Recently, fellow Mommy and Long Island Native Jill DeMarco spent some time checking out some of the coolest ways to beat the heat - museums, and here she's rounded up some of the funnest and most unique ones to visit with kids. Thanks, Jill for sharing this with us!
Did you know that there are over 200 museums on Long Island...just the Island! Once you have checked out the basics on Museum Row, which other museums are really worth checking out with kids? Some of the unique museums we have out here are actually better to visit with kids because they are smaller and less intimidating; yet your kids still see and learn about cool new stuff they might otherwise have missed. We've rounded up a few of the best off the beaten path museums that you may not have heard of:
CMEE – Children’s museum of the East End, Bridgehampton – This magical hidden gem is a fun and interesting place for kids with lots of indoor activities, workshops, performances and special events. The Little ones can explore a wooden boardwalk and tree house or work the East End Farm Stand; they can check out Main Street, sail a ship, drive the fire truck and anything else their imagination thinks up. There is even a temporary indoor play space exhibit (thanks to community requests) including a geodome climbing structure, a netted ball area, basketball hoop, balancing pods, hula hoops and more accompanied by a toddler area as well. Give yourself plenty of time as your kids may be having so much fun they won’t want to leave. 376 Sag Harbor Tpk., Bridgehampton (631) 537-8250 www.cmee.org
Vanderbilt Museum, Centerport – You can come here for the planetarium, giving your space obsessed child a special view of the planets, but don’t leave right away as there is much more here than meets the eye. The large complex and beautiful grounds includes a Gold Coast-era mansion, a marine museum, natural history habitats, curator's cottage, seaplane hangar, boathouse and several other features, from the archives of the former William K. Vanderbilt II estate. The kids are going to be most interested in the planetarium, but be sure to take them throughout the gardens for a little nature exploration. The estate was set to be dedicated to the "education and enjoyment of the public" and that is exactly what you should do here. 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport (631) 854-5555 www.vanderbiltmusuem.org
Children's Maritime Museum, Port Jefferson – This museum offers a fun and safe educational environment where children are encouraged to explore the Long Island Sounds ecosystem and to discover science in maritime history. Come check out family fun weekends where you can experience a working waterfront, design a dock, operate a water taxi and even construct a roller coaster among other things. Then if you haven’t checked out the town of Port Jefferson take this opportunity to see a wonderful little community. 101 E Broadway, Port Jefferson (631) 331-3277 www.childrensmaritimemuseum.org
Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, Cold Spring Harbor – Though this museum looks small, it can provide lots of fun while giving adults and children alike a look at the regional whaling history of Long Island, whale conservation, and the history of Cold Spring Harbor as a maritime port. It is a wonderful hands-on museum with family activities, programs and a whale jaw bone that would excite any age child. Main St., Cold Spring Harbor (631) 367-3418 www.cshwhalingmuseum.org
Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum, Montauk – Who doesn’t love a good lighthouse, and what better one is there than Montauk! George Washington ordered the construction of this famous first lighthouse in New York state standing on a bluff and marking the easternmost point of Long Island. The awe-inspiring sight is maintained by the Montauk Historical Society while the US Coast Guard operates the light and foghorn. You can check this out in the summertime to make a full day of history and some surf time fun at the fabulous surrounding beaches. 2000 Montauk Hwy., Montauk (631) 668-2544 www.montauklighthouse.com
Find more must-see museums and hot spots in our Culture Guide.