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've 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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Celebrate summer every Friday night on the promenade in Garden City. Photo courtesy of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce
1. Every Friday this summer, enjoy themed nights such as Christmas in July or a Sock Hop at Friday Night Promenade in Garden City.
2. Explore new literary adventures at Barnes & Noble weekly storytimes in Carle Place, Manhasset, and East Northport.
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 one of these concerts 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.
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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. Enjoy a FREE kids activity for IKEA family members on the first Tuesday of select months, including July 2.
12. Dress in your best patriotic attire and join the daylong outdoor activities at Sagamore Hill on July 4.
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. July 6 is Mattituck's Old Fashioned Street Fair, complete with food, live music, and Little Miss Mattituck and Little Mister Mattituck.
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. Kids in grades K-4 are invited for Monday evenings of summer fun and activities at the Flanders Youth Center.
18. The Village of Farmingdale presents Live At Five on Main with live music, shopping, and more starting July 11.
19. Lego fans can take part in Minifigure Swap Monday at the Lego store in Garden City. Bring one of your own mini-figures, meet other fans and switch up your collection.
20. The Huntington Summer Arts Festival brings a roster of exciting performing artists to the Chapin Rainbow Stage in Heckscher Park each year. Every Tuesday evening features family-friendly shows.
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 Wednesday, July 3 and Thursdays, 18 and August 1 and 15. Patchogue hosts similar activities on June 27, July 11, July 25 and August 8 with its Alive After Five program.
26. Take a stroll through lush gardens of Clark Botanic Gardens and stay for its free Family Night in the Garden, where you can watch a theatrical production of Cinderella.
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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 Ecology Site and Animal Preserve. Admission is FREE, but there is a $5 parking fee.E
29. Watch a family-friendly flick on the Great Lawn in Westhampton Beach.
30. Marvel in the music of 50-plus musicians as The Symphonic Band of Bay Shore-Brightwaters performs on July 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31.
31. Kids can cool off and watch a FREE movie at Bow-Tie Cinemas every Tuesday and Wednesday through August 21.
32. Enjoy A Taste of Woodstock musical performance at Michael J. Tully Park Stadium on July 20.
33. Goat on a Boat at Southampton Arts Center presents Paper Heart Puppets—Cardboard Explosion on July 25.
34. For three hours on the first Friday evening of the month, Love Lane in Mattituck is closed to traffic, allowing pedestrians to explore the quaint downtown.
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 6 and 13.
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Turn back the clock by learning about scrimshaw art and more at the Southampton History Museum. Photo courtesy of the Southampton History Museum
37. Step back in time to the Southampton History Museum in Southampton. Learn skills such as knot tying, herb gardening, and scrimshaw art.
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Celebrate the season at Sayville Summerfest. Photo courtesy of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce
38. August 9-11 is the annual Sayville Summerfest. Enjoy rides, games, and much more.
39. Kids will enjoy dancing to performances from country music to a Neil Diamond tribute band and calypso on Sunday afternoons at the North Hempstead Beach.
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. Some even lend out Empire State Parks passes to our local beaches
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 perform at Tiki Joe's Meschutt in Hampton Bays.
43. Get up close with fighter jets and learn some history at Grumman Memorial Park in Calverton.
44. 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.
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Show the rescued animals at Quogue Wildlife Refuge some love. Photo by Jaime Sumersille
46. Take a short hike among the pine barrens and stop in to visit the animals at Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Admission is FREE.
47. Hit up an outdoor market in Westbury at the NYCB Theater and search for treasures.
48. Swing on down to the City by the Sea for the summer concert series in Long Beach.
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? It's a prime family selfie location!
This piece is updated annually.