Cradle of Aviation Museum Garden City, NY
The Cradle of Aviation Museum name reflects Long Island’s aviation legacy. After all, Charles Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt Field, which is on Long Island, and both Grumman and Republic Aircraft were here, makers of some of the most iconic warbirds of World War II. In fact, among the 75 warbirds in this fine museum you’ll see almost all of the Grumman “cats” — the F-4 Wildcat, F-6 Hellcat, and the F-14 Tomcat — plus a Grumman F-11 Tigercat (painted in the colors of the Blue Angeles in the air above you as you walk into this glass-and-steel masterpiece).
Your visit here is somewhat of a clockwise walk through a history of flight starting with hot air balloons and the mere dream of flight and continuing through commercial airliners, combat aircraft, and on into space. There are eight exhibit halls chock full of beautifully staged dioramas most with aircraft and helicopters. There is a planetarium and a domed theater that will overwhelm your senses (and give you a bit of vertigo) but they’re right next to the café where you can stop for a cold drink while you contemplate on Mars in some distant future (the wall murals in their Red Planet Café depict the landscape of Mars).
The inventory of aircraft will amaze including the Grumman cats plus Republic’s Thunderchief and Thunderbolt. There is also an A-10 Warthog, an A-6 Intruder, and an F9F Panther, with10 different cockpits to sit in, plus 30 different hands-on exhibits — but who is counting? In any event, plan on spending a half day here and enjoying every minute of it. There’s also a nice museum shop for a special souvenir.
Hours: Tues-Sun: 9:30am – 5pm
Closed MondayVisit museum website