Housed inside a historic subway station, the New York Transit Museum takes an interactive, educational look at how the city moves—literally. Here's when and why to visit with your kids.
Operating inside the decommissioned Court Street subway station in Downtown Brooklyn since 1976, the New York Transit Museum is the only museum of its kind in the country. With a large collection of vintage subway cars, buses, and more, the museum is enlightening for kids and nostalgic for parents and grandparents.
The museum’s entrance represents its home in a retired subway station.
Board the museum’s collection of vintage subway cars, part of the permanent Moving the Millions exhibit; check out Steel, Stone & Backbone to learn about the building of New York’s very first subway line; or explore a simulated traffic intersection at On the Streets.
During the museum’s family programs on weekend afternoons, kids can learn and explore alongside a museum educator with projects, crafts, games, and a theme that changes each week (included in museum admission). On Thursday mornings, museumgoers ages 2-5 can join Transit Tots for games, stories, and surprises. And on four Thursdays a year, the museum hosts special after-hours events with fun activities for families.
Families can stop by on weekends for themed, hands-on activities, from making time capsules to designing vehicles and bridges.
The museum also offers activities specifically for children with special needs and their families as part of its Special Day for Special Kids program. Families with a child with special needs can visit the museum for free on these mornings, and enjoy both quiet and active rooms. In addition, the Subway Sleuths program offers children on the autism spectrum in grades 2-5 the opportunity to practice social skills with a special education teacher and a museum educator.
Grand Central Gallery
If there’s not enough time to visit the museum, make a quick stop at its Gallery Annex at Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, which presents changing exhibits that complement those at the museum. The Annex is open seven days a week (8am-8pm Monday-Friday; 10-6pm Saturday-Sunday), has free admission, and includes a small store.
November-February: The annual Holiday Train Show at the Annex features miniature vintage Lionel Metro-North trains running on a track through a scenic model of New York City.
May: Embark on an excursion with museum staff. This year’s included visiting transportation landmarks around the city and a walking tour through the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which was once defined by elevated train lines.
July: Hop on a working vintage train and head to Coney Island, part of the Nostalgia Train Ride series (see photo above).
September: The museum’s biggest annual event is the Bus Festival. It offers reduced admission, and visitors can board and explore a fleet of vintage buses (the oldest is from the 1910s!) parked up and down Boerum Place for free.
October: Take a not-so-spooky vintage train ride to Woodlawn Cemetery.
December: Kids can create yummy transit masterpieces with cookies, candies, and more during Travelin’ Treats night.
Address: Corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street, Downtown Brooklyn
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday 11am-5pm
Admission: $7; $5 children ages 2-17 and seniors ages 65 and older
For more information: 718-694-1600 or mta.info/museum