easily take a week to do – but with a lot of stamina from Grandma, my daughter, and me, we seemed to accomplish a lot. 

I wanted to get ALL  3 of our perspectives of all that we accomplished, so we will rate everything on a scale of 1-5 (1 being SKIP IT and 5 being totally amazing, you MUST do it!). 

Here is what we did in 3 days for those planning to bring a teen into the city:

Thursday Evening

Dinner at Ellen’s Stardust Diner – a fun diner with home-style favorites where the wait staff take turns singing and entertaining you.  The wait can be long and the food is touristy but the experience makes up for that.
Teen Rating: 4 Mom Rating: 3 Grandma Rating: 5

Broadway Show: Mamma Mia – This was a fantastic first show for a teen to see – Broadway actually has quite a few family-friendly shows.  I found that buying tickets online in advance of going, and choosing to go on a weeknight, saved us a ton.  We used this website for discount Broadway tickets.
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 5

Times Square Shopping: After the show, we browsed through the Hershey’s Store, M&M Store, Disney, Toys R Us and more – they seem to stay open all night – anyone need a giant Hershey’s Bar?
Teen Rating: 4 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 2


NY SkyRide: Based in the Empire State Building, this motion-ride simulating a ride over New York is a cheesy (and expensive) way to see the city. Skip this and just go out and see the real thing!
Teen Rating: 2 Mom Rating: 1 Grandma Rating: 2

Cloudy view from the 86th floor
Empire State Building: Seeing the city from the 86th floor of this very nostalgic building is pretty amazing. It does take some time, as there are many different lines you have to wait in to go up (Security, tickets, audio tour, picture, elevator #1, etc.).  Is it worth seeing that view? – yes, especially on a clear spring day like we had.
Teen Rating: 4 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 4

Subway Ride: Unless you want to take a taxi everywhere you go, you need to learn to ride the subway.  Yes, it is confusing, but there is a sense of power when you get it all down and get to where you want to go.  Plus, for 3 gals from Texas, it’s a fun way to travel. But warning – it is dirty.
Teen Rating: 3 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 1

No Gum-Gum for Dum-Dum at the American Museum of Natural History
American Museum of Natural History: This is a glorious example of how museums should be – grand entrances, big exhibits, and tons of halls to get lost in.  Truth be told, my girl wanted to visit to see the “museum from the movie” (Night at the Museum). It was an incredible museum, but too much if you only have 3 days to see the city.
Teen Rating: 3 Mom Rating: 3 Grandma Rating: 4

Pedicab Ride through Central Park: We stumbled upon this actually and had to be sold – ok he offered us a discount – but we really enjoyed seeing a bit of the famed park this way.  Our driver was both entertaining and knowledgeable and showed us important spots in the park. We were able to see Strawberry Fields - which was the one thing my teen wanted to see (she's a Beatles fan y'all!).  You can also take a horse-drawn carriage or rent a bike.
Teen Rating: 4 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 4

Did you know Monet's Water Lilies was so large?
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): One of the most breathtaking collections of modern art in the world, you can see van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” and Monet’s “Water Lilies” among other famous pieces. My daughter even started telling me stuff about the pieces that she had learned in art classes.  I would love to have hours to wander this entire museum. If there is one museum to see while you are here, this is it.
Teen Rating: 5  Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 5

White Roses are placed on birthdays.
9/11 Memorial: Standing at Ground Zero is a gorgeous tribute to those who perished in the 9/11 attacks.  It is amazing how quiet this area in the center of the city becomes, it brings such a sense of calm to you. It was important to me to bring my daughter here, as she was born the year this happened and I was in New York that fateful day. She sought out a docent and spent a good half-hour asking very insightful questions and we ended up learning so much more about the memorial.  In May 2014, they are opening the 9/11 Museum on site as well.
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 5

Dinner in Little Italy: One of my favorite places to eat is on Mulberry Street in Little Italy.  I don’t have a favorite restaurant, we just peruse the menus and find one that sounds good.  We have never been disappointed and our meal this evening was spectacular.
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 5


Lady Liberty poses with 2 gals from Texas
City Sightseeing Cruise: This 90 minute cruise around the tip of New York was a unique way to see & learn about the city.  Narrated nearly the entire cruise, we learned some pretty cool facts and we saw the Statue of Liberty up close – she is stunning to see in person and this is a fun way to see her.
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 5

View of Central Park from Top of the Rock
Top of the Rock: We had so many friends that said we must see the view of the city from the Top of the Rock, so we decided to try a different perspective. It was basically the same as the Empire State Building in my opinion, except you have a closer view of Central Park and you don’t have to wait in as many lines to go up. If we could only choose one – I would pick the Empire State Building.
Teen Rating: 4 Mom Rating: 2 Grandma Rating: 3

Writing some inspiration for 2015
Times Square Visitor’s Center: This tiny museum is home to the ball that drops on New Years Eve and Broadway pieces.  Our favorite thing was being able to write hopes & wishes on pieces of confetti that will rain down on New Years Eve 2014.  The museum is free and takes less than 15 minutes.
Teen Rating: 3 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 3

Discovery Museum: In the same area is a cool museum with traveling exhibits – on this trip, they had Body Worlds and The Art of the Brick. My daughter choose to see Bodies and it was a fascinating exhibit that showed actual bodies in different moving positions.  I didn’t know what my daughter would think, but again, she schooled me – teaching me about the various systems of the body. However, it is a bit pricy and you can only choose one exhibit.
Teen Rating: 2 Mom Rating: 3 Grandma Rating: 3

We saw some surprise shaken' at the Shake Shake on The Ride
The Ride: A totally interactive and spontaneous tour bus ride of Manhattan- this is SO MUCH FUN! 90 minutes on a stadium-seated bus visiting iconic places of NYC.  There were surprise street performances, karaoke, quizzes and we actually learned even more about NYC. 
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 5

Can I get it delivered? To Texas?
John’s Pizzeria: We again took good advice and found this ah-may-zing restaurant right off of Times Square, it is in the home of a former church.  The inside is beautiful but you go here for the delicious wood-fire baked pizza.  It was outstanding – bordering on best New York pizza I’ve ever had – no, let me take that back –it was THE BEST New York Pizza I have ever had. 
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 5 Grandma Rating: 4


A Teenage Candy Heaven
Dylan’s Candy Bar: Again, recommend numerous times and they were right – this 3-story candy store was so fun.  The décor is great, the variety is amazing, but the price tag is high.  My daughter had a great time filling a bucket full of candy and finding fun souvenirs for her friends.  This is a must-do if you have kids.
Teen Rating: 5 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 1 

so yum!
Serendipity-3: This was not high on my list – isn’t a frozen hot chocolate just an expensive frappiccino? I couldn’t have been more wrong! The original Serendipity is just down the street from Dylan’s Candy Bar and is turning 60 this year.  The café has a fun menu but most are there for the decadent desserts.  And yes, the frozen hot chocolate is worth the $9.90 price tag – another cool experience!
Teen Rating: 4 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 2

Bloomingdales: I had to take my girl into this New York legend.  I love this store and I love getting a little brown bag to take my purchases home in (silly, I know).  But what is always most impressive are the gorgeous windows. Unfortunately, they were covered this trip – maybe next time!
Teen Rating: 3 Mom Rating: 4 Grandma Rating: 2

It sounds like a lot, right? I won’t lie to you – it was exhausting.  But there is so much to see and do in NYC, that you have to go at a pace like this to cram in all you want to see – besides, these teens have stamina. 

You might also think that going to see all these places can be expensive – and you are right.  If you were to purchase the tickets individually, it would be.  We took advantage of a 3 day New York Pass and almost everything we did was covered – and more! I’ll tell you more about the New York Pass tomorrow.

There were a few things we didn’t get to that interested my teen as well, that I wanted to make mention of:

As close as we got to seeing Matt Lauer
Today Show/Good Morning America: We had the time to do this on Friday morning, but I couldn’t get my teen out of bed early enough.  We had passes to see GMA filmed, but we had to be at the doors no later than 6 am. And after a late night in Times Square on Thursday, that was a no.  Quite frankly, my teen doesn’t have a clue about these shows – she’s in school when they are on.

NBC Studio Tour: The tour is closed until May for renovations

TV Show Audience: Most of the shows taped in NYC require 18 and up, but Kelly and Michael did allow her age – I watched the online ticket request for weeks but somehow missed the window when they opened and they were sold out for the day we wanted.

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge: Over-achievers walk this bridge – our feet hurt too much. 

I was so very blessed to have introduced my daughter to some of my favorite NYC sites and to be able to share it with my mother.   It was an amazing trip filled with memories that will last a lifetime.  I highly recommend it – My daughter is already asking when can we go back?

My family and I were the guests of the The New York Pass and The Ride while we were in New York.  I was not financially compensated for this post.  All opinions are strictly my own based on my experience. 

1 comment:

Tonya {The Traveling Praters} said...

Loved your rating system. My daughter and I skipped the Top of the Rock when we were in NYC. I had planned to see it, but she wasn't interested and it was her trip so we hung out at Times Square instead of dividing our time. From what you shared, I didn't miss much. And Times Square was such a blast!

We also had to shop at every single Forever 21 in Manhattan. Every.single.one.

It was fun reading about your trip and how cool that your mom was able to go along.