My Favorite Museums in NYC & What To Do in the Neighborhood

One thing NYC has no shortage of is amazing museums. I grew up going to museums as frequently as I did playgrounds and by now I have settled on my favorites. In this post I’m sharing a variety of museums all around Manhattan and the best things to do and eat in each area.

Note: anything in BOLD is a link, click it and it will take you to a website!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

It’s a no brainer, the Met is the best museum of earth so of course I had to include it in my list. Its sprawling, elegant 22 million square feet houses art, objects and full on rooms from around the world and throughout history. You know the song, “when you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go…” it’s to the Met for me! Seriously, this is my happy place and the perfect escape from the modern world. Some of my favorite memories at the Met were during high school, my art teacher would take us there and we would just sketch whatever artwork we felt moved to. My favorite galleries are the European Paintings, The American Wing & Period Rooms, Greek & Roman Art and European Sculptures and Decorative Arts, but there are so many more, and trust me, even after coming here probably hundreds of times, I still don’t think I’ve seen everything. Also do NOT skip of the Met Roof. It’s amazing.

The Met is pay as you wish for tri-state residents, for everyone else adults are $25, seniors $17, students $12 and free for children. It can get pretty crowded on weekends, especially at special exhibits, so I find the best time to go on a weekday morning, but it really doesn’t matter.

The Met Roof

What to do in the area?

The Met is literally in Central Park, so I advise taking a stroll! Some nearby Central Park sights: enter at 79th street and walk to Belvedere Castle. Walk a bit further downtown, enter the park at 72nd street and you’ll find the Boat Pond and Alice in Wonderland Statue, this is a great option if you have children. There are also there are also two playgrounds just south (79th street & 5th ave) and north (85th street & 5th ave) of the museum. Another suggestion is to walk north, and enter the park at 86th street, where you’ll find the south entrance to the Reservoir. Walk north along the Reservoir for the best views of the city. If you keep walking along the reservoir walk further north and you’ll end up at one of my favorite places in the city, The Central Park Conservatory Garden.

There are many other options besides Central Park, the stretch of 5th Ave around the Met is called Museum Mile, so there are a ton of other museums you can go to if you want more. Just walk uptown on 5th and find The Guggenheim, Neue Gallerie (you have to check out Cafe Sabarsky if you like Viennese pastries), The Jewish Museum, The Cooper Hewitt and The Museum of the City of New York, to name a few. You can also head over to Madison avenue and visit the temporary home of the Frick Collection.

In terms of food, there are SO many options, you’ll have to either walk east towards Madison Ave, or to the west side across the park (you can either walk or take the 79th or 86th street crosstown bus) to Columbus or Amsterdam Avenue. Some of my favorite east side restaurants: Serafina Pizza, Sant Ambroeus, Lady M Cake Boutique, and Viand (classic, charming NYC diner). Some of my favorite west side restaurants: The Consulate, The Milling Room (so cool!), Patsy’s Pizza, Tessa (Mediterranean), etc (there are so many around this area, you’ll find something!)

The Morgan Library and Museum

The Morgan Library and Museum started as Pierpoint Morgan’s own personal collection in the early 1900’s. Its conveniently located in Midtown East, very close to Grand Central. It is truly breathtaking, the pictures don’t do it justice! The Morgan is free on Fridays from 2-5pm, with a reservation. Otherwise, it’s $22 for adults, $14 for seniors (65 and over), $13 for students (with current ID) and free to children (12 and under).

What to do in the area?

Since it’s in midtown there is definitely no shortage of activities but if you know me, you know I avoid midtown like the plague, so I’ll try my best here. If you feel like going all out touristy, you’re right by the Empire State Building. It’s also near Grand Central, which is honestly a museum itself, and definitely worth the visit. If you’re here in winter or around the holidays, you can go ice skating at Bryant Park and check out the Christmas market, it’s very sweet. If it’s nice weather out, you can grab a bite to eat and sit at the tables in the park. Right by Bryant Park is the New York Public Library, which is also a very beautiful place! Then (at Chritsmas time) you can also walk up 5th ave to see The Tree at Rockefeller Center and all the decorations.

The Tenement Museum

Taking a turn here from *aesthetics* and going down a different road. Ever heard of a tenement? Tenement buildings are a crucial part of NYC history, a reminder of this country which has continuously been built by immigrants, and are so, soooooooo fascinating. The Tenement Museum is located on the Lower East Side, which is a really fun neighborhood. Tenements in NYC were constructed in the 1830’s, when there was a large influx of immigrants coming through Ellis Island (also a great place to visit) as housing for workers and their families in often windowless, railroad style apartments with communal outhouses. The Tenement Museum has done a fantastic job of preserving the apartments and researching the stories of individual families who used to live in them. It’s really, really amazing! The museum offers both tenement apartment and neighborhood tours for $30 per person, and currently requires proof of a Covid vaccine for entry.

What to do in the area?

There is so much to do in the LES and it gives me such nostalgic *old New York* vibes. Historically, the LES has been a predominantly Jewish neighborhood and also borders Chinatown, so the food is amazing! These days, the neighborhood attracts a young crowd, so its a great place to go out drinking! I’m going to link a guide to the best eats here and drinks here. If you’re looking for a rooftop with views of the city, try Mr. Purple, The Roof CloudM, Make Believe, Rooftop 93, etc. I also would suggest strolling through Chinatown, dumpling crawl anyone?!

The Met Cloisters

Last but certainly not least, a true, widely unknown gem lies at the tippy top of Manhattan. The Cloisters is a branch of the Met, sitting in Fort Tyron Park overlooking the Hudson river. It’s the world’s only museum dedicated solely to Medieval art. The building, which contains a series of covered arch ways surrounded an idyllic garden, was designed to replicated French monasteries. Admission is pay as you wish for tri-state residents, and otherwise $25 for adults, $17 for seniors and $12 for students.

The dreamiest garden

What to do in the area?

After you visit the museum, just walk around Fort Tyron Park and Inwood Hill Park, it is such a gorgeous, quiet, neighborhood-y area of the city with a large Hispanic population and some of the best food. Inwood is the northern-most neighborhood in Manhattan, and sits on top of Washington Heights, which is where Lin Manuel Miranda’s The Heights was filmed, if you’re a fan, perhaps you’d like take to check out this self-guided walking tour! Other things to do: I’ve never been, but I’m dying to go to Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, the oldest farmhouse in NYC, built in 1785, eat at Inwood Farm (great brunch), Cachapas y Mas (Venezuelan food), Mamajuana Cafe (Dominican food) and Kiro Kurin for coffee.

This brings us to the end, visiting all these places could take you a while, and each one in itself can be an entire day’s worth of activity. I hope this was helpful and I hope you have the BEST time. Please comment and let me know if you visit these amazing places!

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  1. Suzie wrote:

    Hattie, what’s not to live about the Met! just FYI, they changed up admission. Free for NY residents and only tristate students! However, the one thing worth mentioning is that your ticket also gets you into Met Cloisters, same day! Can’t wait to see more!

    Posted 7.5.21
    • admin wrote:

      Ah! So much changed with covid unfortunately! Thats good to note though, thank you!

      Posted 7.6.21
  2. Suzie wrote:

    Lol…just saw your post about the deleted content. I thought you were doing one museum at a time! Thank you, great guide.

    Posted 7.5.21
    • admin wrote:

      I almost died when I noticed 90% of the post was gone! This took me 3 days, happy it’s back up! Thanks for reading!

      Posted 7.6.21

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