The New York Hall of Science opened in 1964 as part of the World’s Fair and as one of the first hands-on science museums in the country. Today, NYSci is still a really cute place to visit with young kids on a cold, rainy or wintry day….....OR
You could follow our lead and visit on a beautiful spring or summer Saturday. There are some cool things happening right outside NYSci in nice weather. Read on.
Inside the New York Hall of Science
Today there are newer, flashier and bigger science museums (i.e. we crushed the Exploratorium in SF in 2016 and I’m not sure any will compare after that), but NYSci still makes for a lovely day with kids. And it is actually the only hands-on science museum in New York City.
There are all kinds of interactive exhibits that showcase science, math and design concepts. My girls particularly loved exploring the Hall of Mirrors and trying to make their own giant bubbles.
The museum takes care to appeal to even its littlest guests who may not yet understand what “science” means - there is a large dedicated Preschool Play area for ages 6 and under and on the upper level, kids can freely play with an Imagination Playground. There are also many live demos going on throughout the day.
I think the museum’s shining star is its Design Lab. Made up of five rotating activity areas, the Design Lab “encourages visitors to be creative while experimenting with structures, circuits, simple materials and more.” Each Design Lab features a distinct hands-on experiment for children to partake in with staff available for assistance. Some labs are appropriate for “all ages,” while others are recommended for specific age groups.
On our visit, my older kid built a tunnel for a ball to roll through, and my younger one and I had fun trying to create a car that would be able to move across a path using only the air from a blowing fan to get there.
And surely the museum’s most “Gramable” exhibit is “Connected Worlds,” where six different ecosystems are projected onto huge screens and onto an interactive floor in the museum’s Great Hall. Visitors are asked to interact with the ecosystem, using their hand and body motions to plant new trees, chop down dead trees and promote water flow to keep the world in balance.
If You Visit in Good Weather You Can Check Out the Science Playground and Mini Golf
The Hall of Science clearly makes for a great cold weather activity. But if you save a visit for warmer weather, you’ll get to experience even more of what the museum offers. In nicer weather, NYSci opens its Rocket Park Mini Golf (note this is currently closed for renovations) and Science Playground, the largest of its kind in all of North America.
At the Science Playground, kids explore scientific principles like balance and motion using typical and not-so-typical playground equipment. “Designed for children of all ages, Science Playground exhibits include a giant lever, Archimedes screw and water play area, windpipes, a climbing net, slides, sand boxes and metal drums.”
The playground is open from late March to November and costs an additional $5 per person (including adults). It can only be visited with a general admission to the museum itself.
And If You Visit on a Saturday You Can Eat Your Way Through the Queens Night Market Afterwards
Save your visit to the New York Hall of Science for a warm weather Saturday. Then, you’ll have smaller crowds inside NYSci, access to the Science Playground outside and a delicious end to your day.
After NYSci, leave your car where it is and waltz on over to the Queens International Night Market, happening in the same darn location as NYSci, from 5pm to midnight every Saturday evening through August 17th, and then again on Saturdays from September 28th to October 26th.
This food and art market is now in its fifth season and it is just a spectacular representation of the diversity of the City of New York. Over 80 countries have been featured at the Night Market and vendors are all smaller, local businesses. To make the QNM particularly welcoming to all, for the most part, the price of each dish on offer has been capped at $5 since the market’s inception.
It’s a blast strolling from booth to booth to taste and ogle the cuisines of so many different cultures. There is sure to be something for everyone. My kids loved eating their spiraled potato on a stick from Twisted Potato and I couldn’t get enough of the chicken curry from Burmese Bites.
There are all kinds of desserts on offer, too, for your sweet tooth - from Chinese Sugar Painting to fried ice cream.
While the main focus of the Queens Night Market is food, there are also several art vendors on hand, too. And each night welcomes a slate of live performers. We finished our visit by dancing to DJ tunes.
The QNM is also very family friendly, especially in the early hours. There are a few carnival like games for the kids to play and that DJ dance floor was teeming with the under 10 crowd.
We headed home around 8pm, just as the larger crowds were forming. It would have been nice to experience QNM as a true “night market” in the dark, but having spent hours at the museum beforehand, and facing a 45 minute ride home, it was perfect being there just in the beginning of the night.
This was such a lovely way to spend a beautiful day and evening; and I really felt like all four of us had a blast.