American Museum of Natural History
Central Park W. at 79th St.
Home to the world’s largest vertebrate-fossil collection
(over 600 specimens), the museum displays life-size replicas
of a Tyrannosaurus rex and an Apatosaurus in
its famed dinosaur halls; kids can assemble the skeleton of
a Prestosuchus in the Discovery Room. If life on earth
proves too boring, take the little ones to the Hayden Planetarium,
where the star program is designed especially for children.
Adults $12, kids 2–12 $7. Admission to the space shows
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1000 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
The main gardens here are lovely enough, but in the 90-year-old
Children’s Garden, kids can actually cultivate their
green thumbs in weekly classes that change seasonally (this
fall they’ll be planting cool-season crops and bulbs
to bloom in the spring). The adjacent Discovery Garden hosts
more informal drop-in tutorials during the afternoon. Adults
$5, students $3, kids under 16 free.
|Kids marvel at a worm at the Brooklyn
Children's Museum. (Photo Credit: Kristine Larsen)
Brooklyn Children’s Museum
145 Brooklyn Ave., near St. Marks Ave., Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Housing ten different galleries of interactive space, the
BCM teaches kids why snakes aren’t slimy, introduces
them to world music, and offers museum-related puzzles and
games. Kids under 5 have their own section, Totally Tots,
which includes building blocks, a sandbox, and a book nook.
Brooklyn Museum of Art
200 Eastern Pkwy., Prospect Heights, Brooklyn
With its snazzy new exterior redesign, highlighted by a spectacular
promenade that kids will love, the museum is perfect for families—especially
on First Saturdays, when there are films, hands-on art instruction,
and an early-evening dance party popular with young adults.
There’s also the weekend “Arty Facts” program,
during which youngsters 4 to 7 make projects inspired by a
particular gallery. Adults $6, students $3, kids under 12
Children’s Museum of Manhattan
212 W. 83rd St., near Amsterdam Ave.
Check out CMOM’s latest exhibit, “Oh Seuss! Off
to Great Places,” a 4,000-square-foot bonanza of the
good doctor’s themes. Kids can create their own masterpieces
at the Art Studio or the Creation Station, and in the Early
Childhood Center, creative preschoolers can paint, draw, and
sculpt. Admission is $7.
Children’s Museum of the Arts
182 Lafayette St., near Grand St.
This museum offers a full range of creative options, from
donning costumes in the Actor’s Studio (no, not James
Lipton’s) to problem solving using a variety of artistic
materials. There’s also a pond filled with plastic balls
for kids to swim around in. Admission: $6.
1109 Fifth Ave., at 92nd St.
The permanent exhibition “Culture and Continuity: The
Jewish Journey,” which occupies two floors and details
the evolution of Jewish identity over the millennia through
art and antiquities, should be enough culture to wear any
kids out. Alternatively, drop them off at the arts-and-crafts
center, a story-time session featuring classic Jewish tales,
or the sketching-in-the-galleries program, all of which occur
on Sunday afternoons from September through June. Adults $10,
students $7.50, kids under 12 free.
Liberty Science Center
Liberty State Park; 251 Phillip St., Jersey City, N.J.
At the Liberty Science Center, kids can explore estuaries
and find out what goes on in an ambulance. Fish tanks are
filled with Hudson River species; the Bug Zoo is home to millipedes,
centipedes, and honeybees, and Forces of Nature teaches kids
about the weather. Curious types can discover how sharp their
sense of touch is at the 100-foot-long, pitch-black Touch
Tunnel; everyone else can experience the country’s largest
dome IMAX theater. Adults $10, kids 2–18 $8, under 2
Long Island Children’s Museum
11 Davis Ave., off Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City, N.Y.
LICM features twelve permanent interactive exhibits. At ToolBox,
kids can learn to use hammers, saws and drills. With ClimbIt,
they scramble up a two-story climbing sculpture, and at the
TotSpot exhibit, the youngest ones can conduct an LIRR train,
signal to a fishing boat from a lighthouse, or captain a ship.
Admission $8, under 1 free.
Madame Tussaud’s New York
234 W. 42nd St., near Eighth Ave.
Chances are, there’s an incredibly lifelike wax version
of your teenager’s favorite celebrity at this fifth-floor
satellite of London’s famous museum. Beyoncé was
just added, and the eerily lifelike Jennifer Lopez is the
museum’s first interactive sculpture—she blushes
when you whisper in her ear. Adults $25, kids 4–12 $19.