The Metropolitan Museum of art - on 5th Avenue at 82nd St - is one of the world's great museums. It's got something of everything, and it's essentially free. You enter the Met by going up the gigantic, imposing marble staircase facing Fifth Avenue. (There's a special entrance for the disabled around to the right.) The stairs themselves are a New York institution, a good place to hang out and watch the world, eating a hot salted pretzel or an ice cream cone from one of the vendors on the sidewalk.
Once you're in the lobby, though, you may feel confused, because it's not instantly clear where to go next. This is because you have a lot of options. There are coat checks immediately to the left and right of the doors - you're required to check any large packages; it's free, but the lines may take a long time. There are admissions kiosks directly ahead of the entry doors, and also to the left and right. It doesn't matter where you get your entry ticket.
Suggested admission is high: $20 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, though kids under 12 are free. But the beauty of it is that the fee is only suggested. They'll let you in for a quarter, if that's all you can afford to pay. (Not that I'm recommending it. The Met's a great institution and deserves your money. But if you're on a tight budget, you can still go.)
Whatever you pay to get in, you're getting a lot for your money. The Met has more than anyone can see in one visit. My favorite is the Egyptian wing, which has massive sculptures, mummy cases, little model boats... and finally, as you reach the end, an entire Egyptian temple, the Temple of Dendur, moved to New York from the Nile when the temple was flooded by the building of the Aswan dam. But the Tiffany windows in the American wing are spectacular; the Modern wing contains some fabulous Picassos; there are rooms and rooms of period furniture and nineteenth century paintings and Chinese ceramics, and then there's the Arms and Armor wing, which contains a troop of life-size mounted knights, looking like they're about to gallop off into Central Park.
There are always special exhibits, constantly changing. These are announced on the long banners displayed on the museum's facade, and there are signs throughout the museum pointing you to the exhibits near you. These exhibits are all included in the admission price, though you may choose to rent an audio tour.
There's something for everyone at the Met - and probably something for everyone in the enormous and well-stocked gift shop, too. The museum is closed Mondays. It's open from 9:30am to 5:30pm Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday; Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30am to 9pm.