Planning a Day at the Met in New York
Children and museums don’t always mix. But at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (known to most as “the Met”), hieroglyphs, medieval knights and impressionist paintings come alive for children.
Parents might wonder, Can you really experience the 2 million square foot main building of the Met with kids in one day? The answer of course is no. Especially if you want your children to enjoy it.
Five tips to make the most of a day at the Met with kids
1. Plan ahead
The first trick to ensuring a successful day at the Met with kids is to pre-plan your trip. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a wealth of online resources and information for kids and families to research before you visit. Get your kids involved in planning an itinerary that interests them. They can view descriptions of the galleries and suggested itineraries on the website.
My daughter planned our day to start with Egyptian art, followed by the American Wing, Arms and Armor and the Chinese Garden Courtyard in the morning and the 19th and Early 20th Century European Paintings in the afternoon. While we did not see everything in those galleries, her planning kept her engaged and interested and excited to go back in the future to catch what we missed.
2. Get an early start
An early start at the museum, which opens at 10 am seven days a week, is a good way to make the most of young energy and allow for a break later in the day. Staying at New York Hilton Midtown, within walking distance of the Met, is a smart way to make the most of your time.
3. Pick up Information First
The first stop at the Met is the information desk. Be sure to pick up family activity guides and maps. Even though our daughter had researched her list of top five exhibits, the kid friendly map is a great way for kids to help navigate the many galleries throughout the day.
4. Take the audio tour for kids
Audio tours can be hit or miss for kids. But the Met’s kid adapted audio tour was a hit! Instead of insisting that she read each informational plaque, my daughter listened to a narrative designed for elementary-aged children. The tour included of a mix of history, facts and legends that incorporated music and interviews. Plus, as a bonus, we could easily tell if she was listening to the audio tour by what she recounted to us about each work of art.
5. Head outside for lunch
Although the Met has several cafes, we needed fresh air to help break up the full day. Just a few blocks away from the museum is Le Pain Quotidien which offers a delicious and relatively healthy way to refuel for the rest of your museum explorations.
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Know Before You Go
- Opt for walking tours instead of bus tours if you want to eliminate the issue of traffic – just make sure to pack comfortable shoes!
- If you bring your own ice skates, Bryant Park allows you to ice skate for free in the winter.
- The Bronx Zoo is pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays.
- Utilize the New York Subway to travel like a local – it’s also a great way to avoid traffic!