Big City Family Fun

From Art to Animals to Airplanes and More: 30 Top NYC Museums

Visit the Intrepid during your 4 day NYC itinerary, a top museums for kids in NYC.
Find a retired Space Shuttle and the Concorde along with a submarine on the Intrepid. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

From cold winter days to hot summer days, a museum trip is a great way to spend a day no matter the weather. New York is the best city in the U.S. for museums (sorry, Washington D.C.) from its world-class art museums to its science museums to the aircraft carrier, the Intrepid.  For the best trip, I recommend you add at least one or two museums to your NYC itinerary. NYC even boasts more than one Children’s Museum. Here are the top NYC museums.

Table of Contents

30 Top NYC  Museums 

  • American Museum of Natural History and The Hayden Planetarium
  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Immigration Museum
  • Intrepid Sea Land Space Museum
  • The National 9/11  Memorial and Museum
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site
  • Federal Hall National Monument
  • Children’s Museum of Manhattan
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum 
  • Staten Island Children’s Museum
  • DiMenna Children’s History Museum
  • Jewish Children’s Museum 
  • Bronx Children’s Museum
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Museum of Modern Art MoMA
  • American Folk Art Museum
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Museum of Broadway
  • Neue Galerie
  • Hewitt Cooper, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • Museum of Arts and Design
  • The Morgan Library and Museum
  • The New York Public Library 
  • New York City Fire Museum
  • South Street Seaport Museum
  • New York City Transit Museum
  • National Museum of Mathematics
  • New York Hall of Science
  • Museum of the Moving Image
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Tour the Natural History Museum during your 4 day NYC itinerary. A top museum for Kids in NYC.
A trip to the American Museum of Natural History will keep the kids engaged for hours. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

American Museum of Natural History

The Hayden Planetarium

Central Park West At 79th St.
Open Daily from 10 a.m. To 5:30 p.m. 

A must, and it’s one of the top NYC museums. 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, focus on “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. You will find dining on site.

Adult admission with Planetarium is $34, students are $27 and kids (3 to 12) are $20. Timed-entry reservations are required.

Intrepid Sea Land Space Museum

Pier 86 W.46th St. at 11th Avenue
Open Daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (6 p.m. on summer weekends)

As one of the top NYC museums, 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.

Adult admission is $36, students are $34 and kids (5 to 12) are $26.

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Best Museums for History

Visit Ellis Island and learn about immigration. A top museum for kids in NYC.
Learn about the immigrants who crossed an ocean to make a new home in the U.S. at the Ellis Island Museum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island Immigration Museum

New York City Harbor
Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

As a symbol of liberty and freedom 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. And it’s one of the top NYX museums.

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 will require two stops on the ferry.

No Admission to the Museum, though a Statue of Liberty timed ferry ticket is required. General admission adult ferry tickets start at $24.50 and kids (4 to 12) are $12. Special reservations are required for pedestal and crown access.

The National 9/11  Memorial and Museum

180 Greenwich St.
Memorial is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Museum is open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  (closed Tuesday)

As a former American Airlines flight attendant who 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. It’s one of the top NYC museums.

Walk through the 9/11 Museum to see the artifacts from the World Trade Center and the actual recording of emergency calls. Touring the museum is an emotional experience though the area around the WTC has recovered, experiencing a rebirth.

Adult admission is $33, students (13 to 17) are $27, kids (7 to 12) are $21 and kids 6 and younger are free. Timed Entry Tickets are required.

CityPass

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 to choose three museums from a list of 11 sites. The CityPass (the one I use on my trips to NYC) includes five of the top attractions, like the American Museum of Natural History, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, and the Intrepid Sea Land and Space Museum.

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National Museum of the American Indian

1 Bowling Green, near Battery Park
Open Daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

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 America as well as South and Central America.

Free to Enter. Reservations are not required.

Visit the East Side Tenement Museum during your trip. A top museum for Kids in NYC.
Walk through the apartment of an immigrant family in NYC. Packed with details, tour guides tell stories of different families from different countries. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

East Side Tenement Museum National Historic Site

Visitor Center at 103 Orchard St.
Open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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. It’s one of the top NYC museums.

General admission tours are $30. Timed Entry Tickets Required.

Visit Federal Hall during your 4 day NYC itinerary.
Next to the New York Stock Exchange is Federal Hall, a National Park Site. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

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.

This site is free to enter.

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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 Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Monday)

Let the kids explore five stories of interactive exhibits with a focus on learning and exploring. Find dedicated spaces for art, science and more.

General admission is $16.75 for everyone 1 and older.

Brooklyn Children’s Museum 

145 Brooklyn Ave. 
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday)

This is the first children’s museum in the world, and it opened in 1899. Now find an indoor-outdoor space focused on exploration.

General admission is $15 for everyone 1 and older.

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Staten Island Children’s Museum

1000 Richmond Terrace, Building M
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m.. to 5 p.m. 

This facility offers 12 indoor and outdoor exhibits for kids to explore, with a focus on diversity.

General admission is $8  for everyone 1 and older.

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)

Geared towards older kids, learn about the 350 years of history of New York City along with the U.S. at large.

Adult admission is $24, students are $13, kids (5 to 13) are $6 and 4 and younger enter for free. Timed entry reservations are recommended.

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) Closed Friday and Saturday

As the largest children’s museum dedicated to the Jewish faith, learn about the history of the Jewish people. Open to all faiths.

Adult admission is $15, and kids admission is $17 for everyone 2 and older.

Bronx Children’s Museum

725 Exterior Street, 2nd Floor
Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for two sessions: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This facility offers 10,000 feet of space for active exploration. Visitors will find exhibits of the natural and cultural resources of the Bronx through STEAM-based art, scientific exploration, and role-playing.

Admission to come.

Art Museums for Kids

Visit The Met during your 4 day NYC itinerary.
As the largest art museum in the U.S. The Met is a must for art lovers. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

1000 5th Ave.
Open Sunday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

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. It’s one of the top NYC museums.

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.

Adult admission is $30, students are $17 and kids 12 and younger are free. Reservations are recommended.

Visit the MoMA during your 4 day NYC itinerary.
Take in the art at the MoMA, like “Starry Night” by Vincent Van Gogh. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

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. 

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. It’s one of the top NYC museums.

Kids under 16 get in free and the MoMA hands out family guides for kids. A walk through the gift shop is a must for unique souvenirs.

Adult admission is $30, students are $15, and kids 16 and under are Free. Online reservations save $2 per ticket.

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.

Visit the Guggenheim Museum,
On the edge of Central Park, The Guggenheim Museum offers top art and architecture. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

1071 5th Ave.
Open Sunday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, I recommend you 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. It’s one of the top NYC museums.

Adult admission is $ 30, students are $19, and kids 12 and younger are free. Reservations are recommended.

The Whitney Museum of American Art

99 Gansevoort St.
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., (Friday until 10 p.m.)

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.

Adult admission is $30 and kids under 18 are free. Reservations recommended

Museum of Broadway

145 W. 45th St. 
Open Sunday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

A museum dedicated to the History of Broadway

Adult admission starts at $37, students and kids admission starts at $32.

Neue Galerie

1048 5th Ave. in Manhattan
Open Thursday to Monday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)

In a William Starr Miller House, a Fifth Avenue mansion, located at 86th Street across from the park. This art museum is dedicated to German and Austrian art and artists. Its galleries included decorative pieces like furnishings. However, most visitors come for the collection of Gustav Klimit. 

The Neue Galerie displays the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, a 1907 portrait by Klimit, also known as The Woman in Gold. However, the museum has more Klimit works in its collection and frequently offers different exhibitions with his work. 

Adult admission is $28 and students (13 and older) are $14. This museum doesn’t allow kids under 12. It offers a once a month Family Morning on Sundays.

Hewitt Cooper, Smithsonian Design Museum

Inside of the stately 64-room Carnegie Mansion, the architectural details are worth noting during your visit. Between the stately staircase, the ceilings and the inlaid floors, I enjoyed seeing the details of the home. 

This Smithsonian affiliate museum dedicates its space to design exhibits, often an area of expertise in-which good design makes our world better. During my visit, I learned about the important of sign icons to share information with an international audience. 

Located at 2 E 91st St. in Manhattan. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Adult admission is $22 and kids (18 and younger) are free. 

Museum of Arts and Design

2 Columbus Circle in Manhattan 
Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Monday).

Overlooking Central Park, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) is dedicated to contemporary art, artists and design. One of its recent exhibitions was Taylor Swift: Storyteller. Visitors can explore several floors of exhibits and the building also houses artist studios. 

Adult admission is $20, students are $14 and kids (12 and younger) are free.

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Other Museums Great for Kids

Visit the Morgan Museum and Library
The Morgan Museum and Library reminds me of Hogwarts. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

The Morgan Library and Museum

225 Madison Ave.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday until 7 p.m. (Closed Monday)

My favorite space to explore is Pierpont Morgan’s three-story library, rotunda and study. The opulent interiors have to be visited to appreciate them. A must for readers and even Harry Potter fans since it reminds me of Hogwarts. It’s one of the top NYC museums.

Adult admission is $22, students are $13 and kids 12 and younger are free.

New York Public Library

476 5th Ave. in Manhattan
Open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday).

Between the granite lions on Fifth Avenue, this iconic Beaux Arts Library isn’t a traditional lending library. It’s a research library and its name is the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. With its beautiful reading rooms, it is a popular destination for reading and studying. Additionally, it is also a popular destination for travelers.

The New York Public Library offers free weekday tours and I went on one recently. During the 60-minute guided tour I learned about the architecture of the building and the addition of the archival storage under neighboring Bryant Park. We toured its many decorative rooms, rich with details and art. There’s even an iconic set from the Sex in the City movie inside the library.

The tour is free and reservations are required. The visitor center’s website offers the best place for information. There is also a free exhibit on the ground floor of the library with some of most treasured items from its collection, the Polonsky Exhibition of New York Public Library’s Treasures.

Free to enter.

New York City Fire Museum

278 Spring St.
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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.

Adult admission is $15, students are $10 and kids (3 to 17) are $6.

South Street Seaport Museum

12 Fulton St.
Open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open weekends only in Winter. 

Learn about the rise of NYC and its role as a port city. The South Street Seaport Museum offers five historic vessels. Tour the 1885 Tall Ship Wavertree, the 1930 Tugboat W. O. Decker and the 1908 Lightship Ambrose, located nearby. Visitors can take a 2-hour tour of the harbor on the 1885 Schooner Pioneer. 

Adult admission is $18, students are $15 and kids (3 to 17) are $5. Harbor cruises are available and require a separate ticket purchased in advance.

New York City Transit Museum

99 Schermerhorn St. in Brooklyn
Open from Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

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. 

Adult admission is $10 and kids (2 to 17) are $5. Reservations are recommended.

National Museum of Mathematics

11 E. 26th St. 
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In a facility dedicated to math, learn how it provides structure along with patterns to the world. With hands-on exhibits learn about the importance of math in the everyday world.

Adult admission is $25; students and kids are $20.

New York Hall of Science

47-01 111th St. in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Learn how science is all around us with hands-on activities along with a 3D theater and Rocket Park mini-golf.

Adult admission is $39: students and kids are $36.

Museum of the Moving Image

36-01 35th Ave. in Queens
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. 

Discover the past, present and future of the moving image that’s a must for media fans.

Adult admission is $20, students are $12 and kids (3 to 17) are $10. Screenings are separate.

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 drink to get the key.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • The streets of New York are safe, but be aware of who and what is around you at all times.
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Head to New York City for a getaway. Add a few museums to your NYC trip. Here's 25 of the best in New York City from top art museums like the MoMA to history museums with dinosaurs and plantariums along museums on aircraft carriers with a former NASA space shuttle. Best Museums in NYC | Museum Musts in New York City | Top Art Musuems in NYC | Where to learn about immigration in New York #NYC #NewYorkCity

 

 

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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