New York City is arguably the most exciting city in the world, and when planning a high school senior trip to New York, it can be easy to get lost with the countless attractions and places to do and see. It would take months if not years to truly experience New York at its fullest, but with only a few days, you want to make sure every minute counts.
Here are the 6 coolest ideas and places to visit for any high school senior class trip to New York City:
- The Statue of Liberty
- Central Park
- Little Italy
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Times Square
- Six Flags Great Adventure
Read below as we dive into each place, explaining exactly what makes these locations awesome choices for a high school senior trip!
1) The Statue of Liberty
You can’t imagine New York City without visualizing the Statue of Liberty holding her iconic torch over the cityscape. The Statue of Liberty is one of New York’s most popular tourist destinations, with over four million visitors per year checking out the national icon.
One of the best parts about visiting Liberty Island and Ellis Island is that it gives you a chance to take your seniors out on a ferry, which might be a first for many of them. While you can take your seniors to both islands on your own, there are plenty of guided tours available that run daily.
And if you’re really trying to get your money’s worth, this area is actually one of six stops on the official New York City Pass, which includes the 9/11 Memorial building. This symbol of freedom, hope, and new beginnings is a must-see, and for high school seniors, the trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is one they’ll never forget.
- Visitors were once permitted to climb up to the torch, until the Black Tom incident in 1916, when the Black Tom island was blasted by 2 million tons of TNT and similar explosives
- The “spikes” on top of the statue’s crown are actually supposed to represent a halo
- The statue was originally the color of a penny, and turned greenish-blue after its first 20 years
2) Central Park
Central Park is so much more than just a park, but even as it is, it’s already a sight to behold: 843 acres of delicate, untouched nature, with a lake sitting in the middle of it, right in the heart of Manhattan.
With ball fields, skating rinks, meadows, hills, playgrounds, and awesome attractions like the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, and Strawberry Fields, you can spend an entire week roaming the destination and not see the same thing twice.
Be sure to begin your trip by picking up a free offer map from the visitor center. It’s then up to you and your class to decide if you want to explore it on your own with a walking route, or join up with one of the many daily tours.
So what can you do specifically? If you are looking for more than just a nice walk through nature in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world, the area offers a ton of activities to do and places to explore, such as:
- Central Park Zoo: Over 100 animal species from various ecosystems and habitats call the Central Park Zoo home. From penguins to monkeys, polar bears to red pandas the Delacorte Clock to the 4D Theater, you will have an awesome time at this zoo.
- Conservatory Garden: With thousands upon thousands of shrubs and trees, the Conservatory Garden is the true “formal garden”, with a calmer and more peaceful atmosphere than the rest of the area. This six-acre space is a frequent venue for weddings and other formal events, with sections divided for English, Italian, and French style gardens.
- Loeb Boathouse: With the lake comes its own boathouse, where you can have a nice meal or drink at the restaurant by the water’s edge, or even rent your own boat and take a tour on the lake itself.
- It used to be a place of rocks, swamps, and terrible soil. About half a million cubic feet of soil was imported from the closest place they could find great soil – New Jersey
- Due to budget cuts, the Park has had a few decades where mismanagement and bureaucratic issues contributed to the location almost falling into chaos, in the 30s and the 70s. Thankfully, fundraising bodies kept it alive through tough times
- It was once home to thousands of sheep in the large Sheep Meadow area, from the 1860s until just after the Great Depression
3) Little Italy
Bordered by SoHo, Tribeca, Lower East Side, Chinatown, and NoLita, it would be easy to understand if Little Italy could be forgotten about, with so many iconic downtown Manhattan neighborhoods around it. But Little Italy remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, and for good reason.
New York Italians played a huge part in shaping New York as we know it today, and there is nothing more Italian American than Little Italy. The neighborhood got its name due to the many Sicilian and Neapolitan immigrants that moved into the area in the 1880s. That Italian influence has lived on, morphing into a uniquely Italian New York experience that you can’t see, feel, or taste anywhere else.
So what is there to see and do in Little Italy? While Little Italy has recently shrunk because of the expansion of Chinatown, there is still plenty of Italian American authenticity to be seen and tasted down these streets to make all tourists on trips more than content. Some popular places include:
- Di Palo’s: Di Palo’s is a grocery store that many consider the heart of Italian New York living. Just stepping in and taking a whiff of the air in the store is enough to breathe in an entire culture, with prosciutto bread, hand pulled mozzarella, and many other staple ingredients that make this place one of the few grocery stores that regularly has a line outside the door.
- Grotta Azzurra: If you only have time for one restaurant for the “true Italian American experience”, then you’ve got to check out Grotta Azzurra. With a bustling atmosphere with bright lights and loud guests, this restaurant is a memorial, perfectly capturing the family-friendly attitude while serving up rustic and classic dishes that you won’t forget.
- Italian American Museum: If you are looking for more than just food, the Italian American Museum is a must-see, with a photo gallery of the history and life of Little Italy. Unfortunately, the venue is currently under renovation and won’t be open until Spring 2021.
- Rossi E and Company: Italian gifts, souvenirs, and novelties. For tourists looking to take home a piece of Little Italy with them, Rossi E and Company offers much better souvenirs than a perfect breadstick from your favorite Italian restaurant.
- Little Italy’s Lombardi’s Pizza is known as the first official US pizzeria, first opening its doors back in 1905
- That spaghetti and meatballs dish you love so much? That was actually an invention of Little Italy’s southern Italian population!
- The Italian American Museum is home to the famous Matteo family puppet shows, which entertained residents and visitors of New York from the 1920s to the 1950s
4) Metropolitan Museum of Art
What’s great about the Met is that it has something for every senior in your class – no matter what part of history interests them the most, the Met has something to show. There is no other place on earth where you can experience tours on Egyptian tombs, Renaissance paintings, and Japanese samurai armor in a single day.
With thousands of pieces to see, it can be easy to get lost and miss the most popular attractions. Here are three rooms you need to explore during any Met trips. But with so many things to see, we advise you take several trips if you have the time:
- Asian Art Collection: The Asian Art Collection takes up several mezzanine galleries, and for good reason. Displaying Asian art over various centuries and cultures, your senior students can see depictions of Asian life, culture, and religion (particularly Buddha) over huge spans of recorded human history. One stand-out piece is the “Water Stone” fountain by Isamu Noguchi.
- The Temple of Dendur: Step into the only complete Egyptian Temple you can find in the Western Hemisphere at the Temple of Dendur. Originally built over 2000 years ago in ancient Egypt, the temple was disassembled after it was flooded, and given to the United States as a gift of recognition for their assistance.
- The Greek and Roman Sculpture Court: As a hallmark of Western civilization, no senior student will ever find themselves bored surrounded by Greek and Roman sculptures and statues. This two-story hall is filled with objects from the ancient Greek and Roman empires, with statues, fountains, and an Etruscan chariot.
- One of the many historical artifacts in the Met is the oldest surviving piano in the world. This piano made by Bartolomeo Cristofori – the original Italian inventor of the piano – was built in 1720
- Do your senior students love fashion? The Met is home to perhaps the biggest fashion-history collection in the world, with over 33,000 historical and cultural pieces of clothing and accessories from all over the world
- The NYC Met is one of the most popular museums in the world, with recent reports revealing over 7 million people taking trips to visit annually
5) Times Square
You can’t make a list of the coolest destinations in NYC without including the one and only Times Square! What first time visitors of NYC are always surprised to learn is that Times Square isn’t actually a square – the area is the four quarters between Broadway and 7th Avenue’s intersection in Midtown Manhattan.
Aside from the glitz and glamour of Broadway, shopping, and awesome billboards, there are tons of attractions and things a group of eager students can see and do in what is known as the “crossroads of the world”.
Enjoy food from all over the world from one of the many NYC food trucks and food stands around the area; sit in on a taping of a popular talk show; listen to the gospel choir at the Times Square Church; interact with the many costumed cartoon characters like Elmo; check out the midnight moment, or the greatest digital art exhibition in the world from 11:57 to midnight every night.
Need more ideas on what to do? Check out the official NYC Information Center for Times Square here.
- Times Square was originally known as Longacre Square, but was renamed to Times Square when The New York Times moved its main offices to the area in 1904
- There is a law that states that every building around Times Square must have a certain minimum display lighting at all times, to maintain the flashy and glitzy look
- The biggest crowd Times Square has ever seen was two million people, when people gathered in the square to celebrate the end of World War II on August 14, 1945
6) Six Flags Great Adventure
Located just between NYC and Philadelphia, Six Flags Great Adventure has 13 rollercoasters and 2 water rides, and operates for most of the year, between March and January.
- The NYC destination first opened in 1974, and was bought by Six Flags in 1977
- There are eleven themed areas in the park, including Fantasy Forest, the Golden Kingdom, Boardwalk, and more
- Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari is the second in size only to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, taking up over 475 acres
Plan Your High School Senior Trip with Junior Tours
Thinking of planning a high school senior class trip or tour to NYC (or anywhere else), and feeling a little lost? Junior Tours is here to help! We’ve been assisting schools, teachers, and classes for decades, taking care of all the essentials to create the perfect school tours and trips.
Whether you are heading to New York, Washington D.C., Canada, or even abroad, we can help you from top to bottom, managing everything from your accommodations to your transportation and even layout every step of your itinerary. We’ll help you plan trips to historic and cultural hearts of the city, from the 9/11 Memorial building to Broadway and everything in between.
Contact us at Junior Tours today, and let us help you create a trip and tour your senior class will never forget!