Does the thought of summer break make you think of breaking the bank?
In between camps, parties, sitters, and trips, the next two months can get costly. And for a family with more than one child, even a trip to the water park can add up. But summer doesn’t have to strain your wallet: We have compiled a list of 50 FREE things families can do together. From outdoor concerts and movies, to museums, classes, and festivals, Long Island has something going on all summer long. So put that pocketbook away, grab the sunscreen, and enjoy some family time because before you know it, back-to-school sales begin.
Check a few more things off your bucket list with our Summer Fun Guide and 25 things we can't wait to do this summer. Feeling really ambitious? Here are 100 things to do with Long Island kids before they grow up.
1. Every Friday this summer, enjoy themed nights such as Rock of Ages, Christmas in July, and Sock Hop at Friday Night Promenade in Garden City.
Enjoy nature discovery at the Suffolk County Environmental Center. Photo courtesy of the center
2. Get back to nature with the Saturday Nature Explorer's program at the Suffolk County Environmental Center.
3. Dance the night away on the waterfront at Dances in the Park in Greenport Village.
4. Crafters can create something to take home at Lakeshore Learning Store.
5. Prefer using a hammer? The Home Depot has kids' workshops on the first Saturday of the month.
6. Cozy up in your pajamas for story time at Emma Clark Library in Setauket.
7. The Fireboat Fire Fighter Museum in Greenport is Long Island's only floating museum. It's open on weekends and volunteers are available to give tours of the entire boat.
8. It's not July 4th without fireworks. Head out early to get your spot at Jones Beach, Farmingville, and Montauk.
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Celebrate Americana at Port Jefferson's Independence Day parade. Photo courtesy of Port Jefferson Village
9. Wave your flag at the Port Jefferson Fire Department's Independence Day parade on July 4.
10. There's just something extra fun about watching a movie outdoors. Check out our list of FREE movie nights in the summer.
11. July 8 is Mattituck's Old Fashioned Street Fair, complete with food, live music, and Little Miss Mattituck and Little Mister Mattituck.
12. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy entertainment and activities for the family at Levittown Community Council's Lazy Days of Summer, also on July 8.
13. Cool off at a FREE Long Island sprinkler park; favorites include Blumenfeld Family Park, Clark Street Playground, Andrew J. Parise Park, and Port Jefferson Harbor.
14. On July 9, enjoy treats, face painting, and inflatables at the Grand Children's Carnival at Chabad of the Hamptons.
15. Learn how to play or develop your skills at the Flanders Community Center's kids' chess club.
16. Kids can paint an animal mask and then watch a live performance of Madagascar: The Musical at Clark Botanic Garden on July 11.
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The cheery musical Hairspray delights audiences at Planting Fields Arboretum. Photo courtesy of Planting Fields Arboretum.
17. Bop along to the musical Hairspray at Planting Fields Arboretum on July 14.
18. The village of Farmingdale presents Live At Five on Main with live music, shopping, and more starting July 13.
19. Lego fans can take part in a mini build each month at the Lego store in Garden City.
20. Summer concerts abound on Long Island and these concert series offer something for almost every musical taste: Sunday Summer Concerts at Stony Brook Village; Long Beach Summer Concert Series; Montauk's Concerts on the Green; and Kids' Nights at Jones Beach. Check out our full list of FREE outdoor concerts playing this summer.
21. Catch children's performer Dave Jay at locations across Long Island during July.
22. Long Island has many family-friendly hiking trails, including some that offer beautiful views of Long Island. Some parks charge for parking.
23. Or pack up the bikes and see where two wheels can take you.
24. Experience more than 50 works of art at the Nassau County Museum of Art's sculpture garden.
25. Riverhead's Main Street is the place to be for music, food trucks, kids' activities, and more on Thursdays, July 13 and 27 and August 10 and 24. Patchogue hosts similar activities on July 6 and 20 and August 3 and 17 with its Alive After Five program.
26. Take a stroll through lush gardens at Bailey Arboretum or Clark Botanic Gardens.
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Fraser Park in North Merrick is a delight for little ones. Photo by Kimberly Chacon.
27. Check out a new playground on Long Island.
28. Visit with the bear, bison, eagle, and other animals at the Brookhaven Wildlife and Ecology Center. Admission is FREE but there is a $5 parking fee.
29. Take advantage of the free tours at Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic on July 19 and August 16.
30. Also on the North Fork, Port of Egypt Marine in Southold hosts Family Fun Day on July 22.
31. Kids can cool off and watch a free movie at Bow-Tie Cinemas every Tuesday and Wednesday.
32. The Town of Hempstead presents children's magician and comedian Jim McClenahan at various locations from July 24 to 28.
33. Get up close with fighter jets and learn some history at Grumman Memorial Park in Calverton.
34. Children can learn about animals through science and nature at Petland Parties in various locations in Hempstead Town from July 31 to August 4.
35. Train lovers can ride the rails at Long Island Live Steamers in Brookhaven.
36. Classic cars, live music, sidewalk shopping, and outdoor dining can be had at Northport Harbor Family Nights on August 1 and 8.
37. Step back in time to the whaling days in Southampton. Learn skills such as knot tying, herb gardening, and scrimshaw art every Tuesday in August.
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Celebrate the season at Sayville Summerfest. Photo courtesy of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce.
38. August 4-6 is the 38th annual Sayville Summerfest. Enjoy rides, games, and much more.
39. Experience what life was like in years past at Port Jefferson's Third Annual Heritage Weekend, August 19-20.
40. Many libraries offer FREE museum passes to its members. Kids also can visit the African American Museum and The American Guitar Museum, both in Nassau County, for FREE.
41. Visit your local farmers' market to see what's in season. Many markets offer FREE entertainment and music.
42. Enjoy the outdoors and a family scavenger hunt at Hofstra University's sculpture garden.
43. Look for shells and watch the sunset at your local beach. Parking is FREE after 5 or 6 pm at most beaches.
44. Experience live music and art at the Long Island Sound and Art Festival on August 20 in Northport.
45. The Kids Bowl Free summer bowling program is open to all school-aged kids. Several Long Island alleys are participating.
46. Take a short hike among the pine barrens and stop in to visit the animals at Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
47. Bookstores often host story times, author readings, and kids' events. Check your local Barnes and Noble or perhaps the Book Revue in Huntington.
48. It's that time again: Smith Haven Mall hosts a Back to School Blast on August 26, with face painting, kids' activities, and a meet-and-greet with Quacker Jack, mascot of the Long Island Ducks.
49. Long Island is along the migratory path for many native birds, and late summer is a great time to grab your binoculars and see how many species you can spot.
50. How long has it been since you've seen the Big Duck?
Top photo: Unleash your inner dancer at Greenport's Dances in the Park. Photo courtesy of Greenport Village.