Westchester and the Hudson Valley have a bevy of great museums that offer stimulating fun and exposure to culture. All of the museums we've rounded up below offer exhibits and family programs that let kids–and grown-ups–learn, explore, and appreciate new viewpoints.
Read on for more about these cultural gems, each of which can be included as part of a family day trip, and be sure to check our Museum Guide for Westchester and Hudson Valley Kids for more.
Best Kid-Friendly Museums in Westchester
$12 for adults, $8 for students, free for kids under 5
The meticulously constructed gardens at the Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden are a serene and contemplative place full of enchanting beauty. Children will enjoy following the meandering path through the plants, sand, water, and rocks. Inside the museum, frequently changing exhibits explore the connections between Eastern and Western cultures. Throughout the year, family-friendly events and programs further this exploration through music, dancing, art, and hands-on fun. Open from April–November.
$13 for adults; $8 for children ages 3-18; free for kids under 3
At this lovely museum overlooking the Hudson River, you'll find art galleries full of beautiful, diverse, and thought-provoking exhibitions year-round, notably Red Grooms' The Bookstore, a permanent immersive pop-art installation. Other highlights include the historic 19th-century Glenview Mansion and the Andrus Planetarium, which has many shows geared toward kids. (Tickets for the planetarium are separate and are $7 for kids and $5 for kids.) There are also frequent family events and workshops, like hands-on art projects and kid-friendly gallery tours.
$30 for adults; $20 for kids 8 and up; free for kids under 8
Hudson Valley MOCA showcases contemporary exhibitions, and while some of the work might be a bit heavy for smaller children—you can see the full list of current and upcoming exhibitions on the website—some kid- and family-specific programming is on offer.
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Kids can make art of their own at the Katonah Arts Center.
$12 for adults; free for kids under 12
Nestled in scenic Katonah, this art museum features dynamic exhibits for art lovers of all ages, including an annual Young Artists exhibit spotlighting art made by area high school students. (The 2024 installment launches on Feb. 11.) You’ll also find a serene outdoor sculpture garden and events and workshops, some specifically geared towards kids and families, like Creative Community Fridays. Best of all is the museum's Learning Center, an exhibition space and drop-in activity center.
Located on the campus of SUNY Purchase, this museum, which first opened in 1969, offers a variety of beautiful exhibitions, along with a permanent collection, centered on modern, contemporary, and African art. Before your visit, prep kids with some of the museum’s virtual “NEU To Do for Kids” programming, which includes videos, projects, worksheets, and more.
Create, explore, imagine, and craft at the Westchester Children's Museum.
$14 for adults and children; free for babies under 1
After undergoing an expansion a few years back, this STEAM-focused Westchester favorite offers up even more kid-centered exhibits and activities—from Toddler Beach and Build Your Own Rollercoaster to a Wiki Stix table and Keva Planks construction zone. There are also a ton of activities on the calendar, including story times, themed weekend events, and more.
Dia: Beacon offers plenty of room to take a break and engage with the art. Photo by Diana Kim
Top Family-Friendly Museums in the Hudson Valley
$20 for adults; $5 for kids 5 to 11; free for kids under 5
Housed in a sprawling former Nabisco box factory, DIA: Beacon is an art museum and exhibition space that showcases imposing, large-scale artworks from world-renowned artists like Richard Serra and Louise Bourgeois. For the elementary school and older set, their Saturday Studio is a free family workshop on the second Saturday of the month. Families who participate get free admission to the museum for the day.
$12 for adults; $8 for kids 2 and up; free for kids under 2
With more than 50,000 square feet of fire equipment, gear, and, memorabilia from the past to the present, the FASNY Museum of Firefighting is a great place for the entire family to learn how firefighting has evolved over the past 300 years. The museum's collection features artwork, antique fire engines, and a variety of firefighting equipment. You can explore a replica of a firehouse from the 1800s, and kids can test their firefighting mettle in an interactive Junior Firefighter Challenge Course. If you get lucky, you may even spot Molly the Museum dog. Free Super Saturdays are held once a month, featuring fun kids' events. Registration is required for some of the programs.
$5 for ages 2 and up; Free for kids 2 and under
Located about an hour from central Westchester, Hudson Highlands Nature Museum makes for a great weekend day trip. It consists of two locations—the Wildlife Education Center (WEC) and the Outdoor Discovery Center (ODC). The indoor WEC is home to many native animals, including rabbits, turtles, fish, owls, and crowd-favorite Edgar the crow. Meet-the-animals sessions are held on Saturdays and Sundays at 1 and 2:30pm. At the ODC you'll find the visitors center and gift shop, hiking trails, and the Grasshopper Grove nature playground. There are various special events held in both locations—which are about 10 minutes apart.
$13 for adults and children; free for babies under 1
This museum is all about kids, of course, and it has tons of great exhibits, including a Science Center, Children’s Garden, and the Early Learning Junction, which is great for babies and toddlers. Also great? The Family Free Night, which is held from 5:30-7:30pm on the third Saturday of each month.
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Enjoy art in the great outdoors at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Janet Bloom
Tickets are per car, and pricing starts at $46 for two people. Free for kids 5 and under
This 500-acre outdoor museum is a great spot for little ones since they can enjoy the expansive grounds—as long as they don’t get too close to the often massive sculptures, which are located throughout the property. You’ll also find a great outdoor cafe that's open every day, and on weekends there’s a food truck and cart as well—all of which offer kid-friendly options. Along with the outdoor art, there is also an indoor gallery, museum store, and family programs.
Unless noted, photos courtesy of the venues.
This post was originally published in 2013 and has since been updated.