There are obvious museums to take kids when you're in NYC, but what about the not-so-obvious places? I've been to them all... and here are the best and the most interesting (including the obvious, too).
With suggested-admission prices, this can be a budget-friendly place to explore for hours on end. I love the dinosaur exhibits, but there's also an exhibit about whales on loan from the Museum of New Zealand through the end of 2013.
From workshops -- including some for kids as young as 3 years old -- to free movie screenings (for kids and adults), the Sony Wonder Technology Lab lives up to its promise to be a technology and entertainment museum for visitors of all ages.
Best for the under-eight set, this children's museum became (even more) famous for becoming the site of Bjork's Biophilia, which allows kids to use iPods to work through a set of nine music compositions using games, images, and videos.
The oldest remaining home in Manhattan, the Morris-Jumel Mansion was built as a summer home for a British colonel and at one point during the Revolutionary War served as George Washington's Headquarters. Washington would later return to the home in 1790 along with members of his cabinet, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton. Today, the mansion is a landmark that offers tours as well as regular events themed around historical aspects of the neighborhood.
Where else can you see submarines, aircraft, AND a space shuttle all in one day? (Pretty much nowhere.) Admission can be steep, but kids -- and, seriously, adults too -- will be in awe at the machinery on display here. If you go on a nice day, pack a picnic lunch to eat in the Hudson River Park.
Home to a collection of more than 1,400 movie artifacts -- including Yoda! -- this museum offers insight into every aspect of the movie-making process. It also offers movie screenings -- sometimes with films given pseudonyms to mask what's really being shown.
BCM is the oldest children's museum in the world, but you wouldn't know it from all of its interactive and modern kid-focused exhibits. There's something going on every day, often activities themed to current events (Black History Month, Valentine's Day, etc.).
Seriously, what's not to like about one of the world's best art museums? And if you don't have time to explore every last bit of the place, it's still worth going -- pick one area or exhibit and focus on that... and save the rest for next time. (The sculptures are my favorite.)
Home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's medieval collection, The Cloisters is itself designed in the style of a number of French medieval cloisters (Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville) and other French monastic sites. The site is especially beautiful on warm sunny days, when you can follow up your visit with a picnic in Fort Tryon Park.
Built in 1784, when Upper Manhattan was still seen as "the country," this Dutch Colonial farmhouse offers visitors a taste of times gone past. It's been a museum since 1916 and regularly offers workshops and exhibits highlighting what life was like 250 years ago.
The "arts" here are all-encompassing, ranging from traditional two-dimensional media to contemporary digital media. Kids are encouraged to be as creative as possible, which will probably serve parents well once children get tuckered out.
Not only does the NYHS offer information on almost any aspect of New York City history that you can possibly imagine, it's also home to the DiMenna Children's History Museum. The museum-in-a-museum, located on the building's lower level, includes a children’s history library, interactive exhibits and games, and character-based pavilions that help kids learn about historical figures
This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed masterpiece of a museum ain't so bad on the inside, either. The museum's collection includes a generous array of works by Cezanne, Manet, and Picasso as well as other kid-friendly artists.
Offering both Chinese classes (for kids and adults) and regular workshops in Chinese culture and arts, this is a hidden gem on the Upper East Side.