It’s the city that never sleeps, which is why there is so much for youth travel groups to see and do in New York City. From first-class museums and diverse neighborhoods to beautiful parks and top-notch restaurants, New York City has everything to keep your student travelers busy, and there’s always more to explore—even locals stumble upon something new every day. What will your young students find on their trip to the Big Apple?
Bright Lights: Student Attractions in New York City
In the five boroughs of New York City—Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx—there is more activity than in any other city in the country. The cultural diversity is unparalleled. Every neighborhood, from SoHo to Harlem, offers something different for student travelers to experience. No matter how long your student trip to New York City, there’s always more to see.
Start your school field trip with a visit to Museum Mile, a section of Fifth Avenue. The enormous Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met, houses one of the largest collections of art from every era, spanning the Stone Age to the Modern Age. On guided student tours, a museum staff member will lead discussions and exercises appropriate for each age group. The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum is an iconic building in New York. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim is not just impressive on the outside, but the inside will leave students in awe. Contemporary art pieces from some of the most brilliant artistic minds hang in the galleries of this museum. Guides lead student travel groups on thematic gallery tours.
Away from Museum Mile, the American Museum of Natural History boasts one of the best dinosaur exhibits, with interactive consoles and glass-floored walkways that put student tour groups face-to-face with dinosaur replicas. Other museums worth visiting on your New York student trip are the Museum of Modern Art, MoMa PS 1, Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum and Sports Museum of America.
For breathtaking views of the city, head up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock at 30 Rockefeller Center. Both let student tour groups see the long stretch of Manhattan in all its glory. To really experience the hustle and bustle that New York City is known for, take your student travel group to Times Square, a booming tourist area teeming with digital advertisements and bright lights. On Fridays, free tours of all the popular Times Square sites are offered. Tours leave from the official NYC Information Center on Seventh Street. At Madame Tussauds, the famous wax museum near Times Square, student travelers will be both entertained and spooked by the uncanny resemblance some of the wax statues have to the celebrities they portray.
Located right in the heart of the city is picturesque Central Park, an 843-acre oasis of wooded areas, open green space, pristine lakes and six miles of walking and running paths. Student travelers enjoy the peaceful serenity as they walk along the trails or enjoy a picnic.
New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx have curated living collections of over one million plants, a 250-acre landscape and a 50-acre forest. The Victorian-style conservatory has been the prize building of the gardens since 1902. The Botanic Gardens offers customized tours for student travelers. The Bronx Zoo is home to over 6,000 animals, from gorillas to snow leopards.
Let your student travelers step into the shoes of an immigrant, at least for an afternoon. At Ellis Island, student tour groups can wander through tons of exhibits showcasing pictures, artifacts and documents of the immigrants who entered our country through this iconic location. On the ferry ride back to Manhattan, student travelers can revel at the Statue of Liberty.
For a break from all the educational attractions, take your student travel group over to historic Coney Island in Brooklyn, home of the legendary wooden coaster, the Cyclone. Students can also visit the New York Aquarium and popular Boardwalk, and grab a bite at the original Nathan’s Famous.
Student Sightseeing Tours in New York City
On Location Tours, Inc. will take your crew to major sites seen on TV and the big screen, like the apartment building from Friends and the Ghostbusters firehouse. Students can also partake in a filmmaking workshop to learn all about the process of making a movie. Teach your youth group the ins and outs of the financial world with Wall Street Walks, a tour of lower Manhattan that focuses on the stock market as well as America’s investment history.
If you’re looking for an economical way to tour New York City, Big Apple Greeter is a non-profit organization that has volunteers who take student tour groups around the city on two- to four-hour free tours.
One of the best ways to see the city is from the Hudson River. Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises offers 90-minute or three-hour boat tours. The Staten Island Ferry, while not an official tour boat, offers breathtaking views of the famous skyline.
Student Performance Venues in New York City
Richard Tucker Park has live music every week, and your student tour group can be one of the acts that plays for the locals during their lunch breaks. There are a number of gazebos and pavilions throughout Central Park, and many are available to rent out for a couple hours. The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts offers community programs, including the Young Music Makers program, which lets high school bands perform concerts around the Lincoln Center campus. Coney Island features a bustling boardwalk where student performance groups are welcome to put on a show for all the people who visit the amusement park.
Meals in the Big Apple: Student Dining in New York City
New York City has a plethora of dining options; cuisines ranging from Italian and Chinese to Vietnamese and Turkish. It is also home to the classic American hot dog and salted soft pretzel, which can be purchased from any city street vendor. If your youth travelers want a place to rest their feet and enjoy some New York fare, then try Boat Basin Cafe. This establishment serves up sizzling burgers to guests as they sit on the patio overlooking the Hudson. City Bakery is a hit with student tour groups, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s a health food market with nutritious spins on fried chicken and mac and cheese that are so scrumptious your crew won’t know they’re eating healthy. The spinning chocolate wheel will satisfy any sweet tooth. If your student travelers find themselves famished while in Chinatown, there are restaurants everywhere, but Joe’s Shanghai is one of the most popular.
Chelsea’s Market is perfect when everyone wants something different. The food court doesn’t house your typical fast food joints. Instead, student tour groups can choose ethnic cuisine from unique vendors or classic American dishes cooked fresh right in front of their faces. New York is known for its bagel shops, and Murray’s Bagels is a frequented location by tourists and locals alike. Student travelers can get a standard bagel and schmear or pick from an array of other toppings like meats, salmon and veggies. For something sweet, take your student tour group to one of the many ice cream shops; there are far too many to name them all, but Grom, Capogiro, L’Arte del Gelato and Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory should be enough to start you off.
Student Accommodations in New York City
New York City is notoriously expensive, especially when it comes to hotels. However, there are a number of places in the city that are reasonable for school trips. Embassy Suites Hotel has favorable rates for groups, and their weekend prices are considerably lower than other places. Travel Inn offers spacious, clean rooms and a complimentary breakfast. The Comfort Inn on Central Park West has a free continental breakfast, is located near the park and has an ideal location near some of the best attractions.
If these hotels are still too much for your student trip budget, then consider looking across the water in Brooklyn, Staten Island or New Jersey. Many hotels near Newark airport have low group rates and easy access to the city via trains or buses.
Your schedule will be full with a student trip to New York City. With all the museums, attractions, shows, tours and food, your student tour group will never be bored. New York City has so much to offer, student travelers may never want to leave.