Looking for a wide variety of things to do on Long Island with your kids? Whether you’re a local or vacationing, find over 30 local recommendations!
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Despite its small size, densely populated Long Island offers more to do than one may think, especially for families and children. We’re more than just beaches.
Discover a hidden lavender field, a giant duck on the side of the highway, presidential summer homes and more recommendations that go beyond the cliché Hamptons beaches, country clubs, and golf courses.
Long Island is more than swanky towns and polo matches. Sure, those are all in abundance – along with overprices Sweet 16s and twelve year olds with designer handbags. But, despite what you may read, Long Island boasts plenty of beautiful coast line, farmland, American history, and family fun.
As someone who was born and raised on Long Island – then had my own children there – I can promise you one thing: I’ve got you covered!
Maybe you’re taking a day trip from Manhattan. Perhaps you’re looking to book a summer vacation? Are you local and searching for more activities to keep the little ones busy?
From protected shoreline to indoor museums to adventure parks, there’s no shortage of fun for all ages. Most of the wineries are even family friendly…
Learn our favorite spots to:
- Soak in the sun and sand
- Get a dose of Long Island history
- Beat the head or rain or snow indoors
- Find farmland and animals
- and more!
Things To Do Outdoors On Long Island With Kids
If there’s one thing you must do on Long Island, it’s visit the beach! Famous for sand dunes, boardwalks, and natural, eroded coast line, Long Island beaches are some of the country’s most beautiful.
Not all beaches are created equal on Long Island, though. Being born and raised on Long Island has taught me that.
Is there a boardwalk for your stroller? Bathrooms? Is it rocky or sandy? And which ones are fun for kids? Which are wild, preserved shoreline vs. fancy beaches in ritzy communities? I could go on.
Here’s a quick rundown of some popular Long Island beaches:
- The Rocky North Shore – I’m generalizing the North Shore here but the beaches are typically smaller and located in inlets. One of my favorite North Shore beaches is Orient Beach State Park, which has a playground.
- Long Beach and Lido Beach – Long Beach is a popular south shore beach community with a long boardwalk, plenty of restaurants, playgrounds, and beach amenities. Long Beach is very family friendly during the day and ideal for adults at night. Families looking for a top rated beach playground will adore Lido Beach.
- Jones Beach and Robert Moses – also on the South Shore, Jones Beach and Robert Moses are state parks. Jones Beach has recently undergone a major revitalization, now offering zip lining, sports, water parks, restaurants, and more in addition to its world famous boardwalk. Robert Moses boasts an 18 hole pit-and-putt golf course, perfect for young golfers. Both state park beaches have plenty of parking and facilities.
- Hamptons Beaches – numerous beaches line the coast of Long Island’s popular Hamptons communities. Some of my favorites are Coopers in Southampton, which is consistently top rated in America and Cupsogue in Westhampton, which features Long Island’s iconic dunes. Driving along Dune Road will yield plenty of other beaches.
- Montauk – affectionately called The End, Montauk sits all the way out on Long Island’s east end. Ditch Plains Beach is popular for swimming and surfing while Kirk Park Beach is more centrally located to downtown Montauk with restrooms.
- Fire Island National Seashore – along the south coast of Long Island sits a twenty six mile stretch of protected barrier beach. Fire Island National Seashore is diverse, offering natural landscapes, a sunken maritime forest, the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse, and beach communities such as Ocean Beach, Saltaire, and Kismet. Spending the day or even a week on Fire Island presents a lot to do for kids.
Montauk Point Lighthouse is the oldest on Long Island and the fourth oldest in the country. Visiting the lighthouse truly engrosses one in Long Island maritime history. Like the Fire Island Lighthouse, climbing the steps to the top has a height requirement of 41″.
Kids will love visiting the rocky beach below, even though swimming is prohibited.
Camp at Hither Hills
Do you even live on Long Island if you haven’t camped at Hither Hills in Montauk? Ok, I actually have never camped here but I’ve visited…
Hither Hills is popular for RV and tent camping, fishing, a playground, and the “walking dunes” of Napeague Harbor. Vacationers can also enjoy biking and equestrian trails, playing fields, water sports, and swimming. It’s no wonder this campsite is a popular Long Island family vacation destination.
- Learn more about Hither Hills State Park
Visit Fire Island
Fire Island National Seashore, a barrier beach off of Long Island’s south shore, boasts 26 miles of protected shoreline. Visitors will find pristine beaches, sand dunes, boardwalks, docks, and a true sunken maritime forest.
Perfect for a day trip or a weekend away, Fire Island’s beach communities offer rentals, shops, restaurants, and more. Accessible only by ferry and with no public roads, communities like Kismet and Ocean Beach preserve the quintessential beach feel of Fire Island while offering plenty of facilities for families.
Thinking about setting up shop or taking a day trip to Fire Island? Check out our top recommendations for the popular beach community, Ocean Beach here.
Fire Island Lighthouse
The Fire Island Lighthouse is a destination in and of itself. Though very little children cannot climb the steep 182 steps to the top, they will certainly enjoy the hands on maritime museum on the first few floors.
We personally love visiting the lighthouse off-season to avoid crowds. Regardless, this iconic lighthouse is a must-see and easily accessibly for families. The short boardwalk (less than one mile) from parking lot to lighthouse is stroller friendly, pet friendly, and flat.
For a fun, classic Long Island afternoon, grab a bacon, egg, and cheese from a local bagel shop, walk to the lighthouse, and enjoy your lunch on Lighthouse Beach, just footsteps from the lighthouse.
- Learn more about The Fire Island Lighthouse
Fishing from Captree
Captree State Park, on the eastern tip of Jones Beach, is home to New York’s largest fishing fleet. Join an open boat or charter your own vessel for a day of saltwater fishing. Regardless, the boating staff provides everything necessary; no equipment or licenses are needed.
Scuba diving and sightseeing tours are also available, as well as a restaurant and picnic area with amazing views of Fire Island. Captree is famous for having the best chili dogs around, too.
- Learn more about Captree
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve
Part colonial history, part preserve, Caumsett is a must visit for anyone looking for a diverse Long Island landscape.
The large park contains walking and bridle paths, a salt marsh, gardens, rocky shoreline, and fishing and diving (with permit). Caumsett is popular for birdwatching and nature study.
The main house, built in 1711 presents an interpretation of Long Island life during colonial times and is still preserved by the local historical society.
- Learn more about Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve
Bethpage State Park
Bethpage State Park is my particular favorite, perhaps because I grew up just a few minutes away and have a ton of memories there.
Vast and diverse, Bethpage offers more to do on Long Island than one can experience in a single visit. From polo matches to equestrian trails to the five world class golf courses, it’s a must-see when on Long Island.
Without a doubt, older children (and golf loving adults) will enjoy at least viewing the famous Bethpage Black Course, home to multiple PGA tournaments and championships. While the Black Course is pricy and difficult, four other courses are available for golfers.
Younger children will enjoy spending the day at the playground, with a picnic lunch, and the somewhat hidden children’s nature garden.
Sunken Meadow State Park
Sitting on the North Shore, Sunken Meadow State Park offers exceptional views of the Long Island Sound and even Connecticut. Sunken Meadow Creeks runs through the park to tidal flats, emptying into the Nissequogue River. South of the flats vistors can find wooded rolling hills.
Sunken Meadow is popular among families for its large picnic area and exceptionally calm swimming waters. Playgrounds and a 3/4 mile boardwalk are available, as well.
- Learn more about Sunken Meadow State Park
Visit an Arboretum
There are quite a few arboretums and botanical gardens scattered across Long Island. Children will love running through fields, seeing different flowers and trees, and interacting with nature.
Bailey Arboretum offers a hands on ‘children’s habitat’ where kids can climb, explore, and create. Admission is free and dogs and picnics are welcome. Other popular gardens are Bayard Cutting, Old Westbury Gardens, and Planting Fields.
Lavender by the Bay
Between Greenport and Orient, on the North Fork, is a beautiful lavender field. Walk through the field and inhale the aromas or shop the many lavender products available. Children will enjoy frolicking in this tucked away gem before spending a day at the beach or state park.
- Learn more about Lavender by the Bay
Farms and Animals
Long Island Aquarium
The Long Island aquarium features both indoor and outdoor exhibits containing various Long Island marine life, turtles, coral, butterflies, bugs, reptiles, owls, seals, otters, and more. Children love the interactive touch tank and the penguin encounter, too.
Additional adventure activities, like boat tours, behind the scenes experiences, and bug encounters, are available for a fee.
With plenty of exhibits and other things to do nearby, the Long Island aquarium is a perfect stop during a day trip or east end weekend with your kids. Plus, admission is free for your birthday!
- Learn more about The Long Island Aquarium
Long Island Game Farm
The Long Island Game Farm is home to over 200 animals, including kangaroos, the only lemurs born on Long Island, and an 18 foot giraffe. Wander the nature trails that weave their way through exhibits or enjoy the carnival rides located throughout the wildlife park.
Young children will especially love the please touch motto in petting zoo and interactive areas. The Long Island Game Farm is unique in comparison to other hands-off zoos in that visitors can feed many animals, as well, including the giraffe!
- Learn more about The Long Island Game Farm
White Post Farm
Perfect for young children, White Post Animal Farm and petting zoo is sure to be a hit. Not only will children love animal exhibits like Giraffe Station, Primate Barn, and Bird Landing, they can enjoy cooling off on the water slides or take part in many of the special events.
- Learn more about White Post Farm
Harbes truly has it all! Stop by the Mattituck farm stand (and snag some cider donuts!), play at the Barnyard Adventure, visit the orchard, or chill out at their family friendly vineyard. A Long Island family staple, Harbes also features many annual events, like the Pumpkin Festival, Apple Festival, and Watermelon Festival, that are great for kids and families.
- Learn more about Harbes
If you’re visiting Long Island in the fall and looking to enjoy more farms for apple and pumpkin picking, check out this post on where to go picking on Long Island.
Museum and Historical Sites on Long Island to Visit with Kids
The Big Duck
Did you know that there’s literally a giant duck sitting between Long Island’s North and South Fork? Originally constructed to draw attention tot he local duck farm, it’s now a gift shop and visitor’s center.
The Big Duck, listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, is one of the most unique things to do on Long Island with your kids.
- Learn more about The Big Duck
The Long Island Children’s Museum
The Long Island Children’s Museum contains fourteen interactive exhibits full of things to do for kids of all ages. Some exhibits are continuous, including music, tinkering, bubbles, sand, and a climbing gym. Others rotate to feature topics such as dinosaurs, science, art, animals, and more.
A tot spot for smaller children is available, as well as an outdoor garden and water play area during the warmer months.
- Learn more about The Long Island Children’s Museum
Children’s Museum of the East End
The Children’s Museum of the East End, of CMEE, provides play and imaginative experiences for children’s of all ages and abilities. Located on the eastern end of Long Island, CMEE is a great stop when visiting Montauk or the Hamptons with kids.
Children love seafaring on the ship, dropping in to the art studio, playing in the indoor playground, and golfing the 9 hole mini golf course.
- Learn more about CMEE
Cradle of Aviation
The Cradle of Aviation is affectionately known as Long Island’s very own air and space museum.
With over 75 space crafts and eight exhibits, the museum chronicles over 100 years of aviation. Children will love seeing and climbing in some of the airplanes and watching the hot air balloon fly! Young children can enjoy an aviation themed play area, as well.
- Learn more about The Cradle of Aviation
The American Air Power Museum
In addition to The Cradle of Aviation, Long Island is home to The American Air Power Museum. Sitting on a historic airfield, this museum features aircrafts and exhibits on WWII specific aviation. Some of the planes are outfitted for tinkering and climbing.
- Learn more about The American Air Power Museum
Nassau County Fire Fighter’s Museum
Small but exciting, the Nassau County Fire Fighter’s Museum features hands on exhibits and antique fire trucks and gear. Through play, children will learn about fire safety and and the importance of our first responders.
Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
Part museum, part outdoor adventure, Garvies Point is dedicates to the education and preservation of Long Island’s glacial and cultural history. The indoor exhibits offer an opportunity to learn about Long Island’s geological and archeological history, while 62 acres of glacial moraine contain five marked trails. Many of the exhibits are interactive; children will have a lot more fun learning about rocks than you might think!
- Learn more about Garvies Point
Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
The Eagle’s Nest summer estate of William K. Vanderbilt sits on 43 acres, overlooking Long Island’s Gold Coast. Not just another Gold Coast mansion, however, the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium is dedicated to education, even fore children.
Visitors can walk through Vanderbilt’s art and furniture, collected from his travels, see his curations and artifacts in the natural history museum, stroll the gardens, and enjoy the marine museum. Most popular among children, though, is the Vanderbilt Planetarium, which offers daily shows.
- Learn more about the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
Sagamore Hill was the summer home of 26th US President, Theodore Roosevelt. Explore his house, antiques, and hunting trophies, along with the 83 acres surrounding the property.
Children can also enjoy participating in Junior Ranger activities to learn more about nature, geography, and art.
- Learn more about Sagamore Hill
Old Bethpage Village Restoration
Old Bethpage Restoration living history museum designed to give visitors an opportunity to experience 19th century Long Island. Children especially get a kick out of the old one room school!
In addition, visitors can enjoy old time baseball games or visit during the Long Island Fair, an annual event held on the restoration. My personal favorite, though, are the holiday evening events. During Christmas, enjoy carols and cider while the entire village comes alive by candlelight!
- Learn more about Old Bethpage Village Restoration
Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum
Long Island’s whaling history is brought forth in this interactive and family friendly museum. Hoist a sail, plan a voyage, and experience life as a whaler. I even remember, as a kid, doing scrimshaw artwork at this incredibly unique Long Island museum.
- Learn more about Cold Spring Harbor’s Whaling Museum
Family Amusement Parks
Fairs and Carnivals
Long Island loves its pop up fairs and carnivals. And honestly, who doesn’t enjoy a day our with the kids full rides, games, crafts, and indulgent food!?
A few of my favorite annual festivals are:
Adventureland has been Long Island’s #1 amusement park since the 1960s! From roller coasters to water rides to kiddie attractions, Adventurland has something for everyone.
- Learn more about Adventureland
Bayville Adventure Park
This smaller adventure park sits on the North Shore, overlooking the Long Island Sound. During the warmer months, visitors can enjoy rock climbing, a ropes course, mini golf, and more.
One of my favorite things to do on Long Island is visit the adventure park with our kids, then grab gyros at the small greek place next door and sit at the beach across the street!
- Learn more about Bayville Adventure Park
With over 20 water slides, two wave pools, a lazy river, and an area for young children, it’s no wonder Splish Splash is a summer staple on Long Island. Beat the heat and heat out east during your next Long Island summer trip.
- Learn more about Splish Splash
Have you been to Long Island? Did you know that there were so many fun and diverse things to do on Long Island with your kids? Will you be adding Long Island to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments, and feel free to reach out with any questions or requests for recommendations.
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