Museums are a quintessential rainy-day activity. New York City's iconic institutions have ample offerings for young visitors—The Metropolitan Museum of Art's “Start with Art at the Met” program introduces families to the institution's vast collection, while the American Museum of Natural History is a playground for curious young minds that's brimming with hands-on offerings for children. Those are two of the biggest, but there are also a handful that were built specifically with little ones in mind.
In Manhattan, the Children's Museum of the Arts emphasizes tactile discovery in SoHo. Nearby, the New York City Fire Museum displays equipment, both historic and modern, essential to the operations of New York's Bravest. The Children's Museum of Manhattan will have kids playing, solving problems, making music and more inside its Upper West Side space. Children with a penchant for the nautical or an interest in aviation should head to the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on the Hudson River for some interactive exploration. Sony Wonder Technology Lab keeps antsy family members busy with its multitude of gadgets, including video games, music-making software and an HD movie theater. It also comes with an extra perk for parents: admission is 100 percent free.
And the time until the weather clears won't be the only thing your crew will be counting inside the brand-new Museum of Mathematics (MoMath). The interactive factor is strong here, as is the fun factor, linking the number game to sports, music and more.
Brooklyn has its own answer to the family-friendly institution. The Brooklyn Children's Museum in Crown Heights is an all-ages affair packed with exhibitions and activities centered on the arts, culture, science and the environment.
Science and technology reign supreme in Queens. Duck inside the New York Hall of Science for 450-plus interactive exhibitions about molecules, mechanics, outer space and more. At Flushing's Queens Museum of Art, the second Sunday of every month is dedicated to families. Free admission is just the beginning—take advantage of the roster of tours, art projects, live music and dance showcases and refreshments. Every Sunday, stop by for themed family art sessions throughout the afternoon. Summertime brings the museum's popular Target Passport Fridays series, an outdoor celebration showcasing the film, dance and music of a different country every Friday night, July through August.
Board the Staten Island Ferry—another fun and weatherproof family activity—and set sail for the Staten Island Children's Museum. Once there, play with a giant chessboard, dress up in theater garb and take the stage or get an up-close, interactive look at the world of bugs.
Be sure to check out our full guide to rainy-day family fun in NYC. Options include museums, theaters, tours, screenings, comedy clubs and fitness classes, just to name a few.