Family Friendly Museums in Manhattan

Posted March 5, 2020

Whether you are thinking about an overnight excursion with your kids or your grandkids, a family trip to Manhattan can be both exciting and educational. New York City’s five boroughs are home to 100 museums, with nearly one third located right in Manhattan (

According to, our Manhattan Museums include some of the world’s best and most visited. Each year millions of people tour the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum—and those are just the globally known ones around our city!

The staff at the Washington Square Hotel (WSH) put together a list of a half-dozen local museums within a five mile radius of our family-friendly hotel. From American art and history to mathematics, this unique lineup offers a new experience for everyone in the family.

Why not book a holiday weekend or extended stay during spring break with us and make some museum memories? Don’t hesitate—we all know the adage rings true: The kids really do grow up too fast!

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue/ 3.9 miles from WSH

the metKnown simply as “The Met,” the Metropolitan Museum of Art is home to approximately two million pieces of art spanning 5,000 years of human history. Its 5th Avenue location is open seven days a week and offers special discounted rates for seniors and students, along with free admission for kids under 12. (As an added bonus, tickets are also valid for three consecutive days at The Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters locations!)

The Met offers guided public tours free with admission, as well as EmptyMet tours by special fee and reservation for those interested in private early-hour VIP tours. Some interesting and ongoing exhibits running through this spring include: “In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection,” “The Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection,” and “In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met.”

The museum is better suited to older youth with longer attention spans, but the Met Kids Program Website has special maps, videos, and information on special family programs to tailor your visit to younger children’s ages and interests.

2. The American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West /5.4 miles from WSH

Science rules at this NYC family favorite. The American Museum of Natural History is best known for its dinosaur fossils and exhibitions covering natural history of man and beast. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. (except Thanksgiving and Christmas), the museum is running two special features/exhibits this winter and spring.

dino bones“Discover Worlds Beyond Earth” is currently playing at the Hayden Planetarium, focusing on the dynamic nature of the worlds that make up our solar system. A second exhibit, “Meet T. rex: The Ultimate Predator, runs March 11- August 9 in Gallery 3. This life-size exhibit includes models, fossils, casts, and for the daring tweens and teens, an immersive multiplayer virtual reality experience (for visitors 12 and older.)

Click on the link above for more information on upcoming after hour programs and additional events scheduled throughout the season.

3. The Museum of Modern Art
11 W. 53rd Street/2.6 miles from WSH

Featuring the works of art legends including Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, and Andy Warhol, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) provides inspiration for everyone!

For families, the MoMA offers tours, workshops, and films. Some family options available include “Tours for Fours” where kids age 4 and their accompanyi


ng adult(s) experience art through movement, drawing, and other gallery activities. For ages 5-10, there is the “A Closer Look for Kids” program where kids and adults mix fun and art discussions. The “Tours for Tweens” program gives youth ages 11-14 an opportunity to consider different artistic perspectives using pieces included in the MoMA’s collection and special exhibits.

Additional family art workshops take place in the studio, offering a mix of artistic inspiration with creative opportunities in the studio. For more information about the MoMA, click on the link above. For more information about family activities, click here.

4. The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum
Pier 86, West 46th Street/2.8 miles from WSH

Mechanically-inclined tourists and those infatuated with air travel and deep sea exploration rave about this gem. Located along the Hudson River, the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum collection includes the USS Intrepid, an aircraft carrier that served in WWII and the Vietnam War, along with the Growler, a cold war era submarine.

Aircraft on display include a Concorde Alpha Delta G-BOAD and the space shuttle Enterprise. The museum is open daily through March 31 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., with early morning tours at 9 a.m. Admission is free for U.S. Military and Veterans and children under 5.

The Intrepid Museum is currently holding daily 10:30 a.m. screenings of two 3D films in their Lutnick Theater: Aircraft Carrier-Guardian of the Seas, and Journey to Space, along with other planetarium shows and special exhibits.

5. The Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th Street/0.7 miles to WSH

Presenting a mixture of history, culture and art, the Rubin Museum of Art’s displays promote learning and understanding. Visitors journey into the art and culture of people throughout the Himalayas, India, and neighboring regions.

With more than 3,800 pieces representing 1,500 years of art and culture, it’s sure to inspire some curiosity, no matter your age. The Rubin hosts special Family Sunday events in the afternoons. It’s open Thursday to Monday, and closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Exhibition tours happen at 1 and 3 p.m. Click the link above for an event calendar, topics and times, and other admission information.

6. The Children’s Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton Street/1.0 miles to WSH

The Children’s Museum of the Arts is definitely geared toward children with its kid-centered activities, hands-on workshops, and vibrant artwork on display—mostly created by kids. In addition to its permanent and visiting exhibits, the museum hosts classes and daily drop-in workshops for the creative-at-heart.

Currently on view through May 3 is “Home Sweet Home: Is a Home a Sanctuary?” where featured artists explore the question of what “home” means as they visually explore shelter, protection and safety, comfort, family, faith, and other aspects of the elements that make up our “home.”

7. The New York City Fire Museum
278 Spring Street/.9 miles to WSH

The New York City Fire Museum in SoHo is housed inside a 1904 Beaux Arts style firehouse. This unique facility is chock full of vintage firefighting equipment, photographs, and historical displays designed to inform and educate the public about New York’s brave and courageous firefighters.

Volunteers include retired FDNY firefighters, who make history come to life with their stories. The museum hosts everything from old leather buckets and ancient bucket brigades to antique fire engines. One special display includes a memorial to the 343 members of the FDNY who lost their lives responding to 9/11, and includes firefighting artifacts recovered from the fallen World Trade Center.

These heart-felt exhibitions provide the perfect experience for guests to pay their respects to American history and the September 11, 2001 tragedy.

8. The National Museum of Mathematics
11 E 26th St /1.2 miles to WSH

Whether you are a math genius or “more of a words person,” this place is F-U-N! The National Museum of Mathematics features abundant hands-on exhibits demonstrating how mathematics influences every aspect of our lives. The educational experience actually make math “make sense.” So, don’t let the name scare you or your kids away!

Open daily from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., interactive exhibits include everything from a square-wheeled tricycle to a robotic basketball-shooter that uses visitor throw statistics for free throws. The museum has a busy schedule programs running throughout the winter. For more information about activates, admission, and special programs, click on the link above.

9. The Whitney Museum of American Art
90 Gansevoort Street/1.1 miles to WSH

The Whitney Museum of American Art offers family programs including interactive tours, art-making workshops, and special events encouraging children and adults to learn about art together. Programs include Saturday Stroller Tours, Open Studio Saturdays and Sundays where

families with kids of all ages drop in to try a museum-themed art-making project and Family Tours on select Saturdays. Click here to learn about family events. Click on the main link above for more information on scheduled exhibits.

10. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society at 170 Central Park West/4.2 miles from WSH

The DiMenna Children’s History Museum is home to a wide range of historical exhibits, including character-based pavilions, interactive displays, and digital games based on New York and American history; all geared toward children ages 8-13. Plus, they host a variety of family learning programs for toddlers to preteens. Programs range from reading to living history and information on upcoming activities are posted on the Website at the link above.


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