29 Aug 12 End-of-Summer Activities for Kids in the East End
School is just around the corner. Whether you’ve had an event-filled summer or are quickly realizing that it’s almost gone, here are some family-fun, East End activities for one last hurrah before the school bell rings. We even made sure the fun came with a little extracurricular education prep – just don’t tell that to the kids.
Find Activities to Bring History to Life
Recognized by the New York State Education Department, the museum rests on land once occupied by the Long Island Rail Road Riverhead Yard. It’s an interactive museum with a locomotive, rail car and model exhibits like the Historic Lionel Layout. Kids can rev up the fun with a ride on the historic mini train from the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair. Plus, at the end of August, the Railroad Museum throws its annual Riverhead Railroad Festival. All Aboard!
Native Americans are integral to the history and culture of Long Island. Here on the East End, they celebrate their heritage with the annual Shinnecock Indian Powwow — one of the largest of its kind on the East Coast. Rain or shine, this event hosts Native American art, craft and food vendors, shares history and culture through stories, and throws can’t-miss dance and drum competitions. This year, the fun happens on Labor Day weekend — just in time for the end of summer and the start of a new school year.
Plan an Adventure for Animal Lovers
The Long Island Animal Farm and Petting Zoo is a non-profit organization, and many of the animals here are rescues. But, besides that, it’s a lot of fun for the whole family. You and your kids can enjoy llamas, monkeys, mini horses, emus and much more as you walk through the gardens, enjoy a picnic or let the little ones play on the playgrounds.
A vineyard that’s family friendly and educational? Yes, it’s real, and it’s on the East End. The Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard offers award-winning wines and craft cider in an idyllic setting while the weekend brings in live music. For family fun, Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard lets you bring your dog and pack a picnic. Also, you and the family can take a tour of the horse rescue sanctuary and learn about equine culture.
Get Environmental With Eco-Themed Excursions
Known as the “Jewel of the Peconic,” Mashomack Preserve encompasses over 2,000 acres of coastline, tidal creeks, woodlands, fields and freshwater marshes. It’s easy to see why this East End preserve has significant ecological importance and also why it’s a great outdoor activity for families. It shelters ospreys, red-tailed hawks and Eastern bluebirds, and it has a unique pine swamp area too. Plenty of environmental discoveries await at Mashomack Preserve.
This adventure is a two-for-one as you can enjoy this 51-acre preserved natural environment as well as local history through the Native American Fort Corchaug. Hiking trails are open from dawn to dusk so you can take in farmlands, wetlands and hunt for the many varieties of birds that nest here.
The South Fork Natural History Museum is a wonder inside and out. Packed full of natural habitat and local wildlife exhibits, kids can get hands-on at the Marine Touch Tank and explore outdoors at the Native Butterfly Garden, Native Wildflower Garden, Educational Pond, Vineyard Field Preserve, or the Long Pond Greenbelt. The museum also offers summer programs for a little extra educational fun.
Or, Go Aquatic With Marine Biology Adventures
The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead promises a full day of wonder. There are so many aquatic animals and adventures just waiting for you. Your kids can get up close to alligators, electric eels or a giant octopus, and they can check out the Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit or touch a stingray at Ray Bay. Other special features include seal and sea lion encounters and Mermaid Mondays, where you can swim with a mermaid. The aquarium even offers free admission on birthdays, so if your little one has a summer birthday, this should definitely make your to-do list.
This research and rehabilitation center offers several activities for families that promise both fun and education. For your little ocean lovers, take a Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Center Tour or, for future marine biologists, go behind the scenes with a Marine Mammal Husbandry Tour. For full interactive fun, you can’t miss an Ecology Walking Tour where you can visit marine natural habitats and see the animals up close.
Sneak in Some Exercise
We all know that exercise is important, right? Get a jump start with a fun-filled trip to Splish Splash. You can’t go wrong with kids of all ages since this East End water park offers two wave pools, kiddies zones like Monsoon Lagoon, Yellow Submarine and Pirates Cove, a lazy river and water slides galore. Go swimming and sliding all day at Splish Splash.
Combine Fun with Brain-Boosting Escapades
Give your kids an adrenaline-filled lesson on the science of speed, time and even demolition with a trip to Riverhead Raceway. Known as New York’s NASCAR Home Track, Riverhead Raceway packs in all sorts of events — from stock car races to monster truck shows to demolition derbies including the wild School Bus Destruction. There are even super kid-friendly big wheel races. Don’t miss an extra lesson in physics when the fireworks go off at night!
This fun-filled treat offers lots of learning-through-play opportunities. Squeeze in some math and science while taking a swing at mini-golf or running the museum’s Food Truck and Diner. Let your kids explore their creative side at the drop-in art studio or simply have some imaginative fun along Main Street. The Children’s Museum of the East End also offers drop-off programs for the little ones that blend learning and fun in a structured environment. What a great way for them to enjoy the summer!
Excited yet? Remember, the cold, wintery months will soon be upon us. Plan your end-of-summer activities and soak up a little more summer fun.