From local art to history to hands-on learning, the museums of the East End of Long Island have plenty to offer to just about anyone. You can spend a day with the kids learning about creepy-crawlies; spend a morning pursuing the works of local artists; the afternoon exploring the East End's maritime or farming history; and the evening stargazing at one of two observatories.
Where the Children Go to Play
The Children's Museum of the East End is a favorite spot among parents and children. The museum has a fully array of activities and exhibits to keep any child occupied. Kids can create art, use their imagination on a seafaring ship, and play in a turn-of-the century general store. The museum, located in Bridgehampton, also hosts special events throughout the year. The museum is open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $10 and members are free.
Another popular East End spot to spend an afternoon is the Long Island Science Center in Riverhead. The center, which focuses on science, has hands-on exhibits including a "visual celebration" of the Galapagos. The center also hosts special programs and classes and is open weekly from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5.
Hooks and Sinkers: Maritime History
Local maritime history runs deep and there are a number of places to explore the East End's whaling history which dates back to the 1640s. One such place is the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, which boasts numerous artifacts and maritime art. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $2 for children 11 and under.
Another local spot to delve into maritime history is the East End Seaport Museum. Located in Greeport, the museum has numerous seafaring artifacts on-hand and is open on weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $2.
And while on the North Fork, stop over at the Horton's Point Lighthouse Park in Southold, which was built in 1857. A tour of the lighthouse, which has views of the Long Island Sound, includes a new exhibit, called, Tale of the Whale. The lighthouse is open weekends from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults and children under 12 are free.
The three-floor East Hampton Town Marine Museum in Amagansett also features exhibits related to the fishing history of the East End and has a children's area where kids can learn through hands-on exhibits. The museum is open Thursday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $10.
Chugging Through Time
Located just steps from the Hampton Jitney stop in Greenport is the Railroad Museum of Long Island. Once a freight building for the Long Island Railroad, the museum offers collectable trains, a Lionel train layout, a new exhibit dedicated to the 100th anniversary of New York's Pennsylvania Station, and a "ride through history," with tours that run between the Greenport museum and its second Riverhead location. The museum is open weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for children, and children under 5 are free.
The East End through Art
For those looking to peer into the history of the East End through local art, the Parrish Art Museum, located in the heart of Southampton Village has a lot to offer. The museum's walls are filled with a "collection of American art from the nineteenth century to present, with a particular focus on the artists of Long Island's East End." The museum's exhibits are changed frequently and a schedule is available on their website. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and students. Children under 18 are free.
Farming through History
With plenty of farmland on the East End, there is no wonder that there is a museum dedicated to farming history. The 28-acre Hallockville Museum Farm, located on Sound Avenue in Riverhead, features 19 historic houses and barns that date back to the 18th century. The grounds also feature animals and special events throughout the summer. Guided tours are available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for children and seniors.
An Evening under the Stars
The East End of Long Island has two observatories, one in Montauk and another in Southold. The Custer Institute, located in Southold, is Long Island's oldest public observatory, dating back to 1927. The facility is open every Saturday from dusk until Midnight with guided tours of the sky. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children under 14.
The Montauk Observatory offers sky tours on a year-round program basis. Dates for public viewings are available on the organization's website.