What to do in New York if You are Under 21

Are you under 21 or are heading off to New York City with someone younger than the US drinking age? Not to worry! New York City might be well known for its bars, nightclubs, and lounges, but there are still plenty of things to see, do, and explore in the Big Apple outside of drinking an apple-tini. Here are some of the top things to include in your travel itinerary the next time you are in New York.

Catch a Broadway Show

Broadway shows are a huge reason to visit New York, and these theatrical masterpieces are generally suitable for all ages. While there are a handful of performances that might not be the right fit for children, teens, and young adults certainly don’t have to be 21 to see even the most progressive or adult-themed shows. Since Broadway tickets can be expensive, a great budget-savvy alternative to spending a fortune is heading to a ticket retailer on the day you want to see a show and buying their discounted availabilities. If you are a student, there are additional discounts you will typically qualify for, but be sure to bring along your school identification as proof.

Get Tickets to a Local Gig 

There are a handful of shows in New York that are 21+, because they serve alcohol throughout the venue, but there are typically an equal number of concerts where all ages, or those over the age of 18, are welcome. For something a little upscale, and to have an excuse to don your finest outfit, consider tickets to the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. If rock, pop, or reggae is more your scene, and you happen to be in New York during the summer, check out the Central Park concert series, which boasts two or three outdoor concerts each week.

Plan a Late-Night Visit to the Empire State Building

During the day, it is not unusual to stand in line for 30 minutes or even a full hour just to ride the elevator up to the Empire State Building. Once you are up there, the crowds of people make it feel anything but romantic. As an alternative, plan a late-night trip to the top. A little-known fact about the Empire State Building is that it is usually open until 2 am, which means you can be up there under the stars and enjoy the stunning skyline that Manhattan is famous for. If you are under 21 and looking for a fun place to spend some time late at night, the Empire State Building is a romantic, cool, and unexpected destination.

Eat on the Street

Many of the under-21s who visit New York City are on a limited budget, which might make the upscale eateries in the city out of the question. Thankfully, there are no age restrictions on the incredible foods you can buy from local street vendors. Locals are frequently seen standing in line for everything from the best pizza to the tastiest bagels, so don’t be worried about the quality as long as you see a line of people waiting to be served. Although you can get just about any fast-food items from these vendors, classics to try include the gyro, a slice of Brooklyn-style pizza, a New York bagel with cream cheese and lox, a Reuben sandwich, or a classic hot dog loaded with condiments.

Embrace Your Inner Hipster in Williamsburg

The neighbourhood of Williamsburg, found in Brooklyn, used to be known for its cultural diversity, but gentrification has recently transformed the area into an eclectic haven where organic food restaurants share spaces with used record stores and local art galleries. If you are looking for a vibrant nightlife spot in New York, Williamsburg’s youthful population makes this a fantastic option for the under-21 crowd. Head into a comedy show, an impromptu live show from a community band, or one of the many record shops in the area.

Visit the World-Class Museums

One of the biggest reasons to visit New York is for the opportunity to explore the incredible museums that this city has to offer. Whatever your age or your interests, there is at least one museum or gallery that will be the right fit. One of the truly must-see attractions is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which boasts some of the most famous paintings, drawings, and sculptures on the planet. Architecture lovers will be drawn to the Guggenheim, which is typified by its unusual and awe-inspiring design. Kids and teens will enjoy the old subway cars and trains in the Transit Museum as well as the hands-on displays at the New York Hall of Science. If you are in search of a museum open later in the evening, try the New Museum of Contemporary Art, open until 9 pm on Thursdays, the Museum of Arts and Design, open until 9 pm on Thursday and Fridays, or the Brooklyn Museum, open until 11 pm on the first Saturday of every month.

Shop Until You Drop in Midtown

As long as you have money to spend, age is no factor when it comes to shopping in New York City. While there are malls, markets, and outlets throughout the Big Apple, Midtown in Manhattan is the ultimate spot to splurge, pick up souvenirs or even just stroll through the massive department stores and admire the themed displays. Fifth Avenue is the shopping enthusiast’s mecca, as it boasts department stores like Macy’s and Bergdorf Goodman that take up entire city blocks and are among the largest stores on the planet. Shops worth heading into even if you aren’t pulling out your wallet include Tiffany & Co, where Audrey Hepburn filmed Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the Nintendo World Store, where you can play new video games for free, and FAO Schwartz, home to the larger-than-live floor piano.

There is no age limit when it comes to having an incredible time in the Big Apple!

What’s your favourite thing to do in NYC if you’re under 21?

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