Help me make a birthday weekend in NYC amazing!!
May 1, 2013 3:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm taking my daughter to NYC for her 13th bday gift around the end of June. She is going to be so excited!! I'm trying to plan some great things for a Mom and a 13 yr old to do but I'm getting overwhelmed.... We will do a broadway show for sure...but any other suggestions? Help me decide what is really cool and worth doing and what would be just "meh". She loves the arts and creating and cooking and falls on the nerdy, quirky, funny side of life. She's perfect!! We will be there 3 nights and 4 days. Staying in SoHo but can Uber Car pretty much anywhere. I also have a very dear friend who lives there and will be with us to help navigate. He loves my daughter and will be up for anything but has no clue what 13 yr old girls of her ilk are into so he hasn't been much help....Thanks all!
posted by pearlybob to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Met will have a punk fashion exhibit at that time.

Lunch at Jean Georges could be fun if you want to do something a little "fancy".

Don't just take cars while you're here- take the subway! And the bus! Cheap way to travel, great place to people watch and maybe take a load off your feet.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:29 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

You can totally start arguments over which candy store is the best but Chochlate maker Max Brenner's has very ...dramatic decor and is a bit more grown up feeling while still leaning more towards " amusement park" territory then say, Kee's ( which is just a storefront and nothing else).
posted by The Whelk at 3:42 PM on May 1, 2013

she might like serendipity.

maybe a trip to kid robot. if she's into stationery at all, i loved kate's paperie, and she might also like kinokuniya.
posted by koroshiya at 3:43 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

In order of essentialness:

My sister and I MUST, if in NYC in good weather, take a canoe around Central Park Lake. You get the skyline of NYC and the actually somewhat diverse wildlife (ducks, cormorants, geese, turtles, etc.) and you get fun exercise and if you bring a few snacks a mobile picnic. It's also crazy cheap.

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden, right next door to the Brooklyn Museum for a two cool places one train ride, is always a good time.

Coney Island and the Aquarium. BONUS: they have DIPPIN' DOTS!

The Museum of Natural History.
posted by vegartanipla at 3:53 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding Max Brenner, which is fun and tasty. Try the Italian hot chocolate. Stop in at the Strand bookstore and Forbidden Planet comic shop while you're there.
posted by mlle valentine at 4:00 PM on May 1, 2013

Walk down broadway in Soho and stop at So Good jewelry at 448 broadway for cheap and plentiful sparkle. Give her a $20 and she will walk out with a ton of stuff.
Then walk around Canal st and get some unfamiliar pastries at any of the little bakeries.
You could also take her to TeaNy in the lower east which is a small cute place opened by moby where you can get tea sandwiches and stuff.
The makerbot store is just north of soho and might also be cool to see.
posted by rmless at 4:12 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Try some Downtown Off-Off Theater if you can fit it in, not just Broadway, tickets are cheaper and you can find more interesting avant garde stuff (although how down and dirty downtown theater you want to get will depend on your kid). Your 13 year old will feel really grown-up going to one of these shows. If you can afford to splurge on a lunch tasting menu at an upscale restaraunt that might help with the cooking interest, if she's adventurous and enjoys food. Trying out a tasting menu is fun because you're basically saying "Show me what you got!" and getting to eat the best dishes the have and the lunch menus are cheaper than dinner. Theater-wise: The Brick is doing a sound design festival around that time: Full disclosure I work for The Flea Theater and we're doing a free music festival around that time. Here Arts and Soho rep are some other venues to look at for some small intimate theater.
posted by edbles at 4:15 PM on May 1, 2013

Take the ferry together to Ellis Island. The richness of this place is wasted on younger kids, and perfect for this age. If she's read any of the classic immigrant literature (Tree grows in brooklyn, All of a Kind Family, etc) she will be transfixed.
posted by third rail at 4:36 PM on May 1, 2013

Does she like Project Runway? A trip to Mood is a must if that is the case.
posted by agatha_magatha at 4:39 PM on May 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Take the ferry together to Ellis Island. = FYI, the Ellis Island Museum was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and is currently closed. Statue of Liberty set to re-open on July 4th. No ferries going to either place at this time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:01 PM on May 1, 2013

If it's the right weekend, how about a trip to Coney Island to see the (once-a-year) Mermaid Parade? She can even make a costume and dress up if she wants!
posted by the_blizz at 5:02 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I hear Matilda The Musical is awesome.
posted by biscuits at 5:15 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

At that age (and now!), I wanted nothing more than to plan my own trip. She's plenty old enough to understand what is reasonable cost- and time-wise, so just get thee to amazon and order a big NYC guide book and plunk it down in front of her. She will likely spend hours looking through it, and planning together can be a fun shared activity. Maybe give her an age-appropriate NYC history book to pique her interest and then give her a New Yorker the week before and then just let her take the reins.
posted by greta simone at 5:39 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the Tenement Museum should always be at the top of lists like these.
posted by greta simone at 5:44 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

It sounds like this is going to be a surprise, but you might try to suss out if there is some place in NYC that has resonance for her -- lots of classic kids' books are set in New York, like Eloise (Plaza Hotel), Stuart Little (boat pond in Central Park), From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Metropolitan Museum of Art), etc. You might be able to get tickets for a taping of Letterman or the Daily Show or Live. The NBC studio tour is pretty easy to get tickets for if you can't get taping tickets during your visit. It covers a lot of the same ground. Hanging around outside of the Today show windows seems to be a big thing for the visiting tween/teen set, especially in the summer.
posted by apparently at 5:44 PM on May 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Matilda the musical, recreational cooking classes (3 hours) at ICE, walk through Chinatown, little Italy, take subway up to top of 5th ave to see shops and beginning of the park. Also, definitely ask her!
posted by bquarters at 5:50 PM on May 1, 2013

Response by poster: These are all awesome!!!! Exactly what I needed....Thanks so far and keep the great ideas coming....and yes, it is a surprise....
posted by pearlybob at 6:07 PM on May 1, 2013

If you can get tickets to Matilda absolutely do it, but that mother is selling like a beast, so buy 'em ASAP if you're interested! :) Everyone else's ideas sound great.
posted by Zephyrial at 6:15 PM on May 1, 2013

Mani-pedis are super cheap in NYC compared to nearly anywhere, and you both may need a rest and a foot pampering after all the walking! Really most anywhere should be okay but take to Yelp if you'd like a specific neighborhood.

MOMA! And PS 1 may have some great things going on in late June. It is in Long Island City which is technically in Queens but very very close to Manhattan. PS1 usually has exhibits that have the quirky vibe your daughter may love.

What kind of music does she like? If she's into jazz maybe a night at the Village Vanguard? This would likely feel very cool, very grown-up, and only-in-NYC. There will also be some free concerts in the parks, so check out the websites for Central Park, etc.

Serendipity's is decadent and amazing.

Uber is fine but really I have found it to be not so great in NYC. It is often much easier to hail a cab.
posted by manicure12 at 10:26 AM on May 4, 2013

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