Once you drive through the gates of the The Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, NY, you get a stunning panoramic view of Northport Harbor and the Long Island Sound. There are many areas to explore on the 43 acres of land. Besides seeing the Vanderbilt Mansion, one of the last remaining Gold Coast Estates left, you can also go to the Planetarium, a marine museum, natural history habitats, as well as gardens, fountains, and pools that made up the former William K. Vanderbilt II estate. COOL TIP — you can see Connecticut from the balcony next to the planetarium.
The grounds and mansion:
There are many gardens, fountains, reflecting pools and a courtyard to explore. There is even an Egyptian mummy on display at the Mansion and Historic Estate of Natural History Exhibits. Enter the habitat room to see large diagrams that depict animal life from several continents. The 32 foot whale shark is the centerpiece of the room and is the world’s largest taxidermy fish caught right off Fire Island. There are other collections of sea life, fish, birds, insects and butterflies. View replicas of the yachts and other boats that were used to circumnavigate the globe to obtain such rare artifacts. My kids were in awe of all the different sea-life on display in glass cases.
The Marine Museum in the Hall of Fishes:
This building is opened to view a very extensive and privately assembled collection of ocean life. A skeleton of a shark and a sperm whale are hanging from the ceiling and a huge sting ray is spread across a wall.
There are many events happening year-round at the planetarium, but this summer rates were just reduced – because the planetarium will close in August for renovations (it will reopen in the spring). The 236 seat, 60 – foot domed theater offers day and night time schedules for an astronomy program or a laser rock music show. Shows range from 35-45 minutes and excellent for children ages 4 and up. No food, drink or strollers are allowed in the theater. The planetarium is open on Tuesday through Sunday and show times are on the hour beginning at 11am and the last show for the day time schedule is 4pm on week days. Check the website for the schedule.
My children (ages 9, 5, 4) enjoyed exploring the grounds, seeing many species of animals, fish and artifacts from all over the world. Navigating the stairways inside and outside of the estate was fun too. Rolling down massive hills into wide open grassy areas or running across the lawn was a great way for the children to enjoy being outdoors on such a beautiful piece of historical landscape.
If you’re traveling with a stroller, you might have some difficulty navigating on the cobblestone roads, though there are some paved walkways you can use. No food, drink or strollers were allowed inside the mansion and marine museum. But there are picnic tables located by the parking lot, that are somewhat shaded (just bring your own food). There weren’t any food concessions, but there are vending machines for drinks are located by the parking lot and vending machines with snacks and drinks are located in the lobby of the planetarium. Bathrooms are also located by the parking lot and at the planetarium, make sure you bring your own changing pad (there aren’t any baby changing stations). We’d recommend this as a great place to go with kids ages 4 and up.
The Vanderbilt Museum is located at 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport New York 11721
General Admission – required for all Daytime Guests
$7 – Adult $6 – Senior/Student (Student ID or Age 62+) $3 – Child (under 12)
· Includes Estate Grounds Access
· Marine Museum Galleries
· Mansion Memorial Wing Galleries
· Nursery Wing:
o Mansion Video Tour – upon request
o Egyptian Mummy
· Stoll Wing Dioramas
· For a Mansion Tour, add $5 per ticket. For a Planetarium Show, add $4 per ticket. Students/Seniors/Children under 12 add only $3 per ticket. For multiple shows, add $2 per person per show