23 Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids

You'll find plenty of photo-ops while exploring Port Jefferson with your family.
You'll find plenty of photo-ops while exploring Port Jefferson with your family.
10/9/23 - By Jaime Sumersille

Port Jefferson boasts great parks, a Main Street that's lined with kid-friendly restaurants and unique shops, and plenty of things to do year-round. 

Located on Long Island’s North Shore, Port Jefferson is about 50 miles east of Manhattan and its port welcomes daily ferries to and from Connecticut. Whether you're spending the day or planning a fun night on the town, this picturesque harborside village offers something for everyone. To help you get the most out of your visit, we’ve rounded up the best of Port Jeff for you and your family.

Still got that day-trippin' itch? Check out our rundown on what to do in nearby Stony Brook with kids, and be sure to explore our Visitor's Guide to plan your next Long Island adventure close to home.


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The Best Things to Do with Kids in Port Jefferson

1. Harborfront Park

With its views of Port Jefferson Harbor, Jeanne Garant Harborfront Park is a favorite of visitors and residents. There are walking paths, a 350-foot pier, a small beach, a playground with water sprinklers, and a picnic area.

2. Seasonal Ice Skating

Once the weather chills, The Rinx is open for ice skating. It offers public skating sessions, themed events, and private lessons. 

3. Movies on the Harbor

Throughout the summer, the village hosts free movie nights. Bring a chair or blanket and pop a squat on the lawn. 

4. Waterfront Entertainment

Summer at Harborfront Park means a bevy of free family-friendly entertainment. From movies and concerts to children's shows and more, these evenings will be enjoyed by all.

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 Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids: Rocketship Park
Rocketship Park, built in the 1970s, was recently renovated. Photo by Thien Nguyen August

5. Rocketship Park

Recently renovated, Rocketship Park boasts a 4,000-square-foot playground with a newly designed jungle gym that resembles, no surprise, a rocket ship. There are also basketball and tennis courts, and a large picnic area. 

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Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids: The Port Jefferson Village Center
The Port Jefferson Village Center displays work from local artists.

6. Village Center

To discover more of Port Jefferson’s rich history, check out the Port Jeff Village Center building at Harborfront Park, where you’ll find revolving displays of historic photographs and works of local artists.

Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids: The Ginny Marie boat
Hop aboard The Ginny Marie for a sail around Port Jefferson Harbor.

7. Set Sail

The Ginny Marie, a 50-foot topsail schooner based in Port Jefferson Harbor, sails seven days a week, three times a day from May to October. Pirates of all ages are invited aboard.

8. STEM Museum

For a unique treat, visit the Long Island Explorium, where kids can learn seemingly everything about nautical science in a series of hands-on activities and exhibits. Educational programs and camps such as teddy bear clinics and the annual Maker Faire are just some of the public offerings. 

9. Theater

Theatre Three boasts year-round entertainment for children and families, including seasonal favorites like A Kooky Spooky Halloween, Barnaby Saves Christmas, and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. Each production includes FREE sensory-friendly dates where the theater provides a more calm and relaxed setting. 

Best Family-Friendly Port Jefferson Restaurants

Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids: S'more pancake at Toast
Enjoy the delectable s'mores pancakes at Toast. Photo courtesy of Toast

10. Breakfast Foods

You can't go wrong with a brekkie spot named Local's Cafe. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, dessert crepes are all available at Sweet ‘n Savory Creperie and Rice Pudding Bar. You can find all three meals at Joey Z's too. In addition to a kid's menu, they serve up ooey gooey fondue. On your way into town, Toast is a good spot for breakfast (and beyond) or you can try Wunderbar Deli for takeout or Station Coffee Shop if you're looking for a sit-down diner.  

11. Lunch and Dinner Options

The Tiger Lily Café offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian wraps, as well as salads and a complete juice bar for smoothies. Head to Salsa Salsa for kid-friendly burritos. Coal-fired pizza, pasta, and salads are served at The Pie. For more Italian-style food, have lunch or dinner at Pasta Pasta, which offers gluten-free options. And be sure to stop by The Steam Room, where for for over 40 years visitors have enjoyed seafood, burgers, and more. For a unique experience, book a spot of tea (and finger sandwiches and scones) at The Secret Garden Tea Cafe. Note: the tearoom is not appropriate for children under age 7. 

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Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids: Roger’s Frigate candy
Rogers Frigate serves up candy, fudge, ice cream, and more.

12. Sweet Treats

If dessert is on your mind–and why wouldn't it be?–head to Roger’s Frigate for ice cream, homemade fudge, candy, and other sweet treats. Port Jefferson Ice Cream Café is another worthwhile spot for ice cream and other frozen goodies. Both sweet and savory pies are baked up at Torte Jeff Pie, while the display case at Kilwins is filled with chocolates, fudge, candies, and nuts. 

Where to Shop in Port Jefferson

13. Toys and Games

Your kids will marvel at the many comic books at Red Shirt Comics. On your way into/out of town, The Learning Tower offers a bevy of educational toys and gifts. 

14. Clothing and Trinkets

The Soap Box carries a large selection of bath and body products and other unique gifts, while Sea Creations sells “seashells by the seashore” along with jewelry, gifts, and more. Cribs n’ Bibs has christening and communion outfits in addition to cribs and bedding. Need something for your pet? Head over to Fetch Doggy Boutique & Bakery for apparel, accessories, treats, and more. Fame + RebelKate & Hale, and The East End Shirt Company all offer boutique shop feels. 

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Things To Do in Port Jefferson with Kids: Dickens Festival
Port Jefferson hosts an annual Dickens festival. Photo courtesy of the Greater Port Jeff Brookhaven Arts Council

Annual Events in Port Jefferson

15. Dragon Boats

The annual Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival held in September features Asian performing arts, cultural and educational vendors, and lots of food, including sushi, spring rolls, bubble tea, and pot stickers.

16. Dickens Festival

The Village of Port Jefferson magically transforms into the Dickens era with streets filled with roaming characters such as Father Christmas, Dickens Mayor, Scrooge, the town crier, and the beloved chimney sweeps.

17. Oktober Harvest

A scarecrow walk and other fall favs headline this annual festival along the harborside village.

18. For the Doggies

Each summer, the village hosts Port Paws Dog Festival, a dock dog competition for families and individuals alike.

19. Old Time Cars

Hosted by the Port Jefferson Conservancy, this fall event is a re-enactment of the Port Jefferson Hill Climb, retracing the original course, followed by a short tour through the village.

20. History Comes Alive

From time to time the historic Drowned Meadow Cottage opens to the public for events such as Culper Spy Day and Santa's Workshop.

21. Cool Fun

The Port Jefferson Village Ice Festival boasts Frozen-inspired costumed characters, ice sculpting, ice skating demos, and more.

The Port Jefferson Ferry and Hotels in Port Jefferson

22. Getting to Port Jefferson by Car, Train or Ferry

Port Jefferson is situated on the north shore of Brookhaven Town. Routes 347 and 25A feed into the village and the Long Island Expressway (Exit 64) is about 10 miles south. The Long Island Rail Road's Port Jefferson station is less than 2 miles from the harbor area. Sailing time to and from Bridgeport, Connecticut, via the ferry is about 75 minutes. For hikers and bikers, the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway Trail stretches just over 3 miles along Long Island’s north shore.

23. Hotel on the Harbor

Danfords Hotel, Marina & Spa overlooks the harbor with a sweeping view. This pet-friendly, upscale hotel also has dining options. Relax dockside at Ferryman's Grille and enjoy seasonal sophistication as you indulge in our menu with a modern take on seafood and steak.

Unless noted, photos by the author

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