Looking for a fun afternoon exploring New York? Let’s visit The Met Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park!
When we were shut out of our first attempt to attend a taping of Rachael Ray’s television show last month, we had to quickly find a Plan B. Because, after all, when three moms have carved out a bit of free time, we weren’t about to head back home defeated.
And so that’s how we ended up at The Met Cloisters. It was about a half hour drive from the Chelsea Studios of Rachael Ray, and after a friend had mentioned her visit last year, it had been on my list of “things to do,” but had never quite made it to the top of the list.
There are two smaller parking lots that we saw, and on a Spring weekday, the first lot was already full, so if you’re going on a weekend or in the Summer months, I would target for arriving earlier to make sure there’s a place for you to park. The parking was free and easy to find, and we soon made our way to the building.
There are a number of winding staircases leading up to the main entry way, and as we climbed the staircases, various signage indicated that admission was “donation only.”
Well, it turns out, that it is and it isn’t.
It was donation only for, if I remember correctly, New York residents, and NY and NJ students, but that was sort of written in fine print and not exactly clear. And we argued the point at the front desk, and later with a manager, because they actually wanted $25 per person for admission.
When we first paid, we just chalked it up to not reading the sign clearly enough, but after we spent our time touring the grounds, we asked for a manager. To be honest, a number of the areas of the tour were closed for renovations or other reasons, and $25 seemed awfully steep. I’m ALL for donations, but everything needs to be actually accessible. The manager wasn’t exactly friendly nor customer service-oriented, but gave us free passes if we wanted to return (um, not likely).
So, all that being said, it was still a reasonably enjoyable visit, and if you’re in the area, looking for a beautiful spot for a picnic and solitude, or are into history, even more so.
The Met Cloisters are a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and it is a good source of the history, art, and architecture of medieval Europe. With a view of the Hudson River, it’s a quiet place tucked away into the hills of New York. The design of the actual building mimics medieval architecture as well, and the gardens have many medieval plantings.
The building was provided very generously by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1925. A lot of the collection featured at The Met Cloisters is from George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor. He traveled a lot in Europe and bought many medieval sculptures and architectural pieces, which have been woven into the grounds at The Met Cloisters since it opened in 1938.
The property is open 7 days a week and closed only three times a year (Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day).
99 Margaret Corbin Drive
Fort Tryon Park
New York NY 10040
For more places to visit all around New York, both in the city and upstate, you can check out my New York-themed Pinterest board right here.