The Children's Museum of the Arts has pay-what-you-wish Thursdays from 4-6pm. Photo courtesy of the museum
The Children's Museum of the Arts has pay-what-you-wish Thursdays from 4-6pm. Photo courtesy of the museum

Free Times to Visit NYC Museums, Gardens, and Zoos

Many of New York City's top museums, zoos, gardens, and cultural institutions offer free or reduced admission certain nights, days, or hours at least once a month—a city perk no busy, cash-strapped parent should miss! Plus, many of the "grown-up" museums let kids in for free year-round.

It can be hard to keep track of when and where these freebies are available, so we've compiled an exhaustive list of reduced or free admission days at our favorite NYC cultural spots from the Bronx Zoo to the Brooklyn Children's Museum and every spot in between.

As always, you can visit our Event Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or visit our Museum Guide or Zoos and Gardens Guide for more on the latest kid-friendly art and exhibitions in NYC. Also, don't forget to put your library card to work for free admission at many of these same places!

Children's Museums, Zoos, and Gardens with Free Times

The Bronx Zoo – General admission is free on Wednesdays, but reservations are required. The Wednesday Ticket Store opens at 5pm on Mondays. Total Experience activities cost extra.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Winter Weekdays (December through February) are pay-what-you can. Children 11 and under are always FREE.

Brooklyn Children's Museum – Pay-what-you-wish Sunday afternoons during the final Play Session time slot, from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Reservations should be booked in advance.

New York Aquarium – Pay-what-you-wish Wednesday afternoons from 3pm to last entry, which varies by season. Reservations are required and the Wednesday Ticket Store opens at 3pm Monday.

New York Botanical Garden – Free grounds admission all day on Wednesdays. Purchase timed-entry tickets in advance.

New-York Historical Society – Pay-what-you-wish on Fridays from 6-8pm. Admission to the on-site DiMenna Children's History Museum is included. Purchase timed-entry tickets in advance.

Queens Botanical Garden – Free admission daily November through March. Free admission Wednesdays from 3-6pm and Sundays from 9-11am the rest of the year—except on festival days.

Staten Island Zoo – Free on Wednesdays after 2pm. Timed-entry tickets are required.

Wave Hill – Free on Thursdays from 10am-4:30pm. The garden also hosts special free arts events throughout the year. Check the calendar for more info.


Make a donation of your choice at the American Museum of Natural History. Photo by Marley White for NYCGo

Museums with Suggested Admission

American Museum of Natural History – Pay-what-you-wish admission is available to residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, but timed-entry reservations must be booked.

Brooklyn Museum – Timed-entry reservations must be booked in advance.

The Cloisters – Pay-what-you-wish for New York state residents as well as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students.

MoMA PS1 – Timed-entry tickets are required; NYC residents can enter for free, or pay-what-they-wish.

El Museo del Barrio – Timed-entry tickets are recommended.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Pay-what-you-wish for New York state residents as well as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students.

Staten Island Museum – Timed-entry reservations are recommended.

Museums That Are Always Free

American Folk Art Museum – Timed-entry reservations are required.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts – Timed-entry reservations are required.

The Jewish Museum – Timed-entry reservations are required.

Queens County Farm Museum – The museum does charge admission fees during large, public events.

Queens Museum – Timed-entry reservations are required.

SculptureCenter – Timed-entry reservations are required.


The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is free on Monday afternoons and has family-friendly programming. Photo courtesy of the museum

Grown-Up Museums with Free Hours

9/11 Memorial and Museum – Free on Mondays from 3:30pm to close.

Asia Society Museum – All admission is currently free; the museum is operating on a reduced schedule and is only open Fridays and Saturdays.

RELATED: 50 Indoor Activities for a Rainy Day


Take the whole family to the Guggenheim for pay-what-you-wish Saturdays. Photo by Kris McKay

Guggenheim Museum – Pay what you wish Saturdays from 4-6pm. Timed-entry tickets are available at 10am on Fridays. Children under 12 are always free.

The Morgan Library & Museum – Free on Fridays from 2-5pm. Children 12 and under are free. Reservations are required.

The Noguchi Museum – Free on the first Friday of every month from 10am-5pm. Children under 12 are free as are all NYC public school students. Advance tickets are required.


Kids are always free at the Whitney Museum. Photo by Janet Bloom

Whitney Museum – Pay what you wish Thursdays from 1:30pm-6pm. Children under 18 are always free. Advance tickets are required.

This article was first published in September 2012; it has been updated for 2021.


Bronx Museum of the Arts
1040 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10456

Children's Museum of the Arts
103 Charlton Street
New York, NY 10013

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128

Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029

MoMA PS1
22-25 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City, NY 11101

Studio Museum Harlem
144 West 125th St.
New York, NY 10027-4423

SculptureCenter
44-19 Purves St.
Long Island City, NY 11101

The Forbes Galleries
62 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10011

New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

The Noguchi Museum
9-01 33rd Road
Long Island City, NY 11106

New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002

Guggenheim Museum
1071 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10128-0173

Asia Society
725 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021

The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016

Whitney Museum
945 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021

Rubin Museum of Art
150 West 17th St.
New York, NY 10011

The Bronx Zoo
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10460

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn , NY 11225

Brooklyn Children's Museum
145 Brooklyn Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11213

Children's Museum of Manhattan
212 West 83rd Street
New York, NY 10024

New York Aquarium
Surf Avenue and West 8th Street
Brooklyn , NY 11224

New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10458

New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th Street
Queens, NY 11368

Queens Botanical Garden
43-50 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355

Staten Island Children's Museum
1000 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301-1181

Staten Island Zoo
614 Broadway
Staten Island, NY 10310

Wave Hill
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue
Bronx, NY 10471-2899

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11238

The Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Drive Fort Tryon Park
New York, NY 10040

El Museo del Barrio
1230 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028

Museum of Biblical Art
1865 Broadway
New York, NY 10023

Queens Museum of Art
New York City Building Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Queens, NY 11368

Staten Island Museum
75 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, NY 10301

American Folk Art Museum
2 Lincoln Square
New York, NY 10023

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street
New York, NY 10001

National Museum of the American Indian
1 Bowling Green Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
New York, NY 10004

Sony Wonder Technology Lab
550 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022

Historic Richmond Town
441 Clarke Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306

International Center of Photography
1133 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036

Museum of Arts and Design
2 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019

Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013

Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place Edmond J. Safra Plaza
New York, NY 10280

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, NY 10019

Museum of the Moving Image
36-01 35 Avenue
Astoria, NY 11106

Amercian Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Cooper Hewitt
2 East 91st Street
New York, NY 10128

9/11 Museum and Memorial
180 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007

Queens County Farm Museum
73-50 Little Neck Parkway
Floral Park, NY 11004

Whitney Museum of American Art
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014

Lehman College Art College
250 Bedford Park Boulevard West
Bronx, NY 10468
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