Best Family Friendly Museums in New York City

Best Family Friendly Museums in New York City

New York City has always been a cultural mecca, with some of the greatest museums and art institutions in the world. Uptown, downtown, Brooklyn, Queens – there is no shortage of creativity in this vibrant city.

You don’t have to be an adult to enjoy much of New York’s cultural scene – in this ever increasingly kid-friendly world, there are many museums that either cater to children, offer children’s programs, or simply, can be enjoyed by children.

From fine art to history to science to things that go, there are so many museums in New York that the whole family can explore. Below are our top picks for Best Family-Friendly Museums in NYC.

Best Family-Friendly Museums in New York City

American Museum of Natural History

The Museum of Natural History is one of the best family-friendly museums in New York City.

This is the museum that made the biggest impression on me as a little girl, just as it does so many kids today. Ever since I saw the giant blue whale hanging from the ceiling on a school field trip, I was hooked. Perhaps the most beloved museum of them all for children – for all ages – the Natural History Museum has and always will be a New York classic. Kids love exploring the animal, fossil, and earth & space halls, and the special exhibitions are always excellent.

Did you know? The Museum of Natural History has the world’s largest collection of dinosaur fossils.

Best ages to visit: All Ages

Central Park West and 79th Street, New York, NY 10024

General Hours: Open daily 10:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

New York Hall of Science

New York Hall of Science is one of the best family friendly museums in New York City.

Do yourself a favor and take your kids to this absolutely fantastic science museum in Queens. With over 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, you could spend all day here if you wanted to. Toddlers to teens can enjoy hands-on activities centered on science, technology, design, math and engineering and learn how science plays a role in everything we experience as human beings. You can read more about the museum in my post New York Hall of Science: Discovery, Exploration, Fun.

Did you know? The New York Hall of Science was founded at the 1964-65 World’s Fair and occupies the same building today.

Best ages to visit: All Ages

47-01 11th Street, Corona, NY, 11368

General Hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m./ Saturday – Sunday, 10:00 – 6

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

The Brooklyn Children's Museum is one of the best family-friendly museums in New York City

I have fond memories of taking my girls to this museum when they were younger, and when we lived in Brooklyn. It’s an awesome children’s museum – one of the best of its kind – and this was our go-to on rainy days. The museum’s mission is to provide cultural experiences for children through their many exhibitions, such as their World Brooklyn exhibition.

Did you know? The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was the first children’s museum in the world, when it was founded in 1899. Its success has led to the creation of over 300 children’s museums around the world.

Best ages to visit: 6 months – 10 years

145 Brooklyn Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213

General Hours: Tuesday – Thursday – 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. / Thursday 10: 00 a.m. -6: 00 p.m. Closed Mondays

Metropolitan Museum of Art

No visit to New York is complete without a visit to the Met. This New York institution is home to art and artifacts from over 5,000 years, and spanning all cultures and time periods. From antiquities to modern art, there is something for everyone at the Met. Kids love the Egyptian section, among many more exhibitons, and the Met has all sorts of programs for families, including classes, story time, interactive programs and so much more.

We also love the Cloisters, a branch of the Met in northern Manhattan. You can read more about it in my post Off the Beaten Path: NYC’s Cloisters.

Did you know? #MetKids, a digital feature, is designed for, with and by kids. Discover fun facts about works of art, watch behind-the-scenes videos, and go back in time. Learn more on the #MetKids Blog.

Best ages to visit: 3 +

1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028

General hours: Sunday – Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Children’s Museum of the Arts

The Children's Museum of the Arts is one of the best family-friendly museums in New York City.

The concept behind this unique museum, located in Soho, is for children to be introduced to art by providing classes and workshops for them to make art alongside working artists. Popular activities include the Clay Bar, Fine Arts Studio, Media Lab and WEE Studio. The museum moved into a new, state of the art building in 2011, and it’s been all the rage ever since. If your kids are into art, they’ll love this fun and educational museum.

Did you know? CMA has a permanent collection of over 2,000 paintings and drawings of children’s art from around the world, dating back to the 1930’s.

Best ages to visit: 10 months – 15 years

103 Charlton Street, New York, NY 10014

General Hours: Mondays 12- 5, Thursdays and Fridays, 12 – 6, Saturdays and Sundays 10 -5. Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

New York Transit Museum

Located in Downtown Brooklyn in an authentic 1936 subway station, this under-the-radar museum is one of New York’s gems. We used to visit it all the time when we lived in Brooklyn, and I can tell you the great thing about the museum – dedicated to New York’s transportation system – is that it never gets too crowded. Off the beaten path, many people don’t know about it. If your kids love things that go – and what kid doesn’t – then they will love this museum. Vintage trains and buses can be boarded for much exploration and fun. You can read more about it in my post NYC Off the Beaten Path: New York Transit Museum.

Did you know? The New York Transit Museum is the largest museum in the United States devoted to urban public transportation history.

Best ages to visit: All Ages

Decommissioned subway station at the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street

General Hours: Tuesday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m./ Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Museum of Modern Art

Ok so I’m biased since I used to work there, but MoMA is really great for families. Don’t let its size and sophistication intimidate you! This world-class museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art is absolutley kid-friendly. There’s a wide variety of programming for children, including tours, workshops, films, interactive spaces and audio guides. “Tours for Fours” and “Family Art Workshops”, for example, are some of the programs. You can read more about our visit to MoMA in my post Classic New York.

Did you know? Open during museum hours is the Art Lab, an amazing interactive space where kids can play and create. Free with museum admission (though for kids, admission is free! So, free for adults).

Best ages to visit: 4 +

11 West 53rd Street, New York, NY 10019

General Hours: 7 days a week, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

The Children's Museum of Manhattan is one of the best family friendly museums in New York City.

Manhattan’s museum dedicated to all things kids, CMOM’s main areas of focus are early childhood education, creativity, health, and world cultures. Exhibitions include Let’s Dance!, Dynamic H2O, America to Zanzibar and more.

Did you know? CMOM was originally founded in 1973 as a neighborhood, grassroots organization to help bring the arts to New York City public schools, and since then has been a citywide resource.

Best ages to visit: 6 months – 10 years

212 West 83rd Street, New York, NY 10024

General Hours: Tuesday – Friday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Saturdays, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum of American Art is one of the best family friendly museums in New York City

One of my absolute favorite museums in New York, the Whitney is another museum that might surprise you as to just how family-friendly it is. This museum devoted to American art from the 20th century to contemporary time has a number of programs and activities geared toward kids. Art making workshops, interactive tours and special events all make up the programming. After a visit to the Whitney, take a walk on the Highline (right there), a park that’s a lot of fun to explore with the kids.

Did you know? The Whitney has a program called “Stroller Tours” for new parents and their babies, ages 0 – 18 months. They’re run by Teaching Fellows and are held when the museum is closed to the public. They’re motto? Crying babies welcome! I love that the Whitney does this. What a great thing to do for new parents who might otherwise have assumed their cultural life was temporarily over!

Best ages to visit: Apart from the Stroller Tours, 4 +

99 Ganesvoort Street, New York, NY 10014

General Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, 10:30 a.m. – 6: 00 p.m.

Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. Closed Tuesdays

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Best Family Friendly Museums in New York City

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47 Comments

  1. December 5, 2017 / 8:54 pm

    HI, thank you for the great post. We are hoping to make it to NYC next year and the Met and MoMA are definitely on our to do list. Your post got me excited thinking about our next visit. Thank you for sharing.

    • December 6, 2017 / 11:50 pm

      Thanks so much for the comment! You must go to MoMA and the Met – no doubt you will love them!

  2. December 7, 2017 / 3:49 am

    There are so many things I love about this post, and of course it’s very timely for us just about to go to NYC for the holidays! I LOVE the idea of the stroller tours, if only they’d existed in France when I was a new mum. And the children’s art museum is genius! I’m saving this for our trip, thanks Corey. #farawayfiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:33 pm

      Glad you find it helpful, Phoebe. Something I should have put in my post that I’m going to now is – for those museums you can purchase tix ahead online (most of them you can) it’s best to do that. Eases a lot of the pain, and especially during Christmastime when the city is particularly crowded.

  3. December 7, 2017 / 3:53 am

    You used to work at MoMA?! Wow Corey! What an experience. I feel that despite at least 8 visits to New York I have barely scratched the surface of this incredible city. I am so looking forward to discovering it with our kids one day. I’d love to take them to CMOM and the Whitney – great tips!

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:37 pm

      Thanks Katy – hope to see you some day here. Yes I worked at MoMA years ago and you’ll be interested to know a big part of the job was travel. I worked for a private membership group and we traveled all over the place – Cuba, China, Istanbul – for the art biennals. In my interview when they asked me if I was up for all the travel you can imagine my self-contained excitement ;).

  4. December 7, 2017 / 4:10 am

    We have never been to NYC. Hopefully a visit will materialise next year. I will keep your suggestions in mind.

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:38 pm

      Thanks – and I hope you make it here some day!

  5. December 7, 2017 / 4:25 am

    I grew up in NYC (and have now lived in Paris for 15 years) but absolutely love all of the places featured in this post. I especially love the Museum of Natural History. NYC is such a fabulous place to grow up!

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:40 pm

      I can imagine! I grew up in the burbs in CT and now live in the burbs in NY but have been to the city all my life. My grandparents lived there and my mom was born and raised in the city..an amazing backyard for a kid!

  6. Trish @ Mum's Gone To
    December 7, 2017 / 5:16 am

    I still haven’t been to New York! Crazy, I know.
    Love all these suggestions – a great resource for families wanting to visit.
    #farawayfiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:41 pm

      I’m sure you’ll make it here some day Trish! Only so much time for everything..

  7. December 7, 2017 / 5:19 am

    What a fantastic list of museums! I’m ashamed to say that I am still yet to visit the Big Apple. But saving this for when we do finally make it there! #farawayfiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:44 pm

      Nothing to be ashamed about…plenty of places I’m still shocked I haven’t visited!

  8. December 7, 2017 / 6:25 am

    My son would love the transit museum. He loves all things trains, cars, planes and busses. Sounds like there are so many awesome museums in NYC. I would expect nothing less. #FarawayFiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:45 pm

      I adore the Transit Museum. I had my daughter’s 4th birthday there I love it so much. A totally unique museum.

  9. December 7, 2017 / 6:55 am

    I’m usually not a big fan of museums but those all look really fun!!! #FarawayFiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:46 pm

      What can I say NYC has the best museums!

  10. Clare Thomson
    December 7, 2017 / 8:04 am

    So many fabulous suggestions here Corey! I’ve been to quite a few on your list including memorably a visit to the spider labs at the Natural History Museum where my husband’s uncle was studying them. I can’t wait to take my boys to New York. There are so many amazing things to discover. #FarawayFiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:48 pm

      Your husband’s uncle sounds very interesting Clare! How cool! Though spiders..not sure how I’d fare ;).

  11. Jacki L
    December 7, 2017 / 9:12 am

    I don’t usually think of NYC as a kid friendly city but you certainly make a great case here! These museums look incredible for kids! #FarawayFiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:49 pm

      It’s increasingly becoming more and more kid-friendly which is great. Times Square, for example, is basically Disney. That was not the case 20 years ago!

  12. December 7, 2017 / 9:39 am

    We haven’t done enough of NY museums. Thank you for the guide. It’s got me wanting to visit a few! x #FarawayFiles

  13. December 7, 2017 / 10:53 am

    I’ve visited NYC three times and still not stepped into a museum there – how bad is that?! Looks like lots of great options though… #FarawayFiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 5:51 pm

      Haha – so many things to do in this beast of a city. Some day!

  14. December 7, 2017 / 11:09 am

    This is such a good post no matter if you’ve never been to NY or if you’ve been a ton of times! Even though I’ve been to many of these, I didn’t know all those cool facts! I’m definitely checking out The Children’s Museum of the Arts the Science Museum in Queens, and the transportation museum the next time I’m in town. #farawayfiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      I think you’d love the Children’s Museum of Arts!

  15. December 7, 2017 / 2:38 pm

    I loved the Met. I rarely go back and revisit museums, but this one I’ll probably have to visit next NY time too.

    • December 7, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      I love the Met too. Such a NYC institution.

  16. December 7, 2017 / 5:21 pm

    Some of these are old friends but I have to visit the American Museum of Natural History and the New York Hall of Science #FarawayFiles

    • December 7, 2017 / 6:01 pm

      Those two are really great museums – probably my kids’ favorites.

  17. Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad
    December 7, 2017 / 10:07 pm

    Basically you just need to say the words New and York and I’m sold. I don’t have kids but I’m certain I’d love most of these museums regardless! I’ve only been to the city once, and I did manage to visit MoMA, but I can’t wait to go back and see more. I loved the place!

    • December 10, 2017 / 8:45 am

      MoMA is a great first museum to visit in New York. If you make it back for a visit I’d say go to the Met and the Whitney – the new Whitney downtown is amazing!

  18. annette @afrenchcollection
    December 8, 2017 / 5:26 am

    What a great collection you’ve put together here. The huge whale certainly makes an impact doesn’t it. #FarawayFiles

    • December 10, 2017 / 8:46 am

      Yes, I remember feeling in awe when I was little. I’ll never forget that first time.

  19. December 8, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Wow, they have Children’s Museum of Art – I would love to see that! I have always wanted to visit the Met – I’d rather skip Times Square and spend more time at the Met 🙂 #FarawayFiles

  20. December 8, 2017 / 9:29 am

    What a great collection of museums you’ve put together. I’ve only ever been to NY once and didn’t make it to any museums…but there’s always next time #farawayfiles

    • December 10, 2017 / 8:47 am

      Always next time..so much to do in NYC can’t do it all.

  21. December 8, 2017 / 9:40 am

    such a great post. The pictures alone make me want to pack my bags and visit all of them. The perks of living in a big city and being able to take your kids to such beautiful museums regularly. #farawayfiles

    • December 10, 2017 / 8:48 am

      Yes, we feel lucky to live nearby so many options. Never take it for granted.

  22. December 11, 2017 / 9:36 am

    I still maintain that cities are often the best resourced places for kids and this list of museums proves it! I love the idea of the kids art and the transportation museum. Also the Witney is fab for the stroller tours! #farawayfiles

    • December 12, 2017 / 11:06 pm

      I like a combo of culture and nature, but yes, cities provide so much it’s hard to argue that!

  23. December 12, 2017 / 1:28 am

    It has been a long time since we travelled with our children but lots of the museums on your list look adult friendly as well.

    • December 12, 2017 / 11:06 pm

      Oh yes, the Met, MoMA, Whitney…all fabulous.

  24. December 13, 2017 / 9:42 am

    This is such a fantastic post – I’ve still yet to get to New York with my daughter but I know she would love a few of the museums on this list. In fact, most of my time in NY has been either looking seeing some of the sights, shopping and finding hidden cocktail bars, so there are more than a few I would like to visit myself! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

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