Your site selection will influence your choice of food and decor. Read on for sanity-saving ideas...wherever the party takes you.
Sun Mar 22 2009
MINI MUSEUM OUTINGS
Photograph: Andersen Ross/blend images
Many temples of culture host soup-to-nuts gigs, but with a group of ten kids or less, you can fly under the radar and create your own adventures for a fraction of the price. This method works best when you can rope in other parents as chaperones or when the kids are old enough to keep their cool without one-on-one supervision. Small, single-topic museums are ideal, but simple events at larger museums can work too. End with a trip to a nearby eatery for a bite and a "Happy Birthday" serenade.
Photograph: AMNH\D. Finnin
American Museum of Natural History/Hayden Planetarium
See stars with tickets to the planetarium's space show "Cosmic Collisions" ($18/head; includes museum admission). Or take in a nature flick at the IMAX theater ($14/head; includes museum admission). Afterward, stroll over to Shake Shack (366 Columbus Ave at 77th St) for burgers ($3.75--$6.50) and double-dip sundaes ($4.75).
NYC Fire Museum
Kids with a fire truck fetish can drool over engines and equipment housed in a 100-year-old firehouse. Douse their fires with a hot cocoa ($3.50) or a cookie ($2.50) from Jacques Torres chocolatier (350 Hudson St; 718-875-9772). $5, kids under 12 $1. 278 Spring St (212-691-1303, nycfiremuseum.org)
NYC Police Museum
Go behind bars in an authentic jail cell and view weapons and photos of notorious criminals. You can calm little nerves at Adrienne's Pizza Bar (54 Stone St; 212-248-3838, adriennespizzabar.com) with margherita pies ($11) and nutella chocolate cake or gelato ($6). $7, ages 6--18 $5, under 6 free. 100 Old Slip at East River (212-480-3100, nycpolicemuseum.org)
South Street Seaport Museum
The museum holds a multitude of maritime wonders, but the real draw is on the water, where you can climb aboard the restored 1911 four-masted merchant vessel Peking. Then visit Pier 17 for a dog at Nathan's Famous ($3.60). $10, ages 5--12 $5, under 5 free. 12 Fulton St (212-748-8786, southstreetseaportmuseum.org)