Metropolitan Museum of Art

Museum in Upper East Side

Image by Joe Josephs 500px Images

The vast collection of art and antiquities contained within this palatial museum (founded in 1870) is one of the world's largest and most important, with more than two million individual objects in its permanent collection: paintings, sculptures, textiles and artifacts from around the globe – even an ancient Egyptian temple straight from the banks of the Nile. 'The Met' has 17 acres of exhibition space to explore, so plan to spend several hours here. (Wear comfy shoes.)

The 1st-floor ancient Egyptian collection is unrivaled; do not miss the Temple of Dendur, built around 10 BC and relocated from Egypt in 1978. On the 2nd floor, numerous European Paintings galleries display stunning masterworks from the 13th through 20th centuries, while 15 incredible rooms are devoted to an extensive collection of Islamic art and artifacts. The American Wing features decorative and fine art from across US history. Other galleries are devoted to classical antiquity (with sculptures dramatically illuminated by natural daylight), Asian art, and modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures – there are simply too many to list.

Kids will most enjoy the artifact-rich Egyptian, African and Oceania galleries, as well as the collection of medieval armor and weaponry (all on the 1st floor). There's a specially designed brochure and map for kids, and events listed on the website.

If visiting April through October, head up to the excellent roof garden, which features rotating sculpture installations by contemporary and 20th-century artists – though the grand city and park views are the real draw. Enjoy a sundowner cocktail from its on-site bar, the Cantor Roof Garden Bar.

Self-guided audio tours (adult/child $7/5) are available in 10 languages; download the Met's free smartphone app for excerpts. Guided tours of specific galleries are free with admission. Tickets are good for three consecutive days, and also give admission to the Met Breuer and Cloisters.

Students from CT, NY and NJ can pay-as-you-wish. If you dislike crowds, avoid weekends.