Over the holiday break last month we hopped over the Whitestone Bridge, into Queens, to visit the New York Hall of Science. It took less than half an hour to get there from lower Westchester. Having grown up in Queens, I used to go all the time as a kid, but haven’t been in more than 20 years. Since my last visit, the Hall of Science has undergone an extensive renovation, and the impressive early-model rockets by the entryway that were donated by the Space Program have been restored.
This is the perfect place to come with small children. It’s not so big that it’s overwhelming, and just about every exhibit is hands-on or experiential, from the optical illusion centers to the hall of mirrors to the STEM-related stations. Even if the kids can’t understand the science behind everything, they’re always allowed to play with the equipment — and sometimes that’s all you need. Plus, the staff of young docents couldn’t be more friendly or helpful.
The entire first floor is dedicated to science-related arts and crafts. On the day we visited, there was a makerspace area, a section for costume design, a dowel structure station and a metal sculpture workshop. At the dowel structure station, we were given a tutorial on how to fasten together dowels with rubber bands to construct stable structures. My kids spent more than half an hour playing architect and trying to build a house that would stand on its own.
Also available at the Hall of Science are 3D movies, a space-themed mini-golf course, and a playground. The cafeteria is large and airy; we packed a lunch to bring, although they serve hot and cold prepared foods as well. Or venture out into Corona, home to tiny but fantastic taco joints and the famous Lemon Ice King. Food doesn’t get more authentic than it does in Queens!
New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona, NY; (718) 699-0005