27 Things To Do in Riverhead with Kids

It's worth a trip to Long Island's East End to take in all the family-friendly fun in the town of Riverhead.
It's worth a trip to Long Island's East End to take in all the family-friendly fun in the town of Riverhead.
8/21/23 - By Jaime Sumersille

Whether you're day-tripping or hunkering down for a few days, Riverhead, on Long Island's East End, offers plenty of family-friendly things to do. Located at the end of the Long Island Expressway, Riverhead boasts the kid-friendly Long Island Aquarium, plus a slew of family-friendly wineries to visit with kids, vintage ice cream parlors, Long Island Sound beaches, rustic farms, and a quaint Main Street.

For more fun expeditions, check out our Guide to Day Trips on Long Island, and keep up to date with all the East End happenings with our Hamptons & North Fork Guide.


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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: Long Island Aquarium
Don't miss the sea lion show at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo courtesy of the aquarium

Top Things To See and Do in Riverhead with Kids

1. Visit the Long Island Aquarium

Main Street's main attraction is undoubtedly the Long Island Aquarium, which also has the distinction of being Long Island's only aquarium. Feed turtles, sting rays, and even sharks from a cage if you dare. In the summer, snorkel in a makeshift pirate wreck site or just get your feet wet in the interactive salt marsh. Board its boat for a tour of Peconic Bay or take in the sights from atop Discovery Tower, a 110-foot-high ride. Settle in for engaging and entertaining shows with sea lions, penguins, otters, and other animals. But there's more: Flutter over to the Butterflies, Birds & Bees exhibit and be transported to an enchanting rainforest setting, then walk through the glass doors to hand-feed more than 40 exotic parrots. On weekends and holidays save time to scale its interactive treehouse exhibit dubbed Eye Opener

2. Head to a Bowling Alley

The All Star is an ultra-modern, sleek-looking bowling alley that will bowl you over with fun. Shooting and driving games, prize games, basketball, and skee-ball are just some of the options at this arcade. Compete in air hockey or air hockey extreme, which drops several pucks at a time for super scoring. The arcade also offers redemption games that issue e-tickets saved on little ones' game cards. No more counting (or carrying) wadded-up paper tickets.

3. Savor a Winery

With so many wineries on Long Island's East End now welcoming children, Long Island wine country has become a huge destination not just for couples and bachelorette parties, but for families with kids, too. RGNY (formerly Martha Clara) and Palmer Vineyards are great family-friendly options in Riverhead. Jamesport Vineyards, which is one town over, boasts a wood-fired pizza oven. Need more choices? We've curated a full list of family-friendly wineries on Long Island here.

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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: Railroad Museum of Long Island
Ride the mini-train at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. Photo courtesy of the museum

4. Railroad Museum of Long Island

It's full-steam ahead to the Railroad Museum of Long Island for the little train enthusiast in your family. Enjoy authentic and restored railroad cars, including several from the Long Island Rail Road. Its model railroading exhibit just might introduce your child to a new hobby. Admission includes a ride on its miniature World's Fair train, located outdoors. On weekends, hop on a full-sized train for a ride to its Greenport location.

5. Riverhead Raceway

Rev up for some roaring family fun at Riverhead Raceway, which is home to some of the country's oldest stock car tracks. This 1¼-mile, high-banked oval course is home to NASCAR racing, demolition derbies, pro trucks, and more. Races are featured every Saturday night from April to September. It gets loud, so invest in some protective ear gear for little ones.

6. Safari Adventure

If the weather isn't cooperating, or you're just looking for some indoor fun, Safari Adventure is your best bet. Enjoy bounce houses, slides, and a multi-tier climbing structure for exploring. Don't worry about needing to be in two places at once as the attractions and arcade are located in the same area. Race rubber duckies or knock down the clowns in a carnival-style atmosphere. Ride a "motorcycle" or try your hand at skee-ball. There are also interactive floor games. Points accumulate on your pre-paid card so you can save or spend as you go.

7. Experiment with the Long Island Science Center

The Long Island Science Center is temporarily housed in the Tanger Outlets. Families can drop in to play and explore interactive technology exhibits and attend after-school lessons or Saturday Science Workshops. The future permanent space on Main Street in Riverhead is undergoing renovations that will include a rooftop planetarium, so stay tuned!

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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: Reeves Beach
Reeves Beach is a serene spot on the Long Island Sound. Photo by fayepoe via Instagram.

8. Reeves Beach Park

Riverhead's most accessible beach to out-of-towners is Reeves Beach Park. Overlooking the Long Island Sound, it offers swimming all summer with lifeguards on duty. Nonresidents can access the beach and park for a daily fee. Avoid the crowds with an end-of-day visit!

9. Tanger Outlets

With two full sections of stores selling clothing, housewares, toys, and more, families can score some of the best deals on Long Island at Riverhead's Tanger Outlets. Its food court is top-notch, with offerings for every picky eater. Plus, there are fun, car-like carts you can use to push around the little ones from store to store. 

10. Sandy Pond Golf Course

Upgrade from mini golf to the Sandy Pond Golf Course, a par-3 course. Reconstructed in 2012, Sandy Pond is so old-school that players often pay greens fees via the honor system. The course, not far from Tanger Outlets for a post-shopping round, totals about 1,100 yards.

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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: Star Confectionary
Slurp up classic milkshakes during your visit to Riverhead's Star Confectionery. 

Where to Eat in Riverhead with Kids

11. Star Confectionery

Step back in time at Star Confectionery. You'll feel nostalgia sweep over you as soon as you step into this 1920s luncheonette with a checkered floor. It serves simple American fare, hearty breakfasts, frothy shakes, and house-made ice cream. 

12. Jerry & the Mermaid Clam Bar and Grill

Jerry & the Mermaid Clam Bar and Grill is a great option for an end-of-day meal. Dine on the water with sweeping views of the Peconic River. The restaurant has an affordable kids' menu and offers patio seating. Be sure to ask for the catch of the day.

13. Burgercade

Burgercade, opened by the folks behind Lucharito's brand, whips up classic American fast food such as burgers, wings, bubble waffles, shakes, and more while you pump quarters into its old-school arcade machines - all housed in an old-school railcar diner.

14. Roadhouse Brick Oven Pizza

Enjoy counter service, sit down at a booth, or opt for picnic tables outside under a canopy of trees along Peconic River at Roadhouse Brick Oven Pizza. The specialty slices, such as mac and cheese and Greek salad, are tasty options. It also serves salads, heroes, pasta, and more. Don't let your pizza out of your sight, as some of the river's resident ducks might grab a bite.

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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: Snowflake Ice Cream Shoppe
Our go-to order at Snowflake: Peconic Swamp Thing, a mash-up of chocolate and raspberry ice cream with chunks of fudgy brownie throughout.

15. Snowflake Ice Cream Shoppe

This retro scoop shop is a can't-miss on your way in or out of Riverhead. Serving up soft and hard ice cream in homemade flavors, Snowflake is both a tourist and resident destination. Its Peconic Swamp Thing tops the list of customer faves, but it rotates specialties such as pumpkin in the fall and eggnog in the winter.

16. Mexicandy

Mexicandy serves up the popular Mexican dessert mangonadas, which are mango slushies with chili powder and salt. Similar to Italian ices, this shop uses 100% fruit in its cooling concoctions.

17. The Baker's Workshop 

This unique cafe operates during the school year giving Suffolk County Community College's culinary and baking students real-life, hands-on experiences whipping up sweet treats. Though, take note: The Baker's Workshop is closed in the summer.

18. Mugs on Main

In addition to fresh-roasted coffee, Mugs on Main serves food in fun mugs. Popular options include French toast, oatmeal, and crème brûlée.

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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: Alive on 25
You never know what kind of fun activations you'll find at the annual Alive on 25 festival, which takes over Riverhead's main drag on Friday nights all summer long. Backdrop courtesy of Long Island Selfie Studio. 

Special Events and Festivals in Riverhead

19. Alive on 25

On four Friday nights during the summer, Riverhead’s Main Street, also known as Route 25, shuts down for Alive on 25, a festival of music, arts, farm-to-table food, craft beer, and wine. Kids can enjoy food trucks, costumed characters, face painting, and games, including bubblepalooza. Often running concurrently is the illuminated art display, Reflextions, which transforms Grangebel Park in downtown Riverhead into a walkable art-after-dark experience.

20. Free Events in Riverhead

The East End Arts Mosaic Street Painting Festival takes place Memorial Day weekend and highlights the creativity of street chalk artists. In August, folks from all over are invited to participate or cheer on the Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race. The event, held along Peconic River in downtown Riverhead, features vessels made exclusively from cardboard, duct tape, and paint. The Polish Festival in August highlights the culture, crafts, and cuisine of this vibrant country. The Riverhead Country Fair boasts harvest festival fun in downtown Riverhead.

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Top things to do in Riverhead with kids: 1760 Homestead Farm
Enjoy some old-school fun at the 1760 Homestead Farm, which is home to heirloom produce, rescued farm animals, and delicious pies to-go. 

Farm Experiences in Riverhead

21. 1760 Homestead Farm

A visit to 1760 Homestead Farm boasts unexpected fun and exploration. The rescued goats, ducks, chickens, and horses have such quirky personalities. This North Fork Culinary farm offers raw honey, free-range eggs, heirloom produce, fresh herbs, and pantry items. Next door, cute home decor items adorn the inside of this 1760 barn. Don't leave without picking up one of its grape or shoofly pies—they're simply drool-worthy! 

22. Goodale Farms

One of the first farms to greet you as you enter the North Fork, Goodale Farms captures everyone's eye. Front and center are some silly "kids"—the goat kind—waiting to be pet and grain or bottle-fed. Walk through the back and wander around to view more goats, chickens, cows, and even a very curious emu! Its farm stand operates on the honor system and sells farm-raised meat, cheese, milk, butter, and yogurt. 

23. Waterdrinker North Fork

Leasing property from Garden of Eve Organic Farm, this Riverhead location has been rebranded as Waterdrinker North Fork. This marks the second Waterdrinker location on Long Island. A haunted corn maze, barnyard animals, tractor cars, a playground and pumpkin picking are all planned as well.

24. Hallockville Museum Farm

For decades a working farm, the Hallockville Museum Farm, is now an agricultural museum and outdoor classroom. Its buildings also serve as an East End Ellis Island, chronicling the lives of the region’s immigrants, especially those from Eastern Europe. Kids are encouraged to interact with the museum’s friendly cows, sheep, and chickens. From Music Behind the Barn in the summers and winter break options for kids, to their Fiber and Fleece Festival and Country Fair, Hallockville has a packed schedule for annual offerings.

Riverhead, NY, Hotels for Families

25. Hyatt Place Long Island

This ample hotel offers a complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, and rooms with views of the Peconic River. The Hyatt Place is at the beginning of North Fork wine country and out-of-towners will appreciate luscious local fare. On-site amenities include a pool and free breakfast for guests.

26. Hotel Indigo

This true-blue home away from home gives you insider access to the best family-friendly Riverhead attractions. Kid-friendly amenities at this family-friendly hotel include an outdoor pool, and parents will appreciate the luxurious on-site fitness center and spa. Hotel Indigo even allows guests to bring one dog overnight. Live music adds a special touch to your stay on select nights.

27. Rent a House

This North Fork property is just a 10-minute drive from Riverhead's main drag and features four bedrooms and three baths, plus family-friendly amenities like a large washer and dryer. A fenced-in yard includes a beautiful, heated, in-ground pool, patio, grill, and gas fire pit. If the weather turns south, head inside for a movie night in the in-home theater with a 75-inch, flat-screen TV and cozy couch accommodations.

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Originally published in 2015. Unless noted, all photos by author

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