Family Fun: Day Tripping in the Hamptons and on the North Fork

Custer Observatory in Southold.
Custer Observatory in Southold.

The East End offers a wide variety of family friendly activities perfect for a day trip. Here’s a look at some of the most notable places you can take your kids for day-long excursions during winter and early spring weekend, and bonus—you’ll enjoy them too!

Montauk Point Lighthouse

Starting March 21, you can once again head to the historic Montauk Point Lighthouse. Located on the tip of Long Island, it’s the oldest lighthouse in New York State and still serves as an active aid to navigation. Build in the late 18th century, this National Historic Landmark offers a museum, gift shop, tours and, if you climb to the top of the tower, unparalleled views of the Montauk coastline. History buffs will delight at the assortment of historical documents and photographs on display, including two original documents—one, a Congressional authorization approved by President George Washington and signed by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson to construct the lighthouse at Montauk Point; and a second signed by President George Washington, which authorizes the federal purchase of land from the Montauk Proprietors for the purpose of building a lighthouse at Montauk Point.

2000 Route 27, Montauk. 631-668-2544

Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center

Open year-round, Long Island’s famed aquarium boasts indoor, outdoor and interactive exhibits, making for lively and educational experiences for children of all age. Among the most notable attractions is a 20,000-gallon coral reef display tank, which is one of the largest all-living coral displays in the Western Hemisphere. Other exhibits include American alligators, marmosets, giant pacific octopus, and an indoor garden filled with thousands of butterflies. Special events are planned throughout the year, including upcoming Seascapes & Sips wine and painting series. As an added bonus, stop by on your birthday week and your admission is free.

431 East Main Street, Riverhead. 631-208-9200

The Custer Institute and Observatory

The Custer Observatory, which was established in 1927, is Long Island’s oldest public observatory. It’s open to the public every Saturday evening from dusk until midnight, when you can stop in for a tour of the facilities and then view the night sky through the observatory’s powerful telescopes. If you’re lucky, you might even get a glimpse of Venus, Mercury and the moon, all while the volunteer staff guides you through exactly what you’re seeing. In addition to several telescopes set up on the lawn, the facilities includes a 22-foot diameter dome atop the third story of the main building which contains a 25-inch Obsession telescope and a ground-based observatory shed that contains a large binocular telescope and a 14-inch Celestron telescope.

1115 Main Bayview Road, Southold. 631-765-2626

Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre

Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre is a nonprofit puppet theatre designed for young children and their families. Established in 2001, the destination is among only 50 established puppet theaters listed by the Puppeteers of America (the only national organization of puppeteers). In addition to puppet shows, there are puppet playgroups, puppet clubs family workshops and a variety of special events. Shows take place on select Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and are geared toward children of all ages. The theater hosts a variety of puppet companies including its resident company, A Couple of Puppets, as well as performers from New York City and beyond. Mommy and Me yoga, kids yoga night and birthday parties are also available as part of the theater’s many offerings.

4 Hampton Street, Sag Harbor. 631-725-4193

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