What Ages Get in Free to NYC Museums, Zoos, Amusement Parks

Kids under 2 visit the American Museum of Natural History for FREE. Photo by Marley White for NYCgo
Kids, Toddlers Get in Free to New York City Institutions

How's the old adage go? The best things in life are free. But for families in NYC, that may sound like crazy talk. From housing to classes to entertainment, everything here seems to cost so much money...or does it?

The fact is, there's plenty of FREE fun for kids in New York City. And even top family attractions that charge entry fees like museums, zoos, amusement parks, and water parks offer no-cost admission for children under certain ages, and those savings can really add up, especially when you have preschoolers or toddlers

So, we decided to make a list of when the freebies end for kids at New York City's best family destinations, from tourist hot spots like the Statue of Liberty to all of the children's museums and zoos and gardens. Yet another reason to wish your children could stay young forever! We've even included a few of our favorite picks in nearby locales, too.

Note: The cut-off ages imply that once kids reach that age, they no longer qualify for free admission, and some places may ask for proof of age. Looking for a 100% FREE outing? Check out our roundup of no-cost admission hours at NYC museums.

Free Under Age 1

Brooklyn Children's Museum
Children's Museum of Manhattan
Children's Museum of the Arts
Staten Island Children's Museum
Westchester Children's Museum
Staten Island Museum
Liberty Science Center

Photo courtesy of the New York Transit Museum

Free Under Age 2

American Museum of Natural History
Museum of Mathematics
New York Botanical Garden
New York City Fire Museum
New York Hall of Science
New York Transit Museum
Rye Playland
Museum of Chinese in the Americas
South Street Seaport Museum

RELATED: Best Places for Family Playtime in NYC

See the marine life at the Bronx Zoo. Photo by Christopher Postlewaite for NYCgo

Free Under Age 3

Bronx Zoo
Central Park Zoo
Legoland Discovery Center Westchester
Museum of the Moving Image
New York Aquarium
Prospect Park Zoo
Queens Zoo
Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari
Staten Island Zoo
Spyscape: New York's Spy Museum

Free Under Age 4

Statue of Liberty 
(Includes ferry ride, but only children taller than 4 feet are allowed to access the crown!)
Historic Richmond Town
Queens Botanical Garden

Free Under Age 5

Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum
New-York Historical Society/Dimenna Children's History Museum

Free Under Age 6

Empire State Building
Top of the Rock
One World Observatory
Wave Hill
Museum of Food and Drink
Snug Harbor

Free Under Age 7

Museum of American Finance
National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Free Under Age 9

Sugar Hill Museum of Art & Storytelling

RELATED: NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat for FREE

Kids will love the unique shape of the Guggenheim. Photo by Fatboo via Flickr.

Free Under Age 12

Brooklyn Botanical Garden
El Museo del Barrio
Guggenheim Museum
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Cloisters
The Met Breuer
The Museum of Jewish Heritage
Morris-Jumel Mansion

Free Under Age 13

The Morgan Library & Museum

Free Under Age 17

Museum of Modern Art

The new Whitney Museum also has plenty of outdoor spaces with gorgeous views of the city. Photo by Shinya Suzuki via Flickr.

Free Under Age 19

Whitney Museum of Art
Museum of Arts and Design
Cooper Hewitt Museum
The Jewish Museum
The New Museum
Queens Museum

Free Under Age 20

Brooklyn Museum
Museum of the City of New York

RELATED: 20 Indoor Places in NYC Where Kids Can Play for Free

Photo courtesy of Victorian Gardens Amusement Park

Free Under 36 Inches

Victorian Gardens Amusement Park  
(Children under 36 inches tall enter the park for free with a paid adult; rides cost extra.)

The National Museum of the American Indian. Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian

Free for All Ages

American Folk Art Museum
The Bronx Museum of the Arts
National Museum of the American Indian
Queens County Farm Museum  (The museum does charge admission during large public events.)

This article first published in July 2013 but has since been updated.