The best museums for kids



Add +

  • Brooklyn Children's Museum

  • New York Hall of Science

  • New York Hall of Science

  • New York Hall of Science

Brooklyn Children's Museum


Brooklyn Children’s Museum
When it was founded in 1899, the BCM was the country’s first museum specifically made for children. Today it’s one of the most comprehensive, with a permanent collection of 30,000 objects, including musical instruments, masks, dolls and fossils. Kids have fun while learning (sneaky!) at interactive exhibits like “World Brooklyn,” a pint-size cityscape lined by faux stores where young’uns can weigh ingredients and shape pretend dough at the Mexican Bakery, or shop for cans of Indian ghee and Turkish candy at the International Grocery. Tire tykes out with “Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action,” whose activities simulate surfing, snowboarding, climbing and martial arts.

Children’s Museum of Manhattan
This one’s for the little guys: Many of CMOM’s exhibits are geared toward tots ages six and under, including a Dora the Explorer play area and a six-foot-high paintable art wall. But with five floors of exhibits, there’s fun for big kids, too, including a giant wooden Trojan horse they can climb, and hands-on models of amusement-park rides and games, where they can learn about the laws of physics.

Children’s Museum of the Arts
Take a break from window-shopping and reward your well-behaved kiddies at this Soho mainstay, featuring more than 2,000 paintings and drawings from around the world, created by and for children. The real artists here, though, are the young visitors who are encouraged to paint, collage and sculpt in the Open Arts Studio (Wednesdays through Sundays). There’s also a Performing Arts Gallery, where tiny thespians can put on their own theatrical shows in front of a green screen.

Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Step aboard the newly renovated USS Intrepid for a historical re-creation of the day in 1944 when the aircraft carrier was struck by two kamikaze planes. Kids of all ages will be able to appreciate the fleet of jets, including a Concorde whose interior you can tour, and aspiring pilots will love taking a spin in the A-6 Cockpit Simulator or the Virtual Flight Zone.

New York Hall of Science
Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, the Hall makes science and technology fun. To wit, take a swing at the space-themed minigolf course, with two real NASA rockets placed amid its nine holes. Kids can slide, seesaw and climb the space net at the outdoor science playground, then geek out over the nation’s largest interactive microbiology exhibit inside.

The Paley Center for Media
Here, you can feel okay about letting your kids drool in front of the boob tube: There’s enough wholesome programming (classic episodes of Rugrats and The Muppet Show) shown daily in the screening rooms to keep them from squirming. But if you have something specific in mind—say, an I Love Lucy throwback—make a reservation to use the library, where you can choose from more than 100,000 titles and watch at a private console. There’s also a Radio Room, where you can listen to old-school shows like The Lone Ranger, and encourage millennials to use something called “their imagination.”

South Street Seaport Museum
Exhibits on marine life and an impressive collection of more than 1,000 ship models make up for the museum’s tourist-trap location. If looking at all those tiny masts and sails has you itching to climb aboard the real deal, you’re in luck: The nation’s largest fleet of privately maintained historical vessels is permanently docked at the museum pier, including the four-masted Peking and the Ambrose lightship, both of which are open to the public. The Pioneer, a cargo sloop made from lead, sets sail Tuesdays through Sundays for public harbor tours.

For more info on kid-friendly exhibits and sights, visit

Museums: The actually cool guide
Highlights of the best venues. Plus: parties, food, gifts and Kate Moss.

Users say