Though not on the very far east end on Long Island, Port Jefferson is such a great town to visit with the kids, I couldn’t leave it out. Port Jefferson is home to the Maritime Explorium, a hands-on interactive museum that younger kids can explore, experiment and learn at. Read more about the Maritime Explorium here. The town also has a public ice rink that is very popular with families. Enjoy a Saturday or Sunday ice skating followed by a cup of cocoa or a brownie at the Port Jefferson Frigate. Learn more about this great town in our Insiders Guide to Things to Do in Port Jefferson with Kids.
Drive a few miles south of the Port Jefferson Village and let the kids get their energy out at Fun 4 All in Port Jefferson Station. It’s a fun indoor activity center for kids ages 1-13. The facility has bouncers, slides and all sorts of kid friendly climbing areas including basketball and a digging area. They also have a safer, special pre-school play area so the little ones don’t get knocked down. It’s on a half acre, it’s all indoors and has a small cafe for snacks and pizza. Find
In East Hampton, the Buckskill Winter Club offers a public ice skating rink and lessons. The Club also touts a clubhouse with an open fire and soup or hot cocoa. Sounds downright cozy! They also provide junior hockey clinics.
For more ice skating, don’t forget the rink at Mitchell Park and Marina in Greenport which is open weekday afternoons and weekends. Family night is Friday from 5 p.m.- 7 p.m.
In Bridgehampton, the Children’s Museum of the East End is a very fun place to take the kids for a few hours of indoor activities any day of the year (except Tuesdays). It’s mainly for kids ages 2-10, though my 12 year old still enjoys playing with his younger siblings when we go. With several themed spaces including a fire truck kids can climb on, a reading room, and a pretend grocery store (the toddlers love and the popular mock potato chip maker), it’s definitely a hands-on fun spot. My kids love the back room that we call “the messy art room.”
The Children’s Museum on the East End also has what they call an indoor active fun space called Fun to be Fit that has great balancing and climbing gym pieces, a ball pit and large foam blocks made to enhance physical activity. While all kids love to jump and play, it’s best for ages 1-7 and gears itself towards nurturing cognitive and physical development. There’s no dining at the museum, but there are a few vending machines.
Bridgehampton is also home to the South Fork Nature Center, right across from the Children’s museum. It’s a great place to discover nature while staying indoors. Kids can open hidden doors and drawers and play with interactive exhibits to discover the diverse nature of Long Island. Though it’s a small place and not for the very young, school age children will enjoy it and even learn a thing or two. Your field guide will show you around and let you pet some crabs if you dare. There are live reptiles and amphibians, re-created animals and an outdoor deck with telescopes if it’s warm enough.
In the town of Riverhead, Safari Adventure offers open play every day where kids can play, climb and explore the gym mazes and bouncers for as long as they’d like. There’s a cafe and some video games as well.
Riverhead is also home to the wonderful Long Island Aquarium where kids can pet stingrays, get up close with an octopus, search for flounder and learn about the diversity of the Long Island climate. Don’t miss the walk through shark exhibit! It’s a popular spot and Long Island’s only aquarium. The adjoining exhibition center has a butterfly display which you can purchase tickets for as a combo option. We’ve been to the Aquarium so many times and the kids never tire of it. If you live on Long Island, it’s a must-see attraction to visit.
Also in Riverhead is the Long Island Science Center, a fabulous hidden gem. Please note they are open on Saturdays only. It’s small but packed with a plethora of hands-on learning fun and rotating themes. My kids and I visit once or twice a year, and they thoroughly love it. Offering activities based on science, technology, engineering and math, it’s quite the place to explore for inquiring little minds. Kids can blow a giant bubble, play with magnets, dig for bones, touch, see and smell activities, and even build their own mini racers. How about pumping a sluice, building a volcano, listening to a hissing cockroach or wrapping a mummy? All this and more, which is why you can see I enjoy going there and helping the kids with these fun experiments (well, I could do without the cockroach!)
For more on Riverhead, read our Insider’s Guide to Things to Do in Riverhead with Kids.
Enjoy these remaining winter days with the kids on the beautiful East End of Long Island.
By Debra Ferrie