Start 2015 with a visit to a museum or other top NYC attraction. Many are open on New Year’s Day, and it’s generally a day when there is rarely a big crowd, especially early in the day, so you can get up close and personal with a painting, life-size dinosaur or a world symbol of liberty and freedom.
American Museum of Natural History (AMNH): One of the best museums on the planet, also with a planetarium and an IMAX theater. My kids always wanted to see the dinosaurs first and dance or lie down under the life-size model of a blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life last.
9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center: The two enormous reflecting pools are set in the footprints of the Twin Towers. Each pool is about an acre in size, with 30-foot waterfalls cascading down all sides. The names of the thousands of office workers, First Responders and others who died in the attack are engraved into the marble borders of the pools.
National September Eleven Museum at the World Trade Center: Experience the story of the events of 9/11 through artifacts that survived that terrible day, first-person accounts and multimedia displays in the Museum. Advance purchase of museum admission is strongly recommended.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden: 52 acres of natural beauty in the heart of Brooklyn, with more than 10,000 kinds of plants from all over the world. Most popular in the winter months are the indoor exhibits of tropical gardens and bonsai trees.
Guggenheim Museum: Contemporary artworks showcased inside an equally famous architectural wonder. Along Museum Mile on Fifth Avenue.
El Museo del Barrio: New York City’s only museum specializing in Latino art and culture, especially from the Caribbean islands that are the homeland of so many New Yorkers. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, El Museo has undergone an award-winning redesign, with a sparkling new glass facade and updated exhibits.
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: Visit authentically restored aircraft, USS Growler submarine, a British Airways Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Pavilion, featuring Enterprise, all aboard and around a World War II aircraft carrier berthed on the Hudson River.
Jewish Museum: More than 30,000 works of art, artifacts and broadcast media reflecting global Jewish identity, this is one of the world’s top museums of its kind, and housed in a turn-of-the-last-century Fifth Avenue mansion.
The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI): Exhibits on all the native peoples of North and South America, from the Arctic Circle to Patagonia, with a special focus on the tribes and cultures of the USA. Fabulous artwork, sculptures, jewelry and more. Since this is part of the Smithsonian Institution, entry is FREE. The museum is housed in a historic Beaux Arts building in Battery Park.
Statue of Liberty: One of the most famous landmarks in the world and the worldwide symbol of freedom, with an interesting museum at her base. A visit also includes The American Family Immigration History Center at Ellis Island, with artifacts and records of more than 25 million Port of New York passenger arrival records and 900 ship pictures circa 1892–1924.
New York Hall of Science: More than 450 exhibits including Rocket Park Mini Golf, the award-winning 60,000 square-foot Science Playground and Design Lab, this is an innovative hands-on space for those of any age interested in understanding the design and engineering process. Through mid-January, it’s also the home of the world’s largest gingerbread house.