Ask Ari

Ask Ari: Summer Fun for Tweens (And Their Parents!)

Your kids won’t roll their eyes at these summer-in-NYC ideas.

Photo courtesy of Manhattan Kayak

Well, hello again. In this second edition of our Ask Ari column, Arielle (Ari) Tepper Madover—a lifelong New Yorker, Broadway producer, and founder of the in-the-know planning and recommendation company What Should We Do?! (that’s us!)—helps a 12-year-old Broadway performer (Mia Sinclair Jenness, who is starring in Mary Page Marlowe) fit in summertime fun around her busy show schedule.

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Hi Ari,
I’m a mom to a 12-year-old Broadway performer. She and three of her friends (girls ages 11 to 14 and all in shows) want to have an amazing summer filled with indoor and outdoor fun, but still need to be free for matinees and to get to the theater rested and ready to perform eight shows a week. Any suggestions on what we should do? Thanks! —Emily

Hi, Emily!
How cool. Congratulations to your daughter! There’s nothing more exciting than performing on Broadway. I know from producing the musical Annie (on Broadway from 2012 to 2014), though, how tough the performance schedule can be for young actors. Balancing the show with family time, friendships, exercise, and school is no easy task. So I wanted to find activities for your daughter and friends that let them be kids while still leaving them with enough energy to shine onstage. Let me know if Mia likes any of these ideas!

 Try a scavenger hunt in Central Park, at the American Museum of Natural History, or at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Our friends at Watson Adventures plan indoor and outdoor scavenger hunts at cool spots all over the city. In Central Park, for example, the girls would score points by deciphering a code by the pond from Home Alone 2 and finding a witch turned to stone. If you don’t see a hunt that fits your schedule on Watson Adventure’s calendar, don’t worry, they can arrange a private one for all of you.

 Miniature golf on the Hudson River. My tweens love mini golf, and I love the river views and cool breezes at Hudson River Park’s Pier 25 in Tribeca. It’s a suburb-worthy, 18-hole course with water features, sand traps, and a cave. The Sweet Love Snack Bar on the pier serves burgers, fries, and ice cream for lunch afterward.

 Go on a pizza tour for an activity that combines walking, history, and, of course, some of the best slices in the city. Scott’s Pizza Tours run two- to three-hour neighborhood walks and pizza tastings on the Lower East Side and in Greenwich Village, Little Italy, and even Times Square, which could be a perfect preshow plan.

• Follow up the pizza tour with a chocolate tour on another day (hey, it’s summer!). Sample truffles, barks, cocoa, macarons, and cupcakes on a two-hour jaunt through the Village and SoHo while learning about the history and health benefits of chocolate. Best part: no waiting in line.

 Bowl a few frames—and hit up the arcade—at Bowlmor Lanes, right in Times Square!

 Kayak on the Hudson River…for free. Kayaks are available at three different piers along the river, but the closest to the Theater District is Pier 84 at West 44th Street. Being on the water with fresh air and sun is the perfect antidote to time spent in a chilly, darkened theater.

 Learn to throw pots. A few pottery spots we like near the Theater District (or on the West Side of Manhattan for easy train access): Supermud PotteryLa Mano Pottery, Mugi Pottery, and Chambers Pottery. If none of their class schedules work for you, arrange a private lesson for all the kids.

 Spend an afternoon in nearby Bryant Park. There are so many good food vendors there (I’m partial to Le Pain Quotidien) that it’s easy to make a picnic and enjoy the sun and people-watching. The girls can play ping-pong or choose a board game from the park’s game library. Afterward, browse the extensive collection of anime and manga books—and super-kawaii Japanese stationery goods—at the three-floor Kinokuniya bookstore across the street from the park.

 Climb mountains, walk planks, and slice fruit at VR World, a virtual reality theme park in midtown.

 Eat ice cream (and take selfies, of course) at the Pint Shop Museum of Ice Cream, a whimsical and immersive pop-up museum with flavor tastings.

 Speaking of selfies, refresh the girls’ social media feeds with shots from some of the most Instagrammable spots in the city.

Have fun and break a leg!

Do life well,

Want us to create a special day for you? Get in touch with one of our experience planners now, or write to Ari at