1. American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) - Go to AMNH on Thanksgiving Eve if possible. This is where they stash the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons that they carry down 8th avenue the night before the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York city. This museum is a must stop in especially if you have children. They will appreciate and love it plus the dinosaur bones and special exhibits will make you feel like you are on the set of Night at the Museum movie. Another piece of advice: Don’t eat in the cafeteria here. The food is that bad, expensive and not worth it. Go eat out somewhere else and enjoy the family friendly Upper West Side.
2. Whitney Museum of American art - Very modern art. Great building aesthetically for the architecture. This is where rich hipsters go in Manhattan to look at cool modern art. If you like deep art go here it is a must stop in lower manhattan as it is located right near the Gansevoort and Standard Hotels.
3. New Museum - The main reason to go to this museum is because you are staying in or near lower Manhattan. You’ll encounter a lot of new mediums (#notjustpaint) so if that’s not your taste or you don’t want to see art that’s outside your box, skip it and just hit the bars instead. There are many cool things to visit in Lower East Side.
4. Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design museum: It's on the Upper East Side located right on fifth Avenue although not as popular as the Guggenheim and the Met, which are located nearby on the Museum Mile. You can see what life was like for the wealth during the gilded age. This mansion you may think belongs to some wealthy billionaire but is a museum to historical design of the 18th and early 19th centuries a great place to stop and visit for instagrammable photos.
5. Museum of the City of New York - 1.5 million pieces of art house here on the Museum Mile. If you want to understand the history of the city of New York, this is where you must visit. It’s the where what when and how of NYC curated and documented in a museum.
6. Museum of Arts and Design - First, go for the restaurant Robert. It has the best view you can get of the Central Park and Columbus Circle. Being honest, unless you value design of all objects and need to be surrounded by things that are stylized this is your home, it’s one you could probably skip.
7. Studio Museum in Harlem - this is a good starting point to see Harlem. A lot of Black artists are showcased here. They are expanding to new a building but as a former resident of Harlem, stop here and The Schomburg Center if you want to see some exceptional black art.
8. The Jewish Museum - Largest of its kind outside of Israel. If you want to understand the culture of people who emigrated here over the past 150 years. stop here and learn why. It is somber place to visit but lets you reflect on many historical achievements made by the jewish community in America..
9. The Morgan Library & Museum: This is museum/library/landmark/historic site/music venue. Some of the oldest artifacts that are owned by a private collection are located here including one of the 23 original copies of the declaration of independence. This place drips of old money charm and you can see rare artifacts and art pieces that may never get to in a lifetime, take advantage of the opportunity and go see this monument to human history in a super swanky former home that is now a museum. I would say this home is akin to a american palace.
10. Brooklyn Museum: On the edge of Prospect Park, it is a must stop in Brooklynespecially on first Saturdays. This museum has a large collection of African art and houses very big and beautiful open halls that lends itself to taking amazing pictures in. On a Saturday afternoon, go to Prospect and then hit the museum around 7pm. You can really enjoy the place and feel like your in enjoying life. There are also good roti spots down Washington Avenue and new bars going towards Bergen street.
11. MoMA PS1 in Queens - Where hipsters go to in queens to see art. Very modern, very of the times. If you have been to the Creek & the Cave Comedy Club you may run into the same people here (what same people?).
12. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA) - This is where When Harry met Sally was filmed here and there’s an impressive amount of Egyptian art. This is a fixture of the Upper East and near some of the most expensive places in New York. It’s great to go and the people watching is great to do here. This is museum you go to see the New York you imagine in the movies and tv shows you have seen for years.
13. Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) - If you want to learn the how and why Chinatown exists, the tour answers this and you will gain a better understanding of how New York City and America overall became the melting pot it is. This is for history buffs that want to learn about things outside of their normal view of life or other American stories. They also run a walking tour (also on Saturdays) for $35.
14. Museum of the Moving Image - If you love film & tv, it is a must; also near a lot of quality restaurants and food trucks in Astoria, Queens. Take advantage of the walkability of the neighborhood,give yourself a chance to watch old TV shows and movies,understand why we love movies and why it’s so special to us and relevant to popular culture.
15. The Cloisters - The only American museum for art from the middle ages. It overlooks the Hudson river and is one of the most picturesque museums in America. You will not feel like you are on the island of Manhattan and it’s a must if you want to have an experience where you feel that you are going back in time in America.
16. The Bronx Museum of Art - The only free major art museum that is accessible to the public. If you want to see art that is produced for the masses and be in a neighborhood in New York that feels like the New York you don’t get to see on TV, then please support the only museum that is in the Bronx borough.