Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Top Museums for Kids in NYC
- Museum of Modern Art MoMA
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
- The Whitney Museum of American Art
- The Morgan Library and Museum
- American Folk Art Museum
- The Frick Collection
- Children’s Museum of the Arts
- New York City Fire Museum
- New York Transit Museum
- Museum of the Moving Image
- The National Museum of Mathematics
Bringing kids to New York City? You’ll find a museum they’ll love, whether they’re into art, science, dinosaurs, Harry Potter, fire engines…If you can name it, there’s probably a museum for it in NYC. Here are TravelingMom’s favorites, with current ticketing information and the “must-sees” when visiting.
Top Museums for Kids in NYC
When I lived in New York City before I had kids, I loved to explore the city and its museums, from Times Square to Brooklyn and everywhere in between. I thought I couldn’t love NYC and its museums more, until I explored with my kids. I have three, so getting to take each of the two older teens on a solo trip with Mom was a treat. My two older kids have different interests (don’t they all) so I work with that. I have a daughter who loves art and history, easy. My son loves motion and adventure, good too. Though he loved a special exhibit at MoMA about classic cars (see that, snuck in art). Here are the top museums for kids in NYC, from babies and toddlers to tweens and teens.
A NYC Museum for Every Interest
Families visiting New York City will find museums for most interests. For animal and dinosaur lovers, head to the American Museum of Natural History. Art lovers and their creative kids will find that some of the best art museums in the U.S. are in New York, like The Met and MoMA. For space explorers and aviation buffs, explore the deck of the Intrepid Sea Land and Space Museum, an aircraft carrier on the Hudson River. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are top museums for history. Love musicals? The Museum of Broadway is set to open in the Summer of 2022.
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.
A must for families with kids of all ages, my teen daughter spent hours exploring. The sprawling American Museum of Natural History lands as one of the top museums for kids in NYC. Exploring this museum could take all day, so hit the highlights, like the Hall of Dinosaurs, “Lucy” the early human, the giant blue whale and the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda along with the Hall of North American Mammals.
Carve out a little time for the Hayden Planetarium (located inside the American Museum of Natural History) to learn more about the world beyond our atmosphere.
TravelingMomTip: I recommend eating lunch at the Natural History Museum. The Museum Food Court on the lower level features family favorites. Reserve tickets to the Hayden Planetarium before arriving to make the best use of your time.
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. Don’t let the aircraft carrier throw you off; I found more than military aircraft moored to Pier 86 on the Hudson River in midtown.
Clamber across the deck of the USS Intrepid to see a retired Concorde in its permanent exhibits. Then see one of the retired space shuttles, the Orbiter Enterprise, one of several on display across the U.S. and it’s a grandparent-friendly museum as well.
Museum of Broadway
145 W. 45th Street. Hours and admission info to be announced.
Set to open during the summer of 2022, the Museum of Broadway will celebrate the history of theater in New York City. You’ll follow the timeline of theatrical productions in the city and learn about what it takes to get a production like “Hamilton” from concept to curtain raising.
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Children’s Museums Across NYC
The best museums for younger kids are children’s museums. Find several across the city. Packed with interactive exhibits, the whole family, baby included, can enjoy a fun day exploring and learning.
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.
A favorite on the Upper West Side, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan is often referred to as CMOM by New Yorkers. With five floors to explore, it’s like a kid science museum and art space together with lots of opportunity for playing and learning.
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.
Visit the first children’s museum in the U.S. and I was shocked to learn it opened in 1899. Kids learn by doing at the BCM so explore The Next, World Brooklyn, Nature Neighborhood and an area just for toddlers and more.
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.
The Bronx Children’s Museum is moving to a new space in Mill Pond Park along the Harlem RIver. This new space is scheduled to open in 2022.
170 Central Park West in the Upper West Side. Open Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m
Founded in 1804, it is New York City’s first museum. The New-York Historical Society features the DiMenna Children’s History Museum with hands-on activities 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.
A popular destination in Brooklyn to learn Jewish history and explore its 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 the SOL 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. TravelingMom 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.
TravelingMom 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.
TravelingMom Tip: Most tours are best suited for kids 8 and up. No strollers allowed.
26 Wall Street. Closed until further notice.
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.
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 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 although the area around the WTC has recovered, experiencing a rebirth.
TravelingMom 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 start with the MoMA. Work your way down the list of these top museums for kids in NYC.
For art-loving kids, work up the list, save the MoMA and The Met for last. You can become desensitized after seeing so many Picassos and Monets.
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.
If your kids have short attention spans, head straight for the Fifth Floor. I did this with my teen son. That’s where I found Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and 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 guides for family visits. Walk through the gift shop for unique souvenirs.
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. and closed on Wednesday. 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.
My favorites are The Temple of Dendur, the Medieval Art for its imposing display and the American Wing. Yet don’t miss the extensive collection of European Masters.
What are the most kid-friendly exhibits in The Met? Head to the Galleries of Arms and Armor for knights on horseback. Fans of The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankenweiler can go on a scavenger hunt, created to celebrate the novel’s publication in 1967. And there’s plenty of stuff for Harry Potter fans too. Look for wands and goblets in the Met’s permanent collections. And there’s a Roman bust that looks a lot like the cinematic version of Voldemort.
TravelingMom 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.
I love the Guggenheim for the architecture, originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Take the elevator to the top floor and work your way down.
TravelingMom Tip: Keep an eye on the kids who might be tempted to walk a bit too fast.
99 Gansevoort St. Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Tuesday. Admission based on age, 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.
225 Madison Ave. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission based on age, kids under 12 are free. Timed entry tickets required.
My favorite space to explore is Pierpont Morgan’s three-story library, rotunda and study. The opulent interiors have to be visited to be appreciated. I think the library looks like something from Hogwarts.
2 Lincoln Center. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 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 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 toddlers and preschoolers.
In a facility dedicated to all forms of art, find a mix of engaging and child-centered exhibitions. The Museum also offers programming for getting little fingers busy. Check out the more than 2,000 works by children worldwide. Check the website before heading out to the museum for public admission dates and hours.
The official museum of the 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.
Located at 278 Spring St. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission based on age. Best for all ages.
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.
Located at 99 Schermerhorn St. Open from Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission based on age. Timed entry tickets required.
In the historic Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image is the only museum 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.
Located in 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.
Don’t let the name give you anxiety, no quizzes at the end of your visit. Kids explore how math uses patterns and structures to explain the world around us.
Located at 11 E 26th St. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission based on age.
The New York Hall of Science has reopened after completing cleanups due to storm damage from Hurricane Ida. Visitors can expect an interactive experience in exhibits like the current Happiness Habits Lab.
Located at 47-01 111th St., Queens in the Flushing Meadows Corona Park.