The ultimate school field trip for anyone who grew up within two hours driving distance of New York City was always the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). New Yorkers call it simply "Natural History" but anyone who visits New York should make this museum one of their top cultural destinations. It has real dinosaur bones, live butterflies, and the infamous blue whale.
Here's a breakdown of all the ways to visit and fall in love with the American Museum of Natural History.
Bring the Kids
You'll never visit AMNH without school busloads of kids. The museum is where history and science come together. While the crowds of school kids can be overwhelming, it's best to just to embrace the experience of childlike wonder, especially while you behold the sight of the giant blue whale in the Irma and Paul Millstein Hall of Ocean Life.
The museum offers a wealth of resources for educators as well as The Discovery Room for families with children from ages 5-12. Inside visitors will enjoy an interactive experience with artifacts and specimens, puzzles and science games.
Busses often drop guests off at the 77th Street entrances. Enter through the main doors on Central Park West or enter directly from the subway station at 79th Street.
Take a Date
AMNH is a quintessential New York experience and the perfect place for a first date. The museum sits inside Central Park, is stuffed with conversation pieces and there's even an exhibition where live butterflies flutter all around you. Plus the dark blue lighting around the giant blue whale makes for a terribly romantic place to steal a kiss. (If you're a teenager or were once one in NYC, the light shows at the Hayden Planetarium are legendary.) It may not be the obvious choice, but trust me, AMNH is a very special place for a first date.
In Leonard Bernstein's musical"On the Town" the song "Carried Away" is set inside the museum where a budding anthropologist and a sailor in town for Fleet Week get so distracted by love that they accidentally knock over a dinosaur. Yes, AMNH is stuffed with dinosaurs including a brontosaurus as long as a city block and a massive T-Rex. And because the museum also employs paleontologists, exhibitions about new research on dinosaurs is always in the rotation.
Neil deGrasse Tyson Works Here!
Astrophysicist, cosmologist, and heir to Carl Sagan's space throne has been the Director of the Hayden Planetarium at AMNH since 1996. Tyson who grew up in New York City first visited the Planetarium when he was 9-years old, kicking off his love of science and space. Though he's busy writing books and explaining science on television and podcasts, he often gives talks at the museum to the public.
Spend the Night
Inspired by the movies A Night at the Museum starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams, AMNH began hosting museum sleepover events for both children and adults.
The children's event starts in the Hall of Human Origins and then proceeds to the Age of Dinosaurs exhibition to see the T. rex. Then Museum explainers will offer presentations with live bats, wolves, and birds of prey. Kids will then settle into the LeFrak Theater to watch a 3-D National Parks Adventure. Everyone will then settle down to sleep underneath the blue whale, next to the African elephants or at the base of the volcano.
The adult sleepover kicks off with a champagne reception and a concert by 12th Night Jazz Trio in the Theodor Roosevelt Memorial Hall. The rest of the evening is open for free exploration of the empty museum halls before unrolling your sleeping bag in the Hall of Ocean Life.
These massively popular events sell out very quickly. To find out about the next date call 212-769-5200, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$145 per person for children, $350 for adults
$135 members, $300 for adult members
American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Open daily from 10 am–5:45 pm except on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
General admission is a suggested $22, but special exhibitions have separate fees.