Your imagination takes flight on a visit to Museum Row, where the thrills include new exhibits for kids and aviation buffs, and rides on a restored 99-year-old carousel. With its 41 horses and one lion, the historic Nunley's carousel was a Baldwin landmark from 1939 to 1996. It is now whirling again inside a newly constructed enclosure on Museum Row, to a waltz by Long Islander Billy Joel.

Browse the museum gift shops, watch blockbuster movies on a huge "dome" IMAX screen or dine at out-of-the way cafes and restaurants.

And don't let a windy day stop you. In this section of Nassau County, you can imagine how those gusts helped Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis go aloft on his 1927 trans-Atlantic flight to Paris.

WHAT TO DO

Go museum hopping

Museum Row's main attractions lie within easy walking distance. The Cradle of Aviation Museum ($8-$9, 516-572-4111, cradleofaviation.org ) has a new Centennial of Flight on Long Island exhibit commemorating Glenn Curtiss' first buzz over the Hempstead Plains in 1909. In a Space Explorers exhibit, families can land a virtual Shuttle mission ($2, weekends by reservation).

The Francis X. Pendl Nassau County Firefighters Museum and Education Center ($3.50-$4, 516-572-4177, ncfiremuseum.org ) crams antique gear and equipment, including beautifully preserved shiny red fire trucks, into an interactive gallery.

The Long Island Children's Museum ($9-$10, 516-224-5800, licm.org) is a child's garden of interactive fun with 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits.

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See a blockbuster

The 300-seat IMAX Theater at the Cradle of Aviation Museum is the only IMAX Dome Theater on Long Island, with a five-story-tall screen. Educational classics such as "Dinosaurs" are a staple here. The theater recently added screenings of first-run blockbusters ($8.50-$13.50; $6.50-$11.50 kids).

WHERE TO SHOP

The Museum Store, Long Island Children's Museum, 516-224-5814: The 500 toys and games range in price from a dollar for school-trip souvenirs (bounce balls and rulers) to $100 for higher-end gifts. Kids can re-create their museum experience with bubble wands, puppets and ant farms. Branded merchandise, such as sweatshirts and crayons, is also available.

The Mitchel Field Outpost, The Cradle of Aviation, 516-572-0560: Bring home aviation books, T-shirts, movie posters, bouncing space balls and children's toys, the latter for as little as $1.

WHERE TO EAT

The Red Planet Cafe, Cradle of Aviation, 516-572-4063: Have salads, sandwiches and hot soup under a landscape of Mars.

City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill, 1080 Corporate Dr., Westbury 516-693-5400. bigtimerestaurants.com: Serves wines by the glass or bottle, exotic cheese plates and dinner.

Famous Dave's, 1060 Corporate Dr., Westbury, 516-832-7300, famousdaves.com: Chow down on the new shrimp po' boy sandwich ($10.85) or the old dependable All-American barbecue feast for four with ribs, a whole chicken plus brisket or chopped pork and side dishes ($57.99).

WHAT'S NEARBY

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Roosevelt Field Mall, Garden City, 516-742-8000: The three-floor mall built on a former airfield boasts a number of high-profile additions. Relative newbies include lululemon athletica for yoga-inspired athletic apparel and lessons, and a White House | Black Market women's clothing shop. The Ed Hardy store (516-294-8250), which opened in November, features the tattoo artist's dazzling designs on clothing.

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 1255 Hempstead Tpke., Uniondale, 516-794-9300, nassaucoliseum.com: Various concerts and family entertainment. Check Web site for prices and schedule.

GETTING THERE

BY CAR Take the Meadowbrook Parkway to exit M4 (Hempstead Turnpike/Nassau Coliseum). Bear right onto Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, the hub of Museum Row's attractions.