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Attractions: Museums

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 is extra.

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. Admission: $4.

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 free.

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.

Jewish Museum
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 free.

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.

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From the Fall 2004 edition of the New York Family Guide