New York City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and for good reason. With its iconic landmarks, world-class restaurants, and unparalleled cultural offerings, it’s the greatest city in the world. For families, we have rounded up the best museums for kids in NYC!
Fortunately, New York City is home to some of the best museums for kids and adults alike, and many of them offer exhibits and programs specifically designed for children. From interactive exhibits to hands-on workshops, to super colorful fun, these museums are sure to engage and educate kids of all ages.
In this article, we will take a look at the best museums in NYC for kids, highlighting the unique features and experiences that make each one a must-visit destination for families.
Happy New York Travels!
Top Museums for Kids in NYC
When it comes to museums, New York City has a lot to offer. But which ones are the best for kids? Here are the top 3 museums in NYC that are sure to entertain and educate children of all ages.
American Museum of Natural History
The American Museum of Natural History is one of the most famous museums and the best museums for kids in NYC and in the world for good reason. With exhibits on everything from dinosaurs to space exploration, your kids will love this NYC museum, and you will too. Kids will love the dinosaur skeletons, the giant blue whale, and the butterfly conservatory.
AMNH also has the Hayden Planetarium and a 3D theater, and the new AMNH Gilder Center. The Gilder Center features unique and one-of-a-kind architecture to spark your kid’s imagination and learning experience. The Gilder Center offers an insectarium, collections displays, and a butterfly vivarium. The Gilder Center is included with general admission tickets to AMNH. Find refundable, skip the line tickets here.
Museum of Ice Cream NYC
The Museum of Ice Cream is a popular attraction in New York City that offers a multi-sensory experience with immersive installations designed to stimulate the senses and inspire creativity. One of the most super cool museums in NYC, kids can explore rooms filled with colorful and whimsical displays, such as a giant pool filled with sprinkles, an epic three-story slide, a life-sized unicorn sculpture, an out-of-this-world pink “Celestial Subway,” and a room that showcases the history of ice cream.
In addition to the installations, this dreamy museum also offers tastings of various ice cream flavors and other sweet treats along the way. The Museum of Ice Cream NYC is located in trendy SoHo and is the most fun museum for kids in NYC or to visit for anyone who loves ice cream and wants to have a fun and memorable experience.
Things to do with Teens In NYC. I have taken my 16-year-old to New York City a billion times with me because she shares my passion for it. This is a great guide on where to go with your kids or teens so you’re cool for a couple of days! You can check it out HERE.
9/11 Memorial Museum
The 9/11 Memorial & Museum is one of the top museums in NYC. It’s a somber but essential museum that honors the victims and heroes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
I think any trip to New York City, this memorial is a humbling experience and a must.
Although it may not be suitable for very young children, older kids can learn about the events that took place on that tragic day through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and personal stories.
The 9/11 Museum and Memorial is located in Lower Manhattan and features a collection of artifacts, photographs, and oral histories that tell the story of the attacks and their aftermath. Some of the most notable exhibits include the Last Column, a 36-foot steel beam that was the final piece of steel removed from Ground Zero, and the Memorial Exhibition, which pays tribute to the 2,983 victims of the attacks.
The 9/11 Memorial is located outside the museum and features two reflecting pools that are each nearly an acre in size and are located in the footprints of the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center. The names of all the victims of the attacks are inscribed beautifully on the bronze panels surrounding the pools.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan on the Upper West Side is designed specifically for kids, with interactive exhibits and activities that promote learning and creativity, including five floors of hands-on exhibits that encourage children to explore science, art, music, and more.
Some of the most popular exhibits include PlayWorks, which is designed for children ages 0-4 and features sensory experiences and interactive play, and America to Zanzibar, which explores the diversity of Muslim cultures around the world. CMOM also offers a variety of educational programs and events for families and schools, including workshops, classes, and performances.
There’s a whole section dedicated to art, where kids can create their own masterpieces, as well as exhibits on science, culture, and even social justice. The museum also has a play space for younger children, complete with a climbing structure and a sensory room.
Find hours, location, and more information on the Children’s Museum of Manhattan here.
Observation Decks in New York City: This is a list of the five observation decks in NYC, the classics, and the modern. There might be a deck that entices you more. Each one has unique characteristics, views, and qualities. You can find the article HERE.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the first museum in the world designed specifically for children. It features interactive exhibits that encourage kids to explore and learn about the world around them. The museum is divided into several sections, including World Brooklyn, a miniature town featuring Brooklyn businesses showcasing the borough’s diversity, and Totally Tots, which is designed for children under the age of 6.
Other highlights include the Sensory Room, which is a calming space for kids with special needs, and the Collections Central exhibit, which features artifacts from the museum’s collection.
Find hours, locations, and more information on the Brooklyn Childrens Museum here.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is one of the coolest museums in NYC for kids. This unique museum is dedicated to the history and exploration of sea, air, and space. The Intrepid Museum is housed on the USS Intrepid, a retired aircraft carrier that served in World War II and the Vietnam War, and features a collection of historic aircraft, spacecraft, and naval vessels.
Some of the most notable exhibits include the Space Shuttle Enterprise, which was the first space shuttle prototype, and the British Airways Concorde, which was the fastest commercial aircraft ever built. This kids museum in NYC also features a number of interactive exhibits, including a flight simulator and a virtual reality experience. In addition to the museum exhibits, visitors can explore the Intrepid itself, including the flight deck, hangar deck, and crew quarters.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is a popular destination for families and history buffs alike. Find refundable, skip-the-line tickets to Intrepid here.
New York City Fire Museum
The New York City Fire Museum is one of the best museums for kids in NYC who are interested in firefighting and the history of the New York City Fire Department. The New York Fire Museum is a museum located near the SoHo neighborhood and dedicated to the history and culture of firefighting in New York City and features a collection of historic fire engines, equipment, and artifacts.
Some of the most notable exhibits include a 19th-century fire engine, a collection of helmets and uniforms from the early days of the New York City Fire Department, and a memorial wall honoring firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. This adult and kids museum NYC also features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to experience what it’s like to be a firefighter, including a simulated firehouse and a fire safety learning center.
Find hours, location, and more information on the New York City Fire Museum here.
New York Hall of Science
The New York Hall of Science is an excellent museum for kids in NYC who are interested in science and technology. With exhibits on everything from robotics to the human body, there’s plenty to explore here. Kids can even design their own roller coaster or build a bridge to test its strength. The museum also has a playground outside, as well as a mini-golf course that teaches physics concepts.
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
While Ellis Island is a well-known attraction, the museum itself is often overlooked. However, it’s a great option for kids who are interested in history and learning about the immigrant experience in America. Plus, you get to take a fun ferry ride to Ellis Island.
The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is located on the island and offers exhibits that explore the journey that millions of immigrants took to make it to the United States. Kids can see artifacts from the time period, learn about the different cultures that came to America, and even search for their own family’s immigration records. Then they can explore Lady Liberty and The Stature of Liberty Museum which houses the original torch. Be sure before you leave the museum you visit the Liberty Vista with amazing views of Manhattan and the statue.
The Met is our family’s favorite museum in New York City for adults and children alike. The Met, or The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world and one of the most beautiful.
The Met is located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, lining Central Park. This stunning museum was founded in 1870 and has a collection of over 2 million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture. The Met’s collection includes art from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, as well as paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
The Met offers many programs and resources for kids to engage with art and learn about different cultures. Here are some examples:
- Family Programs: The Met offers a variety of family programs, including art-making workshops, gallery tours, and interactive storytelling sessions. These programs are designed for families with children ages 18 months to 12 years.
- MetKids: MetKids is an interactive online resource that allows kids to explore the museum’s collection through games, videos, and interactive features. It includes a map of the museum, highlights of the collection, and information about different cultures.
- Audio Guides: The Met offers audio guides for kids that provide commentary and activities related to specific artworks in the collection. The audio guides are available in English, Spanish, French, and Mandarin.
- Art Packs: The Met offers Art Packs for kids to use as they explore the museum. These packs include sketchbooks, pencils, and activities related to different artworks in the collection.
- Teen Programs: The Met also offers programs for teens, including internships, workshops, and events. These programs are designed to help teens explore their creativity and develop their skills in art and design.
New York Travel Tip: The Met has one of the best gift shops in a museum, especially for the kids. They have educational toys, books, items, and unique gifts you won’t find anywhere else. Don’t forget to shop before leaving, you won’t regret it!
Museums For Kids in NY with Unique Exhibits
When it comes to museums for kids in NY, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, some museums offer unique exhibits that are sure to capture children’s attention. Here are museums in NYC for kids that have exhibits that are both educational and engaging.
Unique things to do in NYC: Looking for some ideas outside of tourist traps in New York City? We have some fun, innovative, quirky, weird ideas in New York City to consider here!
National Museum of Mathematics
The National Museum of Mathematics, or MoMath, is a unique and cool museum in NYC that is dedicated to the exploration of math. Never fear, they made math fun! This colorful museum features interactive exhibits that allow visitors to explore the concepts of math in a fun and engaging way.
Highlights include the Enigma Cafe, which features puzzles and brain teasers, Pattern Pants where you dress yourself in a symmetrical pattern, and the Square-Wheeled Trike exhibit, which demonstrates how a square wheel can be used to create a smooth ride.
Find hours, location, and more math fun information here.
One of the most unique and fascinating experiences and one of the best museums for kids in NYC to visit to the Tenement Museum. This gem invites visitors to step back in time and explore a slice of life in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The Tenement Museum is entirely interactive, offering a hands-on approach to learning about immigration history, as visitors are led through recreated tenement apartments, and introduced to the families who once called them home. Kids will love the immersive experience of discovering a time and way of life long gone. The Tenement Museum provides a fantastic educational opportunity for families and is a must-see when visiting New York City.
For information on hours, location, and program at the Tenement Museum here.
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