As a quick getaway, Iceland might get even lazy teens off their couches and onto snowmobiles. But when I was scoping out kids' attractions in Iceland with my wife and toddler, I couldn't quite get into the teenage mindset. So I turned to probably the world's greatest expert on Icelandic tips for American teens: Julianna Rose Mauriello.
Julianna is better known as having played the pink-haired pixie Stephanie on Lazytown, a seizure-inducing TV mix of live action, CGI, and puppetry that was quite popular among the preschool set here in the US and still airs on NBC. The hyped-up mental spawn of Icelandic sports superstar Magnus Scheving, Lazytown was filmed in a Reykjavik suburb, which gave New Yorker Julianna more than a year to ferret out the best things to keep a then-fourteen-year-old busy in her spare time. She shared her tips with Frommers.com.
Get out of Town
Iceland's natural glory will thrill even the most cynical teens. Start with the easy-to-reach Blue Lagoon (tel. +354 420 8800; www.bluelagoon.com), between the airport and Reykjavik, where kids can swim in blood-warm, steaming water. "The first time I went it started snowing while I was in, and I was awed by the beautiful winter snow mixed with the intense heat of the lagoon. It was breathtaking," Julianna says. Farther from Reykjavik, Julianna votes for the glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón near the giant Vatnajökull glacier, the site of several movie shoots including Batman Begins and Tomb Raider. You can go sailing in the lagoon during the summer, or snowmobiling on the glacier all year.
In the Swim
After school, the place to find Icelandic teens is at the local hot tub complex. Julianna's pick is the huge Arbaerslaug pool about fifteen minutes east of Reykjavik center on buses 5 and 19, and it's mine, too. "It has something for everyone, from steambaths and massage jets to waterslides and fountains to play in," Julianna says.
Not Just Window Shopping
Reykjavik's main shopping street Laugavegur is honeycombed with teen-friendly boutiques, but the prices may send parents screaming. Teens can window-shop at Julianna's favored Rokk og Rosir (Laugavegur 32; tel. +354 551 5656), a combination rocker-fashion/record shop, or the high-end secondhand clothing store Spúútnik (Laugavegur 28B; tel. +354 551 5121) next door, but then actually pick up some goods at the Kolaportid flea market downtown (Vesturgata 19; tel. +354 562 5030; open on weekends), a jumble of tables inside an old warehouse where I grabbed a World War II-era messenger bag for 1500 ISK ($25.)
Julianna's favorite restaurants are a mix of places that any teen would enjoy and places that you could only afford if your meals are being paid for by a global entertainment conglomerate. For average families, her picks are the reliable bistro Vegamot (Vegamotstig 4; +354 511 3040; www.vegamot.is), where Julianna's favorite steak sandwich, served with Bearnaise sauce and fries; and Hamboragara Bullan (Geirsgata 1; +354 511 1888; www.bullan.is), the best burger joint in Iceland, where you can pick up a burger, fries and one of nine sauces.
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