It’s August already and the back to school supplies are packed in backpacks and ready to go. There’s only a few short weeks of summer vacation remaining. Now is the time to get those last minute day trips to the East End before school starts, and we’ve listed some ideas that are not only provide family fun, but are also beautiful to visit.
Visit Gosman’s marina and shops for an early lunch before heading to one of the many stunning beaches for the afternoon. After relaxing, head out to one of the many hiking trails for the glorious late summer Long Island ocean views. Go back into town for a dinner of freshly caught seafood and local vegetables. A day in Montauk is a world class getaway in less than a 2 hour drive. Read Long Island Mamas Insider’s Guide for things to do in Montauk with kids.
Take the kids to Mitchell Park for a ride on the antique carousel then stroll the town visiting and browsing the many funky, upscale and eclectic shops. Have lunch at one of the fabulous restaurants in town then grab an ice cream cone with the kids at an ice cream shop. In less than a 10 minute drive, Orient Point beckons with its stunning beach and expansive views. Spend the latter part of the afternoon stretched on the sand while the kids play on the play structures right on the sand then head back to Greenport for a late sunset dinner with delicious local cuisine. Read Long Island Mamas Insider’s Guide for things to do in Greenport with kids.
Sag Harbor / Noyack
Take a ride to the Elizabeth Morton National Wildlife Refuge in Noyack and hike the short trails to the beach while searching for pretty birds and the wildlife that reside there. Explore the tidal flats, ponds, saltwater marshes and more. Then drive a few miles east and hit up the lovely town of Sag Harbor where families can gape at the amazing yachts docked, enjoy delightful local food, visit many fun and beautiful stores including a great toy store for the kids, and even spend an hour or so at the Whaling Museum.
Dune Road. Westhampton. Those 3 words are enough to conjure up an image of Long Island’s gorgeous beaches and equally gorgeous beach houses. On 296 acres, this barrier beach park is an ocean lover’s delight, and for those seeking the fine white sand the South Shore is known to offer, this IS the place to be. The Beach Hut offers quick tasty food and a funky beach vibe. Grab a dinner there after a long day jumping the waves and just revel in the open air while the sun sets.
Right across the street from each other is the Children’s Museum of the East End and the South Shore Nature Center. Visitors can spend about an hour at the nature center and then take the family over to the children’s museum for an additional two hours or so of fun and exploring. After the museums, drive back into town and take some time to walk and explore the shops.
Farm Stands on the North Fork
On Sound Avenue, every few miles offers another local farm stand where families can stock up on local produce, honey, jellies and baked goods. Usually they have small play areas for kids and some have beautiful gift shops (early Christmas shopping anyone?). There are also a few, like Harbes Family Farms and Garden of Eve Organic Farm to name just two, that house small farm animals the kids love to watch and interact with.
Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center
What’s summer without an aquarium visit? The only aquarium in Suffolk County, this place has a lot to offer families. Enjoy a full day of indoor and outdoor fun including touch tanks, a sea lion show, penguin feeding show and talk, shark tunnel, rock climbing wall, arcade, ride and more. Kids can wade in the marsh with horseshoe crabs and other sea creatures. Don’t miss the monkeys out back! There’s even a new exhibit with bats and sloths plus the butterfly exhibit in the hotel next door promises to be exciting. Read Long Island Mama’s full review of the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center.
For families who haven’t taken the day to get soaked yet, now is the time to do it. Splish Splash in Riverhead is nothing short of amazing, soaking wet fun for families. From thrilling tube rides, gentle slides and giant dumping buckets to family raft rides, there are many areas to explore. Each one provides a chance to experience the exhilarating fun of being soaked head to toe. Two giant wave pools, several kiddie pools, a bird show and a large food court round it out. Splish Splash is one of Long Island’s most exciting places to visit!
By Debra Ferrie