As a parent who loves the precious and few spontaneous free weekend and no-school days that come around, I treasure the impromptu local adventures with my kids for which they allow. Next time you find yourself with a few hours or an entire day free, consider these 25 possible simple pleasures to share with the special kiddies here on Long Island.
Adelphi Universitywww.adelphi.edu in Garden City, is an example of the scenic college campuses throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties which offer a parklike retreat from the busy world outside its gates. With lots of trees and paths to walk along, the setting offers an informal environment for quiet bonding and catching up with your offspring, not to mention the exercise you'll both get from a leisurely walk. The youthful energy exuded on a campus is invigorating as is the abundance of local wildlife you'll spy, that call the grounds home.
A beloved pastime of mine and my younger daughter's is wandering through Yankee Candle store in the Roosevelt Field mall, smelling the different scents. We usually end our olfactory excitement with a purchase or two! There are a total of seven Yankee Candle stores for your smelling pleasure located throughout Long Island.
Tapas are not just for adults! The small portions and fun assortment of eats is perfect for sampling a variety of culinary options in one seating with your young foodie! Spuntino Wine Bar and Italian Tapas located in The Gallery in Westbury Plaza, Long Island is the perfect tapas destination. My kids LOVE this place. We usually order way too much, but in the end, my picky eater, Kelsey has tried may new things as a result of the small portions and shared style of eating. We especially love their Ciambelle for dessert, which are mini doughnuts served with chocolate sauce, Nutella and salted caramel dipping.
Gone are the days that a trip to the movies was an economical activity with kids, especially when you add in the snacks and drinks. Thanks to AMC Theatre and their $5 Tuesdays, you can take your little ones for a movie excursion and not break the bank. The catch is that you have to buy the tickets at the box office (no pre-sale via the internet). For that kind of savings, it's worth it. Additionally, with the AMC Stubs card, you can rack up points for additional savings on food and drinks! Beat the crowd on a Tuesday afternoon or evening with your favorite youngster(s).
Founded in 1969, Clark Botanic Garden is a 12-acre living museum and educational facility located in Albertson. Nothing is more relaxing than the surroundings of beautiful plants and flowers, particularly in the Spring and Summer months. Walking the grounds of this local botanical garden is a way to forget about the hustle bustle day to day pressures and just focus on the joys of nature and your little ones Check their website for events!
I never knew how much my kids loved the ritual of afternoon tea until we spent a week in London together. But, you need not cross the pond to enjoy this lovely (and delicious!) timeless tradition. The Garden City Hotel offers a wonderful Afternoon Tea every Saturday at 2pm. With a well crafted menu that includes an array of international teas, delicious tea sandwiches and wonderful pastries, the experience will long be remembered.
Who says you need to spend an entire day at an amusement park - why not just enjoy a memorable carousel ride - a beloved old fashioned pastime. The Historic Nunley's Carousel at the Cradle of Aviation 41 horses and a lion await you on this legendary, over 100 year old, beautifully restored carousel has forty-one horses and a lion on this legendary, over 100 year old, beautifully restored carousel. At $2 per ride, you can ride as many times as you like!
What says fun more than ice cream and gelato! Located in Bellmore, The International Delight Cafe has over 80+ homemade gelato flavors to choose from. Not to mention, amazing sundaes, like their largest one that has over 2 gallons of gelato and lots of other treats!! Treat yourselves to a delightful afternoon or evening of yummy goodness.
If you've got a budding writer, like I do, Walt Whitman Birthplace in South Huntington is a delightful way to spend a few hours. The small farmhouse still exists, where Walt Whitman was born in 1819 and it is a National Historic Site today. Walking the grounds and the house is a wonderful way to impart some history in a lighthearted manner and learn about the poet’s early childhood years, which had a profound influence on his poetry.! Check the website for its list of ongoing events.
An afternoon outing to the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum will delight both adults and kids alike. Comprised of two elements, the museum includes an indoor exhibit in the historic Oyster Bay Railroad Station, as well as an outdoor exhibit area featuring Locomotive #35 and other historic examples of railroad rolling stock.
Who doesn't like to get pampered? If you are looking for the perfect blend of bonding, relaxation and something that wont take up an entire afternoon, then a mani-pedi is just right for you and your little princess(es). Long Island is in no short supply of nail salons, so finding the right one should be a breeze!
One of my favorite parks on Long Island is Eisenhower Park. Centrally located in East Meadow, this 930 acre open space has 16 lighted tennis courts, one full-court basketball court, picnic areas and fitness trails, barbecue areas, playgrounds, athletic fields, a lake and a bandstand for live music. You can also bring your fur baby to the one acre dog park which is fenced and divided into large dog and small dog areas.
The historic Greenport waterfront's East End Seaport Museum is full of rich maritime heritage of Long Island's East End. This port played a significant historic role in the American Revolution and Spanish American War, and served as a principle whaling port with seventy-seven ship arrivals and departures between 1832 and 1857. In addition to the beautiful aesthetics of the seaport, there is a full day's worth of activities including The East End Seaport Museum, guided cruises and tours with up-close viewing of historic lighthouses, an aquarium, a village blacksmith shop and an annual East End Maritime Festival.
Who would have thought that right in the heart of Massapequa there exists one of the most beautiful preserves in all of Long Island. Officially named The Peter J. Schmitt Massapequa Preserve, it is comprised of 432 acres and contains a bike trail along a stream surrounded by trees and gardens, a hiking trail via the Greenbelt, as well as fishing and nature walks.
Love painting with your youngsters, but hate the mess? ARTrageous in Rockville Center is perfect for expressing artistic creativity with plenty of lovely options. If you are dropping in, you have your choice of pottery painting or glass fusing. Classes are also offered with advance registration for clay creations and canvas painting.
One of the few spas that are child friendly, Happy Feet Relax Center offers Traditional Chinese Foot Rubs and Back Rubs for a true pampering and relaxation bonding experience for you and your youngster. There are two locations: Massapequa (opened 6 days and closed Tuesdays) and Stony Brook (open 7 days).
United Skates of America in Seaford is one of the top destination roller rinks on Long Island. With a fully stocked cafe and arcade, you can be a kid again with your kids for a fun-filled day.
Fishing is big part of the culture of Long Island - I still remember when my dad bought me my first ishing rod! If you have a little fisherman or fisherwoman in the making, there are several options, conveniently located in Nassau County. Take a charter with the Captree Fleet, in Babylon - the largest fishing fleet on Long Island.
What fun it is to create your own Build a Bear Workshop stuffed toy! While this place is meant for children, I have seen many an adult create custom bears for themselves! This is a wonderful and relatively quick outing with kids, but the memories and the custom toy will last for years! Need I tell you how much your kids will enjoy the ritual of naming, registering and selecting clothing and accessories for their new stuffed masterpiece! Locations on Long Island include Garden City at the Roosevelt Field Mall and Huntington at the Walt Whitman Mall.
Mini golf has always been one of my go-to outings with my kids. Great for both boys and girls, and another activity that can be enjoyed if time is in relatively short supply. One of my favorite mini golf destinations is Spring Rock Golf Center in New Hyde Park. Currently open for the season and open 7 days a week from 10AM to 12AM, the center has two mini golf courses, the "Romeo" and "Juliet."
My kids are not to fond of national landmarks, but in the case of the Big Duck, I think most would agree, this is a most unusual one and totally entertaining for kids of all ages!! Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The Big Duck overlooks Reeves Bay in Flanders, Long Island. The vision of Long Island duck farmer Martin Maurer, The Big Duck was designed by Broadway set designers, the Collins Brothers, and crafted by locals George Reeve, John Smith, and Merlin Yeager in 1931. Check the website for local events.
Like a living time capsule, Old Bethpage Village Restoration is a collection of 19th-century houses painstakingly preserved in their original condition for a taste of the 19th Century. Take the kiddies back to the 1800's as the park staff play the part by dressing up in old time clothing. Regularly hosted Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactments are sure to excite young onlookers. The grounds also have a Restoration Farm, which offers organic vegetables, berries, herbs, flowers, eggs and poultry at its farm stand.
Nothing like being outdoors for a leisure bike ride especially along the shore amidst the salty air. The newly built 2.2 mile Long Beach Boardwalk is a lovely place for a family bike ride. Although a beach pass is required to enter the beach on weekends May 7, 2018 - June 17, 2018 (including Memorial Day Monday) and daily June 23, 2018 - September 3, 2018 from 9:00am-6:00pm, the boardwalk is free to walk and ride along.
Molding kids into good people is not easy and doing charity work is a good way to get them on their way. Why not put a care package together for one of the area's local no-kill shelters and hand deliver it. Even better, do some volunteer work for a few hours with your youngster. Most places allow children to help out as long as they are accompanied by an adult. Last Hope, Inc. is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization, located in Wantagh, dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of death-due pound, stray and abandoned animals.
With Spring upon us, get started on your summer vegetable garden. You'd be surprised how much pride and excitement kids will take in cultivating the edibles in their own backyard, not to mention the life skills they will be acquiring. Our annual Spring visit to Hicks Nursery in Westbury is full of anticipation as we select our vegetables and herbs for the new season! Don't underestimate the time you will need for spending at the nursery and then planting your garden. After the hard work, you and your kids can enjoy daily time together watering, caring for and later, harvesting the fruits of your labor! You may want to check with the Old Farmer's Almanac if you are beginner farmers!