Top New York City Museums for Kids
Head to New York City with your family for some of the top musuems in the U.S. From Space and Science to Art and History along with specialized museums, find a museum for most interests. And NYC even boasts more than one Children’s Museum. Here’s the top New York City museums for kids.
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American Museum of Natural History
The Hayden Planetarium
Central Park West At 79th St.
Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. To 5:45 p.m. (Closed Monday and Tuesday)
Admission based on age, separate tickets required for Planetarium. Babies under 2 free.
Timed Entry Reservations Required.
A must and it’s one of the top museums for kids in NYC. Little kids, middle schoolers and teens can spend hours exploring. A sprawling museum that could take all day so see the highlights if limited on time, 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. The special exhibits are definitely worth a look as well.
Carve out a little time for the Hayden Planetarium to learn more about the world beyond our atmosphere. Find dining on site.
Intrepid Sea Land Space Museum
Pier 86 W.46th St. at 11th Avenue
Open Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission based on age. Timed Entry Tickets Required.
As one of the top museums for kids in NYC it’s a must. Don’t let the aircraft carrier throw you off, find 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. Also find a theater on site.
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Best Museums for History
Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
New York City Harbor
Hours vary by season.
No Admission to Museum though a Statue of Liberty timed 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. And it’s one of the top museums for kids in NYC.
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. To see both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, it will require two stops on the ferry.
The National 9/11 Memorial Museum
180 Greenwich St.
Memorial open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Museum open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesday)
Admission depending on age, Kids 6 and under free. Timed Entry Tickets required.
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.
If you are visiting several of the top museums in New York City, I recommend getting one of the CityPass. The C3 Pass allows you choose three museums for a list of 11 sites. The CityPass (the one I use on my trips to NYC) includes five of the top attractions, like American Musuem of Natural History, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, 9/11 Memorial and the Intrepid Sea Land and Space Museum.
National Museum of the American Indian
1 Bowling Green, near Battery Park
Open Daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Free to Enter. Reservations not Required
Located in the Alexander Hamilton Customs House, a Beaux Arts Building that’s a National Historic Landmark, explore the New York branch of the Washington, D.C. Smithsonian museum. With 700 Native American artifacts and arts, it’s part of the George Gustav Heye collection, started in 1903. This museum is organized geographically and includes items from North American as well as South and Central America.
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East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
Visitor Center at 103 Orchard St.
Open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission for Tours varies. Timed Entry Tickets Required.
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 to 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. This exhibit can be explored in under an hour.
Children’s Museums in New York City
If traveling with younger children, add a visit to a children’s museum to your itinerary.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W 83rd St.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission for everyone 1 and older. Timed entry tickets required.
Let the kids explore five stories of interactive exhibits with a focus on learning and exploring. Find dedicated spaces for art, science and more.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave.
Open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 2 to 5 p.m.
Admission for everyone 1 and older. Timed entry tickets required.
This is the first children’s museum in the world and it opened in 1899. Now find an indoor-outdoor space focused on exploration.
Staten Island Children’s Museum
1000 Richmond Terrace, Building M
Open Wednesday to Sunday with two sessions 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission for everyone 1 and older.
This facilty offers 12 indoor and outdoor exhibits for kids to explore with a focus on diversity.
DiMenna Children’s History Museum
170 Central Park West
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ( 8 p.m. on Friday)
Admission based on age and 4 and younger enter for free. Timed entry reservation recommended.
Geared towards older kids, learn about the 350 years of history on New York City along with the U.S. at large.
Jewish Children’s Museum
792 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn
Open Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (5:30 p.m. on Sunday)
Admission for everyone 2 and older.
As the largest children’s museum dedicated to the Jewish faith, learn about the history of the Jewish people. Open to all faiths.
Bronx Children’s Museum
Mill Pond Park
Under Construction. Due to open later in 2022.
Art Museums for Kids
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.
Admission based on age and kids 12 and under free. Reservations recommended
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.
Museum of Modern Art MoMA
11 W. 53th St.
Open Sunday to Friday from 10:30 a.m. To 5:30 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Admission based on age, Kids 16 and under are Free. Reservations recommended
If your kids have short attention spans, head straight for the Fifth Floor. That’s where Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, Dance by Henri Matisse along with works from Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo and Pablo Picasso are located.
Kids under 16 get in free and the MoMA hands out family guides for kids. Walk through the gift shop for unique souvenirs.
American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Free to Enter
Explore a facility dedicated to folk art, from quilts to weather manes. Also find hand-made furniture and even everyday items like bird decoys.
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
1071 5th Ave.
Open Sunday and Monday, Wednesday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Tuesday)
Admission based on age, Kids Under 12 Free. Reservations recommended
Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, head to the top floor and explore the exhibits on your way down. The collection changes frequently and kids will like the gentle walk down in a spiral.
The Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort St.
Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission based on age, kids under 18 are free. Reservations recommended
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.
Museum of Broadway
145 W. 45th St.
Opening in late 2022.
Other Museums Great for Kids
The Morgan Library and Museum
225 Madison Ave.
Open Wednesday though Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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.
New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring St.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission based on age.
As the official museum of the New York City’s Fire Department, learn about its history in the 1904 firehouse. See the 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.
South Street Seaport Museum
12 Fulton St.
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday
Admission based on age. Harbor cruises are available and require a separate ticket purchased in advance.
Learn about the rise of NYC and its role as a port city. The South Street Seaport Museum offer five historic vessels. Tour the 1885 Tall Ship Wavertree, the 1930 Tugboat W. O. Decker, the 1908 Lightship Ambrose, located nearby. Take a 2-hour tour of the harbor on the 1885 Schooner Pioneer.
New York City Transit Museum
99 Schermerhorn St. in Brooklyn
Open from Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission based on age. Reservations required.
In a decommissioned subway station, explore a rotating collection of 20 different vintage subway cars, some wooden. This museum explains the past, present and future of the MTA, Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City.
National Museum of Mathematics
11 E. 26th St.
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission based on age.
In a facility dedicated to math, learn how it provides structure along with pattern to the world. With hands-on exhibits learn about the importance of math in the everyday world.
New York Hall of Science
47-01 111st St. in Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Open Wednesday and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission based on age. Reservations recommended.
Learn how science is all around us with hands-on activities along with a 3D theater.
Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35th Ave.
Open Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
Admission based on age, Screenings separate.
Discover the past, present and future of the moving image that’s a must for media fans.
Where to Stay
Know Before You Go
- 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.
- The streets of New York are safe but be aware who and what is around you at all times.
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