A visit to New York City is a chance to experience some of the best museums in the world. You’ll find a huge range of galleries showcasing the city’s history, art, and culture. There are also plenty of interactive experiences designed for families with kids. From quirky displays to life-size exhibits, there are unique museums for everyone – even those for adults only. We’ll show you where to get tickets along with other tour packages in the area. Here are the best museums to see in New York City.
1. National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The 9/11 Memorial occupies almost 8 acres of the former World Trade Center complex. It’s considered a site made sacred through the loss of the nearly 3,000 victims who are remembered there. Its key sites are the two Reflective Pools and the Memorial Glades. You can wander a surrounding grove of more than 400 white oak trees and learn about the Survivor Tree. The Museum itself is equally poignant in its design and the contents it preserves for all posterity. It’s an all-encompassing experience of the Twin Tower’s history. You’ll see vivid recollections of the attacks, collected debris, and objects from loved ones. Nearby is the characteristic Ocular Center shopping mall.
- Opening Hours: Wednesday-Monday 10am-5pm
- Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, United States
2. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is named after its key exhibit – the decommissioned Intrepid aircraft carrier. You can see the legendary ship as you drive along 12th Avenue. It sits across the Pier 86 pedestrian bridge. Also proudly on display, are the Enterprise space shuttle, the USS Growler submarine, and a British Airways Concord. There’s a lot of fun for all ages and lovers of science, machinery, and technological marvels. Don’t miss the Exploreum, an interactive space designed for families with children. There are also a number of aircraft simulators, and temporary exhibits add variety. Exploration extends into 3D movie experiences, video galleries, aircraft exhibitions, audio as well as guided tours.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
- Address: Pier 86, W 46th St, New York, NY 10036, United States
3. Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met)
The Met is more than just the world’s second-largest art museum, it’s the most popular New York attraction. Its spectacular collections span the entirety of known history. Some highlights are Portrait of a Young Man, George Washington Crossing Delaware, and the best Vermeer collection in the world. There’s also the Dendur Egyptian Temple transplanted brick-by-brick and an original fresco room from Pompei. Before you go, it’s best to check their online interactive map so you can prioritize your time. Keep an eye out for their special exhibitions, educational tours, and various fun events. Don’t miss the rooftop with its bar and stunning views over Central Park.
- Opening Hours: Sun-Tues, Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm
- Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States
4. American Museum of Natural History
For many, the American Museum of Natural History is memorable for movies such as ‘Night at the Museum’ and ‘Wonderstruck’. Of course, most visitors come to see the dinosaurs, mammoths, and perhaps the giant Willamette Meteorite. To avoid disappointment, it’s best to purchase a time-stamped ticket in advance. There are over 40 permanent exhibition halls, plus special exhibits. Dioramas, taxidermized species, skeletons, art works, and audio-visual presentations will keep you completely enthralled. There are also exhibitions on ancient cultures and human diversity. More importantly, the museum is not just about Earth. There’s the Hayden Planetarium, Big Bang Theater, and the Scales of the Universe.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5:30pm
- Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, United States
5. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
MoMA is where modern art comes to life and perspectives vary wildly. Classic collections are grouped in loose chronology in three different time periods starting from the 1880’s. You’re bound to run into some of your iconic favorites, discover new ones, or spend time scratching your head. As a place of free expression, current exhibitions are often captivating, provocative, enthralling, or socially engaged. If you need to take a break from the crowds, artsy movies are on show. The museum scours for movies produced in the last year that hold the potential to become classics of all time. Occasionally, there are theater, art, or musical performances. Children under 16 years can enter for free.
- Opening Hours: Sun-Fri 10:30am-5:30pm, Saturday 10:30am-7pm
- Address: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, United States
6. Frick Madison
Henry Clay Frick was a leading industrialist at the turn of the last century. The Frick Madison Museum started from his art collection which was bequeathed to the public after his death. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, ceramics, furniture, ornaments, medals, clocks, and manuscripts. Apart from works by famous names such as Vermeer, Turner, and Monet, there are many lesser-known artists to enjoy. The museum’s research reading room is by appointment only. Currently, the museum only opens from Thursday to Sunday and it’s best to buy time-stamped tickets in advance. It’s also recommended to download their curator-led audio guide on the Bloomberg Connects app.
- Opening Hours: Thurs-Sun 10am-6pm
- Address: 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021, United States
7. Madame Tussauds New York
Madame Tussauds’ wax figures are a global phenomenon. At the New York location, you’ll see over 200 famous wax figures! Modern technology brings you Glow Gala, a state-of-the-art projection technology show. There are special effects attractions such as Icons of Horror, Ghostbusters (2016), and Face Off with King Kong. Interactive fun includes a MARVEL Universe 4D movie and a Coney Island 7D game. You can also become a model on an Alessandra Ambrosio catwalk or perform in a Broadway musical. Some attractions come on special tickets and prices vary.
- Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm
- Address: 234 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036, United States
8. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim is an iconic New York attraction and its interruptive architecture is a phenomenon in itself. The fluid and spiral design, even reminiscent of a car park, makes it ideally suited to a ‘museum of the moment’. Most exhibitions are temporary, so you may want to check what’s on show. The open cavernous interior is ideal for large-scale exhibitions and its unique spatial design sets it apart from other museums. Many people take the elevator up and then spiral down to the bottom. The museum often has kid-friendly events, so it can be a fun day out for families. If you buy tickets online, make sure you arrive within 30 minutes of your assigned time.
- Opening Hours: Wed-Mon 11am-6pm
- Address: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, United States
9. National Museum of the American Indian–New York
The National Museum of the American Indian is a Smithsonian institute with a museum in Washington and another in New York. Both have ongoing and temporary exhibitions. The ongoing ‘Native New York’ exhibition covers native cultures from Long Island, New York City, and Niagara Falls. ‘Ancestral Connections’ highlights native artists with works on indigenous heritage and personal histories. As you walk through ‘Infinity of Nations’, you’ll see over 700 exhibits from North, Central, and South America. From Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 4:30 pm, there’s an interactive learning space for kids 10 years and above. Entry is free so you can spend a bit more at the shop on authentic native merchandise.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10am-5pm
- Address: 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004, United States
Spyscape is rated as one of New York’s best experiential museums. In Spyscape HQ, you can build your own spy profile. Dodge lasers, break codes, run surveillance, and spot liars as you lay your own net of deception! Or, help Batman and other DC characters in an interactive Gotham City to unravel a giant mystery. For Spyscape HQ, you need 1 to 2 hours. While the Batman experience requires about 60 to 90 minutes. In the high-tech museum, you can explore espionage gadgets and the stories behind them. Learn about encryption and the Enigma Code, deception and the FBI, and surveillance technologies used by journalists. Hacking, cyber-warfare, and special-ops gadgets will also thrill you. At the shop, you can buy some really cool spy gadgets to take away on your own journey.
- Opening Hours: Mon, Wed Thurs-Fri 12pm-8pm, Sat 11am-8pm, Sun 11am-7pm
- Address: 928 8th Ave, New York, NY 10019, United States
11. Whitney Museum of American Art
The Whitney is considered to be the best New York museum for twentieth-century American artists. It’s a contemporary art museum with a difference focusing specifically on works by living artists. Most exhibitions, therefore, tend to be temporary. The Whitney Collection features pieces dating from 1900 to 1965 that formed the core of the museum’s foundation. You’ll come across various works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, Edward Hopper, and many others. To learn more about the artists, there are daily free guided tours for up to 25 people on a first-come, first-served basis. On Fridays, from 7 pm to 10 pm, you can ‘pay what you wish’ with advance booking and enjoy sunset views with drinks on the terrace.
- Opening Hours: Sat-Mon, Wed, Thurs 10:30am-6pm; Fri 10:30am-10pm
- Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014, United States
12. Tenement Museum
The Tenement Museum tells moving stories of New York’s early immigrants in the most authentic way possible. The building is a historic preservation that recreates the lives of diverse immigrants. It shows how they lived in its small working-class tenement apartments. Stories are told through historic objects and the lives of former occupants. As an ‘open museum’, artifacts are not behind display cases. It’s almost like wandering through someone’s house. There are also are over 1400 photographs and artifacts depicting life in the neighborhood. To visit the museum, you have to book a tour and places are limited.
- Opening Hours: Daily 10am-6pm
- Address: 103 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002, United States
13. Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
The National Museum of Immigration is housed in the former immigration complex. It tells the story of the American dream from the earliest arrivals to modern-day immigration. Exhibitions such as restored dormitories and interactive displays bring to life the voyages and lives of immigrants before the ‘Ellis Era’. The Ellis Island immigration center opened in 1892 and closed in 1954. Today, the only way to Ellis Island for visitors is by a designated ferry that leaves from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. Tours to the Statue of Liberty and the Statue of Liberty Museum are generally included in the ticket for Ellis Island. Full-day tours of New York may also include this option.
- Opening Hours: Daily 9:45am-4:45pm
- Address: Ellis Island Bridge, Jersey City, NJ 10280, United States
14. Museum of Ice Cream
There’s no reason why a museum can’t be a place of amusement, fun, and entertainment! Furthermore, at the Museum of Ice Cream, there’s nothing old to see. You’ll learn about the history of ice cream through twelve multi-sensory installations. But best of all, you can treat yourself to unlimited ice cream in different shapes and forms. This means eating the museum’s signature (and very tasty) ice cream in cups, cones, shakes, sundaes, and even cocktails. There’s also a fabulous dessert buffet, various funky colorful rooms, fun activities, and lots of pink to get tickled about. Discounts are available on time-stamped tickets and kids under 3 years old are free.
- Opening Hours: Mon, Wed-Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri 11am-8:30pm; Sat 10am-8:30pm; Sun 10am-7:30pm
- Address: 558 Broadway, New York, NY 10012, United States
15. Museum of Sex
The manifesto of the Museum of Sex is to preserve and present the history, evolution, and cultural significance of human sexuality. On one side, there are hundreds of artifacts, works of art, photography, clothing and costumes, and devices on display. The museum, however, is a combination of fun, art, education, and information. There are various carnival games and fun things to do, and for that, it’s best to go as a couple or group. Unlike other museums, it regularly opens until 10pm or midnight on Fridays and Saturdays – so it’s a nice date option. To enter, you must be over 18 years and have proof of identity.
- Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs 1pm-10pm, Fri 1pm-12am, Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10pm
- Address: 233 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016, United States
Best Places To Stay in New York City
- The Wallace Hotel – The Upper West Side’s best is on offer at this luxury hotel. Theatres and museums (including the Museum of Natural History) are just around the corner, so be prepared to be entertained here. Sleep in style in the Executive Suite, which has plenty of space for guests on longer trips too.
- The Peninsula New York (photo above) – You will love this hotel if you want to be out and about on the streets of New York. Moreover, if you book a suite here, you can enjoy a chauffeured tour of NYC for free. The special children’s amenities are another bonus of the Junior Executive Suite.
- Conrad New York Downtown – New York’s most dazzling waterfront panorama awaits couples onsite. The King Suite’s extra cozy bed and Hudson River views will make you never want to leave. Also, make a date out of sampling all the excellent restaurants at hand. Don’t leave out the hotel’s very own Atrio, either.
- The Whitby Hotel – Get great value for your money and stay at this NYC hotel. Entering The Whitby is a journey into a different world through one-of-a-kind furniture, food, and ambiance. Thus, it is no surprise that your Junior Suite will boast the outdoor terrace everyone yearns for in the city.
Best Time To Visit New York City
New York City offers several attractions and experiences for visitors. While you can enjoy the city year-round, choosing the best time to visit can really add to your trip. Factors like weather, events, and crowds play a big role if you want to have the best experience during your visit. Here are the seasons to consider before you plan your New York itinerary:
- Summer (June to August) – Summer is the peak season with warmer weather and longer days. It also means bigger crowds, longer lines, plus higher prices for flights and rooms. But if you prefer smaller crowds. lower prices, and cooler weather, consider visiting in a different season.
- Shoulder Seasons (April To June) (September to November) – The shoulder seasons bring cooler temperatures, cherry blossoms in the spring, and stunning foliage in the fall. It’s the ideal time to explore New York City’s indoor and outdoor museums. Except for Halloween and Thanksgiving, the crowds are smaller and rates are lower.
- Winter (January to February) – If you don’t mind colder temperatures, visiting New York in the winter offers fewer crowds and discounted hotel rates. It’s perfect for visiting indoor attractions like museums and Broadway shows. You’ll avoid the lines and enjoy the experience at your own pace.
- Off-Peak Weekdays – To avoid peak times and larger crowds, consider visiting New York City on weekdays outside of major holidays. This allows you to enjoy popular landmarks and attractions easily, with shorter lines and fewer crowds.
Best Ways To Get Around New York City
- Subway – Riding the subway is, without a doubt, the cheapest and fastest way to travel in NYC. For first-time users, subway maps, the MYmta app, and Google Maps are great tools to have at hand. In NYC, signs like Downtown and Uptown indicate if a line is heading south or north, so keep an eye out for these.
- Buses – Buses are tourists’ go-to for scenic views of New York City and sightseeing. They are usually on time, stops are plenty, and you can pay with your MetroCard for rides. To cut down on travel costs, we encourage taking the Q70 LaGuardia Link Bus to the city, which is free.
- Taxis & Ride-Sharing Apps – When carrying heavy luggage or traveling at night, taxis are lifesavers in New York. For pre-scheduling rides and splitting fares, apps like Uber, Lyft, and Curb are handy too. In addition, Kid Car‘s booster seat-equipped vehicles make exploring NYC with kids all the more smooth.
- Ferries – Take the ferry to get a rare glimpse into the waterfront communities of New York. NYC Ferry and NY Waterway are the ferry operators to seek out here. Tickets are relatively affordable, and ferries do run 24/7. Also, take advantage of the free rides offered by the Staten Island Ferry.
- Walking – New York City is known for being walkable, so get ready to pound the pavement here. If you enjoy walking, make sure you cross the Brooklyn Bridge or stroll around Central Park. Most hotels will also be within walking distance to various points of interest.
The Most Visited Museums in New York City
- Metropolitan Museum of Art – Crowned the most visited museum in the world, the MET welcomes more than five million visitors yearly. Showcasing art from every corner of the globe, you won’t regret spending time here. Families will be glad to note that kids under twelve can enter for free, too.
- American Museum Of Natural History – For the ultimate New York museum experience, sign up for a free guided tour here. You can also grab a physical map or download the museum’s app to help you navigate this vast space. Get a City Pass to see more iconic NYC landmarks, including this one, in a budget-friendly way.
- The Museum of Modern Art – View MoMA’s collection following the Bloomberg Connects free audio commentary. Also, stop by the Family Art Lab and do some arts and crafts with your kids. On top of its cute onsite cafés, ticket holders receive discounts at several NYC restaurants nearby.
- The National September 11 Memorial & Museum – Visiting the 9/11 Memorial is essential to every New York City cultural excursion, and it won’t cost a thing. Rent the outdoor audio guide to learn little-known facts and stories surrounding the event. See inside the museum walls as well, with admissions free on Mondays.
Most Fun Museums In New York City For Kids
- American Museum Of Natural History – A children’s favorite, this museum houses an ocean life collection and a live vivarium. Head up to the 4th floor for the dinosaur exhibition, and do not miss out on the planetarium shows either. The onsite food court and souvenir shops cater to the needs of little ones, too.
- Intrepid Air, Sea & Space Museum – Kids love how this museum is inside an actual aircraft carrier. For an affordable price, you can tour a submarine, a space pavilion, and many more here. To kids’ great joy, simulators are on deck, as well. The onsite food selection receives high praise, too.
- Madam Tussaud’s New York – Its Times Square location and lengthy opening make this museum popular with families. Both parents and children can get their pictures taken with their heroes here. The younger crowd especially loves the Marvel Hall and the custom-made wax hand souvenirs.
- Spyscape – If you want to plan a fun family outing in NYC, this place will never disappoint. A 2-in-1 museum and interactive experience, everything centers around spies here. Don’t leave without browsing the spy-themed souvenir shop, either. Book online in advance to get your tickets at a cheaper price.
Best History Museums in New York City
- The Tenement Museum – Those wanting to know more about the history of living in NYC will find this museum fascinating. It shares stories of Lower East Side immigrants, migrants, and refugees and their experiences in NYC. Whichever tenement tour or neighborhood walk you pick, get ready to be deeply moved.
- Ellis Island National Museum Of Immigration – Hop on the ferry and go on a day excursion to this NYC landmark. Housed inside the former immigration complex, you will find relics documenting US immigration journeys here. Tickets also come with audio guides and round-trip ferry rides. If you have time left, pop by the Statue of Liberty for a pic, too.
Best New York Museum To See For Free
- The National Museum of The American Indian – Awaiting you adjacent to Battery Park is one of the last free museums in NYC. In an impressive setting, exhibits feature all forms of Native American art. There is also an onsite activity center, store, and café for visitors.
New York City Museums Map
|New York City Museums
|National September 11 Memorial & Museum
|Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
|Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET)
|Sun-Tues, Thurs 10am-5pm, Fri-Sat 10am-9pm
|American Museum of Natural History
|Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)
|Sun-Fri 10:30am-5:30pm, Sat 10:30am-7pm
|Madame Tussauds New York
|Sun-Thurs 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm
|Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
|National Museum of the American Indian-New York
|Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri 12pm-8pm; Sat 11am-8pm; Sun 11am-7pm
|Whitney Museum of American Art
|Sat-Mon, Wed-Thurs, 10:30am-6pm; Fri 10:30am-10pm
|Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration
|Museum of Ice Cream
|Mon, Wed-Thurs 11am-7pm; Fri 11:00am-8:30pm; Sat 10am-8:30pm; Sun 10am-7:30pm
|Museum of Sex
|Mon-Thurs 1pm-10pm, Fri 1pm-12am, Sat 12pm-12am, Sun 12pm-10pm