Summer isn’t just sand and sun. It’s also theaters, bowling alleys and even carousels! The East End’s unique history and culture provide the perfect backdrop for family fun every day. No matter where you are, you’re never too far away from a once-in-a-lifetime experience to share with the entire family. So put the swimsuit back in the dresser for the day, leave the beach umbrella in the trunk and head out to some of the East End institutions that are both fun and educational.
Dan’s Papers Kite Fly
What’s better than ending a Sunday beach day with the simple pleasure of flying a kite? Head to Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack on Sunday, August 5 for the 46th annual Dan’s Papers Kite Fly! Enjoy live music as you watch your kite soar over the beach in the summer breeze. Widely regarded as a favorite family summer event, this free Hamptons tradition promises to entertain both the young and the young-at-heart. Prizes will be awarded to the most outstanding kites, both homemade and store-bought. Expect full details as the event gets closer!
Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre
The beloved Sag Harbor puppet theater introduces young children and their families to a lifelong love of theater and art. Everyone is sure to have a laugh during these puppet shows, which are performed at 11 a.m. on show days at Bay Street Theater. Puppet productions in store for this summer include Jack & Jill, Cinderella, Goldilocks & the Three Bears and more. 1 Bay Street, Sag Harbor. 631-725-9500, goatonaboat.com
Wickham’s Fruit Farm
Wickham’s Fruit Farm is a historic farm in Cutchogue, dating all the way back to 1661. Their pick-your-own really can’t be beat as a family summer tradition. Starting in June, visitors to the farm can pick fresh strawberries at their peak. In July, cherries and blueberries ripen, and by the end of August, Wickham’s orchard is full of perfect peaches. Visit every month, and you’ll always find a new experience. The farm is open Monday through Friday. 28700 Route 25, Cutchogue. 631-734-6441, wickhamsfruitfarm.com
Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center
A world of adventure awaits the entire family at the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center in Riverhead. Stand inches away from sea predators. See cuddly marmosets, sea otters and African penguins in the Aquarium’s exhibitions. In addition to the mysteries of the sea, the center boasts birds, butterflies, bugs and creatures of the night. Daily events at the center include a sea lion show, insect interaction and animal talks. 431 East Main Street, Riverhead. 631-208-9200, longislandaquarium.com
The Greenport Carousel
The historic, restored Greenport Carousel, which has been entertaining families for almost a century, is a favorite North Fork summertime destination. Located in Mitchell Park in Greenport, the carousel is open daily in season and boasts 36 horses, all jumpers, as well as two sleighs. Anyone daring enough to reach for and grab the alluring brass ring wins a free ride. The carousel was built in1920 and was later purchased by Grumman Peconic River Airport in Calverton for use during company picnics and community activities. When Northrup-Grumman closed in 1995, the carousel was donated to Greenport. For more information, visit villageofgreenport.org.
The All Star
The All Star will make the bowling experiences of your childhood seem like a different game. Perfect for a rainy day, The All Star has 22 glow-in-the-dark lanes beneath big screens showing sporting events and movies. After a round of bowling, challenge your kids to a round of air hockey in the arcade or feast on delicious bowling alley fare at the restaurant. 96 Main Road, Riverhead. 631-904-0580, theallstar.com
Splish Splash may be close to the quiet East End, but the park is nothing short of extreme. Featured on the Travel Channel’s Xtreme Waterparks, Splish Splash has dozens of thrilling water rides to help you cool off from the summer heat. There’s Mutiny Bay, an interactive ride that takes you and your crew on a voyage battling against pirates and sea creatures. If you’re brave enough, try Dr. Von Dark’s Tunnel of Terror or the infamous Giant Twister that weaves through the treetops. Other favorite rides include Alien Invasion and the Abyss. When you’re hungry, there’s plenty to choose from along the boardwalk and at the restaurants and snack bars. 2549 Splish Splash Drive, Calverton. 631-727-3600, splishsplash.com
Montauk Whale Watching
Join professional marine biologists from the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI) for whale-watching trips off the coast of Montauk. Whales of all kinds, including Humpback, Fin, Minke, Right, Sei and Pilot whales, can all be spotted. In addition, expect to see dolphins (Common, Bottlenose, Atlantic White Sided and Risso’s Dolphins), turtles (Leatherback, Green and Loggerhead), sharks (Basking, Great White, Hammerhead and Blue), and other marine life. The 2018 Viking Fleet Whale Watching trips leave the docks on Sundays and Wednesdays in July, August and the first Sunday in September from 2–7 p.m. Visit vikingfleet.com for reservations or call 631-668-5700. 462 Westlake Drive, Montauk.
Children’s Museum of the East End
Keep your kids learning and playing this summer at the Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE). The museum’s wide range of exhibits includes everything from a physics- and math-based miniature golf course to a drop-in art studio. Between multiple interactive exhibits for the more adventurous little ones, sit-down entertainment like read-alongs and Friday night drop-off dance parties, there’s something for every child to enjoy. At CMEE’s Lego Club, which meets every Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon, kids can construct anything their imaginations desire. Visit cmee.org or call 631-537-8250 for more information. CMEE is located at 376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton.
The South Fork Natural History Museum
The South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo) in Bridgehampton allows kids and adults to discover the unmatched natural history of the South Fork. Museum visitors can begin their exploration indoors, as a walk through the interactive and hands-on exhibits mimics a nature hike. The journey at SoFo continues outdoors where guests can observe 40 preserved acres of Long Island’s plant and wildlife known as Vineyard Field, which opens to the trail system of the Long Pond Greenbelt. SoFo is open daily, and special events are planned throughout the summer. For more information, visit sofo.org or call 631-537-9735. SoFo is located at 377 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton.
The Montauk Lighthouse
Take the family to The End for the day and see a national historic landmark. The Montauk Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in the state. Climb the 137 steps to the top and catch a view of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Block Island. Guests can also visit the museum, which features the original lighthouse keeper’s bedroom, among other preserved rooms. Saturday (10:30 a.m.–7 p.m.) & Sunday (10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.), August 18 & 19 is Lighthouse Weekend, when visitors can enjoy colonial toys and games, leather making and traditional poetry, among other presentations. Visit montauklighthouse.com for additional details.
Long Island Game Farm
For a day of cuddly fun, visit the Long Island Game Farm at 489 Chapman Boulevard in Manorville. Enjoy close encounters of the animal kind by getting up close and personal with giraffes and camels. Also meet zebras, lemurs and kangaroos, feed Clifford the giraffe, take selfies with parrots, or ride the children’s rides. There’s always something new to discover. Visit longislandgamefarm.com for schedules and ticket information.
Artists & Writers Charity Softball Game
This famous event had modest beginnings in 1948, but has since evolved into an important source of revenue for charities providing vital human services to Long Island’s East End. Artistic luminaries as Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Philip Pavia, Jackson Pollock and Joan Mitchell were involved in the game’s early years. Everyone brought a dish. Some brought drinks. It all took place in Wilfrid Zogbaum’s front yard. The artists had moved to Springs and the East End for cheap rent, larger studios and an easier life (ah, the good ol’ days). Writers joined the artists in the ’60’s and ’70’s. Irwin Shaw, Willie Morris, James Jones, Jimmy Ernst and Carl Stokes, who was the mayor of Cleveland, were among the group of regulars that expanded over the years to include politicians, actors, musicians, publishers, editors and television personalities. The game has included governors, mayors, senators and a Supreme Court justice—with a former President passing through from time to time. The epic game returns on August 18. awgame.org