It can be challenging to find family activities that will entertain you and your tween—they're a bit too old for most playgrounds and a bit too young to wander around NYC alone. That's why this mother of a picky 11-year-old asked her peers and their kids for things to do in NYC with tweens that are guaranteed not to prompt one of those infuriating eye rolls. So next time you're planning a family outing, try one of these tween-tested-and-approved excursions in NYC—who knows, your tween might even look up from whatever gadget they're holding.
Raven is a writer, editor, performer and mom, who was born and bred in NYC, just like her husband, her mother and now, her daughter. As a writer, she's contributed articles to New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The Village Voice, the New York Post, TV Guide, Better Homes and Gardens, iVillage, AOL TV and Moviefone, Parents.com, and worked as an in-house editor for ParentsConnect.com and TimeOutKids.com. As a performer, she's appeared on many downtown stages (sometimes even for pay!), a couple of obscure films and TV shows, and The Maury Povich Show as a female drag queen. She's also the founder of Hot Mama Burlesque, the world's only all-moms burlesque show. After being the NYC editor from March 2011-March 2015, she is now happy to just be a blogger as she pursues additional writing opportunities.
Latest posts by Raven Snook
Taking kids to a Broadway show is an exciting and memorable experience. It's also a pricey one. That's why it's worth looking beyond Broadway, where you'll find some long-running, kid-friendly shows that are less expensive, more offbeat, but just as special.
From a surefire toddler hit to a Harry Potter parody for tweens to those world-famous blue dudes, there are options for all ages and interests. We've even shared ways you can snag deeply discounted tickets. All of these Off-Broadway productions make great birthday party activities, too.
Think the dog days of summer are a cultural wasteland? That's not the case when it comes to the stage—New York City's family theater scene is hotter than an unshaded sandbox during the summer months, and this year is no exception.
There are shows for all ages, interests, and budgets throughout the summer season, including FREE options such as high-quality Shakespeare, a stage adaptation of Disney's beloved animated movie Hercules, and a puppet show touring to parks throughout the five boroughs. Best of all, most tickets cost less than $25 per seat. Read on for our complete guide to the best summer shows in NYC for kids and families.
Central Park, Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park—even if you only just arrived in NYC, we probably don't need to tell you that these are all must-see green spaces. But did you know that according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, 14 percent of the city is parkland? That's more than 30,000 acres!
So if you're looking for a new-to-you outdoor destination to explore, we've got 10 off-the-beaten-path parks worth putting on your NYC family bucket list. Some are massive and boast a wide array of attractions for all seasons; others are small but picturesque and host popular annual events for families. With months of outdoor play weather ahead of us, check out this list and visit some of the city's best hidden gems.
One of the reasons my family and I love going to Cirque du Soleil spectacles is we never know what to expect. Sure, there will always be world-class circus artists performing jaw-dropping feats, but what sets the company apart from other troupes are the eye-popping environments it creates through sumptuous design. We know we're going to be transported, but to where? For Cirque's latest extravaganza, LUZIA, currently running at Citi Field in Queens, the destination is a fantastical imagining of Mexico filled with oversize puppet animals; cascading walls of water; mariachi-tinged music; colorful projections; and, of course, gorgeously outfitted acrobats, aerialists, and other athletic performers who seem to defy the laws of physics.
With two jaded teens in tow who've seen many a circus, I worried they might pull a been there, seen that 'tude. Heck, I figured I might feel that way, too, because I've been attending Cirque shows since before I became a mom. But at 13, 16, and even my advanced age, we were all as wide-eyed with wonder as the youngsters sitting behind us, because LUZIA is one of the most breathtaking Cirque creations in years.
The spring is always a great time for family theater, but the next few months look particularly exciting. There are page-to-stage adaptations of young-adult favorites (The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical, Anne of Green Gables); wordless spectacles to captivate all ages (Snap, Cirque du Soleil's new extravaganza); and a few thought-provoking choices for young teens (The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer, Silent Voices: Lovestate).
While on Broadway it's all Beetlejuice and Be More Chill, there's no need to shell out big bucks to give your kids a memorable live entertainment experience in NYC. Most of the 22 shows we're spotlighting are just $25—or less—per ticket.
The adjacent Flatiron District and Union Square neighborhoods are two of Manhattan's most unlikely kid-friendly areas. Even though both are filled with office buildings and chain stores, there are lots of amenities for families if you know where to look. Both boast beautiful parks with destination playgrounds, a great selection of family restaurants, and one-of-a-kind attractions like the interactive Museum of Mathematics, kid-lit haven Books of Wonder and the statue-filled Lego Store.
Because the nabes encompass less than a mile together, families can easily explore both in one day, even with a short-attention-span toddler in tow. Of course with so many things to see, do and experience in this 15-block stretch from 11th to 26th Streets between Fifth and Park Avenues, you'll probably need more than just a day to hit all our recommended stops.
Most NYC kids have a diet that's heavy on eating out, and why not? New York City has some of the best kid-friendly restaurants anywhere. Of course, dining out doesn't come cheaply, especially in this town—unless you happen to be a child. For NYC kids, there really is such a thing as a free lunch, brunch, and sometimes even dinner ... if you know where to go. At these local eateries, you can feed those hungry mouths for the unbeatable price of $0, while you get a break from playing chef. We know what you'll be making tonight: reservations.