With more than 32 million specimens and artifacts, the American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest scientific and cultural museums in the world, set right across the street from Central Park. The wide array of permanent exhibits (there are nearly 50 across five floors) cover Earth and our solar system, human origins, biodiversity, dinosaurs and the environment.
The museum is quite expansive, and it's easy to spend a full day exploring within its walls. However, two to three hours may suffice if you choose just a few exhibits you'd like to see. Highlights include the fossil halls' dinosaur displays; the space rocks in the Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites; the 1.7-million-year-old "Turkana Boy" fossil cast; and the star of the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life—a commanding 94-foot (29-meter), fiberglass blue whale model that hangs overhead. Voted New York City's No. 1 family attraction in Zagat Survey's US Family Travel Guide, the American Museum of Natural History has plenty to interest visitors of all ages.
Insider's Tip: You might remember the Gothic Revival building from the blockbuster film Night at the Museum, which took inspiration for its script from the museum's Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and Easter Island head—you can see both, along with all the other real exhibits behind important movie characters, on a self-guided, movie-themed tour.
A full-day general admission ticket includes access to all the exhibits and collections, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space, while upgraded super saver tickets include the Hayden Planetarium space show (which runs every 30 minutes from 10:30am to 4:30pm daily); an IMAX film viewing and special exhibits. Free public tours (in English, Spanish and French) and self-guided options are offered with admission. Reentry is allowed.
The American Museum of Natural History is located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The 81st Street–Museum of Natural History subway station, at the museum's northeastern corner, is serviced by the A, B and C lines, while the 1 and 2 subway lines run to the 79th Street station at Broadway and W. 79th Street, two blocks from the museum. Parking is available onsite and runs from $24 to $49.
In addition to various shops, the museum houses a food court (on the lower level) and multiple cafes. Visitors should note that outside food is not allowed, nor is the use of selfie-sticks or tripods. There are two coat checks (one seasonal), although luggage is not allowed and cannot be checked. Free public WiFi is offered.