Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue at 105th Street)
Free with museum admission (Get 2 tickets for $15)
See scenes from a late 19th century fancy-dress ball and admire lavish dresses and jewelry along with photos of the original owners including decked out kids.
American Museum of Natural History (West 81st Street & Central Park West)
Free with museum admission (suggested $22/ages 12-65, $12.50/ages 2-12, $17/students & seniors free/ages 2 & under)
Come face to face with ancient mummified individuals and learn how scientists are using modern technology to glean stunning details about them and their cultures. Discover when, how, and why ancient Egyptians and Peruvians were mummified and find out who they were in life. This show features an up-close look at rarely-exhibited mummies as well as interactive touch tables, rare artifacts, and cutting-edge imaging.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) (212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam)
Free with museum admission ($11, $7/seniors, free/ages 11 months old & younger)
See the work of New York City’s up and coming professional artists who work with collage and join in workshops to explore each artist’s creative process, the practice of collage, and collage’s impact on early childhood development through collaborative art-making. Featured artists include Naomi Reis in April, Tai Hwa Goh in August and Alexandria Smith in December. Children will work with each artist on a large-scale collaborative artwork which will be on view at the Museum alongside existing works by each artist.
Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (4 West 53rd Street)
Free with museum admission ($25, $18/seniors, $14/students, free/ages 16 & under)
$85/year ($38 tax deductible)
Visitors of all ages can discover how artists and designers are inspired by the natural world in a new multisensory installation. Beautiful discovery boxes contain creative activities related to seashells, grass, butterflies, etc. inspired by works in the galleries. Also lots of gorgeous books, building toys and multimedia projects that appeal to all ages (including this mom – I made a cool flower-inspired chair prototype). Great play spot for bad weather days (or good weather – it’s right next to the sculpture garden). All ages welcome.Daily 10 am - 5 pm
Jacques Torres Chocolate (350 Hudson Street)
$15, $10/ages 4-12, $12/students & seniors, free/ages 3 & under, use code CocoaWalk35071 for $5 discount
Discover the story of chocolate and its journey from bean to bar through original artifacts, bon-bon making demonstrations. nine premium tastings, and a corner where kids children can dig for “undiscovered artifacts” in a sand pit and play chocolate shop proprietor with a toy kitchen and cash register. Presented by NYC chocolatier extraordinaire Jacques Torres and Eddy Van Belle, chocolate aficionado and founder of four other Choco-Story museums around the world. Buy timed tickets in advance online.Wednesday–Sunday 10 am - 5 pm
Rubin Museum of Art (150 West 17 Street)
Free with museum admission ($15, $10/students & seniors, free/ ages 12 & under)
Learn to listen with your whole body. Explore how sound and our sense of hearing shape our daily lives, our traditions, our history, and all of existence. Organized cyclically—from creation to death to rebirth—the exhibition explores different dimensions of sound and listening and its many functions in Tibetan Buddhism. Featuring work by more than 20 artists, The World Is Sound juxtaposes new site-specific commissions and works by prominent contemporary sound artists with historical objects from the museum’s collection of Tibetan Buddhist art to encourage reflection on how we listen and to challenge entrenched ways of thinking.
American Folk Art Museum (2 Lincoln Square (Columbus Avenue at 66th Street))
See spectacularly complex geometric quilts made exclusively by men using richly dyed wools derived from British military and dress uniforms. The visual virtuosity of the quilts, often incorporating many thousands of pieces no larger than one-inch square, assumes a deeper emotional resonance as we consider them within the matrix of war and its aftermath.
National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey (226 West 44th Street)
$39.50, $32.50/ages 12 & under, $36.50/seniors
Come face-to-face with (virtual) humpback whales and great white sharks, Humboldt squid and sea lions in an immersive experience that harnesses ground-breaking technology. Go on an underwater journey across the Pacific Ocean to interact with and encounter the ocean’s wonders and creatures.
New-York Historical Society (70 Central Park West at 77th Street)
Free with museum admission ($20, $6/ages 5-13, free/ages 4 & under
50% off with this link)
Train enthusiasts of all ages can explore an immersive multimedia winter wonderland featuring theatrical lighting, an ambient audio “soundscape” and lots of historical model trains, scenic elements and toys. Pick up an “I Spy” Holiday Express trains and toys hunt to match pictures and rhyming facts with whimsical and intricate objects. See if for free and enjoy train0related actovities every Friday morning during Rise and Ride the Holiday Express
Google @ Flatiron (110 Fifth Avenue)
Explore, play, shop and test drive new Google products. Dance in an immersive Pixel photo studio, explore new worlds in a virtual reality experience and step into a colorful living room and meet Google Home.
David Zwirner (34 East 69th Street)
David Zwirner presents two major concurrent exhibitions of recent work by unique Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. See sixty-six paintings from her iconic My Eternal Soul series, new large-scale flower sculptures, a polka-dotted environment, and two very cool Infinity Mirror Rooms in the Chelsea (525 & 533 West 19th Street) locations, and a selection of new Infinity Nets paintings uptown. Expect lines; go early and/or on weekdays if possible (and get this book to read while you wait).
CandlePower Pop-Up Experience (503 Broadway)
Walk on walls, sit among giant flowers, chill oceanside and more in an interactive, multi-sensory shopping experience from Yankee Candle.
New York Hall of Science (Flushing Meadow-Corona Park)
Free with museum admission ($15, $12/ages 2 – 17, students & seniors)
Marvel at the largest gingerbread village in the world. Lots of fun details to discover including cable cars and subway stations, all made from only edible ingredients: gingerbread, royal icing and candy. A great excuse to explore the entertaining interactive science exhibits at the museum.
Time Warner Center (10 Columbus Circle)
14-foot stars hanging from the 150-foot tall ceiling light up in an array of colors in time to holiday tunes by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Peek into the festively decorated Williams-Sonoma for free samples of holiday candy and hot apple cider. See cast members of Broadway shows perform on Mondays 5-6 pm.
New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex (Grand Central Terminal)
Watch models of the MTA’s vintage and current trains and subway cars travel deaprt from a miniature replica of Grand Central Terminal to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole in this small yet charming display full of delightful details. This year’s exhibition showcases Lionel Metro-North, Polar Express, and vintage subway train sets against a cityscape backdrop designed by Brooklyn-based artist Josh Cochran.
Union Square (14th Street & Fourth Avenue)
Browse holly-lined aisles for unique gifts, nibble on sweet and savory treats and sip on cider and cappuccino. Upgrades for this year include new sections like Little Brooklyn and Urbanspace Provisions, a warming station and lounge and live music. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday also visit the city’s flagship farmers’ market and enjoy nature’s seasonal bounty of cheese, baked goods, cider and local produce. Between 3pm – 6 pm throughout the week and 11 am – 7 pm on weekends, make ornaments and other art projects with Children’s Museum of the Arts.
Bryant Park (42nd Street & Fifth Avenue)
Shop at over 100 boutique-style booths offering a wide array of handmade gifts and food – including 5 top-notch chocolatiers. Warm up in the rink-side Danny Meyer restaurant Public Fare or enjoy a selection of games, chess, and art supplies at the second floor Overlook as you watch the ice skating at the city’s only free-admission rink (or skate yourself). After the tree-lighting ceremony on Dec 1, check out the dazzling 50-foot Norway Spruce by the library.
American Museum of Natural History (West 81st Street & Central Park West)
Volunteers begin folding in July to complete the 500 creations in the dazzling annual Origami Holiday Tree. Find feathered dinosaurs, alligator hatchlings, and stunning modern birds among other treasured models. Patient volunteers are on hand to teach visitors of all ages the art of origami folding.
New York Botanical Garden (2900 Southern Boulevard)
$10-$20, admission varies by day; free for under 2
Use this link for discounted $15 adult tickets, $8 ages 2-12 tickets
Marvel at model trains zipping around stunning New York landmark replicas made of plant parts such as nuts, bark, and leaves, and enjoy hands-on holiday fun for the entire family (most of it in the climate-controlled indoors). This year’s exhibition showcases Coney Island, with working models of the Wonder Wheel, Cyclone and more. Buy tickets online before trekking up to the Bronx (take the Metro-North Harlem local line to Botanical Garden Station) as tickets sometimes sell out. Go right at opening or on a weekday to avoid the crowds (though the traffic patterns have improved in recent years). Take breaks in the tropical rainforest wing where there are no trains but lots of room to roam freely.
Metropolitan Museum Of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street)
Free with museum admission (Pay-what-you-wish, suggested $25, free/ages 12 & under)
A vivid eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene adorns a candlelit spruce. Gorgeous 18th Century Baroque creche angels hover over an Italian village filled with animals and interesting characters. Everyday at 4:30 pm, recorded music accompanies a dramatic lighting ceremony. A few galleries away, see one of the largest known silver menorahs from late 19th-century Ukraine.
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