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Action Packed New York City Weekend With Teens (2024)

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Nicole

What is the next best thing to moving to New York City? Your daughter moving to New York City! Yes, I am the proud mother of a 22 year old daughter who has landed a grat job in New York and gets to live the dream. I have an excuse to visit as many times as I want or “need” – you know, to make sure she is all right – And that is what happened. My whole family – husband, 18 and 16 year old sons, and 14 year old daughter visited and enjoyed a fantastic 3 night New York City itinerary.

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Background To Our New York City Long Weekend 

This was our second trip to New York City as a family (although my husband and I have been several times before). The first time was a year before when we visited for five days without my eldest daughter (she was in College) not knowing that New York City was about to become a part of our regular world.

Last time, our goal was to show our kids the iconic sites in New York like the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Empire State Building, and so on.

We also did some pretty unique things as well, like participate in The Ride, an unbelievable bus trip through the streets of New York where, out of nowhere, actors pretending to be pedestrians begin to sing, dance and perform for you. Truly one of the best attractions that I have ever experienced in any US city.

It was an amazing 5 day trip that our teens absolutely loved. For a rundown of what we did, with tips and tricks for getting the most out of the experience, please see:

After my countless trips to New York City over the past 3 decades, I decided to compile some of the best travel tips for visiting New York. They include how to get around and use public transportation, how to save lots and lots of money, where to stay, how to be safe, and so much more. For more information, please see 50 Best New York City Tips For First Time Visitors.

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Juliet looking over the top of New York City from the Empire State Building.
New York itinerary 3 day
The view of the Statue of Liberty and New York City from the ferry.

For this quick weekend getaway, I wanted our New York itinerary to be a little more creative and unusual. However, it still had to capture the attention of three teens with very different interests.

Was I successful???


Here is our three day New York City vacation with teens.

Accommodation For Our New York City Weekend Getaway

We stayed at the Artezen Hotel in the Financial District and was delighted with it. The Artezen Hotel is a small luxury hotel with above sized rooms, comfy beds, free snacks and an empty mini bar ready for personal use. It offers rooms with two queen sized beds (something that is often hard to find in New York), and enough room for multiple suitcases and people.

The location was exceptional. We were about 50 steps to the Fulton subway station with easy one train access to Chelsea and the Theatre District. In addition, we were a couple blocks from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, and Wall Street.

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There were a lot of beautiful old buildings around Wall Street.

3 Day NYC Getaway With Teens

Day One Of New York City Holiday With Older Kids 

I feel like I should rename day one of our 3 day New York City trip as “the day that my feet asked for a divorce”!

New York is such a great walking city. It is basically flat with so much to see, do and eat everywhere you go that it is easy to start walking and quite frankly, never stop. On a beautiful day, it is the best way to explore New York.

So, lace up some comfortable shoes (but don’t forget to be stylish – it is New York) and come follow me on this epic day.


9/11 Memorial

We got up early Saturday morning and walked down to the 9/11 Memorial. The Memorial opens to the public at 7:30 am and is free.

The 9/11 Memorial commemorates the September 11, 2001 attacks by Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda against the USA. On the morning of September 11, 2001, hijackers flew two Boeing 767 jets into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center within minutes of each other. Two hours later, both towers collapsed. The attacks killed 2,606 people in and within the vicinity of the towers, as well as all 157 on board the two aircrafts. More people were killed elsewhere in the US in separate attacks. However, New York, by far, suffered the worst fatalities.

The Memorial is 8 acres and is comprised of two enormous pools exactly situated where each tower once stood. Each pool has the names of each victim engraved into the side of them. Surrounding the pools are approximately 400 trees, benches, and other beautiful spaces welcoming the public.

At 8:00 am when we arrived, the streets were empty and so was the Memorial. I felt very lucky having this site to ourselves. We walked around, looked at and touched the names of the victims engraved into the side of the pools (something which is encouraged), and talked about what happened 18 years ago.

Even now, I feel the weight of our time there. It was a good visit for my children as well. They were quiet, contemplative and asked some pretty interesting questions about what happened then and what is happening in the world today.

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The 9/11 Memorial

Wall Street

From there, we walked a few blocks to Wall Street. The streets were still largely empty and we were able to explore without cars or crowds. We stopped and took a photo with the Charging Bull. Unfortunately, Fearless Girl was “on the move”, so we couldn’t see her.

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The Charging Bull in the Financial District of New York.

9/11 Memorial Museum

We returned to the 9/11 Museum (it opens at 9:00 am) and spent a couple of hours exploring it. This is an exceptional Museum that takes the individual through every moment of the attacks and the aftermath. On display are pieces of the buildings, personal accounts of survivors and witnesses, and other exhibits that are graphic and intense. It is a must see visit for everyone mature enough to handle the information and the images.

We arrived pretty early so had no problem entering without a long wait. However, this is a very popular attraction and it is best to purchase advanced tickets with a timed entry so you don’t have to wait in line.

Other Options

You can also take guided tours of Wall Street and the 911 Memorial with or without an advanced ticket to enter the 911 Museum. This tour would give you a much better in depth view of the events around 911 as well as some history and stories around the amazing buildings and sculptures found on Wall Street.

If interested, check out this small group tour.


We changed things up in the afternoon. We bought tickets to the Accomplice New York and what a show this was. Instead of sitting in a theatre watching a performance unfold (something which I love to do!), we found ourselves on the streets of New York, each of us a participant in the play itself. It was awesome.

The day before, we received a recorded message with instructions from a “wise guy”. Immediately, we knew our roles, where we had to meet, and understood that we were about to enter a world where we were on the wrong side of the law.

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On the hunt for clues in Little Italy.

Now, I have to be a little careful here. I don’t want to tell you too much because so much of the experience is solving clues, figuring out where you need to go and collecting items along the way.

However, let me say this, the show lasts for over 3 hours. You will encounter at least 6 actors; walk through a minimum of 5 distinct parts of town; enjoy beer, wine and some antipasto along the way; and most importantly, will be both thrilled when you have found what you were looking for and sad when it is all over. We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


We headed to Tribeca Grill for dinner. At this point, our feet were screaming in protest so we took an Uber which was easy and convenient from our location.

Tribeca Grill is a Robert De Niro-owned mainstay for innovative New American cuisine and it was fantastic. It is large with a lofty open vibe. Food was excellent and we had a relaxing meal to end our day.

Day Two of New York City Itinerary With Teenagers 


Ellen’s Stardust Diner

We headed on the subway to Ellen’s Stardust Diner at Times Square. This place is legendary and my kids loved it.

The Stardust is a diner with all of the delectable (read “totally unhealthy”) food that you allow yourself to eat when you are on holiday. However, what is special about this place is that every server is also a Broadway star waiting for their turn to catch their big break.

As your server takes your orders, or refills your cups with coffee or soda, they are also waiting for their moment to hop on up some tables and sing. And boy, can they all sing! This is an amazing way to get a little bit of the Broadway experience and talent without paying anything more than the cost of a meal.

Reservations are not accepted so it is first come, first serve. Be prepared to wait, but it is totally worth it.

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A duet by two amazing singers at Ellen Stardust Diner.

Flea Market

We stumbled upon a flea market right in front of Ellen’s. This was really cool. Traffic was blocked as far as the eye could see and we walked and shopped freely all over the street.

There were amazing deals on everything that you can think of – clothing, electronics, art – and some mouthwatering smells coming from the food stands. We followed it to Times Square, just a few blocks a way, and then, of course, entered a mad house of crowds, street performers and flashing billboards.

We had already spent a lot of time at Times Square on our first New York family trip so we headed straight for the subway. However, if you haven’t visited before, then this is a great time to explore this iconic area.

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The Flea Market outside Ellens.
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The Flea Market between Ellen’s Stardust Diner and Times Square.


In the afternoon, we headed to Chelsea. Chelsea is home to many New York City attractions, such as the Chelsea Market, High line and the Museum of Illusions, to name a few. 

We hopped on the subway and got off at 34th Street – Hudsons Yards Subway Station. We walked a couple of blocks and started the High Line route.

High Line

The High Line is a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park, greenway and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur. It is packed with beautiful gardens, art installations, food stands and amazing views.

You can enter or leave in many spots along the route. There are free tours a couple days a week, and star gazing on Tuesdays between April and October, among other things. I would recommend checking out the website or downloading the High Line app for a map and the most up to date activities.

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One of the cool art installations along the High Line.

Hudsons Yard

A new addition is the revamped Hudsons Yard complex that is accessible from the High Line close to the 34th street entrance. There are multiple new buildings, public spaces, centres for the arts, and restaurants and bars. However, for us, the highlight was the Vessel.

The Vessel is an interactive artwork comprised of a multi-story spiral staircase open to the public to climb and gain “new perspectives of the city and one another from different heights, angles and vantage points. Comprised of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs — almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings — the vertical climb offers remarkable views of the city, the river and beyond.”

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The Vessel in New York

The Vessel is stunning and I would highly recommend visiting. It is free, but tickets are required. They are offered daily on a first come, first serve basis at several kiosks around Hudson Yards. If you require advanced tickets, a limited number are available online. They are free a couple of weeks in advance or $10 USD up to six months in advance.

Across from the Vessel is a beautiful new indoor shopping mall. It has fantastic shops. If you are looking to escape the weather for a bit and do some serious shopping, this place would be an excellent destination.

There are a few tours of this area that I would recommend.

Museum of Illusions

If you exit the High Line at 14th Street, near the end, you can easily access Chelsea Market and the Museum of Illusions.  This time, we chose to skip Chelsea Market – we didn’t want to eat or shop – and headed straight to the Museum of Illusions. However, I have been before and Chelsea Market is a fabulous spot to do both.

We spent about a 1 1/2 hours in the Museum of Illusions and had a really good time. It is a small museum, however, every exhibit is interactive. Once we got the lay of the land, we each headed in separate directions and tried different puzzles, illusions and other crazy games on display. We challenged each other and took some hilarious photos. It is a great spot for a family with teens.

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Can you figure out how we created this shot?
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We were actually only a few feet apart in this optical illusion.


After the Museum of Illusions, we were ready for a little treat. A New York City adventure would not be complete without at least one guilt ridden over the top dessert!

A couple blocks away, we stopped at Milk. Milk is a bakery founded by Christina Tosi, a James Beard award winning pastry chef. She was also a regular judge on the TV show Master Chef Junior.

In addition to cookies and cakes, Milk offers soft serve ice cream, in particular Cereal Milk™ Soft Serve! This is what we all had. Imagine the creamiest and yummiest soft serve ice cream that tastes just like the sweet milk at the bottom of your cereal bowl, and you have this treat. It was absolutely delicious.

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A yummy soft serve from Milk.


A visit to New York City would not be complete without a Broadway show. We saw the musical Come From Away and absolutely loved it. However, you would be hard pressed to find a bad show on Broadway.

Tickets to Broadway shows can be very expensive. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce your costs. This will require you to be more flexible about which show you go to see.  TKTS  offer a selection of same day Broadway tickets for 20%-50% off the original price. There are various TKTS booths throughout the city and you will need to purchase them in person.

Broadway Box is a website that lists discounted Broadway shows and offers a means to purchase them weeks in advance. You can subscribe and also receive weekly notifications of new discounted shows.

Many shows, including sold out ones, offer online lotteries for discounted tickets one day to one week before the date of the show in which you are interested.  Further, many shows offer “rush” tickets which is the ability to purchase same day discounted tickets at the box office of a particular show.

Playbill provides a comprehensive list of these shows. Here is the link. – Broadway Rush, Lottery and Standing Room Only Policies.


After the show, we walked a couple of blocks to the Italian restaurant Becco. This is the PERFECT place to go with hungry teenagers and thirsty parents!

Becco opened in 1993 by Linda and Joe Bastianch, a judge on the show Masterchef.  The restaurant has a very unpretentious and comfortable family feel. It offers an extensive $33 wine list and an all you can eat pasta option for a ridiculously low price (includes a choice of caesar salad or antipasti plate to start and a choice of three pastas). The food and service were amazing. Without question, we will be back!

Last Word

We loved our New York City weekend getaway with our kids. The location of our hotel in the Financial district was excellent. It allowed us easy access to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Wall Street and the Fulton subway station. Our days were filled with walking, exploring, and eating delicious food and treats. We combined serious moments, with fun interactive activities, and walked until we couldn’t walk any further. It was fantastic!

***Here is a 4 day New York City itinerary that takes you a little ways off the beaten path.
***Here is what to do if you only have 24 hours in New York.
If you would like to save this article for future use, please click on the photo below. 
This was our second trip to New York City as a family. We had already seen and done a lot of the "big" tourist attractions. This time, we wanted to see New York in a different light. Here is our 2 day New York City itinerary that had us everywhere from the 9/11 Memorial and Wall Street to Chelsea, the High Line and the Museum of Illusions. #travel #familytravel #NYC | Artezen, Becco, Charging Bull, Ellen Stardust Diner, High Line, Hudsons Yard, Milk, the Accomplice, the Vessel

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  1. Entertaining 3 teens – hats off to you. I my brother-in-law and his family lives in New York, but I am yet to explore New York! Your weekend itinerary made me think it is possible to see NY even if we only have a few days off. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Oh absolutely! You should try and get to NYC while you have free accommodation! If you are prepared to explore from dawn to dusk, you can see a ton in just a day!

  2. Looks like a great trip! I went to NYC when I was 18 and I would’ve loved all these things. I especially second the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I went back in 2016 and it was so emotional, I spent most of the day crying. But it really makes you think beyond yourself and I think that’s something teenagers need. Great job on this itinerary!

    1. Thanks Lena. Yes, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum are both very powerful experiences and I loved how my kids took some time to take that in. Hopefully, you will get back to NYC soon to experience more of what this awesome city has to offer.

  3. Great post! We were in NY a few months back and I really enjoyed reading your post as it brought back memories from our visit. I clearly missed out on the flea market and Museum of Illusions though – will definitely add those to the list when we get a chance to visit NY next. Thanks for sharing.

    1. You are welcome! The Museum of Illusions was a fun activity for teens. If you saw everything else on my 2 day itinerary (plus others, I am sure), then you covered a lot!

  4. I’m going to NYC in November and I’ve never been before. I’ll definitely be referring back to this post for ideas of what to do. Tha is for sharing this, perfect timing!

    1. Have fun! You will most likely leave with a list of 10 things you have to come back to do even after filling every day with activities from morning to night while there in November.

  5. “Start spreading the news! I’m leaving today. I wanna be a part of it—New York, New York!” My dad who lives in Los Angeles made a special visit to New York city this year. He said he has never seen such a vibrant, sleepless city in his entire life! I think it’s cool to have your kids come with you on a city tour—too many kids now are stuck at home playing with their stupid video games.

    1. This made me smile! Yes, New York is incredibly vibrant city. You have to know where to go in order to avoid the crowds. There is a ton to do for every age and interest.

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