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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting New York City's Art Museums

Category General

|by Mark Robinson |

From where to stay and eat to when to visit, check out our full itinerary

Have you been wanting to take a trip to Manhattan to enjoy the myriad art museums the city has to offer, but aren’t quite sure how to plan a trip? Maybe you are a first-time visitor to the Big Apple, and have some questions about how plan an excursion. Have no fear. We are here to assist. We have assembled a helpful, three-day plan to help you come to NYC and get started on your exploration of some of the world’s greatest art with confidence.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art might make for the perfect summer excursion (Photo: iStock)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art might make for the perfect summer excursion (Photo: iStock)

Upon arriving in NYC, whether it be by plane, train, or bus, plan to grab a cab to your hotel. With luggage, possibly kids in tow, this will be the most efficient means of transportation. It will be worth the cost, which is not as bad as you might think. Considering the purpose of your trip, finding a hotel on 5th Avenue, near Central Park, on the Upper East Side, is going to be the perfect area. Be sure to book your hotels in advance.

The Hotels
New York City has officially designated Fifth Avenue from 82nd to 105th streets “Museum Mile,” and any of the following recommended hotels will keep you in the heart of it all:

The Franklin Hotel (164 E 87th St)
The Franklin Hotel has been celebrated as one of NYC’s most romantic hotels. Amour or not, it is perfectly positioned near Central Park and Museum Mile. A daily buffet breakfast and evening wine reception are part of the price of your room. Rooms are within the $199 to $259 a night range.

The Carlyle (35 E 76th St)
An upscale, classic, luxury hotel experience can be found at The Carlyle. Inside this stunning accommodation is the Café Carlyle (a well-known restaurant and performance venue) and the Carlyle Restaurant, an elegant dining experience with a sumptuous menu serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You’ll enjoy 24-hour in-room dining, a 24-hour fitness studio and the hotel’s spa and salon. The Carlyle is also pet friendly. Expect a range of $300 to $400 a night

The Surrey (20 E 76th St)
The Surrey hotel is a great place to stay for spacious rooms and unique touches. Certain rooms (by request) have some of the most breathtaking skyline views of the Big Apple. The Surrey has a roof garden, a spa and a host of other amenities. It also features Boulud Dining, an immersion into the finest of French cuisine. A room at the Surrey generally falls in the $500 to $600 a night range.

Once you are comfortably settled in, your next step is to explore the neighborhood around your hotel. It’s good to acclimate yourself with your surroundings, particularly with the north- and south-running avenues, as well as the cross streets, and also take some time to check out places to dine. You will find the neighborhood to be full of great little bistros, bakeries and even food carts. However, here are a few of the establishments where you can leisurely enjoy a tasty, sit-down meal right within walking distance of your hotel and the museums.

Café Sabarsky (1048 5th Avenue)
A Viennese restaurant and café, Café Sabarsky serves breakfast from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., and lunch and dinner options from 11 a.m. until closing. Among their specialties: the Breakfast Basket with Jam and Ring Cake (Austrian Wheat & Brioche), Goulash Soup with Potatoes, Chilled Smoked Trout Crêpes with Horseradish and Crème Fraîche, Organic Chicken Paprika “Paprikás Csirke” with Spätzle. Ensure yourself a table by making reservations in advance.

Daniel (60 East 65th Street)
Daniel specializes in French country cuisine, with menu standouts including Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Basil-Zucchini Stuffed Langoustine, Grilled Swordfish with Summer Squash, Wood Fired Pennsylvania Squab Breast and Gaspor Farm Suckling Pig with Mélilot. You can enjoy a four-course prix-fixe meal for $158. Reservations are recommended.

Clement (700 5th Avenue)
On the mezzanine level of the Peninsula Hotel is Clement Restaurant, offering breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Their out-of-this-world breakfast menu offers tremendous variety of traditional America fare, as well as menus of Chinese, Japanese and vegetarian options. For lunch, choices include Semolina Cavatelli Pasta, Wild Rice Fricassee, The Clement Burger and Lamb Chops. Dinner offers Hawaiian Yellowtail Ceviche, Slow Roasted Goffle Farm Chicken and Strube Ranch Wagyu Ribeye for Two among the choices.

The Museums
And then, of course, there are the museums themselves. Each of the following iconic NYC museums is so full of amazing art, it is almost impossible to see everything in them in one day. It is often smart to research what is in their collection before you arrive, making yourself a list of what you want to see. However, there is just as much pleasure to be found in wandering from room and room and experiencing a surprise at every turn. Here are three of the most renowned, and where to find them.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue)
The Guggenheim is known to many as the museum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, with a circular ramp taking your through floors of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and Contemporary art. It is an extensive collection, and the perfect start to your three-day excursion. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays until 8 p.m. with Summer Tuesdays until 9 p.m. General admission is $25 and students with a valid ID pay $18.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) (11 W 53rd Street)
For a chance to wander through and drink in some of the world’s most original and compelling pieces of modern art, a trip to the Museum of Modern Art will want to be on your itinerary. The MoMA is closed through October 21, 2019 to expand its galleries, but when it soon reopens, check out their website for details on hours and admission costs.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 5th Avenue)
With the grandeur and stateliness of a palace, The Metropolitan Museum of Art features gallery upon gallery of some of the most-famous and historically significant collections of art ever assembled. Open Sunday – Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., ticket prices are as follows: adults $25, seniors (65 and over) $17 and students $12. Entry for members, patrons and children (under 12) is free.

Please be aware that these three well-known venues are not the only New York museums that hold a wealth of history, culture and magic. Also consider making any of the following a part of your trip. They are all just a short walk from your hotel along Museum Mile.

The Africa Center
1280 5th Ave. at 110th St.

El Museo del Barrio
1230 5th Ave. at 104th St.

Museum of the City of New York
1220 5th Ave. at 103rd St.

The Jewish Museum
1109 5th Ave. at 92nd St.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
2 East 91st St. between 5th and Madison Avenues

Neue Galerie New York
1048 5th Ave. at 86th St.

It is always wise to check out each museum’s website before visiting to be sure it will be open, determine what the admission prices will be, and see if they have an special exhibits that you won’t want to miss. Whatever parts of this plan you choose to employ, be sure to leave yourself enough time to savor the experience. There is always the opportunity for a return trip to continue the adventure!

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