I thought I'd lump my 3 museum trips into 1 post. Even though we are a 20 minute subway ride from Manhattan, I really don't take advantage of all the amazing museums it has to offer. I guess that is mostly because I can only do so many field trips a year and kids are not the biggest fans of museums. They're good for about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, and then they've lost interest and want to eat or play. But I do usually go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Transit Museum.
The Met is a ridiculously huge museum and I highly recommend going with a plan. I do Greek myths with my kids every year so we focus on Greek and Roman art. I also highly recommend taking a guided tour. Both self guided and guided tours are free for NYC schools. The docents who give the tours are very knowledgeable, although I usually explain that 10 minutes per exhibit is plenty. I made that mistake once and the woman spent 25 minutes on one statue. It didn't end well. There's a playground a little north of the museum that works well for lunch or of course, Central Park is right behind it.You can take the 4,5, or 6 train to 86th street and walk. The walk takes about 10 minutes.
Next up is the American Museum of Natural History. Here they have paid guided tours, which I've never done and free self guided tours, which are great. Of course, there's the planetarium which was $5 the last time I went 10 years ago. Basically pick a hall and go at it. We usually do Ocean Life with the whale or dinosaurs. The butterfly exhibit is also pretty good for the kids. Bonus - they have lunchrooms for the kids or Central Park is right across the street. 2nd bonus - there's a train station in the basement.Just a head's up, just about every single time I've gone, the security guards are, to put it nicely, unpleasant. Avoid them if possible. The B train 81st Street stop is in the basement.
And of course, one of my favorite museum trips is the Transit Museum in Brooklyn. It is really cool. The museum is in an old subway station. The top floor is exhibits about the history of the subway and old token booths, turn stiles, and actual buses. Downstairs they have vintage subway cars from the 1880s (pre subway) up to the 70s. You can go in them and sit! They have vintage ads on the walls too. It's really a fun trip and the kids love it as much as the teachers. They only do guided tours which are $175 for up to 30 kids. Special ed classes are priced differently. They do expect a $50 deposit when you book. They have a lunch area too, if you want to reserve it. You can get there by 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Borough Hall, the A, C, F, or R to Jay Street or the A and C to Hoyt Street.