Suffolk

7 Great Programs for Long Island Kids With Special Needs

Without doubt, people who are challenged with special needs can experience sadness, insecurity, isolation, and exclusion. With increased attention paid to autism, cerebral palsy, dyslexia, and other conditions, research and resources seem to be increasing.

Unfortunately, some of these programs are not publicized sufficiently to provide easy access for families who are faced with the responsibility of designing a quality life for their children. There are, however, several organizations here on Long Island that help those with special needs live their best lives possible. And, we’ve compiled a list just for you.

For more educational and developmental programs for Long Island kids, see our classes and enrichment guide or our Long Island Special Needs Guide.

Stunning Long Island Lighthouses Worth Visiting with Kids

Long Island lighthouses are a beacon into the past. To explore them is to immerse yourself in the history of the region, from the Revolutionary War to the whaling age, and the great steamship era of the 19th century.

There are about 20 lighthouses on Long Island, from New York Harbor to Montauk and the North Fork. Four—Bug Light, Fire Island, Horton Point, and Montauk Point—are open for public exploration. A fifth, Huntington Harbor Lighthouse, has been undergoing major renovations and plans are underway to reopen to the public at the end of June 2018.

In the meantime, check out our guide to these incredible lighthouses your family can visit. A word of advice before you go: Limber up, as some of these lighthouses boast steep climbs although we think you’ll agree the panoramic views are definitely worth the effort. Have fun exploring.

Got the travel itch? Check out our guide to popular Long Island family day trips

10 Great Stroller-Friendly Park Walks on Long Island

They might be too young for the playground, but Long Island babies (and their caregivers) can still enjoy our great parks.

Of course, not all parks are created equal, especially when it comes to taking your baby out for fresh air. Some parks are aesthetically beautiful, but the trails are rocky and covered in sand, making pushing a stroller nearly impossible. Others are smoothly paved, but have nothing for you and your little one to look at. From Nassau to Suffolk, here are our picks for Long Island walks with the best terrain and intriguing scenery—perfect for a day out with baby.

Check out these FREE attractions across Long Island for even more fun activities to do with your baby, or find more ways to meet new parents who, like yourself, might be eager to socialize. 

If you are looking to cool off after your walk, why not visit a nearby spray park

Botanical Gardens on Long Island for a Family Day Trip

The weather has turned warmer and flowers are blooming. It’s time to head outdoors and take in all Long Island has to offer…but we’re not talking just beaches, parks, and playgrounds.

On your next family excursion, why not head to one of the many beautiful botanical gardens and arboretums located throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties? These gorgeous spots are perfect places to enjoy a picnic, admire the surroundings, and learn a thing or two about the flowers and trees around us. The best part, unless noted, is that admission to most of these sites is FREE. 

For more warm-weather fun, check out our Spring Fun Guide and Events Calendar.

The Best Locations for a Family Picnic on Long Island

What better way to introduce kids to the beauty of dining alfresco than with a picnic. There are plenty of hot spots across Long Island offering an ideal picnic experience, including green meadows, beaches, grills, and plenty of open spaces. Here are some wonderful spots to kick off your shoes and enjoy the great outdoors. 

For more fun outdoor experiences with kids, visit our guide to Long Island's best family beaches or our roundup of LI's best parks and playgrounds. And don't forget our list of 25 things to do with kids in the summer or 100 things to do with kids on Long Island before they grow up.

In the meantime, bon appetit. 

6 Destinations for Train-Obsessed Kids on Long Island

All aboard! If your little one loves trains (and what kid doesn't?), you're in luck because Long Island is home to some of the coolest places for kids who want to explore everything about them. From model trains to small-scale rideable trains and even historic train cars, there's something for every enthusiast here. Kids young and old can get hands on and learn all about trains as well as the history of railroads on Long Island. For models and miniatures, check out some local model railroad clubs at FREE open house events held several times a year. 

Don't forget, you can always take a quick excursion on the Long Island Rail Road, where kids 4 and younger ride for FREE. Some sites below are open seasonally, so be sure to call or check the location's website before heading out.

And if your child loves learning, why not check out these historic sites on LI sure to delight children. Or visit an outdoor classroom, where natural history springs to life. For more fun in the area, check out our Long Island Events Calendar.

Great Bike Trails for Long Island Families

If it’s been a few months since that bike saw the outside of your garage, why not tune it up and welcome the warm weather with a family bike ride?

Head outside to explore some of the many bike trails Long Island has to offer. If you’re not up for taking on a mountain bike trail, then pack a lunch, bring some water, and head to one of the paved paths or boardwalks that offer easy and enjoyable rides for even the youngest cyclist.

Here are our top picks for the most family-friendly trails on Long Island. Depending on which trail you choose, it might be a good idea to bring along a first aid kit, a tire patch kit or extra tubes, and bug and tick spray. For more outdoor adventures, check out these LI hiking trails and our Spring and Summer Fun Guides. While you're at it, why not look into our 50 FREE things to do with kids on LI this summer or our top 100 things to do with LI kids. A good bike ride just might be on both lists.

Butterflies and Birds: Where You Can Interact with Them on LI

You know what they say: Birds of a feather flock together. Well, on Long Island they seem to flock to nature preserves, centers, sanctuaries, and farms. Flutter around our area and you can get up close with some beautiful butterflies, too. But don't just wing it — we have the skinny on hoo to see and where.

Need another animal fix? Visit our zoos and gardens guide. Many outdoor petting zoos operate on a seasonal schedule, opening in spring or summer, and closing in fall before the snow arrives.

12 Great County Parks in Suffolk for Kids

With so many family-friendly county parks dotting the landscape of Suffolk County, there’s no excuse not to visit at least one (or two or three) of these beautiful outdoor destinations. The problem is, which ones to choose?

To help you decide, we’ve rounded up some of the best parks for families. From hiking, biking, and horseback riding to swimming, picnicking, and camping, these have it all, and some have even more, including bird watching, boating, and other family-friendly activities. We could go on and on.

These parks are all worth the trip. But be advised, some require a Suffolk County Green Key for access during peak periods. 

For more outdoor activities with the family, check out our spring fun and day trips guides, and don’t forget our events calendar.

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