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Posts Tagged ‘Family Friendly things to do on Long Island’

The sun gleaming on the Peconic River

So have I enticed you to visit Riverhead yet?  With a few more weeks of summer and fall upon us, it is the perfect time to head east of  NYC to this busy town on Long Island.  I mean seriously, the kids just started school this past week, but anyone in the New York tri-state area knows that they are already off for a 4 day weekend, September 15th through 18th, and are also off September 26th and October 8th!  As you know from Part One and Part Two of this series, there is no shortage of things to do with the kids . . . aquarium,  Long Island Railroad Museum, kayaking , biking and hanging out with some farm animals.  The nice thing though about Riverhead is that you can slip some things in for Mom and Dad too, heck you can even bring the grandparents!  No matter who makes the trip, you can bet on a good time. We always do. So sift through the different ideas on the previous list and the one below and start planning what attractions, farms and outdoor activities for your own travel itinerary.

21.  Enjoy a live performance – The Vail-Leavitt Music Hall which was established in 1881 and was modeled after Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.  This music hall host productions from the East End Children’s Theatre Co., songwriter showcases, concerts and comedy shows.  As of Dec. 31, 2012, the Suffolk Theatre will be another place to catch a live performance ranging from musical acts, plays and comedy shows.  In addition the Suffolk Theatre which originally opened in 1933 will once again show films that span from popular box office movies to classic, foreign and independent films.  I am so excited that this historical single screen art deco movie theater that was once compared to Radio City Music Hall will be re-opening with such a range of productions.  It is located within walking distance of the Hyatt Place and there are many restaurants close by , like the Riverhead Project, that you will definitely be able to make it a night out on the town.

Vail-Leavitt Music Hall

The Suffolk Theatre scheduled to open again on Dec. 30th, the 80th anniversary of when it first opened its doors.

22.  Visit a farm-stand – It is apple picking time!  It’s also pumpkin picking time too!  Farm stands and orchards are popular stops for families to pick up some fresh produce. Many farms also offer “pick your own” strawberries, peaches and pumpkins in season. For a list of Riverhead Farm Stands, click on this link.

I love stopping off at the many farm-stands, especially for a fruit pie.

23.  Tea Time Cottage – This Long Island Teahouse is adorable.  It is a wonderful, cozy place for a cup of tea and a warm scone or a great freshly made wrap and a cup of soup.  The Tea TIme Cottage is close to Hallockville Museum Farm and the Gingerbread University, so once you are finished decorating cookies or hanging out on the farm, cap off your day with afternoon tea, minus the white gloves.

Tea Time Cottage

24.  Hit the Golf course – If golf is your game, there is several courses where you can tee off or hit the driving range in Riverhead.  The four public courses are Cherry Cree Golf Links, Long Island National Golf Club, Sandy Pond Golf Course, and The Woods At Cherry Creek.

25. Do a little fishing Flander’s Bay offers saltwater fishing where  you  can reel in striped bass, bluefish and snapper. If you would like to fish by boat, rentals are available and of course you can always fish by shore.  The Peconic River is another great place to fish and you can also find striped bass and snapper here too.  The town docks behind Main Street provide the easiest way to cast your rod and is a great place to fish with kids.  Regardless of where you go fishing, don’t forget that anyone over the age of sixteen in New York needs a fishing license.  You can pick one up at Sports Authority on Old Country Road or the Town of RIverhead  at 200 Howell Avenue for five dollars.

Fishing from a rented canoe on the Peconic River

Fishing off the dock

26.  Camp & Hike at Indian Island County Park – Open year round, camping is quite popular at Indian Island, with trailer and tent campsites. Restrooms and shower facilities are available for the comfort of all campers.  Picnic tables, grills, comfortable benches make it easy to set up shop.  Other features are fishing, playgrounds, hiking trails, and  a bike hostel. Dogs must be leashed. If you are looking to connect with nature and get away from it all,  Indian County Park is the place  to escape to where you can enjoy 287 acres and views of the peaceful Flanders Bay.  Click here for camp reservation information.

Camping

27.  Go Antiquing– Antiques Etc. is a located in an old barn on McDermott Ave. between the Peconic River and Main Street.  When I visited there were some gorgeous pieces of furniture.  I fell in love with a large farm table and a mirrored chest of drawers.  Too bad there is no room in my house.  Another great place on Main Street is the Red Collection which is a consignment shop featuring home furnishings many made by top designers.  The store is 8,000 square feet and items range from $10 to 10,000.  Since my favorite channel is HGTV, all I can say is I love this place.

28.  Get your history fix at the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum – There is a lot of history on Long Island.  Think about it, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence , William Floyd resided in Suffolk County, the Culper Spy Ring operated in parts of Suffolk County, and being on the east coast, colonial life was largely prevalent.  Of course Suffolk County also was where the first wireless signal was transmitted, where Albert Einstein spent  his summer in 1939 and was the home  of the first US Navy Submarine base.The museum has a vast collection that includes 20,000 historical artifacts. There are permanent and changing exhibitions.  The artifact collections are broad, but  mainly focus in the areas of  history and the arts.  The majority of the collections are from the 19th century, but  Native American artifacts from the prehistoric to modern time are also represented.

29.  Check out Long Island Antique Power Association Conveniently right next door to the Hallockville Farm Museum, you will find the Long Island Antique Power Association.  Here you can check out antique trucks, tractors and equipment. So if you are into cars and like to check out engines or think it would be fun to see a tractor pull, stop on by.  Rumor has it that the association hopes make their operation a full-time working farm museum so the public can participate sowing wheat and planting potatoes and them harvesting them.

Where else can you experience lawn mower racing or garden tractor pulls?

30.  Venture out to neighboring towns – Well, if the previous 29 places were not enough, within 15 to 20 minutes from Riverhead, you can star-gaze at the Custer Institute in Southold on Saturday night or for the Annual Astronomy Jamboree October 19th- 20th.  Another must see, especially for kids is to  visit the Big Duck, a roadside attraction in Flanders.  If you can’t wait for the Suffolk Theater to open, you can catch a live comedy show or music performance at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.  You can always find a great line up here which is nice when you don’t want to head into NYC.  For example, on Columbus Day weekend the Gregg Allman and Band  and Bill Cosby will be performing.

The Big Duck

Yes, the list is long, but with 30 Reasons to Vacation in Riverhead that is expected.  Believe it or not there is even more places that are on the horizon in this busy town.  There is an ice rink and pavilion in the works and it looks like dinosaurs will be back on Main streett.  Most places that are mentioned are fairly inexpensive, but there are a few places that can be pricy, so make sure you look for discounts in the Your Local Kids Source, which is a free magazine that you can find in the hotels and restaurants.  I have found coupons for the aquarium up to 30% discounts in this coupon book or  you can just go to their website and create your own coupon.

30 Reasons….what is your families’ reason to vacation or make a day trip to Riverhead?

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Sunflowers along Roanoke Avenue in Riverhead.

Riverhead, New York is small town on the east end of Long Island sitting at the mouth of Peconic River.  Many people associate Riverhead with the Aquarium, the water park Splish Splash, and the Tanger Outlets.  These might be the most popular attractions, but Riverhead has so much more to offer.  Affordable hotels (that are scarce further east out in the Hamptons) make it a great destination to visit with families.  This post is the first of three and families will be thrilled to find something to do for every family member.   There really is a lot to do, regardless of the season or your age, so check out my list below and make plans to venture out to the east end of Long Island for a day trip or a vacation in this family friendly destination 76 miles east of New York City.

1.   Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center The aquarium has been one of our family’s favorite place to visit.  It is not a huge, but it has so many exhibits and interactive experiences.  In addition to seeing beautiful fishes and the sea-lion show, the aquarium is the home of three Japanese Snow Monkeys and adorable Penguins.   When my son was three he was happy touching the stingrays in Ray Bay and now at age thirteen he has enjoyed the thrill of the shark dive  and the pirate snorkel adventure.  Other fun things for the family is the Discovery Tower, climbing Poseidon’s Peak,  touring the Peconic River on the Atlantis Explorer Tour boat or hanging out in the tranquil Butterfly Exhibit.

My little guy checking out the stingrays

Not so little any more doing the shark dive with his friend.

2.  Splish Splash– This of course is a seasonal attraction and is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.  With 96 areas of water slides and wave pools, it is no wonder that it was voted one of the best water parks in America by the Travel Channel.  One of the things I like best about Splish Splash is how the park is nestled in the trees for shade.

The Lazy River

3.  Riverhead Raceway – This is a fun way to spend a Saturday evening.  I promise the race cars whipping around the track, demolition derbies and classic carnival food will keep your family entertained.  Races are only on Saturdays starting at 6 pm and the pit opens in the afternoon where you can check out the practice and modified trials.

Riverhead Raceway

4.  Martha Clara Vineyards – More than just award-winning wine, the Entenmann’s family friendly farm is inviting for the whole family.  The kids will get a kick out of seeing the turtles, goats, pigs, cows and other animals.  This family friendly vineyard host dog walks (yes, your furry four leg friend is welcome), live music, horse and carriage rides and of course wine tasting for the adults.  The weekend we visited we were also able to pick our own sunflowers from the field and families were sprawled across the lawn with their picnic lunches while listening to the Live Reggae Music by The Roots Foundation.   The kids played games like tag and bean bag toss while adults were playing bocce. The vineyard is opened year round, so make sure you check out their website for events and live music schedule.

Check out the doggie in the wine tasting room.

The Roots Foundation keeping the crowd entertained.

Say hello to the alpaca

Walking through the sunflowers.

Saying hello to one of the horses that pull the carriage through the vineyard.

Families playing on the lawn.

The Vineyard

5.  Treasure Cove Rentals – Located behind the Hyatt Place, the Treasure Cove Resort Marina rents bicycles, canoes & kayaks, water bikes and electric tour boards.You can rent by the one or two hours or for a half a day for four hours and venture out on the Peconic River.

Kayaking along the Peconic River.

6.  Gingerbread University – This is such a fun activity to share with kids and not just for Christmas.   Families can pick from decorating their own Gingerbread house or cookies.  Each month has a theme and when I stopped by they had cute whales to decorate for summer.  There is plenty of candy in the sweet shop to add to the decorations too.  Walk ins are welcome, but it is best to make a reservation.

Gingerbread University

Gingerbread cookies waiting to be decorated.

Decorating Kits

7.  East End Art Gallery – Located in downtown Riverhead on Main Street, this gallery is run by the East End Arts Council.  The Gallery produces eight shows a year and the gift shop showcases work of the member artist.  Admission is free and open to the public.  The day I visited there was an exhibit titled Found Objects and a fabulous women named Janet gave me a little background of some of the works of art.  I found many of the sculptures and paintings whimsical and thought it would be a great exhibit for kids to get their imaginative juices flowing by looking at works of art that were made of old alarm clocks and a kitchen strainer.  My favorite  object was a very large wastebasket that looked like a Starbucks cup made from Starbucks cups found on the ground.

A work of art made from found objects.

Kids would love this.

8.  Out East Family Fun  – This is an outdoor family entertainment center opened from March through November.  Miniature golf, batting cages, and jump shot basketball (a trampoline basketball game) will definitely ensure a great time. Summer seasonal activities include all water attractions which include 4 inflatable water slides, water wars (a slingshot water balloon game), shoot and shower (a basketball splash game), and a splash zone for the little ones. This place is a must, since vacation always should include a round of mini golf!

Mini Golf for $7 per person at Out East Family Fun

9.   Affordable Accommodations – There are three options for family accommodations in Riverhead – Holiday Inn Express East End, Hilton Garden Inn Riverhead and the Hyatt Place Long Island East End, all averaging about $150 a night.   Both the Holiday Inn Express and the Hilton Garden Inn are both located on Old Country Road which is close to the outlets, Splish Splash, Riverhead Raceway & Out East Family Fun.  The Hyatt Place, which opened up a year ago is on Main Street in the historic downtown section of Riverhead and sits along the Peconic River.  It is next to the aquarium and is close to the Long Island Science Center and the Railroad Museum of Long Island.  Treasure Cove Marina is also located on the premises for kayak rentals.  Each hotel has a pool, which is another attraction in itself when traveling with kids.

10.  Picnic at the Peconic Riverfront Park – Pick up lunch at one of my favorite places, The Country Rotisserie, and head down to Milton L. Burns Park which is behind the bank on Main Street.  This is a phenomenal park and you will feel like you are in an outdoor art gallery with the carved pilings along the river.  Seriously these pilings are a work of art, and you will find carvings of the Statue of Liberty, 911 Memorial and the Empire State Building.  There is a performance area , benches and checkers and chess tables.  The gardens are beautiful with many blooming flowers. This a charming retreat with pathways, grassy areas and some shade trees.  At the entrance off of Main Street there is a new playground and community garden. Across the street, south along the river you will find Ammann Riverfront Park.  This park runs behind the southern storefronts on Main Street.  Here you will find picnic tables along the riverfront with boat moorings. Sometimes a farmers market will be set up and the park ends at the aquarium.

Milton L. Burns Park

Statue of Liberty

See, they really are works of art!

Chess anyone?

Are you impressed with all that Riverhead has to offer?  Well this is just the tip of the iceberg, with twenty more reasons to vacation in Riverhead, make sure you check out my continued post later this week!

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