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 all of 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 Events Calendar for more budget-friendly kid activities every day or peruse our Free in NYC Guide. 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!


Kids paint at the Children's Museum of the Arts where admission is waived every Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jody Mercier

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

The Bronx Zoo – General admission is free on Wednesdays. Visitors are asked to donate what they wish to support the zoo's mission. Total Experience activities cost extra.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden – Free 8am-noon on Fridays from March to November. Free on winter weekdays from December to February. Children 11 and under are always FREE. 

Brooklyn Children's Museum – Pay-what-you-wish on Thursday afternoons from 2-6pm and on Sundays from 4-7pm.

RELATED: 20 Indoor Spots Where NYC Kids Play for Free

Children's Museum of the Arts – Pay-what-you-wish on Thursdays from 4-6pm.

New York Aquarium – Pay-what-you-wish on Wednesday afternoons from 3pm to last entry, which varies by season.

New York Botanical Garden – Free grounds admission all day on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9-10am. Special exhibits cost extra, but the Everett Children's Adventure Garden is included.

New York Hall of Science – Free admission on Fridays from 2-5pm and Sundays from 10-11am.

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.

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.

The Staten Island Children's Museum – Free admission is offered September to June on Wednesdays from 3-5pm for the general public; free all day for grandparents.

Staten Island Zoo – Free on Tuesdays after 2pm through February 11 and all Wednesdays after 2pm.


The Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling is always free for kids under age 8. Photo by Jody Mercier

Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling – Admission for children 8 and younger is always free. Everyone enters for free the third Sunday of the month.

RELATED: NYC Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Wave Hill – Free on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 9am-noon. The garden also hosts special free arts events throughout the year. Check the calendar for more info.


Enjoy MoMA with kids under 16 for free anytime! Photo by Jody Mercier

Free Family Programs at Museums

Several museums offer regularly scheduled free programs. In addition to no-cost admission, visitors are treated to special tours and activities. Sometimes these events require tickets (which are free), and they're all either aimed at families or are kid-friendly.

Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays – First Saturday of every month (except January and September) from 5-11pm. Kids ages 19 and under are always free.

El Museo del Barrio Coqui Club – Meant for the youngest museum goers, this bilingual program caters to visitors ages 1-4 and their caregivers. Each session, held twice a day on the first Wednesday and first Saturday of the month, includes playtime, a gallery walk, and art-making. El Museo is also free at all times for children under age 12. A visit here also gets you free same-day admission to the Museum of the City of New York, located right across the street.

Museum of Modern Art – General admission is always free for kids ages 16 and under and parents can score a free pass on Friday nights from 5:30-9pm. MoMA also offers multiple free programs for families, including Tours for Fours, A Closer Look for Kids, and Family Films. Tickets are required and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the Education and Research Building entrance at 4 West 54th Street. Also free are the Tours for Tweens and Family Art Workshops, though advance registration is required.

New Museum First Saturdays for Families – Children under 18 are always free. In addition, on the first Saturday of every month, from 10am-noon, the museum offers free admission for up to two adults per family. Thursdays from 7-9pm are pay-what-you-wish for all visitors.


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 – Special exhibits and experiences cost extra.

Brooklyn Museum

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

Historic Richmond Town – Suggested admission on Wednesdays. Ages 3 and under are always free.

MoMA PS1

El Museo del Barrio

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

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

Museum of the City of New York – Neighbors visit for free anytime.

Queens Museum

SculptureCenter

Staten Island Museum


The National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian family, is always free. Photo by Jason DeCrow for AP Images

Museums That Are Always Free

American Folk Art Museum

The Bronx Museum of the Arts

Lehman College Art Gallery – The gallery also hosts educational workshops and family art workshops free of charge.

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

National Museum of the American Indian

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


The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is free on Tuesdays after 5 pm and has family-friendly programming. Photo courtesy of the museum

Grown-Up Museums with Free Hours

9/11 Memorial and Museum – Free on Tuesdays from 5pm to close.

Asia Society Museum – Free on Fridays from 6-9pm, from Labor Day through June. Children under 16 are always free.

Cooper Hewitt Museum – Pay-what-you-wish on Tuesdays from 6-8pm. Children 18 and under are always free.

The Frick Collection – Free on the first Friday of the month from 6pm-9pm, January and September excepted; pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays from 2-6pm. Note: Children must be at least 10 years old to visit.

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, 5-8pm. Children under 12 are always free.

The Jewish Museum – Free on Saturdays. Children 18 and under are always free.

The Morgan Library & Museum – Free on Fridays from 7-9pm. Children 12 and under are free.

Museum of Arts and Design – Pay what you wish Thursdays from 6-9pm. Children ages 18 and under are free.

Museum of Chinese in America – Free on the first Thursday of each month.

Museum of Jewish Heritage – Pay-what-you-wish on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4-9pm. Ages 12 and under are always free.​

Museum of Modern Art – Free on Fridays from 5:30-9pm. Ages 16 and under are always free.

Museum of the Moving Image – Free on Fridays from 4-8pm. Children under age 3 are always free.

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


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

Whitney Museum – Pay what you wish Fridays from 7-9:30pm. Children under 18 are always free.

This article was first published in September 2012; it has been updated for 2020.


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
Bird Walk at The Battery with NYC Audubon
Netherland Memorial Flagpole - 8:00 AM Pick
Nature in the Park
Rockefeller Park - 3:00 PM Pick
Seaport Cinema
South Street Seaport Pier 17 - 7:00 PM Pick
Mommy Poppins' Back to School Fair 2020
Online - various times Pick
Monuments Now
Socrates Sculpture Park - 9:00 AM
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides