50 Fun Summer Things to Do with Kids and Families in the Hamptons and North Fork
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. Which is where we come in, of course. Our Mommy Poppins experts have updated their list of the best fun things to do this summer with great family-friendly events in the Hamptons and North Fork. We’ve researched family beaches, state and county parks, pools, and even indoor options just in case Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
So if you're visiting the East End, have a look at this kid-friendly list of great summer activities. While you’re at it, check out our guide to this unique region, home to farms, museums, wineries, and even the trendy celebrity or two. Who knows: While you’re here, you might even scratch an item or two off our list of 100 must-do things with LI kids. Hurry, time’s a-wasting.
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Hit the "links" at the mini-golf course at the Children's Museum of the East End. Photo courtesy of the museum
1. 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 Friday - Wednesday.
2. Get your history on with a walking tour through the villages of Southampton. Several of these inexpensive tours welcome children old enough to endure the walk.
3. 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.
4. For an inexpensive day of ”boating,” 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.
6. While you’re on Shelter Island, take a hike through Mashomack Preserve for a view of the East End’s natural world.
Enjoy swings, tunnels, and more at a beach playground on the East End. Photo by John Williams for New York State Parks
7. Of course, you’ll want to hit the beach. These East End locations boast our favorite beach playgrounds.
8. Enjoy the East End uncorked at a family-friendly winery.
9. Learn some new moves at the Annual Barn Dance at 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.
Water park lovers will thrill to the Yellow Submarine at Splish Splash. Photo courtesy of the park
10. We just know you want to visit Splish Splash in Calverton, right? On both weekdays and weekends, enjoy free tickets for tots younger than 2, and discounts for juniors less than 48 inches tall, and seniors older than 60.
12. 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.
Hop aboard a board at an East End surfing school. Photo courtesy of Island Surf School
13. 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.
14. Watch a movie from the comfort of your car. Southold town is hosting Drive-in Movies featuring Lilo & Stitch and Up at Strawberry Field in Mattituck. Gates open at 7:30 pm and advance registration is required.
15. Canoe, kayak, or paddle board your way through the waterways.
16. Crabby Jerrry'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.
Enjoy an ice cream "Tateswiche" at Tate's Southampton bakery. Photo courtesy of Tate's Bake Shop
17. 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.
18. For that matter, 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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. While you’re at it, take a trip to Sag Harbor and return to the days of whalers and sailors.
Explore nature on water or foot at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. Photo courtesy of the refuge
23. See more Long Island wildlife at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge.
24. 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.
25. If you prefer nature at a more comfortable distance, there’s always the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
26. Or the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, across from the Children’s Museum. SoFo, as it’s called, houses a butterfly garden, touch tank, nature trails, wildflower garden, and more.
27. 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.
All aboard the mini train at the Railroad Museum of Long Island. Photo courtesy of the museum
28. Speaking of railroads, 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. Learn about the once-thriving whaling industry at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum. Admission for kids under 12 is just $3.
30. 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. 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. Speaking of art, why not visit the former home of LI's great Expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock. The East Hampton studio is a National Historic Landmark.
Take a spin —or two — on Greenport's carousel. Photo courtesy of the carousel
33. What trip to the North Fork would be complete without a spin on Greenport's antique carousel?
34. 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.
35. See amateur baseball at perhaps its highest level. Hamptons Collegiate Baseball plays games through August at fields across both forks.
36. There are five state parks within a few miles of Montauk, including Camp Hero, a former Air Force station that during World War II was disguised as, guess what, a fishing station.
37. 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 will also be aboard to answer all of your questions.
Set sail aboard a classic schooner at Montauk Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of the club
38. Families can hire a sailboat for a daytime cruise through Montauk Harbor and Block Island Sound for as little as $45 per child.
39. Have a free afternoon? Try your hand at miniature golf at Drossos. After your round, grab some food at their highly-rated snack bar.
40. Check out the Greenport Skate Park where boarders can drop in on one of several ramps.
41. 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.
42. Got a star-gazer in the family? Visit Custer Observatory in Southold, the region's only planetarium.
43. 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.
Puppet shows come alive at Goat on a Boat in Sag Harbor. Photo courtesy of the theater
44. Because not every summer day in the Hamptons is sunny, we recommend Goat on a Boat puppet theater for younger kids.
45. In case you want to keep your kids thinking this summer, the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival offers kids 8-15 the chance to work with trained Shakesperean instructors.
46. Knock a few pins down at The All Star in Riverhead where kids can bowl on one of the 22 lanes that feature auto-bumpers. Older children will love the large-screen televisions that are all over the venue.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. 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.
50. Lastly, 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.
A version of this article was first published in June 2014. Writers Rebekah Yahoves and Kristen Markel contributed additional reporting.