Does the thought of a full summer vacation make you think of empty pockets?
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 drain 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.
Check a few more things off your bucket list with our Summer Fun Guide. Feeling really ambitious? Here are 100 things to do with Long Island kids before they grow up. See our guide to FREE family activities on Long Island for even more inspiration.
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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.
2. Explore new literary adventures at Barnes & Noble weekly storytimes in Carle Place, Manhasset, East Northport or the Smith Haven Mall.
Teach your kids a step or two at Dances in the Park in Greenport. Photo courtesy of Village of Greenport
3. Dance the night away on the waterfront at Dances in the Park in Greenport.
Grab a pole: Is there a better place for fishing than Long Island? Photo by the author
4. Cast a line and catch some fun as you fish from these Long Island piers and beaches.
5. Prefer using a hammer? Home Depot has kids' workshops on the first Saturday of the month.
6. Pack a picnic and head to Coe Hall for a FREE evening of music under the stars.
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.
Thrill to Fourth of July Fireworks at Jones Beach. Photo courtesy of the New York State Parks and Historic Sites
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 America 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 7 is Mattituck's Old Fashioned Street Fair, complete with food, live music, and Little Miss Mattituck and Little Mister Mattituck.
12. Skate your way to some fun at Newbridge Arena in Bellmore, where kids ice skate for FREE on Wednesdays during the summer.
13. Cool off at a FREE Long Island sprinkler park; favorites include Blumenfeld Family Park in Port Washington, Clark Street Playground in Long Beach, Andrew J. Parise Park in Cedarhurst, and Port Jefferson Harbor.
14. Enjoy a FREE kids activity for IKEA family members on the first Tuesday of select months, including July 3.
15. Enjoy some daytime tunes at the Main Street Bandshell in Bay Shore during its Brown Bag Lunchtime Concerts.
16. Family-friendly music, movies, magicians and more can be found at the Common Ground in Sayville on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. Animals and bugs and mermaids—oh my—all can be found at The Common Ground's Family Fridays this summer.
17. Pottery Barn Kids inside the Walt Whitman Mall hosts weekly FREE storytimes on Tuesdays.
18. The Village of Farmingdale presents Live At Five on Main with live music, shopping, and more starting July 12.
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.
21. Experience life on the Oregon Trail at the Long Island Museum. It offers FREE admission on Thursday evenings during the summer.
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 5 and 19 and August 9 and 24. Patchogue hosts similar activities on June 28, July 19, August 2 and August 16 with its Alive After Five program.
26. Take a stroll through lush gardens at Clark Botanic Gardens and stay for its FREE Young People and the Arts series.
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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 and goat milking at Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic on July 18, August 15 and September 19.
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Grab a blanket and head to Eisenhower Park for International Nights on Thursdays this summer. Photo courtesy of the event
30. Enjoy culture, music, entertainment, food, and more at International Nights at Eisenhower Park each Thursday.
31. Kids can cool off and watch a FREE movie at Bow-Tie Cinemas every Tuesday and Wednesday.
32. Take in a ballgame: Hamptons Collegiate Baseball showcases potential major-leaguers at ballfields across the East End.
33. Get up close with fighter jets and learn some history at Grumman Memorial Park in Calverton.
34. For three hours on the first Friday evening of the month, Love Lane in Mattituck is closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians to explore and sample the area.
35. Train lovers can ride the rails on the second and last Sundays of each month 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 7 and 14.
37. Step back in time to the whaling days in Southampton. Learn skills such as knot tying, herb gardening, and scrimshaw art on select Fridays throughout the summer.
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Celebrate the season at Sayville Summerfest. Photo courtesy of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce
38. August 10-12 is the 38th annual Sayville Summerfest. Enjoy rides, games, and much more.
39. Film buffs won't want to miss the Summer of Spielberg movie series offered by Southampton Arts Center.
40. Many libraries offer FREE museum passes to its members, where families can check out places like the Long Island Children's Museum and Cradle of Aviation, both in Nassau County.
41. Visit your local farmers' market to see what's in season. Many markets offer FREE entertainment and music.
42. On select Tuesdays during the summer, Darlene Graham & The Shades of Green Band will perform at Tiki Joe's Meschutt in Hampton Bays.
43. Follow the yellow brick road to Planting Fields Arboretum and the musical The Wizard of Oz on August 18.
44. Experience the movies the way your parents used to—at a drive-in. The Town of Huntington hosts a few family-friendly flicks this summer at Crab Meadow Beach. See our guide to FREE outdoor movies for more possibilities.
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. Hit up outdoor markets in Westbury the NYCB Theater, or Nassau Coliseum and search for treasures.
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Go strumming at Family Fun Night at Coe Hall. Photo courtesy of Planting Fields Arboretum
48. Bring a blanket and picnic dinner to Coe Hall for Family Fun Night: Strummin' & Drummin' on August 31.
Meander around Goodale Farms and catch up with the friendly goats and chickens. Photo by the author
49. Head to Goodale Farms and pal around with some goats, cows, and chickens before heading inside for some farm-fresh goodies.
50. How long has it been since you've seen the Big Duck?
This piece is updated annually.