It’s hard to find appropriate activities for large groups of people of disparate ages and disparate interests. (This is why family reunions so often center around food!) It’s not easy to get a crowd to agree on a play or a concert (and they’re often really expensive). Plenty of people have no interest in opera or dance. Plenty of people (often different people) have no interest in organized sports. So what to do in NYC with out of town guests? How about if you’re stuck entertaining teenagers? Readers, fear not. We have some ideas for you.
Escape the Hydeout:
You can run, but you can’t Hyde!
I recently took three thirteen-year-old girls to Escape the Hydeout, a Jekyll and Hyde-themed escape room created by Mission Escape Games. This one had an air of Victorian spookiness, a very kind game master (I think we were entitled to three hints–and I wasn’t counting, but we just may have received some extras), and (as they generally work), a series of puzzles in which each solution led to the next problem. We had an hour to complete the task, and scraped by, triumphant, with mere seconds to spare. You can save money by booking places in a public game (when you may be working cooperatively with people you don’t know), or spend a little more to have the place to yourself. At the midtown location we visited there was also an option of an apocalypse-themed game, and according to their website, there are more coming soon: Escape the Nemesis (a spaceship is crashing down to earth) and Escape the Darkest Hour (serial killer on the loose). (I think I’ll stick with the literary subject matter, personally!) And if none of these themes are to your liking, there are plenty of other escape rooms: Escape the Room New York City, Escape Room Madness, and so on. (Each has particular rules about age limits and whether teenagers are welcome to play–some themes are not appropriate for the underage crowd. For games in which teenagers are welcome, they generally do require at least one adult participant.)
Address: 265 W 37th St Suite 802A, New York
Cost: about $30 per person, more for private bookings
Don’t Tell Mama Piano Bar:
What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play…
You can have dinner at Don’t Tell Mama. The service is friendly, and the food is perfectly adequate, although it will not be getting any rave reviews from restaurant critics. It doesn’t matter, as the food is entirely beside the point. What you’ll want to do is eat something in the dining room if you’re hungry (or hit any of the other restaurants on Restaurant Row–you have plenty to choose from) and then visit the piano bar. We were there recently celebrating a birthday on an early Sunday evening. The gracious performer at the time, Sheree Sano, led the room to sing us “Happy Birthday,” and invited us up to sing along with her if we were so inclined. Your shyer party members won’t, of course, but someone in your group just might–and she couldn’t have been kinder (merely asking me not to put my wine glass on the piano) as she let me give “I Could Write a Book” a try. If you’d rather just sing along to standards and show tunes from the relative anonymity of your table, that’s fine, too. Or just listen–they’ll take requests if you want to hear some of your favorites. Minors are welcome, although they won’t be served alcohol, and it’s recommended that you take the kids home early (before 9:00, when the rest of the bar staff starts singing too). It gives you plenty of time. Happy hour starts at 4:00 and the music begins at 5:00, nightly. (And if you’ve no underage members in your party, you can stick around until the wee hours–they don’t close until 2:30 am.) Remember to tip your bartender and your pianist!
Address: 343 W 46th St, New York
Cost: no cover charge, two-drink minimum
The Museum of Illusions:
You live in a world of illusion, where everything’s peaches and cream…
This place is just terrific. It’s educational and fun, and you come away with fantastic, dramatic pictures. If you want to see your friends and family members grow and shrink with tricks of perspective, or if your idea of fun is to serve up someone’s head on a platter on a mirrored table (no one gets hurt, really), this is the place for you. (And, bonus, you can wow everyone you know on social media!) The optical illusions are impressive, the holograms were amazing, the mirror room was a hoot, and we were fascinated by the “true mirror” which showed us as others see us, but my kids liked the low-tech wooden puzzles at least as much, spending a lot of time in the “smart playroom.” I didn’t think we’d last too long, but we were there for at least three hours, and I practically had to drag them out of the place. (Not without hitting the gift shop, where you can buy some of those low-tech wooden puzzles to take home.)
Address: 77 Eighth Avenue, New York
Cost: $19 for adults, discounts for students, children, seniors, and military
Now get out there and have a good time!
Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.
Laura can be contacted at email@example.com
1. Lead-In Image (Composite):
- Maisei Raman / Shutterstock.com – “Hand with an old key. Retro style unlock sign and icon. Vintage engraving stylized drawing.”
- Maisei Raman / Shutterstock.com – “Female hands playing fingers on the keys of the piano. Retro music concept design. Vintage engraving stylized drawing.”
- doel studio / Shutterstock.com – “New York City graphic for t-shirt, Tee Design For Print.”
2. Mission Escape Games – https://missionescapegames.com/nyc
3. Don’t Tell Momma – https://www.donttellmamanyc.com/piano-bar
4. Museum of Illusions – New York – https://newyork.museumofillusions.us/exhibits/