You don't have to spend much to entertain your kids when visiting Long Island, New York because the area offers a wide range of activities that don't cost a thing. Whether you're looking for outdoor recreation, arts and culture, or a special event, you can find free activities on Long Island that kids will enjoy. Long Island covers three counties and includes several towns along a 118 mile stretch of land east of Manhattan, starting with the bustling urban New York City borough of Brooklyn and ending in a much more rural town called Montauk Point.
Attend Annual Events
The "Flower and Garden Show," celebrating its 21st year in 2011, is a 10-day event held at Hick's Nursery in Westbury, New York. The event features activities for children, as well as indoor display gardens, gardening seminars and cooking demos for adults.
Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, New York, offers a "Student Art Festival" in January that includes a "Free Weekend Art" program for children of all ages. Kids will enjoy working on interactive art projects at these free weekend workshops.
"Organ Expo" is an annual even held in Farmingdale, New York, by the Suffolk Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. It features an organ demonstration where kids can learn about the sound the organ makes. Kids also have the opportunity to explore and play this intricate instrument, as well as play various musical games for prizes.
Play in a Park
Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown, New York, offers activities for the entire family, including hiking, picnicking, camping, fishing and horseback riding. Open year-round, the 627-acre park has a pond, playground, dog-run area, bridle path, a hiking trail and rowboat rentals.
The 320-acre Cathedral Pines Park in Middle Island is adjacent to Prosser Pines Nature Reserve. Here children can go hiking and mountain biking on trails, horseback riding on brindle paths and camping and picnicking.
Children will enjoy playing in the field sports, walking and bicycle paths, roller rink and sled hills in Seaford's 259-acre Cedar Creek Park. The park's playground was named the "Best Playground on Long Island" by Long Island Press in December 2006.
Crescent Beach, comprised of over 67 acres, provides a place where children can build sandcastles, take their pets to the dog-run area, as well as view wildlife such as egrets, great blue herons, monarch butterflies, owls and geese. Located in Halesite, New York, the beach is comprised of waterfront, wooded and wetland sites and is named for its crescent-shaped sandbar.
In Westhampton, New York, kids can enjoy lifeguard-supervised swimming, fishing and camping at Cupsogue Beach County Park, a 296-acre barrier beach park. The beach's pavilion has a food concession, restrooms, a first aid center, showers and changing rooms.
Meschutt Beach County Park, a lifeguard-supervised beach located in Hampton Bays, New York, provides a still-water beach that offers plenty of activities for kids, including swimming, camping, picnicking and a playground. A food concession with a dining area, restrooms and showers are all available at the park.
Visit a Museum
Admission is free for children under 10 at the Heckscher Museum of Art, which features a collection of western art, including artwork by Long Island artists. The museum features landscape paintings, abstract art, portraiture, photography and American modernism. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, as well as Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Free for children under six, the Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages features artifacts dating from the late 1700s to the present that pertain to American life and the history of Long Island. Children can view over 4,000 paintings, sculptures and prints, as well as over 100 horse-drawn carriages and a 19th century carriage making shop. The museum is open year-around every Friday through Sunday, except for December 24 and 25, January 1 and Easter Sunday.
Admission is free for children under 12 at LongHouse Reserve, which features an arboretum and sculpture gardens. Children can explore the gardens and learn about tropical plants, redwoods and dry woodland plants, as well as enjoy watching bull frogs in the pond. LongHouse Reserve is open on Wednesday and Saturday from May to October.