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A mother-daughter trip to New York City

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New York City as a teenager

The first breath of NYC is a new one.

Cigarettes, hot dogs, and sweet soda. It fills your nostrils, inescapable.

Over time you get used to it. The air, the noise. The noise is a far off instrument playing, the yelling of a man who didn't get his way, mixed with the chattering coins in a cup held by the homeless.

You'll taste.

The taste of amazing lavender macaroons from the best Dean and Deluca, plus the best pizza ever from a place called Sal’s Little Italy. And the best music and food at Ellen's Stardust Diner.

The feel is sticky.

The air is thick and hot in the summer. You will sweat and sweat.

But it's all worth it, because then you see.

The tall buildings, that when you look at them from their base they're endless. The history of buildings that are hundreds of years old. The terror of the 9/11 attack and how it still affects the city today.


Why we went

My mother and I went to New York City for my 8th grade promotion.

At first I was overwhelmed. I mean that's a LOT of money to spend on an 8th grade promotion, but I was stoked to go!

It ended up being one of the best trips I've been on!

What we loved

Like I said, NYC was the most amazing trip I've ever been on. NYC is a sensory overload, that at first is the most intimidating thing ever.

On TV shows you see crime in the city, and people getting their stuff stolen. From my point of view, this was not the case. Yes crime is happening, but not more than any other major city. And nothing is going to get stolen.

As time goes on, you get more comfortable in the big city. You start learning how the city works. You understand how to get "home" from where you are, and what time you need to be here or there.


New York University

My favorite part of the trip was touring New York University.

I'm most excited for college, and I hope to work at CNN, so visiting NYU has always been a dream of mine. Being there was a whole new experience, one I enjoyed immensely.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum

The 9/11 Memorial [National September 11 Memorial Museum] is also amazing, but I don't recommend it if you don't remember 9/11 happening. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing, but I wasn't around for 9/11 so it didn't hold as much emotional context for me as it did for my mom.

We wished we had also gone indoors to the 9/11 Museum where they talk more about the logistics, something I would have enjoyed more. Instead of going through the 9/11 attack from an emotional standpoint, the museum goes through of a more political viewpoint.  I would have enjoyed this more, but then again this totally depends on you.

[FYI: Save 40% or more on New York's 6 best attractions with CityPASS. Shop Now!.]


More things to do in NYC as a teen

Other things that I highly recommend are Central Park, The Met [the Metropolitan Museum of Art], walking down Mulberry street through Chinatown and Little Italy, Ellen's Stardust Diner, Times Square, the High Line [a 1.45-mile-long linear park created on an elevated piece of an old New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line] and the musical Waitress!

We also visited the TODAY show and watched it live from TODAY Plaza! Learn more about how to do that here.


My thoughts on transportation

If you hate humidity (like me) avoid the subway, and instead look for the guys selling tickets to the double decker buses.

The way to get the best deal on double decker bus tickets is to act hesitant. Another good trick is to say, "Well this guy was giving us a better deal," and they'll try to beat it. I know you'll feel like you're getting scammed, but trust me it's a good deal.

Some of the double decker buses also come with a free viewing of the Statue of Liberty (from a boat) and free bike rentals! 

We took a night bus tour with Open Loop, which was really fun and made for great views of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn. This bus company was our favorite, but there are others to choose from.


Where to stay

Pick where you're staying with caution.

If you're visiting NYC for the big hustle and bustle, then a place by Times Square is great. 

We stayed at the Double Tree by Hilton NY Times Square West. This hotel was lovely, and if you're nice they'll even let underage people up on the roof (before 5 pm of course).

If you're looking for a quieter place to lay your head, then a hotel in Greenwich village is great. Be careful: the quieter the neighborhood, the more expensive!


Me and my mother

To say I was scared to go on this trip WITH MY MOTHER was an understatement. I thought the trip would be filled with fights and problems, but it was the opposite.

Our 6 day, 5 night itinerary:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

  • 10:00 am: 911 Memorial Museum – wished we'd taken the audio tour

  • Self walking tour: New York Stock Exchange, Little Italy, China Town and Mulberry Street - lots of fun!

  • Pizza at Sal’s Little Italy (384 Broome Street) – excellent!

  • Best cannolis at Caffe Pallermo – just down the street from Sal’s (148 Mulberry St)

Day 4

Day 5

  • The Tenement Museum (really awesome but probably not for families with young kids)

  • Take a bus tour of lower Manhattan from Brooklyn

Day 6

  • The Today Show at Today Plaza

  • Hotel check out 12:00pm (you can always ask for late checkout)

  • Fly home

This was a guest post written by Abby Van Slyke, with a smidge of input from her mom,  shared as a part of our rad family collective series (edited by Tanya Raedeke).

Abby was age 14 at the time of this writing. In her spare time, you can find Abby reading, writing, kicking around a soccer ball, or getting her homework done on time.Thank you Abby for sharing about your mother-daughter trip to New York City!  Such an adventure and a great memory-maker.

Hey parents: Have you taken a trip alone with just one of your teenagers? What made you do it and where did you go? How did that trip impact your relationship?  We'd love to hear, so please comment below!

Photographs: pictures 2, 3, 4, and 7 belong to Abby Van Slyke and may not be used or shared without written permission. All other photos are courtesy of