12 Free Things To Do With Your Kids on Long Island, New York

Montauk Beach
Veronica Garbutt / Getty Images

Whether you have an only child or a group of three or more in tow, there are lovely, free places to take your children in New York's Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Here's a sampling of 12 excellent free things to do with kids on Long Island, ranging from al fresco movie nights to hikes and more. 

01 of 12

See an Outdoor Movie

People seated in a park watching movie on big screen

Sean Gallup / Staff / Getty Images

Every summer, parks across Long Island hold weekly outdoor movie nights. The featured flicks are almost always family-friendly—think "Back to the Future," "The Goonies," and Pixar classics—and admission is free. Visitors are welcome to bring their own seats and treats for the showing. Check Smith Point County Park, Point Lookout Town Park, Eisenhower Park, Wantagh Park, and North Hempstead Beach Park for listings.

02 of 12

Spot Wildlife at Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve

Egret wading in the water at a New York park

WoodysPhotos / Getty Images

Address
1600 Merrick Rd, Merrick, NY 11566, USA
Phone +1 516-804-2000

Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve is a landfill-turned-sanctuary that spans 52 acres on the South Shore of Long Island. One of the best things to do there is walk along the 500-foot fishing pier and look for aquatic life in Merrick Bay. The grounds are home to goats, red foxes, and chickens, and countless birds, fish, and turtles can be seen in and around the water.

03 of 12

Visit the Big Duck

Roadside Big Duck, Flanders, NY

 Barry Winiker / Getty Images

Address
1012 NY-24, Flanders, NY 11901, USA
Phone +1 631-852-3377

Everyone's favorite "big bird," the Big Duck enchants young and old alike. Once a store that sold live Peking ducks, this whimsical building now functions as a must-see gift shop featuring "duckabilia." The waterfowl-shaped edifice is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The big bird happily roosts on Route 24 Flanders, and you can bring the family for a view of the adorable avian any time, but if you want to go inside the bird to shop, call first to make sure they're open.

04 of 12

Take a Hike

Address
250 Lawrence Hill Rd, Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724-1900, USA
Phone +1 631-367-3225

It's absolutely free to take in all the beautiful sites of Long Island while walking through parks and other open spaces on Long Island. Choose from places like the Uplands Farm Nature Sanctuary, Quogue Wildlife RefugeSweetbriar Nature Center, Garvies Point Preserve, and much more.

At Garvies Point Preserve, you'll find tranquil trails that lead to a quiet beach, while the Nature Conservancy’s Uplands Farm has a loop trail set within a forest, which kids will love. 

Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12

Attend a Children's Book Reading

Address
313 New York Ave, Huntington, NY 11743-3341, USA
Phone +1 631-271-1442

Bookstores throughout Long Island, including chains like Barnes & Noble, regularly schedule free book readings, author signings, and more. In the Hamptons, Bookhampton, which has four locations and has been open for decades, periodically hosts storytimes with readings by staff and sometimes even celebrities (Alec Baldwin has been known to pop in!). Local libraries host storytimes as well. 

 

06 of 12

Check out a Free Zoo

Address
249 Buckley Rd, Holtsville, NY 11742, USA
Phone +1 631-758-9664

 

The town of Brookhaven is home to a unique animal preserve, called the Holtsville Ecology Site, that houses more than 100 rescued animals. Many of them have been injured or are not releasable into the wild for various reasons. Admission is free, and kids can feed the goats for $.25. It's open seven days a week throughout most of the year. 

07 of 12

Attend a Free Event at Stony Brook Village Center

Address
111 Main St, Stony Brook, NY 11790, USA
Phone +1 631-751-2244

This sprawling shopping center in Stony Brook often features free entertainment, including live music, art exhibits, seasonal fun, and more. While some of these events are subject to a nominal fee, many are free. The village center often hosts free summer concerts and a scarecrow competition in the fall. Of course, even if no events are taking place, the idyllic village center is still enjoyable to walk around and window shop. 

08 of 12

Visit Long Island's Beautiful Beaches

Address
Long Beach, NY, USA

From the sprawling expanses of Long Beach to the powder-fine sands of Jones Beach, the surfing mecca of Montauk, and more, Long Island offers miles and miles of Atlantic seashore. While some beach towns may require an entrance fee if you're not a resident, you can typically access beaches for free between Labor Day and Memorial Day and after 5 or 6 p.m. each evening.

Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12

Attend a Free Long Island Festival

Address
20 Sagamore Hill Rd, Oyster Bay, NY 11771-1807, USA
Phone +1 516-922-4788

From the Fourth of July Festival at Sagamore Hill to the Oyster Bay Festival to the Cow Harbor Festival in Northport, Long Island offers some great outdoor events with no admission fees. Families will love the annual peach festival at family-owned Harbes Farm and the ​Long Island Family Festival, held each year in Copiague. At the latter, families can enjoy live music, a pet expo, vendors, carnival rides, and more. 

10 of 12

Get an Up-Close Look at Planes at Grumman Memorial Park

Address
4670 NY-25, Calverton, NY 11933, USA
Phone +1 631-369-1826

Are the kids interested in aircraft made right here on Long Island? If so, a visit to Grumman Memorial Park is a must. This free park features displays of actual aircraft like the mighty F-14A Tomcat, which was manufactured by Grumman for decades. The park was dedicated in 2000, and the centerpiece is that very Tomcat, one of over 700 built at the facility between 1971 and 1992. It was donated to the town by the U.S. Navy.

11 of 12

Visit the African American Museum of Nassau County

Address
110 N Franklin St, Hempstead, NY 11550-3029, USA
Phone +1 516-572-0730

With 6,000 square feet of exhibit space, an auditorium, a cozy tea house, and even Eubie Blake's piano, the African American Museum of Nassau County highlights African American art and culture in a sunny space in Hempstead. Kids can learn about their own culture or gain an appreciation of other cultures here, all for free.

12 of 12

Get Festive at Christmas Tree and Menorah Lightings

Ring in the holiday season with one of Long Island's many festive Christmas tree or menorah lightings. Almost all of these cheerful events are free, but noteworthy events include the annual lighting at Old Westbury's Life Lutheran Church, which includes hot cocoa and a 75-foot Oriental Spruce tree, and the holiday parade and tree lighting in Huntington, which includes face painting, a bouncy house, and a visit from Santa Claus. 

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