When you think of eastern Long Island, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? If you're like most people, you probably think of the posh and oh-so-pricey Hamptons—that is what most people inquire about when I tell them that I am from eastern Long Island. While Long Island (particularly the Hamptons) is certainly known for being the playground of the rich and famous, you don't need to have a substantial bank account in order to enjoy this lovely location. In fact, if you are interested in taking a trip to Long Island with the family, there are countless things that you can do that will keep everyone entertained—and the best part is that a lot of these activities cost very little or nothing at all!
So, what are some of these family-friendly activities on Long Island that don't cost an arm and a leg? Here's a look at some of my family's favorites:
The Suffolk County Farm
Located just off of exit 67 on the Long Island Expressway in the town of Yaphank is the Suffolk County Farm. This working farm offers a fun-filled day for the family. Visit the charming farm animals, including llamas, cows, pigs, sheep and goats (my personal favorite is Cecelia, the earless La Mancha Goat). Take a wagon ride and learn all about life on the farm. Tour the butterfly house and let the kids play at the awesome Nature Explore Classroom, complete with a dig area, a music area made out of household items and a moored paddle boat (my son loves pretending he's a captain!). Entrance to the farm is completely free, as is use of the Nature Explore Classroom. For just $2, you can buy a bag of animal feed or a tractor ride.
The Longwood Estate
The Longwood Estate is truly a hidden gem. Once owned by the prominent Smith family, a wealthy family of the 1800s, the estate is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The colonial-era home is open for tours. Children will get a kick out of the old schoolhouse. A barn has been transformed into a children's play area, complete with colonial toys. There is also a pond filled with fish, frogs and turtles that love to be fed, a kid-friendly excavation area and a butterfly garden. Special events are also held here, including fairs, children's events and holiday affairs. There is no fee to visit the home and enjoy the grounds. A nominal fee is charged for special events.
Ah, the beach. If you're going to visit Long Island during the summer months, a trip to the beach is an absolute must! The beaches of the bays—the Long Island Sound on the North Shore and the Atlantic on the South Shore—are one of the things Long Island is most famous for (even more so than the Hamptons!). You and the family can enjoy playing in the sand and surf, exploring diverse ecosystems and just relaxing and having a good time. Expect to pay a small fee for parking, but once on the beach, the sand and water are yours to enjoy.
Travel to the very end of the South Fork of Long Island and you will discover the famous Montauk Point Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is the oldest in the state of New York. It was commissioned by President George Washington in 1792. It has acted as a beacon since it opened on November 5, 1796. Climb up the lighthouse and you can take in some pretty stunning views. Tour the museum, which is located in the Keepers' house, and learn all about the history of the lighthouse. You can even take a stroll along the beach, where you can enjoy a picnic, go for a swim or explore the flora and fauna that calls Montauk Point home. A fee of $9 per adult, $8 per senior and $4 per child is charged for museum admission. There is also an $8 parking fee from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Not a bad price to pay, considering the history, discovery and beauty of this world-famous Long Island landmark.
Quogue Wildlife Refuge
A place of peace and sanctuary, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge is one of my family's favorite places to go when we just want to take in the beauty of the nature of Long Island and enjoy some quiet quality time together. The refuge opened in 1934, and it has been protecting the nature of Long Island ever since. Several species of injured animals have been taken in and are cared for here, including owls, a falcon and a bobcat. In addition to being able to get up close and personal with the animals that the refuge cares for, you can also see wildlife in its natural habitat. There are several walking trails around a lake, where you can see frogs, turtles, fish and various species of waterfowl. Head inside the Wildlife Complex, where you will be greeted by a large, welcoming fireplace and big comfy chairs that are arranged to look out of the huge picture windows and offer stunning views of the lake. We love using the binoculars they supply to observe the nature just beyond the window. Special activities like Full Moon Night Hikes, Kayak Lessons and children's programs are also offered. There is no fee to visit the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, though small fees are charged for special events.
This is a guest post by Bridget from Long Island, NY
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