Growing up on Long Island, we never ran out of things to do! Long Island has an extensive history – from “The Gold Coast,” to miles of rocky beaches on the North Shore and white sandy beaches on the South Shore, to lighthouses, trails, museums, and restaurants, you will never be bored (or hungry!) during your time here. I’m so happy we have the opportunity to raise our daughter here, and share all that we love about this diverse Island with her. It was a difficult task to narrow it down, but here are my top ten things to do on Long Island with kids!
1. Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, Riverhead. The aquarium has endless fun and educational opportunities for the kids! They have indoor and outdoor exhibits, a butterfly exhibit, a sea lion show, and a Penguin Egg Hunt during the springtime. They also have an Interactive Salt Marsh, a Scientist for a Day program, and a Sleep with the Fishes sleepover!
2. Long Island Children’s Museum, Garden City. A hands-on museum created just for kids, that has different spaces geared towards different learning abilities. For the kids to get some energy out, there are the “TotSpot” and “Climb It” spaces. Kids can step inside a giant bubble at the “Bubble” exhibit, broadcast the news and create animation at “Communication Station,” as well as explore the rotating exhibits.
3. The Cradle of Aviation, Garden City. With over 30 hands-on exhibits, cockpits to climb into, a planetarium, Dome Theater, and a carousel, it’s difficult to experience all the Cradle of Aviation has to offer in one day! New to this already extensive facility is the Junior Jet Club. This space is specifically designed for young kids up to age 6, where they can command cockpits, as well as enjoy the many hands-on aerospace themed spaces.
4. Long Island Game Farm, Manorville. This Wildlife Park and Zoo offers many opportunities for families to learn about animals through exhibits, education, and entertainment. In addition to visiting each exhibit, you can take a ride on the train, feed the baby animals, and take a pony ride!
5. Greenport’s Antique Carousel, Greenport. Greenport is a picturesque old town on the North Shore of Long Island. The carousel in Greenport is over 100 years old and enclosed in glass to protect it from the salt water. Take a ride on the carousel and enjoy the beautiful park. After, stop off at Sandpiper Ice Cream for some homemade ice cream (142 Main Street)! You’ve been walking around Long Island with kids – you deserve a treat, right?
6. Fairs, Festivals, and Farmer’s Markets. No matter the season you are here, there is always something to attend! Most of the fire departments on Long Island host their own “Fireman’s Fair” at some point throughout the summer months. If you’re around in the fall months, Northport’s Cow Harbor Day is a do-not-miss event! It’s hosted right in the heart of this quaint village. Main Street is closed off to cars and all the shops and restaurants bring their business outside to the street. Farmer’s Markets are hosted year-round on Long Island and locals definitely take advantage of the amazing local produce and seafood!
7. Montauk Lighthouse, Montauk. The first lighthouse in New York State and the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States! Located on the easternmost point of Long Island, the historical society has been working hard to help preserve this historic landmark. Get in your daily workout by climbing the 137 iron steps to the top, or take advantage of the beautiful ocean views as far as the eye can see by walking the trail around the lighthouse.
8. Fire Island. Ready for a day of adventure on Long Island with kids? Take one of the three ferries from the South Shore over to Fire Island! This tiny island is actually a barrier in-between Long Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Check out the endless beautiful beaches, amazing outdoor restaurants, and charming gift shops. Fun fact: With the exception of emergency and service vehicles, there are no cars allowed on Fire Island! From biking through town, enjoying the beaches and water activities, decorating sea shells, to hiking in the Sunken Forest, Fire Island is Long Island’s own secret getaway!
9. Seal Walk, Oakdale. A perfect activity to enjoy the cooler winter months! Bundle up, get some exercise and fresh air, and see these amazing animals up close in their natural habitats. Make sure you make reservations, as spots fill up quickly!
10. Restaurants. Long Island has an abundance of restaurants to choose from, with every type of cuisine imaginable! Here are some local favorites: Skipper’s Pub, Northport. Located right on Main Street in the village of Northport, this charming “American” style restaurant boasts their famous fish and chips. The Library Café, Farmingdale. Their burgers are a must-try, as well as their signature martinis! Cool Water Grill, Bay Shore. Located right near the water, Cool Water has many great options, from burgers to seafood!
Got other favorite things to do or see when you’re on Long Island with kids? Leave them in the comments!