Museum of Illusions and Little Island in New York City

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This weekend, we FINALLY made it back into New York City for the first time in 16 months! We’re lucky enough to be able to drive 65 minutes and end up in the heart of Manhattan, or, in this case, the Chelsea/ Meat Packing District west side of the island. We’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about some outdoor experiences, including Little Island which just opened last month, and wanted to check them out. When we saw that the Museum of Illusions was less than a half mile walk from Little Island, we had our morning set.

The Museum of Illusions opened in September of 2018 and is a popular spot to test your eyesight, with over 40 exhibits of illusions, utilizing holograms, kaleidoscopes, prisms, and more. Guests are welcome to explore at their own pace, and there are guided tours available by reservation. Bring a camera or smartphone and take tons of interactive photos to further enhance many of the illusions. Each exhibit has explanations for “what to do” and “what’s going on”, sharing the logic and mathematics behind each illusion.

Travel Tips:

  • The museum is open Monday through Thursday from 9am to 11pm and Friday through Sunday from 8am-midnight. More information on admission fees and dates and reservations for online tickets here. The museum offers a good deal for a family pass, as well as guided tours (for an additional fee).

  • The museum is handicap accessible for the first floor, where a majority of the exhibits are located. There is a short set of stairs to enter the museum, but is accessible via elevator. Strollers are not allowed, but can be checked with the admission desk.

  • The closest parking lot is Icon Parking (15th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues), and the closest subway stations are the 14th street A, C, and E lines, and the 8th Avenue L line. 

  • Restroom facilities are available, but no coat check.

  • There is a small gift shop area, located near the admission desk, that sells a variety of magic puzzles and brain teasers.

  • No dining options on site, but there are tons of restaurants nearby. Sarabeth’s (one of our fav dining spots in the city) and Jack’s Wife Freda are two great options. 

  • Plan on 45-60 minutes to explore all 40 exhibits.

Our favorite exhibits:

  1. The Color Room

  2. The Reverse Room

  3. The Kaleidoscope

  4. The Infinity Room

  5. The Clone Table

Little Island, an artificial island located off Pier 55 in the Hudson River, just opened to the public in May 2021. Pier 55 has been an important part of the landscape of Manhattan for a long time- read about the evolution of the area here. The 2.5 acre park is accessible via two pedestrian bridges and includes an amphitheater, walking trails, and a courtyard with concessions.  There are three overlooks that face the Hudson River and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Hudson River Park Esplanade includes plenty of space for walkers and bikers and the two entrances to the island. There are plenty of attendants on the island to answer questions.

The “Amph” is a 680 person amphitheater that focuses on a wide variety of performances; tickets are required, and, to date, guests must be age 16+ to attend Amph events. Smaller performances are also given in The Glade and The Play Ground parts of Little Island, and there is a wide variety of family focused activities- see the full list here– including collaborations with many local museums.

Travel Tips:

  • Little Island is open from 6am until 1am everyday. Guests are welcome to enter during the morning without tickets, but must have FREE, timed tickets starting at noon each day. Go here to search for tickets. 

  • Little Island is open to pedestrians only; bikes must be secured along the esplanade. Pets are not allowed. Stroller are allowed.

  • Restroom facilities are available on Little Island.

  • Bites and Sips is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (concessions close for an hour between each session). Pricing is very reasonable- see the full menu here

  • There are plenty of transportation options that bring guests close to Little Island- more information here

  • Little Island hosts daily activities, ranging from culinary talks to kids arts and crafts sessions to free musical performances. See the full calendar here. See the list of family focused activities here.

  • Plan on 30-45 minutes to explore Little Island, not including a performance. 

For more fun in Manhattan, check out this index of posts on family friendly activities. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Disclosure: My family was given a medias pass to explore the Museum of Illusions. All opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. I love this kind of museum! A few years ago I visited one in Europe, Estonia. It was a great and unforgettable experience!

  2. I love this kind of museum! A few years ago I visited one in Europe, Estonia. It was a great and unforgettable experience!

  3. I love this kind of museum! A few years ago I visited one in Europe, Estonia. It was a great and unforgettable experience!

  4. This looks like such a fun museum to take kids to! I had no idea any of this existed.

  5. This looks like such a fun museum to take kids to! I had no idea any of this existed.

  6. Love the reverse room.Interesting place. Great yo see you in New York again finding fun things to do.

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