Best Museums for Kids in NYC

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Temple of Dendur at Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the best NYC museums for kids
The famed Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo credit: CityPASS

A NYC vacation with the family has to include a few museums. Whether you are here in winter, on a rainy day, or just looking to indulge your child’s passion, you can find a museum to suit you. What are the best museums for kids in New York City? We’ve done the hard work so you can choose the “must-sees” from our list.

NYC Museums 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.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Many museums have gotten quite pricey. Check any museum memberships you have at home for reciprocity, and check NYC museum websites for free or reduced admission times. Also consider a family membership if you have two or more children. It can be cheaper than buying individual tickets and you may get discounts at the gift shop and cafe.

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West At 79th St.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. To 5:45 p.m.
Admission based on age, babies under 2 free
Separate ticket required for Planetarium
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 glorious Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation features the amazing immersive Invisible Worlds exhibit, along with a free-flying Butterfly Vivarium and an Insectarium. The undulating walls of the new center, inside and out, give the building a lunar landscape feel, and the museum has added new passageways connecting older parts of the museum to the newest section on all floors.

The Hayden Planetarium

The Hayden Planetarium (inside The Rose Center for Earth and Space at the 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. The Gilder Center has a sit-down restaurant.

Read More: Fly into Newark for Cheap and Get to NYC in Less than 1 Hour for !

View of the Intrepid, one of the best NYC museums for kids
The Intrepid. Photo credit: Pixabay

Intrepid Sea Land Space Museum

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.

psychedelic swing from the NYC musical "Hair" at NYC's Museum of Broadway
NYC’s new Museum of Broadway features interactive exhibits like this one celebrating “Hair.” Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Museum of Broadway

145 W. 45th Street
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Timed tickets start at $27; kids under 4 are free.

The 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” about 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.

Lion King display at NYC Museum of Broadway
Check out how The Lion King on Broadway comes to life. Photo credit: Judy Antell

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.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

212 W. 83rd St.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
General admission is $16.75; babies 1 and under are free
Timed entry admission required.

My kids’ personal favorite, the Upper West Side 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.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

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 1 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.

Staten Island Children’s Museum

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 1 year of age 

This family-friendly NYC museum features 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

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 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission is pay what you wish. Advance reservations required.

The Bronx finally has a children’s museum of its own. The Bronx Children’s Museum opened in 2022 but has been running arts and science programs since 2010.

DiMenna Children’s History Museum

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 $24 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.

Jewish Children’s Museum

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 $17 for ages 2 and up; $15 for adults

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 – and fun for – 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.

Statue of Liberty

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 worldwide, 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. Yuck, 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.

A 6-year-old explores the Statue of Liberty Museum, a top museum for families in NYC
A 6-year-old explores the Statue of Liberty Museum. Photo credit: Kim Orlando

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

New York City Harbor
Hours vary by season
Free Admission to Museum with a Statue of Liberty ferry ticket

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.

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

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. 

Federal Hall National Monument

26 Wall St.
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!

The 9/11 Museum

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 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 (Met) have plenty of drop-in programs for kids that let them draw and look at art on their terms.

The sculpture garden at MoMA. Photo credit: Judy Antell

Museum of Modern Art

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 exhibits at MoMA. You can see everyday objects like appliances, furniture, tableware and sports cars. OK, sports cars may not be every day – 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.

The interior courtyard has a sculpture garden, another hit with kids.

Kids under 16 get in free and MoMA hands out guides for family visits. There are great food options at MoMA, including a destination restaurant, the Modern.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Take the escalators, not the elevators, so you can see some of the museum in passing. Artwork may call out to your kids.

Exterior of The Metropolitan Museum of Art at dusk, one of the best NYC museums for kids
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photo credit: Pixabay

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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.
New York state 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 artwork on display throughout this massive museum. Truly one of a kind.

Young girl with golden goblet like Harry Potter's Goblet of Fire
Hunting for Harry Potter at the Met in New York. Photo credit: Sarah Ricks

SheBuysTravel Tip: Need a break? Grab a snack or light meal at any of the cafes located in The Met.

Exterior of the Guggenheim in NYC
The Guggenheim by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo credit: Pixabay

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

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 modern and contemporary art.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Keep an eye on the kids who might be tempted to walk a bit too fast.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

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 $30 for adults; kids under 18 are free. Museum admission is Pay What You Wish on Fridays, 7–10 p.m.
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.

Brooklyn Museum

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 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live performances and special programming including hands-on projects.

The Morgan Library and Museum

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 is $22 for adults; 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.

American Folk Art Museum

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 the present.

The Frick Collection

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.

More NYC Museums for the Kids

New York City Fire Museum

278 Spring St.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $15 for adults, $6 for kids over age 3. 

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.

New York Transit Museum

99 Schermerhorn St., Brooklyn
Open from Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for kids 2 and up.

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.

Museum of the Moving Image

26-01 35th St., Queens
Open Thursday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.
Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for children 3-17. Free general admission is offered every Thursday, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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.

MoMath: The National Museum of Mathematics

11 E 26th St.
Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for children.

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.

New York Hall of Science

47-01 111th St., Queens in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Open Wednesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: $22 for adults, $19 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.

Judy Antell is an empty-nester mother of 3 who spends a lot of time visiting her daughters. Why don’t they live in Brooklyn? Judy and her husband love to travel, by bike, car, or plane, whether to see their kids or have friend or couple adventures, mostly centered around vegetarian food.
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