Day trips: Museum field trips

Expand your cultural horizons beyond NYC city limits.

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  • Photograph: Courtesy of the National Museum of American Jewish History

    National Museum of American Jewish History

    National Museum of American Jewish History

  • Photograph: Courtesy of the National Museum of American Jewish History

    National Museum of American Jewish History

    National Museum of American Jewish History

  • Photograph: Bruce Willen

    American Visionary Art Museum

    American Visionary Art Museum

  • Photograph: Dan Meyers

    Unflattering Portraits of Matt Groening, Gary Panter & Rebecca Hoffberger,...

    Unflattering Portraits of Matt Groening, Gary Panter & Rebecca Hoffberger, Reverend Aitor at the American Visionary Art Museum

Photograph: Courtesy of the National Museum of American Jewish History

National Museum of American Jewish History

National Museum of American Jewish History


RECOMMENDED: See all day trip ideas

National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia
Travel time: Two hours from NYC by train or bus
This museum—the only institution in the country with a primary focus on American Jewish history—was founded in 1976 and once shared space with a synagogue, but it just debuted its new home. To get a sense of the museum's mission, start on the fourth floor and work your way down: Its core exhibit surveys the history of Jews in North America, touching on events like World War II and the creation of Israel, before ending in present day. Pop-culture fiends should be sure to stop at the first floor, where the Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame holds a collection of items related to noteworthy American Jews, including pieces of costumes from Barbra Streisand's Yentl. Once you've taken everything in, sit down in the museum's caf to nosh on kosher goodies. nmajh.org

Storm King Art Center; Mountainville, NY
Travel time: One and a half hours from NYC by car
Plan to spend at least a few hours at this massive outdoor art park, exploring more than 100 sculptures on 500 acres of land in the Hudson River Valley. Pause to gawk at John Bisbee's Squall, a mound of metal curlicues outside of the visitors center. At the park's southern end, you'll find Maya Lin's site-specific Storm King Wavefield, built right into a field; or, farther north, peep larger-than-life pieces by Alexander Calder and Mark di Suvero. On the way home, stop off at Brotherhood Winery (brotherhood-winery.com) for a tour of the 172-year-old vintner; you can purchase a tour and tasting package for $10, which lets you sample a few of Brotherhood's creations (just make sure you're not the one driving home). stormking.org

American Visionary Art Museum; Baltimore, MD
Travel time: Three hours from NYC by train
This quirky Baltimore institution favors untrained—but no less skilled—artists over the great masters. This means you'll see such oddities as Wayne Kusy's Lusitania, a 16-foot-long model of the doomed ocean liner rendered in toothpicks. Enter through the building's mirror-collaged facade (created by at-risk youth under the supervision of the museum's artists in residence), and head to "What Makes Us Smile?" (through Sept 4), mounted in celebration of AVAM's 15th year. The exhibit—cocurated by artist Gary Panter, AVAM founder Rebecca Hoffberger and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening—is all about the stuff that makes people laugh, and features hundreds of objects designed to elicit a grin. (In fact, a welcome mat made from toothbrushes implores you to smile as you enter the exhibit.) If you aren't feeling joyous enough after checking out the pieces on view, head outdoors and scramble to the top of Federal Hill, used as a lookout point during the Civil War. It's just behind the museum, and from its peak you'll get a panoramic view of the city's skyline and the Inner Harbor, which hugs the Chesapeake Bay. Once you've taken everything in, stop by Pomegranates, the museum's cafe, to nosh on kosher goodies like a grilled-cheese sandwich on challah bread ($4.50) or a Philly-style soft pretzel ($2.50). avam.org

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