Thursday, August 10, 2006

New York City with teens- My Top 10

I love the "about topics" especially travel. So when I was heading to NYC last month, I read this article:New York City with teens- visiting New York City with teenagers which is basically a top 10 list for New York city with teens. The about author's top 10 are:
1. Big Apple Greeters (didn't try)
2. NYC Movie Tours (we're from CA so we can get this at home)
3. The Tenement Museum (I wanted to go, but they didn't)
4. Grand Central Station (they were underimpressed and totally distressed by the crowds)
5. Broadway Play (our number 1)
6. Harbor Tour (around Statue of Liberty in a speed boat)-didn't try this
7. Staten Island Ferry (great deal and experience)
8. Natural History Museum (they chose to skip it this time, as they've enjoyed Chicago's Field Museum)
9. World Trade Center Site (ground zero)- important for anyone visiting NYC now
10. Empire State Building (one of those must dos)
11. Metropolitan Museum of Art (regrettably ran out of time, but on our list for next visit)

I know that's a list of 11 - even the pros make numbering mistakes occasionally!

Our list varies a little. I was traveling with a teen and a preteen, both girls. The author appears to have traveled with a 13 year old boy. Hence the differences possibly.

1. Broadway play. We didn't want to waste valuable time waiting for discount tickets, and we didn't want to miss out or take a chance of not getting one of our top choices which were: Hairspray, Rent, and Wicked. So we bought our tickets in advance by signing up at as soon as we made our reservations, and waiting until they had a special (half price) offer for Hairspray. Our goals were: good seats, non Disney (we are southern Californians and get enough of that). We also tried to get walk in tickets at the theaters one night in Times Square, but alas, everything was sold out. Hairspray turned out to be just perfect for a "real Broadway" show, and the intimate Neil Simon Theater was so much better than anything in southern California.

2. Shopping in Chinatown. I know a lot of the items here are knockoffs, but my girls didn't care. They went for cheap jewelry, Chinese peace art, funky sunglasses, shoes for the theater, sassy hats. Shop with the official vendors, not the folks hawking "Prada" in your ear. Start on Canal Street.

3. Shopping on 5th avenue. Bendel, Tiffany's, FAO Schwartz, Apple, H&M, Abercrombie, and all the little boutiques. Even if you just window shop - the whole place is full of eye candy for the teenage soul.

4. Guggenheim Museum - Teenagers are not notoriously "into" museums. However, once you get them inside, they usually lose the attitude, and find something to interest them. I struck a deal to get mine inside: we'd take a cab instead of the subway. Remember, it's hot in NYC in July, and we took the subway and walked everywhere. Once inside, pay your fee (the 11 year old was free!), pick up your FREE audio tour, and take the elevator to the top. Go opposite of traffic and the intended display and work your way down. They'll like the idea of going against the crowd (it's in a teen's nature to rebel), and love that they don't have to walk up the magnificent spiral. FWIW, I visited this museum on my first trip to NYC at about 15, and it was what I remembered and wanted to return to after all these years. My kids loved that the art here was intimate and approachable. No stuffy "what do you think she meant when she did this." Modern art is like that. The 13 year old couldn't believe that furniture or fenders could be considered art! That said, it was the 9 panel new male nude that left the lasting impression on the 11 year old, but as a result, we've had some good discussions about attitudes toward female vs male models in traditional art. Take the bus from out in front down 5th avenue to do your shopping.

5. Discovering the city together. Forget the tours. Get closer with your teens by a sense of adventure together. Each day we got up (around noon)and headed out to an area of the city by subway (the 6 train for us) using our metro cards (only $24/7 days). We typically had one item on the agenda for the day, with very few set times. This allowed us to explore whatever attraction looked good (like the Empire State Building when the wait was short) and to avoid disappointments and rushing. We found little shops, ate when we were hungry, and went to bed as late (or early am) as we wanted. Some of our favorite memories came from new discoveries.

6. The View at the Marriott in Times Square. This restaurant is now the only 360 degree revolving restaurant in Manhattan. We showed up around 8pm, and took the spectacular glass elevators to the top. Here we enjoyed expensive, but delightful and decadent dessert & cheese buffets for the girls, and a dinner style buffet for me. Everything about the experience was loved by the girls: from eating dessert for dinner, to ordering special drinks, to peaking in people's offices at night and making up stories about them!

7. Yankees Baseball - take the train/subway and be prepared for crowds (and nosebleeds if you get our seats). Even as Boston Red Sox faithfuls, this is a must do event for anyone remotely taken by America's pastime. Yankee stadium is one of those ballparks where a game is what you hoped it would be. Leave any backpacks or big items at home - you cannot take them in.

8. Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. Free. We did this, and then took the Circle Line cruise to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Teen skipped this to sleep in and regrets it. Preteen loved the whole experience. If you want to go up in Lady Liberty, be sure to make reservations in advance - see for more information.

9. Empire State Building at night. See the city in all its glitzy glory by going up at night. Until this trip, that's the only time I'd ever been to the top. I got to go twice this trip with my husband's later arrival (you didn't think he shopped til he dropped did you?). If you can tolerate it go, first at night (open late) and then again during the day. It's like two different places. Prebuying your tickets will save you from a line or two, but not the security line which was the longest. Skip the extra money for the audio and just enjoy yourself.

10. Discount shopping at Century 21 and Daffys. Century 21 is across from the World Trade Center Site which seems almost wrong, but you'll quickly forget once inside this "Filene's basement on steroids." We spent 3 hours and it wasn't enough. Great for back to school shopping, because items under $110 are not taxed! Where cool comfortable clothing because their dressing room system stinks. Daffys is not quite as big or diverse, but worth a stop as we had some good finds.

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