One of our favorite things about New York City are the endless museums! You will find a skyscraper museum, art museums, a photography museum, kids museums, science museums, history museums and the list can go on and on. Having spent time at many of these museums, here is our list of the top 5 museums we have visited in NYC:
By far, the Tenement Museum is our favorite! It is also probably the least known museum in the city. This is not a typical museum that you walk through, but rather a collection of experiences around the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Each of these experiences tell the story or stories of immigrants that moved to New York City between the 19th and 21st centuries and lived in the tenement apartments in the Lower East Side. Choose an experience or two during your visit and you will be glad you added this museum to your agenda!
The Transit Museum is a favorite of our kids, but it's really a great experience for the whole family. The museum is located in downtown Brooklyn in an old subway station. You will have an opportunity to see how the subway system was created and has continued to develop as well as bridges and all aspects of how the millions of New Yorkers have gotten around over the past 200 years. You will have an opportunity to walk onto old subway cars from the past 100 years and many of the old turnstiles. The Transit Museum is also one of the most affordable museums at just $10/adult and $5/child.
When it comes to museums in New York with a wow factor, it is hard to beat the Museum of Natural History. The wow factor begins before you even walk into the museum with a beautiful exterior and an incredible entry. You can spend an entire day in this museum and not experience everything. The exhibits are over-the-top with a wide range of natural history covered. We encourage you to visit the website in advance to check which special exhibits you might want to prioritize in your visit to make sure to maximize your time in the museum.
Even mentioning this museum stirs emotion. Your visit to this museum will bring a lot of feelings to the surface but will be incredibly meaningful and worth the time during your visit. Expect to spend 3-4 hours in the museum and don’t rush your time through the various exhibits. The museum does an incredible job or revisiting the events of September 11th telling the stories of loss and recovery. You cannot fully understand New York City without understanding the impact of 9/11 on this city, our country and the world. This museum is one our favorites but it might not be appropriate for children under 13. For younger children, you can have an age-appropriate conversation about the events of 9/11 while looking at the memorial pools that mark the locations of the fallen towers.
While visiting the museum, we also highly encourage a visit to the top of One World Trade Observatory as this provides some of the best views of New York City. It's perfect for all ages.
Having 2 kids we have visited most, if not all, of the children’s museums in New York City and it’s our belief that the Brooklyn Children’s Museum is the best. This museum is packed with interactive activities for kids of all ages. Our kids love running the pizza shop and watering the plants in the garden. There is also a small cafeteria upstairs if you get hungry and need a little break. The museum is great for a half day or more of fun with the kids!
There are some great museums that we have left off like The Met, Guggenheim, Brooklyn Museum, etc. based on our personal preferences. As you plan your visit, we encourage you to do your research and select the right museums for you. It is impossible to see everything in one visit and if you wait until you get here to make your plans, you will not make the most of your time here.