50 Fun Summer Things to Do with Kids and Families in the Hamptons and North Fork

You can't beat the beautiful beaches on Long Island's East End. Photo courtesy of Montauk Yacht Club
You can't beat the beautiful beaches on Long Island's East End. Photo courtesy of Montauk Yacht Club

So much to do, so little time. That’s a popular refrain on Long Island’s East End, where vacationers and residents alike struggle to pack as much adventure as possible into the 80-some days of summer. We're here to help with this list of the best family beaches, state and county parks, pools, and even indoor options to explore in the Hamptons this summer.

So, whether you're visiting the East End or are a local, have a look at this kid-friendly list of great summer activities. While you’re at it, check out our Guide to the Hamptons, and find more seasonal must-do's in our Summer Fun Guide.

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1. Immerse Yourself in History

Get your history on with a walking tour through the villages of Southampton, courtesy of the Southampton History Museum. Several of these inexpensive tours welcome children old enough to endure the walk.

2. Attend a Concert

Pack a lawn chair and picnic basket and enjoy a twilight concert in Southampton. The Southampton Cultural Center hosts free concerts Wednesday nights at Agawam Park, Cooper's Beach, or Good Ground Park.

Hit the "links" at the mini-golf course at the Children's Museum of the East End. Photo courtesy of the museum

3. Play Putt-Putt

Enjoy a game of mini-golf at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, then take command of the indoor tugboat or fire engine. The museum is open for timed admission every day but Thursday.

4. Hop Aboard the Ferry

For an inexpensive day on the water, head to Greenport and jump on the North Ferry to Shelter Island. Leave the car behind; passenger fares are a mere $2, and it’s FREE for those 9 and younger.

5. Go for a Bike Ride

If you’re really ambitious, take your bike aboard the ferry and ride a few miles across the island to the South Ferry, which connects to North Haven and Sag Harbor.

6. Commune With Nature

While you’re on Shelter Island, take a hike through Mashomack Preserve for a view of the East End’s natural world.

RELATED: East End Mini-Golf, Batting Cages, and More for Kids

Kids play on a brach playground
Enjoy swings, tunnels, and more at a beach playground on the East End. Photo by John Williams for New York State Parks

7. Lounge on the Beach

Of course, you’ll want to hit the beach. These East End locations boast our favorite beach playgrounds.

8. Kick Back at a Vineyard

Enjoy the East End uncorked at a family-friendly winery.

9. Learn Some Down Home Dance Moves

Head to the Annual Barn Dance at the Hallockville Museum Farm. No experience is necessary, and all ages are welcome. Pack a dinner, your cowboy boots, and enjoy the evening dancing in the barn.

10. Race Over to Riverhead

Riverhead is home to a host of sports, including NASCAR. Kids will get a thrill out of watching the races. And, while you're there, check out the outlets for some early back-to-school shopping.

11. All-Aboard the LIRR

See a bit of the East End by train. Take the Long Island Rail Road from Speonk to, say, Montauk. Take a walk and catch the return trip.

RELATED: 50 FREE Things To Do With LI Kids This Summer

Yellow Submarine at Splish Splash
Little water park lovers are thrilled by the Yellow Submarine at Splish Splash. Photo courtesy of the park

12. Get Wet-and-Wild at Splish Splash

We just know you want to visit Splish Splash in Calverton, right? Kids under age 2 are FREE, and there are discounts for older children and seniors, too.

13. See a Flick

Watch a movie from the comfort of your car. Southold is hosting drive-in movies featuring Lilo & Stitch and Up at Strawberry Field in Mattituck on select dates, but take note: reservations are required.

14. Row a Boat

Canoe, kayak, or paddleboard your way through the local waterways.

15. Nosh on Seafood

Crabby Jerry's, a family-friendly restaurant in Greenport, is perhaps the North Fork’s best location for people watching. Enjoy burgers, seafood, and more along the harbor.

RELATED: Great Outdoor Restaurants for Long Island Families

Kids taking surf lessions on the East End of Long Island
Hop aboard a surfboard at an East End surfing school. Photo courtesy of Island Surf School

16. Catch a Wave

Teach your kids to catch the waves at one of the region’s nationally recognized surfing schools. Corey's Wave offers lessons that can accommodate even the littlest surfers.

17. Scream for Ice Cream

The East End has a host of gourmet ice cream parlors and frozen yogurt shops. Buddhaberry in Sag Harbor even has an edible cookie dough.

18. Spend a Day Berry Picking

It’s berry season all summer. Late July is the ideal time for blueberries and raspberries. Blackberries ripen in August. Pick your own at these East End berry farms.

19. Pose With the Big Duck

Sure, it’s kitschy, but the Big Duck in Flanders is an example of the beauty of roadside art. And it’s FREE, but you’ll want to visit the gift shop.

RELATED: Old-Fashioned Ice Cream Parlors Long Island Kids Will Love

Enjoy an ice cream "Tateswiche" at Tate's Southampton bakery. Photo courtesy of Tate's Bake Shop

20. Eat a Sweet Treat

Indulge your sweet tooth at one of the East End’s many gourmet cookie or candy shops. Popular destinations include Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton, Grindstone Coffee and Donuts in Sag Harbor, Dylan’s Candy Bar in East Hampton, and the Main Road Biscuit Company in Jamesport.

21. Visit a Lighthouse

Immerse yourself in LI’s maritime past at its three East End lighthouses; Horton’s Point in Southold, “Bug Light” in Greenport, and Montauk Point in, you guessed it, Montauk Point.

22. Explore Sag Harbor

Take a trip to Sag Harbor and return to the days of whalers and sailors.

23. See the Sea Creatures at the Long Island Aquarium

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead is always worth a visit.

RELATED: 8 Kid-Friendly LIRR Stops for Family Fun

Canoing with the Quogue Wildlife Refuge
Explore nature on water or foot at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of the refuge

24. Meet More Animals in Quogue...

See more Long Island wildlife at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.

25. ...Or Noyac

A few miles to the east, the Elizabeth A. Morton Wildlife Refuge in Noyac is home to seabirds, amphibians, and more. Take a hike and explore the salt-marsh ecosystem.

26. School Yourself in Natural History

The South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton houses a butterfly garden, touch tank, nature trails, wildflower garden, and more.

27. Enjoy Small-town Charm

Get into the civic spirit and celebrate with your neighbors at one of the region’s many community barbecues, often held by the local fire department or church. Imagine a community-wide tailgate party.

RELATED: Public Pools for Kids on the East End

Ride a train at the Railroad Museum of Long Island
All aboard the mini train at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. Photo courtesy of the museum

28. Visit the Railroad Museum

The Railroad Museum of Long Island in Riverhead hosts mini-events most weekends with other regional train clubs. Kids can get a close-up look at some historical trains.

29. Master Maritime History

Learn about the once-thriving whaling industry at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum. Admission for kids under 12 is just $3.

30. Shop for a Great Kid-Friendly Read

Explore some of the many independent book stores, including Burton's in Greenport and Canio's in Sag Harbor. Both boast children's sections where your kids can search for their new favorite beach read.

31. Hit a Street Fair

Riverhead’s Alive on 25 brings together musicians, artists, vendors, food trucks, and, of course, the public in an outdoor celebration of East End life.

32. Enjoy a Brush With Fame

Speaking of art, why not visit the former home of LI's great Abstract Expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock. The East Hampton studio is a National Historic Landmark.

33. Go Bowling

Knock a few pins down at The All Star in Riverhead where kids can bowl on one of the 22 lanes featuring auto-bumpers. Older children will love the large-screen televisions that are all over the venue.

RELATED: Bridgehampton With Kids: Top Attractions for Families

Historic Greenport Carousel
Take a spin—or two—on Greenport's carousel. Photo courtesy of the carousel

34. Take a Spin on Greenport's Carousel

What trip to the North Fork would be complete without a spin on Greenport's antique carousel?

35. See the Horses

Who said equestrian sports had to be expensive? The Hampton Classic brings the world's top riders and horses to Bridgehampton. It has kid-friendly events all week and a special day dedicated to them.

36. Head Out to the Ol' Ballgame

See amateur baseball at perhaps its highest level. Hamptons Collegiate Baseball plays games through August at fields across both forks.

37. Visit a State Park

There are five state parks within a few miles of Montauk, including Camp Hero, a former Air Force station that was disguised as a fishing station during World War II.

38. Go Whale Watching

While in Montauk, treat the kids to a whale-watching cruise. Trips pass the famous Montauk Lighthouse in search of whales, dolphins, turtles, and seabirds. A marine biologist is on board to answer all of your questions.

RELATED: Family-Friendly Hotels on Long Island's East End

Set sail aboard a classic schooner at Montauk Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of the club

39. Set Sail

Families can hire a sailboat for a private daytime cruise through Montauk Harbor and the Block Island Sound.

40. Indulge in Golf and Goodies

Have a free afternoon? Try your hand at miniature golf at Drossos. After your round, grab some food at its highly-rated snack bar.

41. Drop in at the Skate Park

Check out the Greenport Skate Park, where boarders can drop in on one of several ramps.

42. Attend an Annual Festival

Kids shouldn’t miss the Greenport Maritime Festival in September. Celebrate the village’s maritime heritage with parades, storytimes, classic boat exhibits, and kids’ fishing competitions.

43. Enjoy an Old-School Theater

It’s never a bad time to take in a movie. The East End boasts a vintage movie theater in East Hampton. More contemporary ones dot the landscape, too.

44. Visit the Carriage House Museum

Don’t overlook the Roy K. Lester Carriage House Museum and the Amelia Cottage Museum in Amagansett. What child wouldn’t love the collection of horse-drawn carriages and buggies? The museums are on the National Register of Historic Places.

RELATED: 25 Fun Things To Do in Montauk With Kids

Goat on a Boat theater
Puppet shows come alive at Goat on a Boat in Sag Harbor. Photo courtesy of the theater

45. See a Kid-Friendly Show

Because not every summer day in the Hamptons is sunny, we recommend Goat on a Boat puppet theater for younger kids.

46. Explore the Night Sky

Got a star-gazer in the family? Visit Custer Observatory in Southold, the region's only planetarium.

47. See Stargazer

That reminds us, have you seen the Stargazer sculpture on Route 111, the gateway to the Hamptons? It's another example of the roadside art that dots the Hamptons' landscape.

48. Introduce the Kids to Shakespeare

In case you want to keep your kids thinking this summer, the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival offers kids age 8-15 the chance to work with trained Shakesperean instructors.

49. Explore the Hallockville Museum Farm...

For a peek into the East End’s agrarian past, visit the Hallockville Museum Farm in Riverhead. The agricultural museum and outdoor classroom also serves as an East End Ellis Island, chronicling the lives of the region’s immigrants.

50. ...Or the Cutchogue Green Historic Buildings

Take a trip back to the North Fork’s Colonial period at the Cutchogue Green Historic Buildings. Tour the 1740 Wickham Farmhouse and the Old House, a registered national landmark that dates to 1649. The Old House is considered the state's oldest English-type frame house.

A version of this article was first published in June 2014. Kristen Markel contributed additional reporting.

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