New York City Travel

10 Things to Know Before Visiting the American Museum of Natural History

Dumb dumb, give me gum gum.

If you’ve been to the American Museum of Natural History with kids, you know the level of exhaustion I am currently operating under. The recovery from the museum takes an entire day to get over, but it is still my favorite place in NYC to take kids. People visiting NYC ask me often about where are the best places to take kids, and I always start out my list with the Museum of Natural History.


Because of Covid, we hadn’t visited the museum in over a year. Since my kids were on break for the week, I scheduled a visit. Upon entering the Ocean Life exhibit, I felt like I was back home. I was so excited to be back in the museum that I updated our membership, which I wasn’t planning on doing till we were further along in the year.

If you are planning on visiting the Museum of Natural History, here are 10 things you should know.

  1. You have to go to and reserve your tickets. Gone are the days when you could show up and get tickets. Tickets are on a timed entry, which helps people stay socially distanced in line and keeps the museum from being crowded. It’s good to arrive 30 minutes before your time because the line gets long. If you are a member, you can skip the line and enter through the member’s entrance.
  2. Remember the old days when you visited the museum with your kids and even though there were signs up that said “No Eating and Drinking,” we all did it anyway? Yeah, those days are gone. The café is closed and if you find your normal corner or spot where you snack, you’ll be asked to put your stuff away.
  3. Don’t park in the parking garage. I rarely drove to the museum to begin with, but I did this time and regretted it instantly. It seemed everyone else that lives here drove rather than take public transportation and the garage was overflowing. It took a while to get out and with a lot of cars double-parked; it was a bit of a tight maze to get through. I’ll take the subway next time.
  4. The special exhibitions sell out quickly. If you’re thinking about going to the museum and then buy the exhibition tickets, you’ll be out of luck. Purchase them ahead of time when you book your visit.
  5. There are no drinking fountains.
  6. Touch screens are disabled and so are all displays we normally could touch.
  7. The Discovery Room is closed. My kids were bummed they couldn’t play inside the Discovery Room and I was bummed I couldn’t sit while they played.
  8. There’s no coat check and you’ll have to carry around everything you carried in.
  9. You should know this anyway, but you must wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. No bandannas or neck gaiters.
  10. Like most places, there’s a limit on people in the elevator. Have fun taking the stairs.

It was great to be back in the American Museum of Natural History, and I’m hopeful things will get back to normal soon. Until then, remember my 10 tips so you can enjoy your visit.

Also Read:

Museums in NYC That Have Suggested Prices

List of Aquarium Web Cams

An Unmarked Slave Burial Ground in the Bronx

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