01 of 08
Got teens in tow? Sure, they might be hard to please back home, but in brimming-with-action Manhattan, rest assured that there's more to entertain them than you can even begin to imagine. We've looked past the obvious teen-pleasing bucket list attractions for this list (like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Empire State Building) to turn up these 7 cool things to do with teens in NYC that fall a little more under the radar. In fact, we bet that if you take them to do any one of these cool offerings while you're in town that they might actually even think that you're pretty cool yourself (at least for a little while).
02 of 08
Hip-hop is probably the single most popular musical choice and one of the biggest cultural reference points for teens today. Help them hone in on their hip-hop passion by taking them straight to the source, with high-rated Hush Tours leading guests of all ages to the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Harlem streets where hip-hop was born and from where icons like Jay-Z, Nas, and Biggie hail. Indeed, NYC can claim the musical genre and hugely popular subculture as part of its own unique cultural heritage. Hush Tours has stepped in over the last 15 years to "preserve the roots of hip-hop culture" and to show off the city streets through a "hip-hop lens" via education, including stops at historic hip-hop sites and commentary and lore offered by celebrity pioneers of hip-hop who double as tour guides.
The minibus tours run round-trip from Manhattan and are helmed by a rotating roster of hip-hop legends like Grandmaster Caz of The Cold Crush Brothers, Rahiem from Grand Master Flash... & The Furious Five, Ralph McDaniels, Kurtis Blow, Roxanne Shante, Johnny Famous, Lady K Fever, and Reggie Reg. En route, guests get to explore the four pillars of hip-hop culture: DJing, MCing, dancing, and graffiti, and lesser-informed guests will learn that hip-hop is so much more than music: It's a full-fledged subculture. The company employs a talented and friendly crew to demonstrate some of hip-hop's pillars, like the B-Boys who show off their break-dancing skills. Sign up for several tour options like the "Birthplace of Hip-Hop Tour" through Harlem and the Bronx, or the "Where Brooklyn At?" tour through Brooklyn. Whatever tour you choose, it's a guaranteed teen-pleaser. hushtours.com
03 of 08
Mission Escape Games
Up to the challenge of the escape game craze that's been sweeping the nation? It's the kind of fun that lives up to the hype. Imagine a video game mission come to life wherein you and your crew team up for an hour-long attempt at making the ultimate escape. Come with a group or be paired up with new friends as you race against the clock to solve puzzles and clues and overcome obstacles that stand between you and your "escape" from your game room. There are several operators to choose from in NYC, but Mission Escape Games on the Lower East Side ranks tops for their great customer service and well-designed games touting varying degrees of difficulty like the space mission-inspired "Escape the Nemesis" or the spooky "Escape the Darkest Hour," which is run in the dark. Whichever one you choose, it's lots of fun for teens – and for adults, too! missionescapegames.com
04 of 08
Classic Harbor Line
Teens will be wowed by the up-close views of Lady Liberty and the NYC skyline from aboard this thrilling sailing on a 19th-century-style schooner, equipped with billowing white sails. Set out into New York Harbor from Chelsea Piers aboard Classic Harbor Line's 49-passenger Schooner Adirondack or the newer, larger (with capacity for 76) Schooner America 2.0. Teens love the speed, tilt, and crew skill set showcased during the sail-driven boat ride, and the friendly crew is on hand to answer questions about the workings of such a vessel, from hoisting the sails to commanding the wind. sail-nyc.comContinue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Stomp or Blue Man Group
For teen-friendly shows that won't break the bank like Broadway will, check out two of our longstanding favorites: Blue Man Group or Stomp. In Blue Man Group, a trio of blue-headed, mute humanoids take center stage, serving to entertain audiences of all ages with their wacky, space-age antics. Count on the comical bunch to engage teens with their over-the-top mime-like movements and expressions, musical renditions performed on tubes, messy attempts at spin art (there's a "poncho section" for audience members looking for full immersion), and more, all-mixed in with high-tech stage effects (at the Astor Place Theatre).
Or, for the high-energy teen who loves to get his/her hands onto just about everything, Stomp puts on a fascinating show. From brooms to garbage cans, inner tubes to wooden poles, the Stomp crew can find music in just about everything. There's no real narrative to follow; it's just a joyful celebration of music and rhythm, presented via amped-up... dance and drumbeats (at the Orpheum Theatre).
06 of 08
Trapeze School New York
If you were ever tempted to encourage your kids to run away with the circus, here's your big chance to get them off to a flying start—literally. Trapeze School New York proposes one of Manhattan's most unique activities, for both kids and adults alike, with assorted training programs dedicated to the aerial art of flying trapeze. Sign up for flying trapeze classes geared toward all levels, from novice to advanced, and learn to "fly" (as it's so dubbed in the industry) in no time.
Classes are run with a state-of-the-art trapeze apparatus, set to standard circus dimensions, with a jump-off platform elevated more than 20 feet high, and a soft, stretchy net, for controlled landings, set just underfoot. Safety's the first priority for the school, and participants are accordingly harnessed into safety belts, with a spotting system in place via trained staff. Trapeze School New York's outdoor locations are operational between April and October, and are located at... Pier 40 in Hudson River Park (at Houston Street and the West Side Highway). (Between October and March, operations are offered indoors at a location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.) newyork.trapezeschool.com
07 of 08
A huge departure from the city's traditional double-decker tour buses (which most self-respecting New Yorkers wouldn't be caught dead on), The Ride delivers a unique take on the tour bus experience, infusing its "ride" through the streets of Manhattan with theatrical flair. Yes, all the world's—or at least Midtown Manhattan is—a stage aboard The Ride, which is more theatrical experience than tour, and one that really delivers on the laughs. Offering a unique "stage" set on the streets of NYC, guests experience the show from aboard a portable theater, in the form of a technologically tricked-out bus, which passengers board near Times Square.
About five performers are featured per tour, including a mix of singers, dancers, and musicians—and you won't know who's a performer amidst the flow of street traffic until they break out, seemingly spontaneously, into song and dance. On board, a pair of comedic tour hosts play off of each other and regularly... interact with guests, performers, and unwitting passersby. They do a good job of entertaining guests with improv, trivia, and some scripted commentary en route that does touch on some of the basics of NYC sightseeing with historical insights and facts. Destinations like Times Square, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, Central Park, and Carnegie Hall are all covered on the four-mile-plus stretch that The Ride covers. experiencetheride.com
08 of 08
Scavenger hunt meets murder mystery theater meets self-guided walking tour in this innovative take on the "immersive theater" craze that's swept the city in recent years, serving to make an art form out of tearing down the "fourth wall." The Accomplice experience is a cloaked-in-mystery yet entirely comedic theatrical experience where the streets of NYC set the stage. Yes, no reviewer would want to spoil the fun (the less you know about what's in store, the more you'll enjoy it), so you won't find any spoilers here. All you need to know is that you can opt in for one of two variations, including the original Accomplice New York, and the newer Accomplice The Village show. Both are lighthearted, comedic affairs, driven by scavenger-hunt-style clues and crude maps, team-building sleuthing, and loose story lines, all of which all brought to life and tied together by a troupe of improv-trained actors en route. Teens and adults alike will love it! accomplicethe...show.com