I had friends in town this weekend and on their last morning here, we popped into the American Museum of Natural History. There are many, many things to see there (and many rooms I have yet to check out) but if you only have a limited time there, these are five spots I love. Remember that the admission price is technically pay-what-you-wish!

1. The Hall of Minerals – It hasn’t been renovated in years, because it looks exactly like it did when I was a small child and loved climbing up and down its carpeted steps, but the petrified wood is pretty awesome, as is the Hall of Gemstones where I like to play “which one do you want to take home with you” with the stones. Why yes, that amethyst would make a lovely ring!
2. The Hall of Meteorites – Conveniently located next to the Hall of Minerals, this hall is home to Ahnighito, a 34-ton piece of a meteorite. It was bigger than that before it fell into Earth’s atmosphere, and is apparently about 4.5 million years old. The coolest part? Where it’s been broken or cut open, it shows a pattern not seen on iron that formed on earth. Also, its support stand had to be designed to reach all the way down to the bedrock under the museum because of how heavy the meteorite is.
3. The subway station at 81st Street – Okay, I know this isn’t inside the museum, but the subway stop that serves the AMNH has these awesome mosaics of animals and fossils. The lower level is underwater-themed!
4. The gift shop – I should probably stick to exhibits (the dinosaurs are pretty awesome, go check them out too, and the giant sloth skeleton!), but I do have to say that the multi-floor gift shop is one of my favorite gift shops in the city. I can’t look at the bookstore section for too long or I’ll want to buy one, and they have all kinds of unique gifts, from ornaments and jewelry to dishes and neat decorative items.
5. The Hall of Ocean Life – No visit to the Natural History Museum would be complete without a trip to see the blue whale, but have you all been down to the dark corner under the whale? Go down the steps and find the one exhibit that isn’t lit. Bring your camera and you might just get a photo like the one below…
What’s your favorite bit of the AMNH?