Top Family-Friendly Museums in the NYC Suburbs

Top Family-Friendly Museums in the NYC Suburbs

As much as my family loves heading into New York City, if we’re not up for the commute or large crowds, it’s nice to know there are museums in the suburbs to visit instead. There is culture outside of the city, people! It may not be as big and fabulous, but there are some very worthwhile options. For all those winter, rainy and vacation days, here are NYC’s suburbs’ most popular museums in Westchester, Long Island, Connecticut and New Jersey.

WESTCHESTER

Hudson River Museum

Home to Westchester’s only planetarium, the Hudson River Museum is a fun option for families who need an indoor retreat on a bad weather day, but especially during school breaks as they have their popular SOSI (“school’s out, stars are in”) program. Located in the Bronx overlooking the Hudson River and the Palisades, the museum’s permanent and traveling exhibitions focus on 19th-21st century art, history and science. There is a family art project series, a terrific interactive science section and of course the planetarium. Note the planetarium tickets are in addition to admission. Make sure to stop by the Glenview Mansion, a 19th century estate adjacent to the museum and with a massive dollhouse inside which even the boys will be drawn to.

Admission: Adults $6. Ages 3-18 $3. Planetarium tickets: Adults $4, ages 3-18 $2.

Hours: Wednesday – Sunday, 12:00 – 5:00.

511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10701. Tel: 914-963-4550

Katonah Museum of Art

This nationally acclaimed museum located in picturesque Katonah, NY is unique in that it has no permanent collection, but rather has about 3-4 traveling exhibitions that it originates annually. Its innovative exhibits cover all time periods with a focus on art, culture and society. The very popular Learning Center is a big draw and is open during museum hours, offering the chance for children of all ages to create art projects that change with each exhibition. Their “School’s Out/Art’s In” program is a great resource for those staycation days.

Admission: Adults $10. Free for children 12 and under. 

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10:00 -5:00

         Sunday, 12:00-5:00. Closed Mondays

134 Jay Street – Route 22, Katonah, NY 10536. 914-232-9555

Westchester Children’s Museum

Located in Rye, NY, there has been much buzz about this museum, the first of its kind to open in Westchester. The building is still underway, but the first phase has been finished with the opening of 6,500 square feet of exhibition space. It needs to reach its 22,000 square feet capacity before it is complete. The museum is a non-profit organization and a place where children can explore, learn and discover through physics, science, art, design and technology. Current exhibitions include Toddler Beach, Build Your Own Rollercoaster, Wild Tunnel Design Challenge, Shadow Puppet Theater and more.

Admission: $7 per person. 1 and under free.

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 10-4. Monday and Tuesday for Group appointments only.

               Holiday Hours: Sunday, January 1 and Monday, January 2, 12-5.

100 Playland Parkway, Rye, NY. Adjacent to Playland – entrance on boardwalk. Tel: 914-421-5050

Neuberger Museum of Art

Affiliated with Purchase College, this teaching museum is beloved for its collection of modern, contemporary and African art. They currently have a Pop! exhibition from their permanent collection which we plan to go see, and includes artists Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Ed Ruscha and Roy Litchenstein.

Admission: Adults $5. Free for children 12 and under. FREE first Saturday of ever month and Wednesday 5-8.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 12-5. Wednesday, 12-8. Closed Mondays.

Purchase College, 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY 10577. Tel: 914-251-6100

LONG ISLAND

Nassau County Museum of Art

Located in Roslyn Harbor, NY on the former Frick Estate, this nationally acclaimed museum is comprised of its main art building in a beautiful Georgian mansion, a sculpture park, a formal garden and walking trails. The fine art building has a collection and exhibition program focused on 19th and 20th century American and European art. It is very family-friendly, offering a variety of family programs, including Family Sundays most Sundays from 1-4. Come have a family tour at 1:00, followed by art activities at 1:30. Then take a walk along the stunning grounds afterward.

Admission: Adults $12. Children 4-12 $4. Under 4 free.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00-4:45. Closed Mondays. See website for closing days due      to show changes.

One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor, NY 11576. Tel: 516-484-9337

Cradle of Aviation Museum

If there would be one word to describe this museum it would be – awesome! Located in Garden City, NY, it has over 150,000 square feet of 9 galleries highlighting 100 years of aviation, and with over 75 air and space crafts, 12 cockpits and 30 hands-on exhibits. There is a Jetblue Sky Theater Planetarium as well as a National Geographic Dome Theater. Pure fun for any age.

Admission:  Adults $15. Children 2-12, $13. Under 2 free.

                       Planetarium and Dome Theater shows: Adults $9 and children $8.

                       Museum and Combo Show: Adults $20, children $18.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 9:30-5. Closed Monday, except for those that fall on Holiday and school breaks.

Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530. Tel: 516.572.4066

Long Island Children’s Museum

This Garden City children’s museum has lots of fun activity rooms and exhibitions including Bricks and Sticks, Climb It!, Feasts for Beasts, Sound Showers and more. It also has a theater with professional performances that you can visit together with the museum, or separately.

Admission: $13 per person, under 1 free.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10-5. Closed Monday. See website for holiday hours.

11 Davis Avenue, Garden City, NY 11530. Tel: 516-224-5800

Science Museum of Long Island

This non-profit science activity center is located in Nassau County on Leeds Pond Preserve. Unlike some of the other science museums, this one consists of workshops you must pre-register for. They are offered on weekdays and during school vacations. Note their Holiday Workshops are for ages 4+ and are drop-off from 10-3. Prices vary –see website for more information and to register.

Admission and Hours – see website

1526 North Plandome Road, Long Island, NY 11030 Tel: 516-627-9400

CONNECTICUT

Bruce Museum of Arts and Science

This small but precious museum in Greenwich, CT is a terrific option for families as it has galleries dedicated to natural history, science and the arts. Think fossils, reptiles and skeletons, bird and mammal mounts, rocks and minerals, and more. When the weather’s nice, go to the playground at Bruce Park across the street after – one of the best playgrounds in the area. You can read more about the museum in my post here. For a full list of their family programs, view here.

Admission: Adults $7. Children under 5 free.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10:00-5:00. Last admission 4:30. Closed Mondays.

1 Museum Drive, Greenwich, CT 06830. Tel: 203-869-0376

Stamford Museum and Nature Center

People usually think of the outdoors when they think about visiting here – with its beautiful farm, nature center and wooded trails – but there is also an indoor museum with exhibits year round, as well as a planetarium and observatory. On view until February 5th is Billion Bricks 4: Superheroes in Gotham, and Lego workshops on the weekends. Times vary, see the website for more info. This is one of our favorite places in Connecticut. You can read more about the outdoor experience in my post here .

Admission: Adults $10. Kids 4-17 $5. Kids 3 and Under free.

Hours: Museum Galleries: Monday-Saturday, 9-5, Sunday 11-5

             Heckscher Farm: April-October, Daily 9-5. November-March, Daily 9-4.

39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, CT 06903. Tel: 203-322-1646

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Located in bucolic Ridgefield, CT, the Aldrich is the only museum in Connecticut devoted to contemporary art. One of the great things about the museum is that exhibiting artists are regularly present, and a crucial part of the programming. All ages are encouraged to visit, and a link to family programs can be found here, which includes their “school’s out, Aldrich is in!” workshops as well as their “Third Saturday” projects.

Admission:. Adults $10. Children under 18 free.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday-Saturday, 10-5. Sunday, 12-5. Closed Tuesdays.

258 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877. Tel: 203-438-4519

Stepping Stones Museum for Children

Everyone loves this children’s museum in Norwalk, CT for kids 10 and under. With interactive exhibits like Build it!, Energy Lab, Express Yourself, Tot Town, Community Garden and Multimedia Gallery, there’s something for everyone. Be prepared to have a tough time hauling your kids away! Especially out of the Energy Lab exhibition which has the very popular Water Lab room.

Admission: Adults $15. Children $15. Under 1 free.

Hours: Labor Day-Memorial Day (School Year), Tuesday-Sunday, 10-5.

           Memorial Day-Labor Day (Summer), Monday-Sunday, 10-5.

Mathews Park, 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06850. Tel: 203-899-0530

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

This is a fantastic museum in New Haven, CT if you’re in the burbs and can’t make it to the Museum of Natural History in the city. Of course nowhere near the size, but still a great alternative for all natural history lovers out there. It has three floors of science fun: the Hall of Dinosaurs, the Hall of Mammalian Evolution, the Hall of Minerals, Earth and Science, the Discovery Room and the North American dioramas, to name some exhibitions. You can read more about it in my post here. Hit nearby Shake Shack afterwards for lunch!

Admission: Adults $3. Kids 3-18 $6. Kids under 3 free.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 10-5. Sunday, 12-5. Closed Mondays.

170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511. Tel: 203-432-5050.

Connecticut Science Center

Located in Hartford, CT, the amazing Connecticut Science Center has more than 150 hands-on exhibits, a 3D digital theatre and traveling exhibits which means there’s always something to new to see. What’s there now? Leonardo da Vinci: Machines in Motion, where 40 of the artist’s inventions are brought to life with full scale working models. Permanent exhibits include Exploring Space, Invention Dimension, Planet Earth, Sports Lab, Rooftop Garden, and many more.

Admission: Adults $21.95. Kids ages 3-18 $14.95, under 3 free.

Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10-5. Closed Mondays. Note: Closed January 2-16.

250 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, CT 06103. Tel: 860-724-3623

NEW JERSEY

Liberty Science Center

People rave about this science museum in Jersey City, filled with hundreds of interactive exhibits including I Explore, Energy Quest, Eat and Be Eaten, Infection Connection and so many more, including traveling exhibitions. Most notably, the center is home to the world’s largest IMAX Dome Theater. Check out the films Extreme Weather or A Beautiful Planet. Kids under 2 are not permitted into the theatre, however there is also a RealD 3D theatre suitable for all ages with shorter shows such as Earthflight 3D and Asteroid: Mission Extreme.

Admission: Science Center: Adults $21.75. Kids 2-12 $17.75, Under 2 free. For combination and premium passes, please view website.

Hours: Monday-Friday, 9-4. Saturday and Sunday, 9-5:30.

             Open later Holiday Hours: December 26-30, 9-6. December 31 – January 2,

             9-5:30.

222 Jersey City Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07305. Tel: 201-200-1000

Montclair Art Museum

Located in Montclair, NJ, this treasured museum has a collection of over 12,000 works of American and Native American art. It’s family-friendly and encourages children of all ages to visit with programs such as their Family Learning Lab, open during regular museum hours; create art through interactive projects based on current exhibitions.

Admission: Adults $12. Children under 2 free.

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, 12-5. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042. Tel: 973-746-5555

Imagine That!!! Children’s Museum

Yes, with three exclamation marks, this museum is super excited and so are the kids who visit it. Specializing in pre-school and young school children, the museum has 16,000 square feet of space with over 50 exhibits to get the wee ones’ imaginations going.

Admission: Adults $9.95, Kids $10.95, Under 1 free.

Hours: 7 days a week from 10-5:30.

4 Vreeland Road, Florham Park, NJ 07932. Tel: 973-966-8000.

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7 Comments

  1. December 29, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    Wow Corey – you are lucky, spoilt for choice with all these wonderful museums.

  2. December 31, 2016 / 1:45 am

    Great list. Some of these are not the obvious ones.

    • January 3, 2017 / 2:40 am

      Thanks Jay – Happy New Year!

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