You've cleared your schedule and finally found a few hours for quality time with your preteen. Just one glitch: She wants nothing to do with you. Somehow, overnight, you've become incredibly (a) uninteresting and (b) embarrassing to your darling child, and hanging out with you is not high on her list of priorities.
Don't let this deter you. There are loads of activities around the city so fun and cool by tweens' standards that they'll agree to your company. Plus, some goings-on require adult supervision, not to mention cash. So next time your kid gives you the Look of Death, surprise her with one of the following suggestions.
Because your local playground's jungle gym doesn't cut it anymore.
The 30-foot rock-climbing wall in the Field House at Chelsea Piers—not to be confused with the 46-foot "ultimate challenge" wall in the sports center—is designed for kids and teens (and a good bet for inexperienced adults). Ultranewbies can sign up for private lessons together. Between Piers 61 and 62, Eleventh Ave at 23rd St (212-336-6500, chelseapiers.com). $115 per hour for a two-person lesson.
Aviator Sports and Recreation, the outer-borough Chelsea Piers, offers drop-in sessions on a 35-foot wall. 5 Floyd Bennett Field, Marine Park, Brooklyn (718-758-7500, aviatorsports.com). $10 per person for two climbs.
You put it off for as long as you could, but your kids are no longer "too young" for skateboarding. And though you may be "too old," you'll be even older next year. So strap on lots of protective gear and give it a go.
Skateboarding School offers private and group lessons at five Manhattan locations and one in Brooklyn (646-221-4652, skateboardingschool.com). $85 for a two-person lesson, $30 per person for group lessons.
At Boerum Hill board mecca Homage Brooklyn, choose from private, semiprivate and group lessons. 151 Smith St between Bergen and Dean Sts, Brooklyn (718-596-8151, homagebrooklyn.com). $80 for a two-person lesson, $30 per person for group lessons.
Everyday Athlete Studio offers small-group "Liquid Fitness" classes, which use skateboards and balance boards (great for those with surfing aspirations). Get together with your tween and the friend with the most aesthetically pleasing parent, and form your own small group. 136 Union St between Columbia and Hicks Sts, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (718-852-6300, everydayathletestudio.com). Rates vary; about $20 per person per session.
Hit the trails without leaving the five boroughs.
In Queens, Cunningham Park boasts 6.5 miles of trails, ranging from beginner to expert—but avoid the temptation to show off. Remember, chronic back pain is just one misguided-attempt-at-reclaiming-your-youth away. Union Tpke between Francis Lewis Blvd and 193rd St, Hollis, Queens (nycgovparks.org)
Highbridge Park in Washington Heights has three miles of trails. Similar range; same warning applies. 173rd St at Amsterdam Ave (nycgovparks.org)
For kitschy fun—even without carts or caddies—it's hard to beat a round on the links.
At Flushing Meadows Golf Center, you'll find an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course that's great for experienced grown-ups and inexperienced kids (or vice versa). Flushing Meadows--Corona Park, Queens (golfnyc.com). Weekday days $13.50, children under 12 $7; higher rates apply on evenings and weekends.
At Bronx Golf Center, you'll find an 18-hole mini-golf course in addition to batting cages and a driving range. 1825 E Gun Hill Rd between Ely and Gunther Aves, Bronx (718-379-6666). $7, children under 13 $5.50.
Volunteers run free programs around the city shores. And since all participating children (including your surly 12-year-old) must know how to swim and be accompanied by an adult, your kid is stuck with you. Boats and paddles are supplied.
Long Island City Community Boathouse offers free kayaking at Hallets Cove on Sundays in the summer. Hallets Cove, Socrates Sculpture Park, Vernon Blvd at 31st Ave, Astoria, Queens (licboathouse.org)
In Manhattan, the Downtown Boathouse also sponsors free paddling, by the West Side piers at 72nd, 56th and Houston Streets on spring and summer weekends (downtownboathouse.org).
Malibu, Oahu, Montauk...and Queens. No need to leave the city to learn to surf—just jump on the A train and head to the Rockaways. Catch a wave with New York Surf School through mid-November (the wet suits the school provides will come in mighty handy, especially toward the end of the season). Rockaway Beach, Queens (718-496-3371, surflessonsnewyork101.com). $110 for two people for a one-hour lesson.
Ready to go a little deeper? You and your kid (age 10 or older) can dive in our lovely local waters.
Adventure Scuba will get your feet wet in a one-time introductory pool course, then help you move on to a more in-depth experience. 1737 York Ave at 91st St (212-876-3483, adventurescubany.com). Intro class $50 per person.
Or dive right in with the Junior Open Water Diver course (take the "junior" out if you're of age) at Pan Aqua Diving. Successful completion of the pool-and-classroom program means you're eligible for further training in that "open water." 460 W 43rd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves (212-736-3483, panaqua.com/training.html). $250--$295 per person for a three-, four- or five-session course.
New York Liberty. Madison Square Garden, Seventh Ave at 32nd St (212-564-9622, wnba.com/liberty). $10 and up.
Brooklyn Cyclones. KeySpan Park, 1904 Surf Ave between 17th and 19th Sts, Coney Island, Brooklyn (718-372-5596, brooklyncyclones.com). $8--$15.
Staten Island Yankees. Richmond County Bank Ballpark, 75 Richmond Terr at Wall St, Staten Island (718-720-9265, siyanks.com). $7--$14.
Museums & culture
The American Museum of Natural History and MTV2 joined forces to create SonicVision, a planetarium show with music from Moby, Coldplay, Radiohead and others. Select Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 and 8:30pm at the Rose Center for Space and Earth, AMNH. $15.
Among the many perks of tweenhood: a museum sleepover. On select dates, you and your favorite eight- to 12-year-old can snooze under the big blue whale at AMNH. Be sure to make reservations: If you just sack out there, someone might call security. $129 per person.
Socrates Sculpture Park offers free Saturday sculpture workshops in the spring and summer. You and your tween can make cell-bots from mobile phones, learn papermaking or craft good-luck charms. 32-01 Vernon Blvd at Broadway, Long Island City, Queens (718-956-1819, socratessculpturepark.org)
There's no time like the present to train an in-house opponent.
Eastside Billiards caters to everyone from beginners to pros, with lessons for all levels. 163 E 86th St between Lexington and Third Aves (212-831-7665, eastsidebilliards.com). Lessons from $35 per person.
Ocean's 8 at Brownstone Billiards promises some 34 pool tables, plus big TVs, Ping-Pong, air hockey, an arcade and two bowling alleys. 308 Flatbush Ave at Seventh Ave, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-857-5555, oceans8atbrownstone.com). $9.95 per hour for two players, each additional player $2 (includes pool, Ping-Pong and air hockey).
These aren't just for cosplaying Comic-Con- goers. Everyone from casual manga enthusiasts to the superhero-obsessed is welcome—including your tween.
Midtown Comics stocks graphic novels, collectibles, action figures and T-shirts, not to mention 500,000 back issues, at its two stores (same phone and website for both: 212-302-8192, midtowncomics.com). *200 W 40th St at Seventh Ave; *459 Lexington Ave at 45th St
At Jim Hanley's Universe (jhuniverse.com), "where art and literature meet," you'll find mainstream titles as well as small-press, indie and mini comics. *4 W 33rd St at Fifth Ave (212-268-7088); *325 New Dorp Ln at Clawson St, Staten Island (718-351-6299)
Located in a hideaway lair at the N, W line's elevated Astoria--Ditmars Blvd stop, Silver Age Comics specializes in vintage Marvel and DC serials. 22-55 31st St between Ditmars Blvd and 23rd Ave, Astoria, Queens (718-721-9691, silveragecomics.com)
In these thrifty times, introduce your little princess or prince to the satisfaction of DIY.
Femmegems lets kids design original jewelry or update old favorites in the inspiring environs of a Chelsea design studio. 134 W 26th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves, #400 (212-625-1611, femmegems.com). Hours by appointment; generally Tue--Thu 8:30am--1pm (though exceptions can be made). Materials start at 50 cents apiece; minimum cost of a finished necklace is about $28.
At Metalliferous, choose from 30,000 different beads, silver findings, base metal findings, books and tools. No cozy studio surroundings, though; you'll have to do your handiwork elsewhere. 34 W 46th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-944-0909, metalliferous.com)
Beads of Paradise stocks baubles from around the globe, and offers a Sunday crash course in jewelry making for kids ages eight and up. 16 E 17th St between Fifth Ave and Broadway (212-620-0642, beadsofparadisenyc.com). Findings crash course $75.
Initiate your child into the beloved tradition of the mani/pedi at these tween-friendly spots. At the first two spas, you can treat yourself, too (all in the name of quality time, of course).
Preteens are welcome to try out the trendy polish colors at Lia Schorr's teen spa. 686 Lexington Ave between 56th and 57th Sts (212-486-9670, liaschorr.com/teen_spa.htm). Manicure $20, pedicure $35.
Perfectly Polished offers a mani/pedi special for the 12-and-under crowd. 88 Atlantic Ave between Henry and Hicks Sts, Brooklyn Heights (347-844-9034, perfectly-polished.com). Manicure $8, pedicure $20.
Sorry, grown-ups: Dimples Kids Spa caters exclusively to young'uns. The mani/pedis here are "decorative only," meaning no cutting or filing. 91 Montague St between Henry and Hicks Sts, Brooklyn Heights (718-330-0000, dimpleskidspa.com). Manicure $10, pedicure $12--$20.
This is NYC, and commerce rules. So, at the risk of pointing your child toward a meaningless existence of crass consumerism (hey, it spurs the economy), here are some places for browsing, if not buying.
Chelsea Market The cavernous former home of the National Biscuit Company now houses Amy's Bread, Fat Witch Brownies and L'Arte del Gelato, among others. Need we say more? 75 Ninth Ave between 15th and 16th Sts (chelseamarket.com)
Pearl Paint and Pearl River Okay, other than their names and their downtown locales, these Pearls don't share a lot. But they both have tons of vital items that you never knew you needed. At Pearl Paint, you can get crafty with acrylic paints, brushes and frames, printmaking kits and thousands more art supplies. At Pearl River, indulge in hanging lanterns, feng shui Buddhas and myriad other items. *Pearl Paint, 308 Canal St between Broadway and Mercer Sts (212-431-7932, pearlpaint.com); *Pearl River, 477 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts (212-431-4770, pearlriver.com)
Maxilla & Mandible and Evolution Is your tween into bugs and bones? Try these two shrines to natural history. *Maxilla & Mandible, 451 Columbus Ave between 81st and 82nd Sts (212-724-6173, maxillaandmandible.com); *Evolution, 120 Spring St between Greene and Mercer Sts (212-343-1114, theevolutionstore.com)
The powerHouse Arena Part bookstore, part gallery, part performance space, the 5,000-square-foot loft is all cool. 37 Main St at Water St, Dumbo, Brooklyn (718-666-3049, powerhousearena.com)