Everything to Enjoy at the American Museum of Natural History

Anyone planning a trip to The Big Apple could spend hours looking online for the best things to do in New York next month. There’s literally no way to experience the entire city in just one visit. For anyone looking to make the most of their trip, though, the American Museum of Natural History is an absolute must. From towering dinosaurs to easy access in Central Park, there’s no reason to miss out on this epic site.

Planning for the Most Excitement

The first time I traveled to the American Museum of Natural History, I thought it would be like the museums back in my home state. Maybe a little bigger — but not by much. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was nice to recognize that it’s the museum from the film Night at the Museum, but its sheer size alone ensured I didn’t get to see everything.

If you take a look at the museum’s website, you’ll see their recommendation of putting aside two hours to enjoy everything. What they should say is that this is about the time people start to get tired of walking around. Seeing all the exhibits could take upwards of two days, so on my next trip to the city, even though I wanted to try some of the other best things to do in New York, I planned another trip to the museum.

The goal is to find the specific exhibits you want to see before visiting. This will ensure you don’t waste time in areas that will keep you away from the coolest sites.

american museum of natural history new york

Credit: Tupungato / Shutterstock

American Museum of Natural History Tours

There are exhibits, tours, 3D films and much more at the American Museum of Natural History. During my second visit to the city — the one which involved far more planning on my part — I made sure to take the self-guided Night at the Museum Tour. This took me to all the great exhibits shown in the movie, and yes, this even included the “Dum dum, where’s my gum gum” Easter Island Head.

For anyone who wants to catch just the highlights of the American Museum of Natural History, they also have a Highlights Tour. In fact, there are several different tours — both guided and self-guided — which can be enjoyed for free. Some people literally spend all day doing their own self-guided tours, such as those focusing on dinosaurs or space, just so they feel like they’re avoiding the crowds and necessity of keeping up with a guide.

Tours provide a simple way to enjoy a variety of artifacts, fossils and other historical items, but some people would rather spend their day visiting exhibitions à la carte.

American Museum of Natural History Exhibits

For anyone who makes frequent trips to New York City, there are over 40 permanent exhibit halls to enjoy at the American Museum of Natural History. This is important because, even though it might be difficult to see them in a single trip to The Big Apple, a few vacations will certainly offer the opportunity. Some of the permanent exhibits include birds of the world, the Northwest Coast, the Hall of Human Origins and — my personal favorite — the Hall of Primitive Mammals. That exhibit had what I still insist was a 5-foot rat.

Another reason it’s necessary to look up the museum before visiting, though, is due to the temporary exhibits. Many locals who know all of the best things to do in New York, yet still don’t visit the museum, will show up when the temporary exhibits come through. In fact, one of my last visits happened to coincide with the Mummies exhibit coming through, and half the people I spoke to had been living in New York for years.

Former exhibits include immersive flights across the globe, all of the nature that Cuba has to offer and even the human journey to eradicate disease. For those who missed out on something great, there’s no need to worry since new exhibits come through all the time.

American museum of natural history new york

Credit: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock

Where to Relax at the American Museum of Natural History

Whether someone is looking for the best things to do in New York next month or a year from now, the one certainty is that they’ll eventually need a moment to rest. The city never sleeps, and for anyone who wants to get the most of their trip, there will be lots of walking and traveling on subways. Fortunately, the American Museum of Natural History offers plenty of opportunities to put your feet up and relax.

Some of the busiest places to relax are the food courts and cafes within the museum itself. You can’t walk very far without stumbling across one, so they offer the perfect opportunity to take a break and enjoy a salad, burger or even sushi.

Those who feel like taking a break from the crowds can just head outside and find a nearby hot dog cart, but there are also food carts with burritos, burgers and even lobster rolls nearby. Add this to the fact that you can then just snag a bench in Central Park and enjoy the scenery, and most people find they have more choices than time when visiting the American Museum of Natural History.

Make It an Ongoing Trip

Whether it’s locals or visitors looking for the best things to do in New York next month — or any month for that matter — the American Museum of Natural History will always remain near the top of the list. It might feel impossible to fully grasp how amazing it is in one trip, but that never stopped me from trying.

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