Located about an hour drive from Manhattan, a visit to Nassau County is an easy day trip or a weekend getaway. Or you could also make it a side trip on your way to North Folk or Hamptons, the north and south shores of Long Island. Once you arrive, try these three things to do with kids in Nassau County.
A former “gold coast” estate that has been converted to a public arboretum and historic state park is a great place to spend a morning or an evening with kids. With an $8 entrance fee per vehicle, this is an affordable activity for a large crowd.
As spring visitors we were treated to a feast of colors as we enjoyed the garden in full bloom. Most path ways are stroller friendly and when Little D wanted to run about he had endless space in the well manicured lawn.
You could take a self guided tour of Coe Hall, the 65 room mansion at an additional cost of $4 or enjoy the Tudor Revival architecture from the outside like we did.
We followed the garden map to guide us through the highlights. The formal rose garden and Italian gardens were my favorite areas and could have spent hours taking photos. We also spent time in the greenhouse looking at tropical plants such as Anthuriums and Begonias.
As the temperature started to rise in the afternoon, we decided to move on to an indoor activity.
The LICM makes up the Museum Row along with The Cradle of Aviation, The Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center and Long Island Museum for Science and Technology. General admission is $12 per person and children under 1 are admitted free.
The TotSpot, a play space geared towards toddlers, with its school bus model entrance was an instant hit with Little D. The toddler room had a timed entrance in order to keep the room from being overcrowded. But once inside there was no limit on play time.
At two years Little D had the motor skills and understanding for all the exhibits at TotSpot. He loved pretend driving the vehicles and going down the mini slide on his own. It was great to have a place for toddlers to play where they could feel independent.
While we waited to enter TotSpot, which was timed about an hour after our arrival, we explored some of the other galleries. The bubble room where kids could get their hands soapy and make their own bubbles was another of Little D’s favorites.
The museum caters to different age groups (0-7+ years of age) through various exhibits. We allowed Little D to explore and identify ones that interested him. He even got a chance to interact with some pre-school aged kids while playing with shapes at the Pattern Studio. The communication station, sound showers and animal diner were some of the other exhibits that fascinated Little D.
For older kids (>5 years):
The design and building stations where kids were encouraged to build with bricks, sticks and blocks seemed to be a favorite of kids five and older. We observed several families working on projects together. Another activity that appealed to older kids through its capacity for
imagination as well as physical challenge was the climbing structure with meandering ramps and suspension bridges.
If you’re at the Museum Row, stop by Nunley’s Carousel, located a few minutes walk from LICM. This is an old carousel from the 1920s, restored to its former artistic glory. The beautiful detail on the colorful horses is worth seeing even if you don’t want to take a ride. The $2 ride was one of the memorable moments of the trip for Little D as he recounts his ride on the gliding brown horse with a big smile.
Old Westbury Gardens, listed in National Register of Historic Places is one of the most well known mansions in the area. The cost of admission is $10 per person and children under 5 are admitted free while the 7-17 age group is charged $5.
Charles II-style mansion is nestled amid formal gardens overlooking a pond surrounded by beautiful landscaping. A stroller could be maneuvered on most trails we were on, which were not too far from the main grounds. Your admission allows you to tour the house as well as gardens. As Little D has no desire to spend time indoors, we skipped the house tour.
This is a popular venue for outdoor musical events and children’s programs. A Mozart concert by the Chamber Players International was on during our visit. We wished that we had brought lawn chairs or a picnic blanket to relax on the lawn listening to music. If you plan to visit, do check the calendar to plan accordingly.
There is also a children’s garden with several little wood cottages and child sized chairs. Little D loved exploring this area and we couldn’t stop ourselves from photographing him amidst the colorful flowers.