Free Things to Do on Long Island

You don’t have to spend lots of money to enjoy Long Island. From free movies, concerts and plays to museums without admission fees, there’s plenty to see and do on Long Island without digging deep into your wallet. Here are some places where you can have fun on Long Island for free. Please also check out Free Things To Do With Your Kids on Long Island to see where to take your young relatives or friends on the Island without spending a cent.

And also check out the Monthly Calendars of Events on Long Island for updates on more free events.

  • 01 of 21

    Watch the Sun Go Down on Long Island's Beautiful Beaches

    Sunset over ocean at Long Beach, NY.
    ••• Rudi Von Briel/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    In season, you may have to pay to go to some of those lovely Long Island beaches (especially if you’re not a resident of the town or village.) But before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, and usually after 5 or 6 p.m., you can sit on the sand for free at places like Long Beach and watch as the sky turns a deep shade of red and the sun sinks below the horizon. You can also sit on the waterfront at places like Port Washington and Cold Spring Harbor ​to view spectacular sunsets.

  • 02 of 21

    Free Entertainment in Long Island Wine Country

    Wolffer Vinyard
    ••• Jiashiang/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Visit some of the many vineyards and wineries on the North Fork, and a few on the South Fork. Although most charge a nominal fee for wine tastings, many feature free music and special events.  Check out The Wine Stand at  Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack where they have live music on Fridays and Saturdays during the warmer months. 

  • 03 of 21

    Take A Hike!

    Bailey Arboretum
    ••• Terry Ballard/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Long Island is home to a number of hiking trails like the ones in Garvies Point Preserve, which lead down to a quiet beach, and some wonderful wildlife refuges like the Oyster Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The Nature Conservancy’s Uplands Farm features a double-loop trail surrounded by red cedar, oak, hickory and other tall trees. Butterflies and birds, as well as wood frogs and salamanders, ​frolic in the area’s pools in season.

    You can also enjoy walking through shaded trails in Long Island gardens like the Bailey Arboretum and Clark Garden, which have no admission charge (although Clark Garden greatly appreciates voluntary donations.)​

  • 04 of 21

    Visit the Big Duck

    Big Duck
    ••• Joel Kramer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Long Island's own big bird was built in the 1930s by duck farmers to attract passersby to their duck emporium. The famous building is free to visit, but you might want to spend some money inside on the "duck-a-bilia" that's for sale. And don't forget to visit on the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving each year. That's when there's an annual holiday lighting of the Big Duck.

    The Big Duck
    Route 24
    Flanders, NY
     

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  • 05 of 21
    Jones Beach Boardwalk Bandshell
    ••• R.Sullivan/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

    Long Island is home to many free concerts. The Steinway & Sons Piano Gallery of Long Island in Melville is a showroom for the legendary instruments, and they also offer free concerts in their recital space.

    The Jones Beach Boardwalk Bandshell is also a popular location for free concerts.
     

  • 06 of 21

    Stroll Through An Outdoor Sculpture Park

    Nassau County Museum of Art
    ••• Pamela V White/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    The Nassau County Museum of Art's Sculpture Park features over 50 sculptures by artistic luminaries like Botero, Calder and more, all displayed outdoors on the museum's sprawling property. The Nassau County Museum of Art is located on One Museum Drive, Roslyn Harbor. Visit the Nassau County Museum of Art website for more information.

    The museum's 145 acres also include marked nature trails through the woods, so you can take a leisurely hike through the greenery. (On weekends, you’ll have to pay a minimal charge to park your car in their lot. There is also a fee for entering the museum building.)

  • 07 of 21

    Visit Grumman Memorial Park

    Phoenix missile at Grumman Memorial Park
    ••• The Wordsmith/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

    Grumman Memorial Park, located in Calverton, celebrates the many years that the Grumman Corporation (now the Northrop Grumman Corporation) had a Long Island presence. See actual planes like the F-14A Tomcat and the A-6E Intruder, all for free. 

  • 08 of 21

    Go to a Museum for Free with Bank of America's Museums on Us® program

    Rose garden at Old Westbury Gardens
    ••• Terry Ballard/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    If you have a Bank of America ATM, credit or check card, you can take advantage of the Museums on Us® program. On the first full weekend of every month, just show your card for free general admission to over 100 museums across the country.  On Long Island, you can visit the following museums for free on select dates:

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  • 09 of 21

    Attend a Free Long Island Festival

    Long Island has a vibrant festival scene, and many of these celebrations are free. There are a variety of admission-free events with entertainment, music and more, from the​ annual Oyster Bay Festival to the Cow Harbor Festival in Northport and Suffolk County Community College’s annual Long Island Shakespeare Festival in the summer, usually in June and July.

  • 10 of 21
    Low angle view of colorful birthday decorations
    ••• Christine Schneider/Getty Images

    A number of restaurants on Long Island, NY offer freebies for you on your birthday, from desserts to full meals. Some require you to join their birthday clubs for free.

  • 11 of 21

    Visit a Free Long Island Museum

    Photo © The American Guitar Museum
    ••• The American Guitar Museum. Photo © The American Guitar Museum

    Enjoy a day of culture at a number of free museums on Long Island. The American Guitar Museum, located in a former farmhouse in New Hyde Park, houses treasures like the John D’Angelico guitar played in the wedding scene of The Godfather, one of Les Paul’s original Gibson guitars and an 1840 La Cote guitar.

    The African American Museum of Nassau County in Hempstead highlights the many cultural contributions of the African American community. The permanent collection features Eubie Blake’s piano, and there are special events and changing exhibits. Admission is free.

  • 12 of 21

    Find Free Events at LI Libraries

    Wantagh Public Library
    ••• sphoto33/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Check with your local library to see which free events they offer. From concerts to shows for the kids, most libraries feature a variety of regularly scheduled, cost-free entertainment.

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  • 13 of 21

    Visit Art Galleries

    Photo © Suffolk County Community College
    ••• Lyceum Gallery, Suffolk County Community College. Photo © Suffolk County Community College

    It’s always free to browse through art galleries, and it’s as much fun as viewing paintings in a museum. Visit galleries throughout Long Island, and don't forget that some colleges here also have art galleries that are free and open to the public. Adelphi University has its Adele and Herbert J. Klapper Center for Fine Arts Gallery, the University Center Gallery and the Swirbul Library Gallery in Garden City. Suffolk County Community College’s Lyceum Gallery at the Eastern Campus in Riverhead and the Gallery East on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood both offer free exhibits during the academic year, and there are artists’ receptions that are open to the public.

  • 14 of 21

    Find Free Movies

    During the summer, view outdoor films at the Lakeside Theater at Eisenhower Park (near parking fields No. 6 and No. 6A) They usually show weekly movies on a giant screen, including family favorites and classics. All movies are free and begin at dusk. There is no formal seating in the theater, so please bring a chair or blanket. For more information and schedule, contact Nassau County Parks.

    The Town of Oyster Bay also features free summer concerts and films.

  • 15 of 21

    Attend a Free Seminar or Workshop

    Photo © Hicks Nurseries
    ••• Flowers at Hicks Nurseries, Long Island. Photo © Hicks Nurseries

    Hicks Nurseries in Westbury offers free gardening seminars and workshops.

    Most local libraries offer free events where you can discuss books or learn about a variety of topics.

    Need to brush up on your digital skills for the Mac? ​Apple Stores offer free workshops on several programs. Reserve in advance or just drop in at the Apple Store ManhassetRoosevelt Field, or Walt Whitman.

  • 16 of 21

    See Free Author Talks and Children's Book Events

    Bookshops like Book Revue and Barnes & Noble feature regularly scheduled talks and book signings by authors.

    In addition to books signings for adults, Book Revue features regular programs where children can listen to stories, create crafts and sing and dance. The programs are FREE and there's no need to register. See ​their website for details.

    Also, during the summer, bring a blanket or a folding chair, sit back and listen to authors or poets read from their works at the annual Summer Gazebo Readings in Oceanside.

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  • 17 of 21

    Learn About DNA

    DNA Model
    ••• Caroline Davis2010/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Interested in the story of genes? Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Dolan DNA Learning Center offers some free programs to the public. The Genes We Share exhibition tells the story of the human genome and the Long Island Discovery Multimedia Presentation gives a fascinating look at the history of the people, places and events that shaped Long Island. (In addition to these free programs, there are other programs with an admission fee at the center.)

  • 18 of 21

    The Brookhaven National Laboratory Science Learning Center offers free programs to Scouts, enrichment programs, science clubs and camps. The museum's programs are suited to students in the first grade through eighth grade. The museum is wheelchair accessible.

  • 19 of 21

    Find Free Kids' Workshops at Home Depot Stores

    Home Depot
    ••• Mike Mozart/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    From projects like building a bird feeder to a do-it-yourself fire truck, kids can learn how to build things for FREE at Home Depot stores on Long Island.

  • 20 of 21

    The Freecycle Network is made up of groups around the world. It's a grassroots, nonprofit movement where people give away things for free if they don't need them anymore. It's absolutely free to join. There are two Freecycle groups on Long Island: the Nassau County Freecycle Group and the Suffolk County Freecycle Group.

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  • 21 of 21
    Tern
    ••• Michael Mulqueen/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    After you've seen the Big Duck, it's time to watch real bobolinks, ospreys, kestrels, hawks and more out in the wild at places like Garvies Point, Uplands Farm Nature Sanctuary and more. Many of the Long Island locations that are great birdwatching spots are free.