Cool Museums In Nyc For Families
NYCs museum scene can be overwhelming but our round-up of the most unique and cool museums in NYC for families has you covered.
You definitely need to add some of the NYC museums to your New York itinerary.
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Whitney Museum Of American Art
Head toWhitney Museum of American Art for your daily dose of creative inspiration. Located in the Meatpacking District near the A/C/E 14th Street Station, this family-friendly museum has a lot to offer kids of all ages. Teens will best appreciate the rotating exhibits here, which feature legendary painters such as Jasper Johns and lesser-known artistic movements such as craft art. But little kids may find some of the art entertaining too, especially in its outdoor sculpture section. Get a great view of New York City as you venture outside and climb the stairs to the next floor you never know what art youll find! The museum also has indoor/outdoor dining and a cafe if kids want a snack. Afterward, make a day of it in Chelsea. Take a walk along The High Line, visit Chelsea Market, or even head further uptown to Hudson Yards.
Pay What You Wish: The Whitney Museum offers pay-what-you-wish hours every Friday from 7 pm to 10 pm. Kids under eighteen always enter for free. Check the website for more details.
Take Some New York City Tours
How do you see the most densely populated and one of the oldest cities in the US on your own without a little help? Hire a local guide to help you navigate the city for a day and learn some amazing facts and practical advice. There are plenty of great tours in NYC, but these are some ones that we like:
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The New York Transit Museum
If you enjoy riding the Holiday Nostalgia Train every year around Christmas, you will love the NY Transit Museums extensive collection of vintage subway cars, which sit inside a real subway station in Downtown Brooklyn.
Here, you can walk among cars built in 1903, peruse vintage ads from the 1940s, and try to spot celebrity cars that have been featured in films or TV shows.
The museum also boasts a vast collection of vintage train tokens, photos of historic trains, trolleys, and buses, and interactive street furniture, which includes a 12-seat bus cab and walk/dont walk signs you can play with.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and children ages two to 12.
A vintage train car at the New York Transit Museum. New York Transit Museum
Inspiring Nyc Museums For Kids
Parenting is centered on giving kids the chance to grow, to expand their horizons. Sparking their imagination and showing them the wide berth of wonderful wisdom thats waiting for them in the world isnt just fun for the kids, its fun for adults too. New York City museums for kids come in all shapes and sizes, and theyre found all over the city.
But keeping ones kids engaged and interested in trying new things can be tough for parents to figure out. These four childrens museums in NYC showcase different themes and topics that will keep even the most restless child engaged. From fire trucks to interactive art, theres no reason for kids to be bored in New York.
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Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience
Step into a van Gogh! Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is a massive light and sound spectacular featuring two-story projections of the artist’s most compelling works. Encounter the brilliance of one of history’s greatest artists in a 360-degree exhibit at this waterfront location in Battery Park City. There’s also a one-of-a-kind Virtual Reality interactive exhibit that guides you on a 10-minute journey through A Day in the Life of the Artist. You’ll walk alongside Vincent van Gogh and discover the inspiration behind eight of his iconic works, including “Bedroom in Arles” and “Starry Night Over the Rhône.” 300 Vesey St., 213-277-2954, vangoghexpo.com/new-york
Metropolitan Museum Of Art
A trip to New York City would be incomplete without a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Located on East 82nd Street and 5th Avenue along Museum Mile, families should set aside time to visit the biggest museum in the United States. With so much variety throughout its exhibits, young kids, middle-schoolers, and even teens will be entertained here. Pass by ancient Egyptian artifacts, learn more about the decorative arts in Africa, and even explore European painting. Kids will particularly love the Medieval suit of armors! In addition to a huge permanent collection, there are also rotating exhibits, like the current one on surrealism. Remember that the property is huge, so even with a helpful map or audio guide, you may not be able to see everything in one go. The MET also offers families lots of other perks. This includes interactive programming like storytime, art classes, and more!
Pay What You Wish: The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers pay-what-you-wish general admission to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut residents with an ID. Check the website for more details.
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National Museum Of Mathematics
If you have a numbers whiz in your family, take them to the National Museum of Mathematics!Right across from Madison Square Park, families can explore the wonderful world of mathematics at this thought-provoking museum. We suggest this experience for kids between eight and thirteen with an interest in math, since some of the activities may be uninteresting to older teens. Hands-on exhibitslet kids immerse themselves in educational topics like kinetics, geometry, and more to get them engaged and learning. For example, you can visit the pattern-making station, design 3D shapes, and try your hand at a challenging puzzle. Other fun activities include riding bicycles with square wheels, recreating mock rollercoasters, and endless spinning in chairs. You can keep entertained for at least an hour or two here, but keep in mind there arent many explanations for the exhibits.
Dimenna Childrens Museum At The New York Historical Society
DiMenna Childrens Museum at the New York Historical Society is a great place for kids between the ages of 8 and 13.
The museum of history will allow the kids to go back in history and discover more about the city from its modern origins.
Some of the biggest hits at the museum include the exhibit where you can flip a switch to see what a street looked like a century ago and compare it to the present.
The kids can also practice cross-stitching and see how they fare to get a taste of how people would sew their own clothes in 20th century New York.
If you are traveling with young as well as old kids, there are separate exhibits that both can enjoy without taking away from each others experience.
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Top Museums For Kids In Nyc
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When I lived in New York City before I had kids, I loved to explore the city and its museums, from Times Square to Brooklyn and everywhere in between. I thought I couldnt love NYC and its museums more, until I explored with my kids. I have three, so getting to take each of the two older teens on a solo trip with Mom was a treat. My two older kids have different interests so I work with that. I have a daughter who loves art and history, easy. My son loves motion and adventure, good too. Though he loved a special exhibit at MoMA about classic cars . Here are the top museums for kids in NYC, from babies and toddlers to tweens and teens.
Lefrak Center At Lakeside Prospect Park Brooklyn
171 East DrBrooklyn, NY 11225 462-0010
From winter ice skating or summer roller skating, the LeFrak Center at Lakeside Prospect Park in Brooklyn is a great destination for a fun day with the family.
It is on 75,000 square feet of property and has recreational activities lined up throughout the year. Theres a splash pad with over 40 sprinklers for the hotter days. You can bring your own skates or rent out a pair.
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Museum Of Food And Drink
It sounds as generic as they come: a museum of food, the most basic human need. However, the Museum of Food and Drink is different in that it seeks to change the way you think of food or drink by showcasing how it impacts our culture, politics, economy, history, and more.
Some of the highlights here include the Flavor: Making it and Faking It exhibit, a smell synth that allows you to mix a variety of aromas from vomit to pancakes to create endless combinations, or Chow, which digs into how Chinese restaurants began and evolved in the U.S. in a period of intense anti-Chinese immigrant sentiment.
There is also tasting at the end of the exhibits.
Admissions are $14 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $7 for children. Buy tickets here.
Flavor: Making It & Faking It exhibit at MOFAD. LinYee Yuan, the founder and editor of MOLD.
Tips For Visiting New York With Kids
- Kids 12 and under ride the New York Subway for free
- Talk about public transportation safety with your kids
- Carve out time to spend in nature each day
- Have the kids memorize your phone number, write it somewhere on their bodies, get a phone number bracelet made, use phone number tattoos, or use a kids GPS tracking watch.
- Subways often have lots of stairs and limited access to elevators. Avoid using strollers if possible or bring a small stroller or baby carrier.
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Sugar Hill Childrens Museum Of Art & Storytelling
898 St Nicholas AveNew York, NY 10032 335-0004
If your kids are fans of art and stories, this one in Harlem will make their day. It is spread over 17,000 square feet on two floors of an affordable housing project. It was designed by British architect David Adjaye and is meant to entertain and educate kids of ages 3-8.
Throughout the year, you can find storytelling series and art exhibitions here. There are many workshops and you can enroll them in an education curriculum if inspiration strikes.
Childrens Museum Of The Arts
Located in SoHo at 103 Charlton St. Temporarily closed. General admission is $13 and babies under 1 are free. Best for toddlers and preschoolers.
In a facility dedicated to all forms of art, find a mix of engaging and child-centered exhibitions. The Museum also offers programming for getting little fingers busy. Check out the more than 2,000 works by children worldwide.
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Museum Of Arts & Design
2 Columbus Circle
Explore contemporary art and design through a craft lens in a gorgeous building with stunning Central Park views. Find artworks in clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood thoughtfully displayed.
* Celebrate the creative visions of botanical artists working at the forefront of contemporary floral design in Flower Craft. Evocative arrangements and installations change weekly Get a Flower Craft Power Pass for $45 to all six weeks of the exhibition.
* Explore the use of clothing as a medium of visual art, Garmenting: Costume as Contemporary Art with live performances and activations involving five of the exhibits artists presented on-site.
* Get 50% off admission on Thursday evenings from 4 to 7 pm.
Stop by the well curated, colorful gift shop for homeware, toys, books for all ages, jewelry and fresh bouquets by celebrated New York City florists.
Dine at Robert, the chic top-floor restaurant with amazing Central Park views.
Get delicious dessert at Italian Venchi Chocolate & Gelato across the street. Also lots of food options at Shops at Columbus Circle and creative fun at Art Camp.
National Museum Of The American Indiannew York
One Bowling Green
All ages can learn about the culture and contributions of Native Americans at the engaging New York branch of this DC museum. Lots of opportunities for hands-on exploration in multiple rooms. Touch a buffalo hide, match animal drawings, learn about Mayan math, play in a teepee and more.
Pick up a fantastic family guide and find featured items among the galleries including wood and stone carvings, exquisite clothing, feather bonnets and lots of animal representations plus works by contemporary Indigenous artists.
Located in the grand Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, with its own commerce-based art.
As a safety precaution, some areas of the museum in New York are temporarily closed, including the Mili Kàpi Cafe and the imagiNATIONS Activity Center and classroom.
278 Spring Street
Learn all about fire fighting at the official FDNY museum, located in a renovated 1904 firehouse.
* Two floors trace the development of firefighting in New York from the early bucket brigades to the present day. See objects that document the history of the volunteer and paid departments, from painted leather buckets to early motorized apparatus.
* See a horse-drawn ladder wagon, early rescue gear and breathing equipment, alarm boxes from various eras, and motorized vehicles, such as a 1921 American La France engine, all of which give a sense of what firefighting was like at different times in the citys paid department era.
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The Museum At Eldridge Street
12 Eldridge Street
Step inside history and explore an icon of New York City resilience. Learn the story of the grand 19th-century Eldridge Street Synagogue and the Jewish immigrants who built it. Look for elements from different eras in the buildings storied history, such as Kiki Smiths monumental stained glass window replacing an earlier intervention from the mid-19th century.
In self-guided tours, experience life through the eyes of a newly arrived immigrant to New Yorks Lower East Side. Sunday Friday at 11 am and 2 pm and Sunday and Monday at 1 pm, join free public guided tours are available. Knowledgeable docents guide you through the sweeping history of the Eldridge Street Synagogue from its time as a cultural hotspot in the bustling Jewish Lower East Side, to its decades of decay, to its miraculous rebirth as a 21st-century museum.
The Museum Of Modern Art
The Museum of Modern Art is an iconic destination. Not to mention, one of the best museums in New York City for kids. Located in Midtown Manhattan near West 53rd Street and 5th Avenue, its also easy to fit into any NYC itinerary. All ages are welcome, but teens or older children interested in art will find the exhibitions the most fascinating. With a sprawling permanent collection, you can see famous pieces of art like Starry Night by Van Gogh, Andy Warhols Campbells Soup Cans, and The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali. If you have younger kids in your family, theyll love a visit to the outdoor sculpture garden as well. Kids also have access to a special audio and activity guide for exploring. In the last two years, the museum has completely revamped its floor plan, so you can see your favorite works from a new perspective!
Pay What You Wish: The Museum of Modern Art usually offers pay-what-you-wish hours every Friday from 5:30 pm to 9 pm. However, this service is suspended until further notice due to COVID-19 precautions. Kids under sixteen always enter for free. Check the website for more details.
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American Museum Of Natural History Upper West Side
What to see: Dinosaurs, dioramas, rotating exhibits, the blue whaleBest for: Ages 3+Plan to: Spend the day
Sometimes it’s easy to take the amazing, world-class AMNH for granted, but it’s truly one of the city’s gems and houses plenty for kids of all ages to check out. The preschool set appreciates the Hall of Dinosaurs and the never-ending dioramas. My kids have always loved the Hall of North American Mammals, where they reacquaint themselves with the moose we meet during our summer visits to Grammy and Papa’s Colorado cabin. No NYC upbringing is complete without gazing at the big, blue whale hanging in the Hall of Ocean Life, either. We also love the rotating exhibitions and were wowed by the current Sharks exhibit. Its Rose Center for Earth and Space landed AMNH on our list of the best space museums near NYC, and a planetarium show is a treat! Last but not least, the annual Butterfly Conservatory is a must-see. Residents pay what they wish at all times at the ticket counters on-site, though if you want to see special exhibitions, you’ll have to pay full price.
Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum
Home to an impressive collection of of military vessels of the sea and sky, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City is a must-see for any military enthusiast or history buff.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is considered one of the 10 best aviation museums in the world, reason alone to visit!
More than 1 million annual visitors choose to visit this museum to explore the exciting collection of real WWII fighter planes, aircraft carriers, a submarine used during the Cold War, supersonic jet and the NASA space shuttle Enterprise.
Allow up to 2-3 hours for the plethora of interactive displays and exhibits, this is not a NYC museum experience youll want to rush.
Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
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