Top Museums for Kids in NYC
New York City tops my list for urban getaways for families. Whether it’s visiting as a family or with a school trip, NYC offers tweens and teens a cultural excursion. Packed with museums and parks to explore, New York City teaches kids lots of traveling skills that are necessary before backpacking across Europe or Asia. NYC even packs in the cheap eats alongside some of the top restaurants in the world.
Intrepid Sea Land Space Museum
Pier 86 W.46th St. at 11th Avenue
Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission based on age.
As a top destination for kids along with the American Museum of Natural History, it’s a must for school-age kids. Don’t let the aircraft carrier throw you off, I found more than military aircraft.
Clamber across the deck of the USS Intrepid to see a retired Concorde, the supersonic jet. Then see one of the retired space shuttles, the Orbiter Enterprise, one of several on display across the U.S.
American Museum of Natural History
The Hayden Planetarium
Central Park West At 79th St.
Open from 10 a.m. To 5:45 p.m.
Admission based on age, separate tickets required for Planetarium. Babies under 2 free.
A must for families with kids of all ages, my teen daughter spent hours exploring. A sprawling museum that could take all day so hit the highlights, like “Lucy” the early human, the giant blue whale, the Hall of Dinosaurs, and the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda along with the Hall of North American Mammals.
Carve out a little time for the Hayden Planetarium to learn more about the world beyond our atmosphere.
Best Museums to Learn History
180 Greenwich St.
Open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission depending on age, Kids 6 and under free.
As a former American Airlines flight attendant that lived through that horrific day, I visit the 9/11 Memorial to remember my former colleagues. The memorial is a somber space that gives visitors a place to reflect.
Walk though the 9/11 Museum to see the artifacts from the World Trade Center and actual recording of emergency calls. Touring the museum is an emotional experience though the area around the WTC has recovered, experiencing a rebirth.
Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
New York City Harbor
Hours vary by season.
No Admission to Museum though a Statue of Liberty ferry ticket is required.
As a symbol of liberty and freedom 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.
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.
East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
Visitor Center at 103 Orchard St.
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Admission based on age.
Walk through history in a preserved tenement building on the Lower East Side. 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, get an understanding of an immigrant’s life over a hundred years ago.
Federal Hall National Monument
26 Wall Street
Open Monday Through Friday From 9 a.m. To 5 p.m.
The building served as the first Capitol 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.
Museum of Modern Art MoMA
11 W. 53th St.
Open from 10:30 a.m. To 5:30 p.m.
Admission based on age, Kids Under 16 Free
If your kids have short attention spans, head straight for the Fifth Floor. That’s where I found Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, Dance by Henri Matisse along with works from Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso.
Kids under 16 get in free and the MoMA hands out family guides for kids. Walk through the gift shop for unique souvenirs.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave.
Open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission based on age and kids 12 and under free.
As the largest art museum in the U.S. you can explore all day and still not see it all. So check out the map when you enter and concentrate on your interests.
My favorites are The Temple of Dendur, the Medieval Art for its imposing display and the American Wing. Don’t miss the extensive collection of European Masters.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave.
Open Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Closed Thursday.
Admission based on age, Kids Under 12 Free
I love the Guggenheim for its architecture. Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, head to the top floor and explore the exhibits on your way down.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Open Monday, Wednesday through Sunday various hours. Closed on Tuesday.
Admission based on age, kids under 18 are free.
Anchoring the southern end of High Line Park, The Whitney showcases contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century with a focus on living artists.
The Morgan Library and Museum
225 Madison Ave.
Open Tuesday though Sunday various hours. Closed Monday.
Admission based on age, kids under 12 are free.
My favorite space to explore is Pierpont Morgan’s three-story library, rotunda and study. The opulent interiors have to be visited to appreciate. A must for readers and even Harry Potter fans since it reminds me of Hogwarts.
Know Before You Go:
- Travel like a New Yorker and take the subway. I’ve got the directions for you. Or grab a cab or other car service.
- Free public restrooms are hard to find. Pack hand wipes, bleach wipes and hand sanitizer to clean up. McDonald’s is reliable but be prepared to buy a dink to get the key.
- Wear comfortable shoes and pack the FitBit to track those steps.
- The streets of New York are safe but be aware who and what is around you at all times.
Consideration for brands mentioned. I used a complimentary CityPass New York for admission to several attractions and some of the museums offered complimentary admission.