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Top 10 American Museum of Natural History Visitor Tips and Advice

Our tips and suggestions will help you have an even better time at AMNH!


The American Museum of Natural History is one of New York City's most popular attractions, featuring four floors filled with exhibits on every natural history topic from dinosaurs and mammals to biodiversity and outer space. Use these tips and tricks to make the most of your visit to the American Museum of Natural History.
Pictures: American Museum of Natural History Pictures
More: American Museum of Natural History Visitors Guide

1. Get Yourself the AMNH Explorer App!

Getting Directions on the AMNH Explorer App
In the many years I've been visiting the museum, I've never enjoyed finding my way around as much as I did when I used the AMNH Explorer app. It made it easy to find the exhibits I wanted to visit, helped us get to the closest bathroom and even helped me avoid the museum shop on a visit with two kids who *love* a souvenir. In addition to making it easy to get around the museum, the app includes tours (which you can customize or use as-is) and even treasure hunts (especially great for kids!) The app is a free download for visitors with an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and the museum also has devices that you can borrow for free if you don't have an app-compatible phone.

2. Get Yourself a Museum Map

The American Museum of Natural History has exhibits on 4 different floors, several staircases and elevators, and you're sure to get confused or lost without a map. You can get a map for free when you purchase your admission tickets or from any information booth in the museum. The museum's staff can also be very helpful if you feel disoriented and need directions.

3. Check Your Coat

For a small fee, you can check coats, umbrellas and bags at the coat check in the Rose Center or Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda. This is a good investment in improving your museum experience and ensuring you can maximize your time in the museum without overheating or having your hands full the whole time.

4. Make a Plan

It would be impossible to see every exhibit in the museum in one visit -- I recommend you don't even try. Check out your map, look at our list of recommended exhibits and make a plan for which things you'd most like to see.

5. Get Off Your Feet

In addition to breathtaking visuals, IMAX films and Space Shows are a great way to get off your feet for a bit in between exhibits. The films typically last about 40 minutes and most are appealing to both children and adults.

6. Arrive Early for IMAX and Space Shows

To ensure you get the best seats, it's a good idea to get to the theater about 15 minutes before showtime. This also gives you a bit of time in the event you get lost enroute.

7. Take a Tour

If it's your first time in the American Museum of Natural History, take a Highlights Tour offered hourly from 10:15 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. This one hour tour hits the museum's top exhibits and is also a good way to narrow down which halls you'd like to revisit and explore more closely. If you're a repeat visitor, check out the Spotlight Tour schedule once you arrive at the museum. The Rose Center also has an audio tour. All tours are free with museum admission to groups of less than 10 people.

8. Check Out a Special Exhibit

The American Museum of Natural History has frequently changing exhibitions that offer deeper insight into some of the museum's many popular topics. Purchase tickets to special exhibitions when you enter the museum ($25 for adults includes museum admission and one exhibit or IMAX show).

9. Take a Break

The museum offers several food options, and don't forget the hot dog and pretzel vendors immediately outside of the museum. On a nice day, refuel on the museum steps and enjoy some great people watching at the same time. If the weather outside is less pleasant, the cafes in the museum offer a welcome respite.

10. Check Out The Shops

The American Museum of Natural History has several shops, including ones dedicated specifically to the special exhibitions. These shops have tons of items that make great souvenirs and gifts in all price ranges.

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