Priceless art and artifacts, histories of cultures and civilizations past, and the thrill of discovering them together make museums great places to visit on a honeymoon. Since New York City has more than its share of the world's most distinguished museums -- and there's no way you can see them all -- here's help in deciding which ones to visit if you're in Gotham. To ensure your time is well spent, take this whirlwind tour of the sweetest spots in (museum) town before you go -- and keep in mind that in some cases, admisssion is free if you enter a museum late in the day.
1. It Sparkles! It Glitters! And It's Under 24-Hour Armed Guard!
American Museum of Natural History (Central Park West at 79th Street), recognized as one of the world's preeminent scientific and educational institutions, illuminates millions of years of evolution with its more than 30 million artifacts and specimens.
Must-See: Hall of Gems and Minerals: Filled with priceless rocks, this is one place not to compare your engagement ring.
Impressive: Two Dinosaur Halls with approximately 100 specimens, including genuine Tyrannosaurus rex and Brontosaurus fossils.
If Time Permits: Spend it viewing larger-than-life Imax films or star-gazing in the Hayden Planetarium.
3. Design for Living
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institution (91st Street and Fifth Avenue, 212-860-6868 ) is the only museum in America dedicated exclusively to historical and contemporary design. Inside the neo-Georgian mansion built in 1902 (it once belonged to Andrew Carnegie), the museum's collection today encompasses 250,000 + objects representing applied arts and industrial design, drawings and prints, textiles, and wallcoverings .
Must See: The tranquil Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden. Go when the weather's nice, and you've got yourselves a romantic and private outdoor refuge in the middle of Manhattan. It's surrounded by a high wrought-iron fence, abloom with flowers, shaded by graceful old trees, and dotted with restful benches.
If Time Permits: Check out the museum's 100 years of Design for Life online.
3. From Days of Old, When Knights Were Bold...
Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, 212-535-7710) is one of the largest and most distinguished museums in the world. Its collections include more than two million works of art -- several hundred thousand of which are on view at any given time -- spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present. Check the calendar to see what shows will be up when you visit.
Must-See: The Arms and Armor Gallery in the Equestrian Court is one of its most romantic spots. Filled with 14,000 objects and many exquisitely restored suits of armor, it evokes the days when gallant knights made it their business to save maidens in distress. (And it couldn't have been easy with all that clinking and clanking.)
Special Place: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, usually open from the beginning of May through the end of October, weather permitting. One of the most dramatic outdoor spots in New York City, this sculpture-filled garden offers unparalleled views of the city skyline.
If Time Permits: Extending two city blocks, the Galleries for the Arts of South and Southeast Asia present some 1,300 works from more than a dozen countries and feature a Cambodian Khmer-style courtyard.
Souvenir Opportunity: The museum's extensive gift shop features many unique and wonderful items and reproductions. There's even a section for Romance Jewelry. Browse in person or online.
4. Is It Minimalist Art...or Is It My Prix-Fixe Dinner?
Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, 212-708-9400) holds the world's largest and most inclusive collection of modern painting and sculpture, comprising some 3,200 works dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day. The collection represents a comprehensive overview of the major artists and movements since the 1880s, from Cézanne's Bather and van Gogh's Starry Night to masterworks of today.
Must See: The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden.
If Time Permits: Visit the museum's online projects.
Souvenir Opportunity: In addition to its large selection of books on art and architecture, the Moma Design Store (44 West 53 Street) carries authorized reproductions of furniture and design classics. Some of the tabletop, home, personal accessories, jewelry, stationery, and toys for sale are also represented in the Museum's design collection. A Frank Lloyd Wright collection comprises five table lamps, along with a cherrywood Taliesin dining table, S.C. Johnson oval desk, and an assortment of wooden chairs.