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

New-York Historical Society Pay-What-You-Wish

70 Central Park West at 77th Street

Admission is up to you Friday evenings at this Learn about this fascinating museum.

* In the interactive Children’s History Museum, explore 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and 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.

* Look for kid-friendly objects throughout the galleries – a Noah’s Ark toy and historical fire fighting equipment, dragonflies in gorgeous Tiffany Lamps, and more discoveries. In-gallery interactives include the incredible design-your-own Tiffany lamp in the gorgeous fourth floor galleries.

See our 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.

* New $100 3-month “mini membership” includes unlimited free admission for 2 adults and up to 4 children  plus nannies and caregivers, access to members-only hours and events and 15% off purchases at the CMOM Store.

🌳 Lots of chances for climbing and sliding inside the museum; for outdoor play head a few blocks west to the River Run Playground or a little north to the destination Hippo Playground.

🍽 Nearby, choose from salads, sandwiches, amazing healthy artisanal bread and not-so-healthy pastries at the UWS outpost of the 100+-year-old Orwashers Bakery  or indulge at famous French dessert cafe  Cafe Lalo.

 

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 interactive Children’s History Museum, explore 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and 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.

* Look for kid-friendly objects throughout the galleries – a Noah’s Ark toy and historical fire fighting equipment, dragonflies in gorgeous Tiffany Lamps, and more discoveries. In-gallery interactives include the incredible 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 gallery, trace the evolution of the presidency through artwork and objects like the actual Bible used during George Washington’s inauguration in 1789 and a student scrapbook from 1962 chronicling JFK’s leadership during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

* Pose with bronze Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass statues outside the West 77th Street and Central Park West entrances.

* Immersive multi-media films New York Story and We Rise screen alternating on the hour from 12 to 3 pm.

* Restrooms available on on each floor, with baby-changing facilities on the lower level, first floor, and fourth floor. All galleries are stroller friendly. Collapsed strollers may be left at coat check.

🍽 Sandwiches, pastries and more available at the counter-service Parliament Espresso and Coffee Bar or dine at the delicious Caffe Storico. Shake Shack is down the block, which has indoor seating or take-out for picnics on benches around the American Museum of Natural History.

🌳 Across the street from Central Park, and a short walk to the lovely Diana Ross playground and destination Hecksher Playground.

🛍 Shop for history & NYC themed educational toys, books & more at the wonderful gift shop.

Wednesday–Thursday 11 am – 5 pm
Friday 11 am–8 pm
Saturday–Sunday 11 am – 5 pm

Pay-as-you-wish admission Fridays 6-8 pm.

Sugar Hill Children’s Museum

898 St. Nicholas Ave at 155th street

Explore a range of art that is accessible and thought-provoking, 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.

Look for special programs that allow kids engage with working artists and to explore and experiment in well-equipped art-making facilities.

MIDTOWN

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 – and try to ride a bike with square wheels.

See nine rare works by renowned artist M.C. Escher in new art exhibition, Alternative Perspectives along with three-dimensional sculptures by Anton Bakker grouped into several mathematical themes, inspired in part by the work of Escher.

See our guide to Flatiron for nearby fun & food.

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 an actual Bell 47 helicopter, navigate through an interactive submarine and steer the wings of an airplane in fully interactive, kid-friendly Exploreum.

* See the space shuttle Enterprise plus original artifacts, photographs, audio, and films that immerse visitors in the science and history of the space age in the The Space Shuttle Pavilion.

* Explore life aboard the submarine Growler and get a close-up inspection of the once “top secret” missile command center.

* 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″).

* Don’t miss the 22-foot, 550-pound model of Intrepid out of 250,000 LEGO® bricks (no, the set is not for sale).

🍽 Dine on burgers, fresh bread, salads, custom pizzas and more at Aviator Grill, overlooking the pier. Order online in advance. Gotham West Market, a short walk away, has a great selection of food vendors including pizza, sushi, tacos and ice cream.

🛍 Shop for unique gifts and mementos in the Museum’s two retail stores including model airplanes and space shuttles, kids-size flight suits, galaxy-print socks and other items inspired by history, science and technology.

Receive 20% off admission with code SPRING22.

MoMA Art Lab: Line, Shape, Color

4 West 53rd Street

Heyman Family Art Lab is open for spring break! Work with wire, design emoji, engage in light-box play, and more in this all-ages, hands-on space. Drop in and choose the activities that interest you.

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.

See our guide to MoMA.

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.

* Look for a subway station entrance on the Northwest corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street. The stairway will lead you down to the Museum.

* There is no cell phone service in the Museum. If you plan to visit with others, coordinate in advance and enter together.

* This historic site does not have an elevator; travel light or be prepared to carry strollers down multiple flights of stairs. If someone in the groups needs to use the accessible entrance, email [email protected] in advance.

* While a few of the exhibits on the mezzanine have air conditioning and heat, most of the Museum (including the entire platform level with the historic trains), does not have climate control.

New York Hall of Science

Flushing Meadow-Corona Park Queens

Founded at the 1964–65 World’s Fair, this center for interactive science has reopened after fixing up extensive damage from Hurricane Ida. Find lots of fun hands-on learning opportunities in a gorgeous, spacious building

* Explore outer space, animals, light, physics and more in over 450 interactive displays.

* In new exhibit The Happiness Experiment, learn about the culture and science behind how and why we experience happiness. Dance and create in the The Happiness Habits Lab.

* Gestures, movements, and decisions impact how well fantastical animated ecosystems are kept in balance in immersive digital wonderland Connected Worlds.

* Check the schedule for Daily Demos where NYSCI Explainers showcase science and engineering based activities and demonstrations engaging with the properties of chemistry, physics, design thinking, and more in interactive presentations.

* Use real tools to make real things and re-use everyday materials in exciting ways in the Maker Space, featuring woodworking and plaster casting to electronics and 3D printing (Friday–Sunday 11 am – 4 pm).

* Journey to a land of grizzlies, coastal wolves, sea otters and the all-white spirit bear in screenings of 3D film Great Bear Rainforest ($5, daily every 30 Minutes from 10:30am to 4 pm).

*  In warmer months, explore key science concepts such as propulsion, gravity, escape velocity, launch window, gravitational assist, and more in Rocket Park Mini Golf.

🍽 Choose from a wide range of food and beverage options including coffee and hot and cold menu options, plus a wide range of sweet, savory and healthy snacks at Butter Beans Cafe. Order from your phone to pick up anytime. Yummy nearby options include Sripraphai Thai restaurant and the New World Mall food court.

🛍 The sizable gift shop also offers a wide selection of fun, STEM-oriented items.

🌳 See our guide to surrounding Flushing Corona Meadow Park.

Friday 2pm – 5pm
Saturday-Sunday 10am – 5pm

Free Friday Afternoons tickets are available for online reservation each Friday morning.

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.

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

Pay-What-You-Wish Play Sessions available Thursdays 2pm-5pm.

BEYOND NYC

Stepping Stones

303 West Avenue

This recently re-opened award-winning children’s museum features exciting interactive exhibits and STEAM-infused programming in beautifully-renovated spaces.

* Play with giant games, make noise with household objects, test your balance and get fresh air in a giant open-air tent in Celebration Courtyard.

* Be mesmerized by ColorCoaster is a 27-foot kinetic sculpture and a non-stop giant mechanical toy that uses energy, motion, gravity, color and light as it spins, whirs and fascinates.

* Explore Energy Lab, a wet, wild and wonderful way for children to learn about the science of energy. Interact with  kaleidoscopic light prisms, color waves and whimsical illusions in new Lights On!

* Infants and toddlers can stay safe in Tot Town, a space designed just for infants and pre-walkers, with activity mats, a giant gymini, reading spaces, infant toys and puzzles.

* The museum is busiest  on weekday mornings and rainy days and usually less crowded after 1 pm.

Westchester Children’s Museum

100 Playland Pkwy

Visit a vibrant, interactive learning and play space for kids toddler to teen. Creative, energizing, unique STEAM programs and exhibits, wide open, sunny space, and a welcoming environment enable kids to make connections with ideas and each other; take risks and problem solve, and have fun.

Exhibits include Toddler Beach, Wind Tunnel Design Challenge, Build Your Own Roller Coaster, Construction Zone, MakerSpaces (with a separate area with more sophisticated experiences for children age 7+, Make a Difference Book Nook and a Ping Pong Gallery.

Check the calendar for hands-on art, science and movement workshop led specialists.

Liberty Science Center

222 Jersey City Boulevard

Lots to explore throughout this large, interactive museum.

* Step inside a giant microscope lens, create your own engineering challenge using foam blocks and wooden shapes, get creative with a giant wall installation made of 952 pixel dials and try more hands=on science.

* Explore multiple routes in the massive suspended Infinity Climber (surrounded by 19 miles of hand-threaded wire that forms a protective mesh to prevent climbers from falling).

*  Take a spin on the Sock Skating Rink, follow the Snowflake Path to learn the science of snowflake formation, and make your own snowflake to add to the snowdrift in the Blizzard Zone. Stop by a new live science demonstration, Make It Snow!

* Step inside the world of Minecraft, in an incredible immersive experience.

* Join the beloved of canine heroes rescuers in PAW Patrol: Adventure Play and answer every yelp for help. Enter the Lookout Tower where the pups live, guide the Sea Patroller through Adventure Bay and Beach, climb Jake’s Mountain, and drive the PAW Patroller. Make daring rescues and try puzzles and challenges.

* Experience the excitement of (controlled) liquid nitrogen explosions in Boom Time shows throughout the day.

* Meet over 100+ fascinating animal species including cotton-top tamarin monkeys, naked mole rats and red-footed tortoises in Wild About Animals exhibition.

Approx. 20-50 minute drive (traffic varies) or 50 minute train ride (with transfer) from mid-Manhattan.

Or take a ferry from World Trade Center to Liberty State Park then walk 20 minutes.
See train schedules (select 33rd Street PATH Station to Liberty State Park Light Rail Station).