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Tipsheet: Alternative Museum Tours
 
BY AARON RASMUSSEN
 

Your kids have taken every intro-to-art tour in all five boroughs, and they know by heart all the words sung by Bachosaurus rex at CarnegieKids. For a new twist on the same old subjects, try one of these off-site excursions, offered by New York’s top cultural institutions.

>> Go Back To Medieval Times. Kids 4 through 12 explore medieval art and architecture in hourlong programs at the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fort Tryon Park branch in northern Manhattan (1 p.m., first Saturday of the month, free with museum admission; 212-923-3700; metmuseum.org). Don’t miss the medieval festival in September, when queens and armored knights on horseback stroll the park. Take in the antiquated atmosphere by watching jousting matches and puppet shows from hay- bale seats.

>> Travel The World. For families who want more far-flung adventure, the American Museum of Natural History organizes curator- and scholar-led journeys to study other cultures and the natural world. Take a Tanzanian safari on the Serengeti with an expert naturalist, or catch an overnight train ride to a ranch in the Canadian Rockies for a little horseback riding, river rafting, and glacier hiking (212-769-5700; discoverytours.org; starting at $2,695 for children and $3,895 for adults).

>> Explore New York’s Waterways. Parents and kids over 11 can circumnavigate Manhattan on the South Street Seaport Museum’s thirties-era tugboat, the W.O. Decker (southstseaport.org; 212-748-8786; $125 per person for four hours; $180 for six hours). Not for landlubbers, the four-to-six-hour journey starts at the Seaport Museum, and tours locations from Randall’s Island to the Brooklyn waterfront, where you’ll maneuver through the Gowanus Canal and hear how Hell’s Gate got its name.

>> Soak Up Lower East Side History. On the Tenement Museum’s new “Lower East Side Stories Tour” (kids $10; adults $12), your family will stroll the lively neighborhood’s culture-steeped sidewalks with museum educators and longtime neighborhood residents. Visit “Hat Street” at present-day Confucius Plaza, where Jewish merchants once sold Chinese bachelors colorful headwear; discover what it meant for African-American kids to fly “Jewish airplanes”; and browse the old and new stores lining Orchard Street (tenement.org; 212-431-0233).

 
     
 
From the Fall 2004 edition of the New York Family Guide
   
   
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