Summer is here! And for many parents, that means planning an abundance of activities that are fun for not only the kids but the whole family. With exciting things to do all over Long Island, it can be a difficult narrowing down the best options. Check out our favorite ‘kid-approved’ spots and activities that are sure to get everyone’s heart rate and excitement levels up!
Fire Island Family Friendly Communities
Fire Island is a nationally recognized gem, right in our backyard. Beautiful beaches and active communities make day trips, weekend adventures, or full summer vacations a great choice close to home. And this year, the National Park Park Service is celebrating its centennial anniversary, so there will be tons to do!
Almost anywhere that you’re allowed to visit on Long Island is accessible by a trip over the Robert Moses Causeway, or a 25-minute ferry trip across the Great South Bay. An adult round trip will cost $19, a children’s round trip will run you $9 for kids ages 2-11. Parking is free if you live in the Town of Brookhaven, or $10 per day if you don’t.
While Fire Island has some private communities that don’t allow visitors, you can’t even reach some of them without a long hike from the main boardwalks. From west to east, these communities would love to host you, and kids will love to explore them!
A fun monument to visit day or night, you can venture right to the top of the 180-foot tall structure. Though the lighthouse is open all-year-round for visitors in any weather, we recommend the summertime so that you can enjoy the local beaches too!
The first village on Fire Island to incorporate, Saltaire has lots of recreational opportunities for sports and games if you’re planning on coming for more than just a beach day, but don’t want to encounter the visitors who are also looking for parties.
Where you go to get away from it all, Fair Harbor is what Manhattanites picture when they think of Fire Island. The views from the harbor’s dock at sunset are unlike any other.
The amount of amenities in Ocean Beach make it the hub of activity on Fire Island’s western front. Any day spent at Ocean Beach is a fun-filled day, but check their community calendar for special summer events.
Parents of young children will be excited to hear that Seaview beaches come equipped with lifeguards! Alongside the beautiful Fire Island beaches, there is a playground with a pool that facilitates swimming lessons offered by the town association.
Take a trip through the unique wildlife offered by a forest before sea level. Elevated boardwalks provide a glimpse into woodlands that have been deemed “globally rare,” by the New York Natural Heritage Program.
With its own ferry service whose prices vary just slightly from the Bayshore boats, the public beaches at Davis Park are loaded with kids of all ages, soaking in the sun just across the Bay from Patchogue.
Kid Friendly Botanical Gardens on Long Island
Grounds are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Throughout the summer programs specifically for children and families are held in over 400 acres of gardens and greenhouses. From educational exhibitions to hands-on programs and shows, children 12 and under can enjoy these events for free!
The Gardens hosts their very own summer camp consisting of three sessions of programs each with a very specific area of focus; science, art, or history. For those more interested in a day trip through Old Westbury, they’re open from April 25 to October 31 (except Tuesdays), from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and offers guided tours through the Westbury house and gardens. Otherwise, stroll through the house and gardens with the self-guided brochures provided.
Kids and families are encouraged to visit the arboretum in the summer, where the miles of walking paths near and along the Connetquot River make for a scenic and serene day. You could take the tour through the estate of William Bayard Cutting, or end up at the Hidden Oak Café. Open Tuesday – Sunday, parking is $8 and a walk along one of the eight colored trails is free.
Long Island Theme Parks
Anyone who grew up on Long Island probably recalls a trip to a theme park or two. Customarily, days spent at theme parks also include a trip to the food court. Keeping your family's health in mind, the Long Island Health Collaborative always recommends checking the culinary options before you go and making a plan about your lunch and snacks. If the park rules allow, pack water and healthy lunch options to keep kids moving all day!
You’ve seen it from Route 110, now see it for yourself! The inspiration for the 2009 film starring Jesse Eisenberg, Adventureland offers every kind of ride for every sort of visitor. Thrill rides like the classic Pirate Ship and the intense “Frisbee,” are complemented by family rides and even kiddie rides! A train ride will take you on a tour of the park, past the water park and flume ride, and attractions like bungy jumping and outdoor games!
Open most days at 11 a.m. from May to August, check the park calendar for holidays and special events. Rides work on a ticket system, with different rides costing different amounts of tickets. A most cost-effective option is the Pay One Price bracelet for $29.99.
Water rides galore! Splish Splash water park boasts award-winning rides and the “internationally acclaimed” parrot shows, this year hosting the Bird Olympic Summer Games! A whole section of the park is dedicated to interactive Kiddie Rides, like the Pirates Cove ship and water cannons, or the shipwrecked Monsoon Lagoon, for those 54” inches and under.
The park schedule directly revolves around the standard Long Island schools’ summer vacation, with the first open weekday at the end of June. A general admission day pass is $42.99, with season tickets and fast passes available for purchase at the gate or online, along with discount days and senior admission rates.
Quick, head there now! There are baby animals at the barn in celebration of the spring season opening. The Long Island Game Farm has 25 acres of petting zoos and hand feeding sites, with educational opportunities every step of the way.
Open now through September 5, tickets for children under 12 are $14.95, and adult tickets are $16.95. Check the 2016 rates for senior and military discounts, and pay attention to their Facebook page for coupons!
You might think ice-skating is a winter sport, but there are some great options for a summer day on the ice on Long Island.
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Known for the Friday night “Rock & Roll” skating session from 8:15 -10:15 p.m., The Rinx is open mostly in the day time until the end of June, as they share the two full-sized rinks with youth hockey leagues and skating lessons. Children under 11 can get on the ice for just $9, with skate rentals for another $5. Accompanying adult tickets are $11.50. But your ticket automatically enters you for a chance to win raffle prizes, so hold onto it!
With lots of opportunities for training sessions and their own hockey league, the Long Island Royals, Superior Ice has a lot of history in their rink. Public skating times are typically only Wednesdays, Friday nights, and mid-day weekends, but change depending on holidays and school vacations. Skates can be rented for $4, with adult and children's tickets running $9 and $7.
Previously Twin Rinks, the Northwell Health Ice Center is the home of Northwell’s Adult and Youth House Leagues. There are tons of programs offered at this facility, including summer hockey camp and skating school, but public sessions are available at a similar price and on a similar basis to other local rinks, on the weekend and limited during the week. Check their Open Skate calendar for available times.
Ready, Set, Explore Long Island!
What are you waiting for? Get the kids ready and head right out the door to take advantage of these Long Island, kid-friendly activities! And when you and your loved ones are back from the fun-filled day, sign onto your Are You Ready, Feet?™ to log your steps, miles, and activity for a chance to win prizes when you reach your goals!
Learn more about the Long Island Health Collaborative and why getting involved today benefits you and the Long Island community!