Looking for fun, educational things to do with tots or school age kids in Brooklyn? Try going to a museum.
Brooklyn's museums run the gamut in terms of size and focus. There's a children's museum, the vast Brooklyn Museum of Art, a tiny museum focusing on the diasporic African American experience, and a gem of a hands-on museum all about trains and subways.
Each of these museums can be a fun, educational family trip with children, whether for Brooklyn parents or visiting grandparents, or families adventuring forth on a day trip from Manhattan.
In terms of family friendly outings, museums have important creature comfort benefits, too. They are warm in winter, dry on a rainy day, air conditioned in summer —and you can always find a bathroom.
Tips for Grandparents, Parents and Visitors on Taking Kids to Brooklyns Museums
1. Best Brooklyn Museums for Children and Family-Friendly Outings
Brooklyn's museums, in alphabetical order, include:
- Brooklyn Children's Museum
- Brooklyn Historical Society
- Brooklyn Museum
- Coney Island Museum
- Jewish Children's Museum
- Lefferts Homestead
- MoCADA, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
- NY Transit Museum
- Waterfront Museum and Showboat Barge in Red Hook
2. Let the Child Pick the Museum
Each of these Brooklyn museums offers a different kind of experience for children. Let the kids pick, and have fun exploring, and later, comparing your family favorites!
- Is your child interested in trains? Then head for the NY Transit Museum in Downtown Brooklyn.
- Or, to see exotic totem poles and masks from Africa, visit the Brooklyn Museum of Art.
- Younger children can have a hands-on learning experience at the Brooklyn Children's Museum.
- Is your child a baseball fan? Is he or she interested in the Underground Railroad during the US Civil War? See what the Brooklyn Historical Society is showing in its exhibition space.
- Does your family discuss civil rights, slavery and the black experience? Visit tiny MoCADA, The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. Are you interested in things Jewish? See the Jewish Children's Museum.
3. Stay for Just an Hour at Your Favorite Brooklyn Museum
Especially for the youngest of tots, don't plan to make a whole day of the outing. Factor in travel time, and plan to spend an hour or so at a museum.
4. Schedule Your Museum Visit So You Can Attend a Children's Program
It's fun to just wander around any of Brooklyn's museums with a child, and talk about what you're seeing.
Most of these museums also have full calendars of events. Options might include musical performances, puppet shows, storytelling, experiential learning, and crafts programs. (Call ahead to inquire about reservations; some programs have limited space.)
In particular, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, Lefferts House, and Brooklyn Museum of Art run wonderful weekend (and sometimes weekday) kids' programs, led by museum staff or educators. And, while you can't really call a library a "museum," the Brooklyn Public Library online calendar of events lists so many good—and free — programs for children, from films to reading to storytime, and in branches across the borough, that it's worth checking them out, too.
While the following three institutions aren't museums, they, too, offer structured, educational attractions for children:
A final tip: Unlike Washington, DC's "museum mile," Brooklyn's cultural institutions are not all near one another. They're sprinkled throughout the borough. Getting from one to another might take some time. So it's wise to plan ahead — including knowing where you can find the nearest Brooklyn pizza joint, playground or park for that post-museum treat.