RECOMMENDED: The full guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Art and architectural historian Thomas Beachdel offers up insights into the museum's permanent collection and sneak peeks of new exhibitions in these monthly evening tours. Registration is required at least 24 hours in advance and details of the tour are emailed to attendees the day before the event.
If you’ve got a thing for musty old books, this is your fair, with literary works from approximately 200 vendors displayed inside one of NYC’s grandest halls. Look out for tomes dating back to the 14th century, including illuminated books of hours and other hidden gems.
Founded in 1897 by the Hewitt sisters, granddaughters of industrialist Peter Cooper, the only museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to design (both historic and modern) has been part of the Smithsonian since the 1960s. The museum hosts periodic interactive family programs that allow children to experiment with design.
The iconic institution, which was founded in 1874, hosts all manner of events, including lectures (with boldfaced names like Eliot Spitzer and the late Nora Ephron), live music, dance performances and more. Expect special programming during Jewish holidays such as Passover and Hanukkah. Browse and sign up for classes at 92nd Street Y
This New York City landmark houses a series of 16 period rooms from the late 19th century, designed by such luminaries as Louis Comfort Tiffany and the Herter Brothers. The Armory has been transformed into one of the city's premier alternative spaces for showing art; the beauty of this historical setting allows for interesting visual contrast with the series of contemporary projects commissioned by the nonprofit arts organization.
You needn't be a budding Martha Stewart to get your creative juices flowing at this DIY haven. The five-story second Manhattan outpost (the first is on the Upper West Side) offers foolproof crafts that any age or skill level can master. Decorate your own prebaked chocolate or vanilla cake ($24–$48) with fondant shapes, edible glitter, embellishments ($1–$5) and spray coloring in a motorized rotating booth, or make a scented candle ($20–$70) and then watch it take form at the Skinny Dip, a flowing wax-cooling river. Buy a yearly membership ($36) and you can paint ceramics ($12–$120), bead jewelry ($12–$45), create scented soap ($8–$24), or make functional glassware such as trivets, vases and coasters ($22–$99) whenever you’d like (otherwise, it’s $12 for a one-day pass). Those who don’t want to get their hands dirty can have a pro apply glitter tattoos ($5) and hair feathers ($6) at a station on the first floor, or hit the retail area to pick up quirky gifts such as Seedling Design Your Own Superhero Cape kits ($40).