Hamptons and North Fork Family Fun This Holiday Season

Skating at Mitchell Park in Greenport
Skating at Mitchell Park in Greenport, Photo: Oliver Peterson

Get out and find some holiday fun this winter. Enjoy cold weather sports like skating and sledding, local arts and culture, or Christmas-themed activities—it’s all happening in the Hamptons and North Fork.

Find more East End events and activities at Events.DansPapers.com.

We Fish You a Merry Christmas
Build a new family tradition this winter at the Long Island Aquarium. Check out the amazing Lost City of Atlantis Shark Exhibit, and everyone’s favorite, the sea lion show. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a chance to snap a sea lion selfie. The exhibition center also includes an aviary, bug exhibit and butterfly house. Don’t miss the Santa Brunch on December 10. Enjoy a buffet brunch in the Sea Star ballroom, and take pictures with St. Nick himself! More info at longislandaquarium.com

Sweet Treats
There’s something about the sweet-spicy sensation of gingerbread that has long made it synonymous with the holiday season. Why it has also inspired the creation of tiny creatures and the construction of edible abodes remains something of a mystery, but there’s no secret as to why kids of all ages have so much fun at Riverhead’s Gingerbread University, where GingerElves happily help guests decorate GingerBears, GingerTrees, GingerTrains and, of course, gorgeous gingerbread houses. More info at gingerbreaduniversity.com

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree
The East End is famous for people flocking throughout spring, summer and fall to the ample offerings of U-pick berries, apples, pumpkins and the like. The time’s now here for you to pick the perfect Christmas tree—and cut it down yourself. There’s nothing quite like the smell of pine in the chilly air while you stroll through Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue, Shamrock Christmas Tree Farm in Mattituck, Lewin Farms in Calverton and Dart’s Tree Farm in Southold—where you just might spot Kris Kringle and his elves—in search of the perfect tree and creating indelible memories along the way. Find all these Christmas tree farms at DansBOTB.com, and find more info about picking out and maintaining your Christmas tree here.

Skate Expectations
Sharpen the blades, tighten the laces, maybe even grab a hockey stick! Whether you’re chilling on the North Fork or in the Hamptons, ice skating is the perfect wintertime outing. Some favorite spots include East Hampton’s Buckskill Winter Club (where you’ll find the only refrigerated, NHL regulation-sized ice rink in the Hamptons), ice skating on the ocean at Gurney’s Montauk, the Rinx on the Long Island Sound in Port Jefferson, the Mitchell Park Ice Skating Rink in Greenport—especially at sunset—and the ice rink at Southampton Golf Range, which is back for another winter of public skating and hockey. More info at buckskillwinterclub.com, gurneysmontauk.com, therinx.com, greenportvillage.com and southamptongolfrange.com.

RELATED: Five Place to Go Ice Skating in the Hamptons and North Fork

Where to Head When It’s Time to Sled
Knowing where to go sledding on the East End is something akin to folklore—valued information passed from generation to generation. Our readers rave about such spots as Reeves Beach in Riverhead. Or, find joy in the wonderful irony of going to school on a snow day. Take your toboggans, tubes and saucers and head to the elementary schools of East Quogue and Westhampton Beach, Pierson High School in Sag Harbor or across the street from Mattituck High School. Share your snowy sledding photos here.

Winter Wonderland
When snow begins to fall, Quogue Wildlife Refuge’s 305-acres, including 7 miles of trails, become a paradise for cross-country skiers, snowshoers, or anyone craving a cure for their cabin fever. Snowshoes can be rented every Tuesday, Thursday and weekends throughout the winter. Visit quoguewildliferefuge.org.

Unleash Your Inner Artists
Touring the Parrish Art Museum is a wonderful way to expose children to art. At the monthly Open Studio at Parrish, families are invited to learn about the art on view in the galleries as museum docents take families on a tour that’s followed by a studio session where kids create their own art. Look for children’s art programs at Guild Hall in East Hampton, too. More info can be found at parrishart.org and guildhall.org.

Starry, Starry Nights
Crisp, clear winter nights on the East End make for some incredible stargazing, and few spots indulge everyone’s interstellar interests like the Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold, which offers frequent lectures, classes, concerts, art exhibits and other special events. But the real fun comes when they open to the public every Saturday evening from 7 p.m. until midnight, when you can get a tour of the facilities and see the night sky through their powerful telescopes. More info at custerobservatory.org.

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