HANDS-ON MUSEUMS

While most of NYC's museums are incredibly welcoming to all ages, only a few encourage kids to actively engage with their hands as well as their eyes.

* Consider a membership at your local favorite - usually around $100 and totally tax-deductible - for a climate-controlled spot to roam all year long plus perks like discounts at the fabulous gift shops and cafes.

* Also see upcoming hands-on museum programs for kids and current must-see-exhibits (plus public art, free museum hours  and interactive pop-ups).

UPTOWN

Sugar Hill Children’s Museum

898 St. Nicholas Ave at 155th Street

Explore a range of accessible and thought-provoking art, from historically significant to important contemporary works at this community-driven children’s museum inspired by the rich cultural history of Sugar Hill and the artists of the Harlem Renaissance. See a selection of sculptures From Melvin Van Peebles’ “Blue Room” and thought-provoking juxtaposition of artistic works by contemporary artists in Combinations.

Join interactive Story Hour with special guest artists at 11 am & 1 pm. Look for special programs that allow kids engage with working artists and to explore and experiment in well-equipped art-making facilities.

Saturday 10 am – 3 pm

New-York Historical Society

70 Central Park West at 77th Street

Learn about the layered, diverse history of NYC at this fascinating museum.  In the Children’s History Museum on the bottom floor, explore 350 years of history through interactive exhibits, digital games and a charming library. Try cross-stitch, see historic baseball gear, ride an Orphan Train, play a newsies video game and much more. Join weekly history-themed  storytimes and other family programming.

Look for kid-friendly objects throughout the galleries like a Noah’s Ark toy and historical fire fighting equipment. Design-your-own Tiffany lamp in the gorgeous fourth floor galleries. Explore a detailed re-creation of the White House Oval Office and hear audio recordings of presidential musing in the Meet the Presidents. More exhibits include Title IX: Activism On and Off the Field and Confronting Hate 1937–1952. Immersive multi-media films New York Story and We Rise screen alternating on the hour from 12 to 3 pm.

Wednesday–Thursday 11 am – 5 pm
Friday 11 am–8 pm (pay-what-you-wish 6-8 pm)
Saturday–Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

See our complete guide to the New-York Historical Society.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM)

212 West 83rd Street between Broadway & Amsterdam

Explore interactive, educational, well-designed exhibits for babies to pre-teens.

Assemble, create, peek into, crawl under, and walk through one of a kind sculptures and installations in Inside Art.  Cool off at splashy (outdoor) water exhibit Dynamic H2O with 800 sq. ft. of of hands-on interactives and colorful graphics.  Cross a rainbow bridge, learn Spanish, dance in Dora’s bedroom and imaginative play in the spacious Adventures with Dora and Diego.  Sit on your own presidential desk and learn what voting is and why it matters and the role of the president of the United States in Right to Vote. Step into a playful, comic book version of New York City with a lively team of pigeons, Zip, Zap, and Zoom in Superpowered Metropolis.

Enjoy educator-led experiences and special guest artist including weekly themed art projects, art scavenger hunts, storytime, dance-time & music.

Daily 10 am – 5 pm

See our complete guide to CMOM.

MIDTOWN/DOWNTOWN

Seaport Discovery: Exploring our Waters with Eric Carle 

Fulton & Front Streets

Visit a discovery room of maritime-themed art by the late Eric Carle, beloved creator of picture books for young children, at The South Street Seaport Museum.

Huge immersive murals bring families into Carle’s book, A House for Hermit Crab, and the cargo-ship adventures of 10 Little Rubber Ducks. Activities include meeting a live hermit crab, driving ferries on a giant play-table, and learning about cargo ships through the eyes of a rubber duck—all while exploring Carle’s use of color and pattern.

Also take free tours of historic tall ship Wavertree. See our guide to Seaport.

Wednesday-Sunday 11 am-5 pm

MoMA Art Lab: Line, Shape, Color

4 West 53rd Street

Work with wire, design emoji, engage in light-box play, and more in this all-ages, hands-on space. Drop in and choose from a variety of activities. Make your own emoji, weave paper patterns, browse beautiful picture books, build with unique toys, follow fun drawing prompts and more creative fun.

To get to The Heyman Family Art Lab, walk across the Sculpture Garden, or down the corridor on the second floor of the Museum (past Café 2), then downstairs to the first floor of the Education and Research Building. Small but next to the Sculpture Garden with room for more active play (and snacks for sale).

See our guide to MoMA.

National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath)

11 East 26th Street

Dynamic exhibits and programs stimulate inquiry, spark curiosity and reveal the wonders of mathematics. Learn about the math in patterns and structures all around us while interacting with hands-on displays.

Play with light, arrange shapes, try to ride a bike with square wheels and more educational entertainment. Discover the stunning hidden patterns of moving objects in special exhibit Traces.

See our guide to Flatiron for nearby fun & food.

Fun for all ages, though many of the concepts will go over younger kids’ heads. Proof of COVID vaccination for ages 5+ and masks required.

Daily 10 am-5 pm

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

Pier 86, West 46th Street & Twelfth Avenue

History/military buffs and plane lovers can examine original artifacts, view historic video footage and explore interactive exhibits aboard an actual 1943 aircraft carrier. Lots of indoor and outdoor space to roam with tons to explore.

Climb in a Bell 47 helicopter, navigate through an interactive submarine and steer the wings of an airplane in fully interactive, kid-friendly Exploreum. See a space shuttle and explore life aboard the submarine Growler.

Walk among military and commercial planes and helicopters from the last 100 years aboard the Intrepid’s upper deck (with great NYC & NJ views).  Experience flight with 4D technology in three exciting Simulators: Stories of Intrepid, G-Force Encounter and Transporter: Blue Angels ($10 each/3-Ride Combo Pass $27, min height 40″).

Get 20% off admission with code SUMMER22.

Daily 10 am – 5 pm

BROOKLYN & QUEENS

New York Transit Museum

Corner of Boerum Place & Schermerhorn Street

Housed underground in an authentic 1936 subway station in Downtown Brooklyn, this train-lover’s dream hosts a working platform level spanning a full city block and a rotating selection of twenty vintage subway and elevated cars dating back to 1907.

Board vintage cars, sit at the wheel of a city bus, step through a time tunnel of turnstiles, and explore changing exhibits that highlight the cultural, social and technological history – and future – of mass transit.

Be warned that this historic site has no elevators,  heat/AC or cell service underground.

Thursday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

145 Brooklyn Avenue

Inspired by Brooklyn’s energy and diversity, this beloved children’s museum (the first in the world when in opened in 1899) creates experiences that ignite curiosity, celebrate identity and cultivate joyful learning.

Learn about world cultures, visual arts, nature, animals and more in well-designed, interactive exhibits including World Brooklyn, Neighborhood Nature, Totally Tots, Collections Central and The (outdoor) Nest.

Explore the twisting tunnels and abstract architecture of TapeScape, a world of tubes and lights made of tape.

In the ColorLab, try print-making, collage and sculpture projects inspired by artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Faith Ringgold and Kehinde Wiley, among others.

Play Jurassic Mini-Golf on the covered rooftop among large animatronic dinosaurs (+$5).

Wednesday- Sunday, 10 am–5 pm
Pay-What-You-Wish  Thursdays 2pm-5pm

BEYOND NYC