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a VirtualTourist member from California

New York City

17 and visiting NYC alone

I'm going to spend the greater portion of my week in NYC alone. I'm also shopping for a prom dress, so suggestions of stores/streets that are affordable would be nice. What activities or places should I definitely do or visit? How safe is it for a 17 yo girl to go around alone? Any nightlife for someone my age? Any tips on safety and fun?

12 Answers

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey

Tips on safety for a 17 year old alone in NYC.....Where do I start. Do you have hotel reservations yet? The general area you're staying would help make suggestions on some aspects of safety, especially at night.

I would not recommend a 17 year old alone in NYC for entire week. But since you are already going, You definitely do not want to be out too much after dinner. Knowing the area you are staying would help make some nearby restaurant choices as well.

During the day you should be fine if you don't talk to anyone, don't believe anything a stranger tells you without checking it out on your own first. Don't share a taxi. If you use the subway don't stand too close to the edge of the platform. Carry your bag over your head and shoulder.

Be aware of your surroundings and alert to who is walking behind you. Don't tell anyone in NYC that you are there alone! Set up a time to check in with someone once or twice a day and have a plan for that person on what to do if you do not check in.

As for shopping for a prom dress, I can't help you there. A general area you are staying would help members make suggestions so you don't have to travel far within the city. Don't mention anything exact here!

Safe travels

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi Caryn! Wow, a whole week (mostly) on your own? I'm hoping that you're staying in a hotel/apartment with an adult family member/friend that can be contacted via cell should you need to? It would be good for you to at least have someone there to check in with occasionally or in an emergency?

I can't help you with the prom dress either but I see you're from California? I'm just guessing that the dress may be purchased more inexpensively at home, and trying to pack the thing - if it's rather large - could be a pain. We'll see if our local members might have some ideas there, though.

Activities and nightlife: lots of things to do and see in the city! NYC has wonderful art museums (The Met, MOMA, the Frick, etc) if you like those? I'd also take a walk through Grand Central Terminal for the architecture, a look at the shops (just for fun) and a taste of NY commuter rush. We enjoyed a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (free - and a great spot for skyline photos) as well as Central Park (daytime only). In the evening you could go up in the Empire State Building to see the lights, or take in a broadway show if you enjoy theater?

Broadway in SOHO also has tons of fun shops to browse: for instance, stop into Pearl River Mart for a colorful (and inexpensive) selection of Asian products:

What types of activities are you interested in?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Helsinki

be careful.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New York City

You will not be allowed to check into any hotel unless you are 21. You will not be allowed into most bars till you are 21 and many restaurants with bars in it can refuse to sere you alone as well due to your age. . For prom dresses there are hundreds of stores where you can go including dept. stores. But for that you might as well shop at home and not waste the trip.

I do not know if your parents know about your trip but going to NYC alone is just a poor judgment idea at your age.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from California

I guess I didn't do a good enough job of explaining. I'm actually in NY for college program visit for a university program I got into, but it'll only be for a weekend. For the rest of the week, I'll be just hanging around. I'm staying with a cousin, but she works so I'm obviously going to have a lot of time to myself. As for nightlife, I meant something legal, like a music cafe or something, I don't know. I just want to experience NYC.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey

Hi Caryn, thanks for the explanation! It makes a lot more sense now. To get a real NYC experience, definitely try and visit some of the micro neighborhoods. You'll probably have some fun checking out the shops in Greenwich Village and SOHO. If your cousin lives in the city she can explain how to get to these areas. You can continue up from SOHO and check out Little Italy and then cross Canal st and check out Chinatown.

You can also check out Chelsea Market: They always have some small band playing and kinda cool to walk around.

If you are more uptown, Central Park during the day is great and you should really check out the Metropolitian Museum of Art,  For some cafe's with music, check out Time Out New York:

Enjoy your visit and write some tips when your done!

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Minneapolis

Hi again - thanks a bunch for filling us in a little; very good to know that you're not going to be completely solo for a whole week!

So I'll echo John that exploring some of the neighborhoods is great fun: Chelsea, SOHO and the Villages have a different feel than, say, the upper West or Theater/Times Square districts.

You could hop the ferry to Staten Island and back: it passes relatively close to the Statue of Liberty and gives you another nice eyeful of the Manhattan skyline - for free!

The Met is open until 9:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays: might be a good evening activity for you? Bring your student ID for discount tickets. MOMA has an even better deal on Friday nights: free from 4:00 - 8:00!!! Otherwise your ID will also land you discount tickets.

The Frick is a great little collection in a former mansion and has free entrance from 11:00 - 1:00 on Sundays, student rates at other times.

Want to learn more about NYC from a local (when your cousin is too busy to show you around)? Consider a free tour with a Big Apple Greeter:

This might be really fun as you'd have someone to walk about with for a few hours. And another free tour company getting good reviews is Free Tours by Foot:

They have a daily roster of tours you can sign up for, and while "free" it's recommended that you contribute what you can to the guide for his/her time if they've done a good job Check reviews on Trip Advisor:

Again, this would give you some company to walk around with for a bit, and you could easily sign up for a different one every day.

High 5 offers $5 tickets for teens to all sorts of stuff: dance, theater, museum, etc. Have your parents help you pre-book tickets with their credit card before you go, and your cousin - as an adult - is eligible for the same $5 ticket if he/she wants to go along.

Take a stroll around Rockefeller Center; there might be some free events going on, and you can cruise the shops. The NBC Experience store is popular with visitors; pick up a souvenir of your favorite NBC TV show.

Want to wave at the folks back home on the Today show? Line up outside the studio early in the morning:

And have "breakfast" at Tiffany's. Join the other folks who bring their take-away coffee, bagels or granola bars to the sidewalk outside this 5th Avenue (Fifth Avenue and 57th Street) icon just to say they did! Yeah, it's a touristy thing to do but who cares? :O)

On a more somber note, you might want to pay your respects at the 9/11 museum/memorial:

And stop into St Paul's Chapel while you're in that area. It's a very old, very important piece of U.S. history, and also played a big role in the 9/11 recovery effort: free to visit:

Manhattan is very safe but it IS a big city so it's very wise to take care of yourself and your valuables. Don't carry ALL of your cash around at one time: leave some of it at your cousin's, take along only what you think you may need during the day, and keep it safely stashed in a pouch under your clothing where a pickpocket can't get to it. I like to pin a small zippered pouch to the inside of my waistband for easy access for me but no one else. Do not carry it (or your ID or a credit card, if you have one) in your purse, OK?

Every first-time visitor wants to see Time's Square (and i'm sure you do too) but this is a particularly good area to keep a tight rein on your valuables. it's very crowded with tourists - which tends to draw those folks looking for easy-pickins' where pockets and purses are concerned.

OK, there's a start?

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New Jersey

Great recommendation by Kate! I would just add the the MET is technically free. They do have an admission price but they advertise it as "recommended" and ask you to pay the full amount. Its a donation and you can pay nothing, $5, $10, $7, $1....whatever you like. You can say the amount you would like to pay. They don't make you feel bad, they just don't tell you its free.

By the way the recommended admission is $25, but with your student ID the recommended amount is $12.

I always feel a little guilty and pay the full amount. It goes to a worthy cause and I think the MET has the best a museum can offer.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from New York City

Once again the OP is staying with family, therefore the hotel issue is meaningless at this point.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Park City

When we were walking from Time Square to the fairy we found an area of dress shops. My daughter found her prom dress there.

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Brooklyn

BEST advice that I can give you....
Get a Metrocard for the week. One of the best deals in nYc:

You can see that a 7 day unlimited card is $30!

NYC is a very safe city. People are very friendly, however, as stated, you do NOT need to mention that you are here by yourself. If you get into a conversation with someone, just say that you are in school.

Some great recommendations already re things to do. Also, walk around the Village. Check out Central Park. Washington Sq Park is always a good time when the weather is nice. You can just people watch and walk around.

Also, there is NO need to take a huge purse with all of your possessions with you on each outing. Maybe plan ahead and get a small "purse/pack" type thing and just have your ID/cash or CC/phone/camera and whatever else you absolutely need. Leave all of the other stuff at the place that you are staying.
(I just came home from Bangkok this morning and have lived in NY 95% of my life. When I was out for the night in Bk, I took my money clip with cash/hotel key and bank card. I also had my passport. That's it. I left my wallet in my hotel. Not because I was worried about crime, I just didn't want to lose anything!)

answered by
a VirtualTourist member from Rome

Great advice from blueskyjohn. It would be a good idea to make a copy of his tips and keep them in mind. Last year, my 17 yo granddaughter went to NYC with me. Her nature is friendly and she had never been to a large city - making her stick out like a sore thumb to criminals. She received a lot of attention that made ME very uncomfortable. Please be constantly aware of what is going on around you, especially in dark or crowded areas and definitely don't let your guard down if you go near the Port Authority.

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