Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
Taking the family to New York City? Make time to visit a museum…or three. The city has six children’s museums, and science, history and art museums that appeal to children of all ages. What’s the best museum? The one that, as you leave, your kid asks when they can go again.
One of the joys of parenting is sharing some of my favorite places from my NYC childhood with my kids. But also seeing new exhibits and new museums through their eyes.
Here are SheBuysTravel’s favorites, with current ticketing information and the “must-sees” when visiting.
A NYC Museum for Every Interest
Families visiting New York City will find museums for almost all interests. Animal, dinosaur and space lovers should head to the American Museum of Natural History. Some of the best art museums in the U.S. are in NYC including The Met and MoMA. For aviation buffs – and also space lovers, the Intrepid Sea Land and Space Museum beckons. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are top museums for history.
Then there are the niche museums, focusing on the movies, theater, math (math?) subways or firefighting. Dive in and find your own faves.
Central Park West At 79th St. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. To 5:45 p.m. Admission based on age, separate ticket required for Planetarium. Babies under 2 free. Timed entry tickets required.
The massive American Museum of Natural History is one of the top museums for kids – and adults – in NYC. Exploring this museum could take all day, and even if you have a plan, your kids might want to stop at everything on the way. And suddenly, the museum is closing. Some highlights: the Hall of Dinosaurs, “Lucy” the early human, the giant blue whale and the Hall of North American Mammals. The interactive Discovery Room is currently closed.
The Hayden Planetarium (inside the The Rose Center for Earth and Space of American Museum of Natural History) has shows throughout the day. The first time we took my oldest daughter, the Big Bang scared her so we had to leave. Make sure your kids can handle the noise. (Update: she grew to love the planetarium).
SheBuysTravel Tip: The Museum Food Court on the lower level has food appealing to all tastes. But it does get super crowded. You can leave for lunch and return for more museum fun.
Pier 86 W.46th St. at 11th Avenue. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission based on age.
As a top destination for kids along with the American Museum of Natural History, this is a must for school-age kids. The unique museum is actually in the Hudson River in midtown. Exhibits on the aircraft carrier Intrepid, a National Historic Landmark, include a retired Concorde and a retired space shuttle. You can also explore a submarine.
Museum of Broadway
145 W. 45th Street. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Timed tickets are $39; kids under 4 are free.
Join our Private FB Group for more travel inspiration and tips! JOIN HERE
The brand new Museum of Broadway in Times Square celebrates the history of theater in New York City. There are immersive video projections, a timeline of theatrical productions in the city and “behind the curtain ” – how a Broadway show goes from an idea to the stage. If you grew up going to the theater, it’s exciting to see playbills and costumes, and hear songs, from long ago shows – and share them with your kids.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Walk upstairs to the beginning of the exhibit rather than taking the elevator and spend time reading all the theater info posted on the walls.
Children’s Museums Across NYC
The best museums for younger kids are children’s museums. NYC has several, all packed with interactive exhibits for the whole family, baby included, to enjoy.
212 W. 83rd St. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $15 and babies 1 and under are free. Timed entry admission required.
My kid’s peronsal favorite, the Upper West Side, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan has five floors to explore. You learn while you play, with interactive exhibits, climbing structures and art projects. We would often leave for lunch (no food allowed here) and return to play more.
145 Brooklyn Ave., Brooklyn. Open Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $13 for everyone over one year of age.
The first children’s museum in the U.S., this is where I went when I grew up in Brooklyn. And my mother went here as a child too! It opened in 1899 but it has up-to-date fun for kids, from toddlers to pre-teens.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Bring a snack and eat on the roof terrace.
Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for everyone over one year of age.
This family-friendly NYC museum meshes indoor and outdoor spaces, including an exhibit where kids can build a house, pretend they’re a veterinarian and more. My kids always loved the stage where they could put on a show.
Bronx Children’s Museum is on the second floor of NYC Parks’ Powerhouse Building at the north end of Mill Pond Park, across the street from Bronx Terminal Market. Open Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 1 pm and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for everyone over one year of age.
The Bronx is finally getting a children’s museum of its own. The Bronx Children’s Museum opens in December 2022.
170 Central Park West in the Upper West Side. Open Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $22 for adults, $6 for kids ages 5-13 and free under age 5.
This history museum is on the lower level of The New-York Historical Society, NYC’s first museum. Find hands-on activities, geared towards kids 8-13, to learn about the history of New York and New Yorkers.
792 Eastern Ave. Open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Online reservations recommended. Admission is $15 for ages 2 and up, $12 for seniors.
The museum has an indoor mini golf course focusing on Jewish life cycle events, a rock climbing wall and a gallery of games. Open to all faiths.
Top Museums for Kids in NYC to Learn History
New York City is packed with history, and learning history can be fun with these top museums for kids in NYC.
New York City Harbor. Hours vary by season. A timed entry Statue of Liberty ferry ticket is required to visit the Statue of Liberty.
A symbol of freedom and liberty known world-wide, the Statue of Liberty sits on a 12-acre island in the middle of the New York Harbor. Learn about the construction of the statue in the museum under the statue.
Do not miss the Statue of Liberty (SOL) Museum. Whether you are local or visiting and have been to the SOL before, go back to get an in-depth look at how this NYC icon was built and renewed.
What Kids Say about the Statue of Liberty
Sometimes the word MUSEUM can evoke blank stares and eye rolls from kids. SheBuysTravel publisher, Kim Orlando, took her 15- and 6-year-old cousins and the kids found it to be “a really cool museum” (their words). The 6-year-old loved that he was allowed, even encouraged, to touch everything. He got to climb onto the bronzed foot of the SOL and stick his hand up a bronzed cast of her nose. Yuk, but super cool to a 6-year-old. The 15-year-old couldn’t resist the technology. One of the interactive spots required him to snap a picture of himself that was sent to a “big screen” to create a Statue of Liberty. Another spot asked him to choose images that represented liberty to him and produced stats on how many people agreed with him.
Getting an up-close look at the old torch is like seeing a 9th world wonder because of its size. There is just no way to get that kind of perspective from a boat, the ground or even a helicopter.
The technology at the Statue of Liberty Museum is fantastic and the story is well designed with narrative signs and models that demonstrate the construction from the beginning in 1884 and from every angle. Museum admission is FREE but you will need to purchase a ferry ticket to get to Liberty Island. When we have visitors from out of town, we get our Liberty Island tickets from Statue Cruises.
New York City Harbor. Hours vary by season. Free Admission to Museum though a Statue of Liberty ferry ticket is required.
From 1892 until 1954, Ellis Island welcomed 12 million immigrants to the United States. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum walks visitors through the facility that processed close to 5,000 people a day.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Operated by Statue Cruises, the ferry departs from Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. Explore the Statue of Liberty first and re-board ferry to tour Ellis Island, an additional stop.
Visitor Center 103 Orchard St. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission based on age. Advance tickets required.
Walk through history in a preserved tenement building at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Tour the building that housed 7,000 working-class immigrants from 1863 until 1935.
With specialized tours focusing on Irish immigrants, Jewish immigrants and sweatshop workers along with neighborhood tours, you’ll get an understanding of an immigrant’s life over a hundred years ago.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Most tours are best suited for kids 8 and up; kids under 5 can’t go on building tours. No strollers allowed.
26 Wall Street. Open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Free
The Federal Hall National Monument building served as the first capital of the United States, the Supreme Court and the Executive Branch offices. George Washington took the oath of office as the first President of the United States at Federal Hall as well.
Read More: Want More Revolutionary History? Head South to Philadelphia!
180 Greenwich St. Open from Thursday to Monday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission depending on age, Kids 6 and under free.
New Yorkers like me who lived here on 9/11 stop by the free Memorial to pay our respects whenever we are in the area.
The 9/11 Museum has the artifacts from the World Trade Center and the chilling actual recording of emergency calls. Touring the museum is an emotional experience; prepare your kids beforehand.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Please be respectful of other visitors at the Memorial and Museum.
Top Museums for Kids in NYC for Art
For some kids, art museums are a hard sell, so seek out activities to get kids excited about art. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and The Metropolitan Museum of Art have plenty of drop-in programs for kids that let them draw and look at art on their terms.
11 W. 53th St. Open Sunday to Friday 10:30 a.m. To 5:30 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission based on age, kids under 16 Free. Tickets may be purchased in advance online.
My kids – and my art averse adult in-laws – always like the architecture and design. You can see every day objects like appliances, furniture, tableware and sports cars. OK, sports cars may not be everyday – but there was a Fiat 500 on display and there is also a helicopter. Pretty cool. Slip in a little art on the way to this exhibit.
Kids under 16 get in free and MoMA hands out guides for family visits.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Take the escalators, not the elevators, so you can see some of the museum in passing. Art work may call out to your kids.
1000 5th Ave. Open Sunday to Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. NYS residents and tri-state area pay what you wish for entry. Other visitors can purchase tickets in advance online.
As the largest art museum in the U.S., the Metropolitan Museum of Art is definitely one of the top museums in NYC for kids. You can explore all day and still not see it all. So check out the map when you enter and concentrate on your interests.
Of particular kid appeal: The Temple of Dendur, the armor display and the annual costume exhibit. In NYC for Christmas? Check out the origami tree and the surrounding Medieval art. If you ever took an art history class, you can find the original art work on display throughout this massive museum. Truly one of a kind.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Need a break? Grab a snack or light meal at any of the cafes located in The Met.
1071 5th Ave. Open Thursday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission based on age, kids under 12 free. Timed entry tickets are encouraged.
The Guggenheim, originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down to see the modern and contemporary art.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Keep an eye on the kids who might be tempted to walk a bit too fast.
99 Gansevoort St. Open Saturday – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults, kids under 18 are free. Timed entry tickets required.
Anchoring the southern end of High Line Park, The Whitney showcases contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries with a focus on living artists. Currently on display, an exhibit devoted to Edward Hopper.
200 Eastern Parkway. Brooklyn. Suggested admission based on age, kids under 19 are free. Open Wednesday – Sunday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Timed tickets are required.
Brooklyn’s answer to the Met, the giant museum has a comprehensive collection of American art, Islamic art, Egyptian art and feminist art. Free on the first Saturday of every month, and open the from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live performances and special programming including hands-on projects.
225 Madison Ave. Open Tuesday to Thursday and Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission based on age, kids under 12 are free. Timed entry tickets required.
The opulent Pierpont Morgan’s three-story library, rotunda and study is a must see, along with the airy garden court addition. Eat at the lovely cafe.
2 Lincoln Square. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is always free.
A collection of folk art from primarily self-taught artists from the 18th century to present.
945 Madison Ave. Open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $12 – $22 depending on age. Kids under 10 not permitted.
In its temporary location, see a premier collection of Old Masters works along with European furnishings at The Frick.
Located in SoHo at 103 Charlton St. Temporarily closed. General admission is $13 and babies under 1 are free. Best for preschoolers.
In a facility dedicated to all forms of art, find a mix of interactive and child-centered exhibitions. Check out the more than 2,000 works by children worldwide.
SheBuysTravel Tip: I couldn’t take my youngest here when she was a baby or toddler because she stuck things in her mouth. Be careful with very young kids.
More NYC Museums for the Kids
278 Spring St. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission based on age.
The official museum of New York City’s Fire Department is housed in a 1904 firehouse. See antique equipment, some of it horse-drawn. Then take a moment to reflect at the NYCFM 9/11 Memorial that honors the 343 fallen firefighters.
99 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn, Open from Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission based on age. Timed entry tickets required.
In this decommissioned subway station, you can explore a rotating collection of 20 different vintage subway cars, some wooden. This museum explains the past, present and future of the MTA, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City.
26-01 35th St., Queens. Open Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Admission based on age.
In the historic Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image is dedicated to the art, technology, history and technique of the moving image. For kids, the Jim Henson exhibition shows how he and his team created The Muppet Show and Sesame Street.
11 E 26th St. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission based on age.
Don’t let the name give you anxiety, no quizzes at the end of your visit. At MoMath, Kids explore how math uses patterns and structures to explain the world around us.
47-01 111th St., Queens in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Open Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission: $16 for adults, $13 for kids ages 2-17.
The New York Hall of Science, in a building from the 1964 World’s Fair, has state of the art interactive exhibits and daily live STEM presentations.