Exploring New York with teens is so much fun. New York is one of my favorite cities in the world, but it’s been years since I traveled to New York strictly for fun. With both my girls now in high school I knew it was time to explore the Big Apple with them! We had a blast over fall break. The only downside was realizing we could have spent a few more days exploring!
Here are some our favorite spots we visited:
Times Square – No first trip to New York is complete without walking around Times Square (and we walked a LOT). Our hotel, the RIU Times Square was literally a 5-minute walk to Times Square so it was the first stop. Bonus tourist moment was my older daughter getting pulled into a street performance! We also enjoyed some of the many shops. My youngest loved checking out the K Pop store, Line Friends.
Koreatown – Koreatown was one of my favorite areas we explored. We had the best meal of our entire trip at popular Korean barbecue restaurant Jongro where your meal is cooked in front of you on a grill in the center of your table. I highly recommend it! For something sweet, try Grace Street or Paris Baguette. We also loved all of the shops in Koreatown.
Chinatown – Exploring all the shops and markets in Chinatown was another favorite venture and my 14-year-old’s favorite area we explored. We ate dinner at a place recommended to us by a China Town shop owner who lives in Brooklyn—21 Shanghai House. It was not fancy but really great! I also like taking recommendations from locals for good restaurants.
Brooklyn – Although we did not walk across the Brooklyn Bridge we did take a water taxi over (there’s a funny rookie travel mishap back story here) and enjoyed an absolutely amazing margherita pizza and classic Coca Cola in bottles at Juliana’s for lunch. And of course we had to pose for obligatory photos in DUMBO with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.
Little Italy - I didn’t realize until I started researching China Town that Little Italy is literally adjacent to China Town. I want to eat lunch or dinner in Little Italy on a return visit, but we did enjoy walking around and seeing the sights. Although an Asian treat, we enjoyed bubble tea at Vivi Tea, technically in Little Italy but again it is right next to China Town.
Central Park – We didn’t have time to see much of Central Park (we basically met my niece and her little boy there before brunch) but it’s a definite must do.
9/11 Memorial – I was pregnant with my older daughter when 9/11 happened and I had not seen the memorial. It’s a beautiful tribute and I’m so glad we went to see it.
The Highline - The Highline was recommended to me by so many people and it’s definitely worth checking out for a cool vantage point of the city and some incredible artwork.
Rockefeller Center/Midtown - We primarily did shopping and window shopping in the Rockefeller Center area but I wanted the girls to see it before it was decked out for the holidays. We had a quick bite of lunch at Melt Shop. We also explored nearby Muji on 5th Avenue, which is a Japanese retailer (think minimialist Ikea type store.) My younger daughter loves their stationery and pens.
We loved exploring New York and we’re already talking about a return visit during the holidays. We didn’t see a play so that is on our must do list. My new great nephew will also be a year old then so it will be a wonderful time to visit my niece and nephew, both married now, who are New Yorkers!
I kind of felt like I was in a 80s Duran Duran video every time we stepped off the elevator at our hotel.
I also was extremely pleased with our hotel—Hotel Riu PLaza New York Times Square. I booked it 7 months in advance when Riu was running a special that included the daily breakfast buffet with our stay We also got upgraded to a larger room upon arrival which was a welcome surprise! The Riu served an amazing buffet breakfast every morning that literally had anything and everything you could want to eat. It was also clean, modern and quiet despite being a quick walk to Times Square. The hotel staff members were extremely helpful and friendly. The hotel decor is very modern and bright with a fashion theme so it was perfect for our girls’ trip! It’s part of a European chain of hotels so it had a bit of a different vibe to it and was a modern and fun theme. Not only is it close to Times Square, but it is situated at the end of famous Restaurant Row. It’s a nice centrally located hotel near the heart of everything!
What are some of your favorite things to do in New York? I am hoping to return with the girls during the holidays! We saw lights being installed around Rockefeller Center (another must do) during our October trip.