The end of summer doesn't mean the end of fun for the kids. Many activities are still available to keep them outdoors and happy in the fall, either after school, during school breaks or on weekends.
Take cycling, for instance. "Most people will rediscover mountain biking once they have kids," says Michael Vitti, president of Concerned Long Island Mountain Bicyclists, a nonprofit that promotes local trails. "It's a healthy activity." Here are more ideas:
Why not tie up the laces and take a walk? County, town, state and federal parks have designated trails, from those that wind through the woods to comfortable strolls along the beach.
Like many of these hiking paths, Sagamore Hill in Cove Neck is open year-round. The property -- once home to President Theodore Roosevelt, and recently reopened to the public after an extended renovation -- has a one-mile nature trail through woodlands, over a bridge covering a salt marsh creek to a view of Cold Spring Harbor. Some areas are a bit steep.
INFO Open daily, sunrise to sunset, 12 Sagamore Hill Rd., Cove Neck, 516-922-4788. Free to walk the grounds. nps.gov/sahi/index.htm
FISHING CHARTERSThe fish bite well past the first weeks of fall, with some charter boats still going out in December.
Sea bass, striped bass, porgies and blackfish run through the end of the season. The Capt. Gillen operates through Nov. 29 out of the Captree Boat Basin in Babylon, sailing out into Great South Bay during school holidays such as Columbus Day (closed for Thanksgiving, though).
"Summer ends, but fishing doesn't," says captain Patrick Gillen. "There are lots of opportunities for family fun all through the fall."
Boats also sail out of Freeport, Center Moriches, Montauk, Orient Point, Greenport, Port Jefferson and Hampton Bays.
INFO Times and days vary. Captree State Park, 3500 E. Ocean Pkwy., Babylon. 631-669-6464, captreefleet.com; find Capt. Gillen at captreefishing.com; or, if venturing as far as Montauk, consider Viking Fleet, vikingfleet.com, 631-668-6668.
BIKINGLike hiking, bike riding has become more popular, with groups working alongside government agencies to build and maintain paths and routes.
The first weekend of October is "Take Your Kid Mountain Biking Day," Vitti says.
For beginner trails, try Cathedral Pines County Park in Middle Island, which has a 6-mile loop, he says.
Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale also is a good area for children getting into biking, Vitti adds, as is Edgewood Oak Brush Plains Preserve in Commack, which has a 51/2-mile marked loop.
"Bicycling is a great sport for kids," he says. "It's an individual sport, and everyone participates. Nobody sits on the bench."
INFO The website climbonline.org lists different bike trails and their amenities, including whether the paths are dirt or paved. Look under "forums" for information on paved paths and kid-friendly trails.
CAMPINGIt may be past swimming weather, but camping is still fun in the autumn, with the chilly evenings and crisp mornings and often sunny days.
Smith Point County Park Campground takes advantage of access to the Fire Island beaches, a great place to walk the sand or swim. Fishing is a big draw there, too.
Visit Beach Hut, where bands play on the weekends until Columbus Day.
The campground is open all year, but the water turns off Nov. 1. Off-road vehicles are allowed with permits only.
Other campgrounds, including West Hills County Park in Huntington and Battle Row Campgrounds in Old Bethpage, are open year round with limited water facilities.
CAR TRIPSWhile driving may not mean being outdoors all the time, the stops along the way are what make the memories.
For those who live in Nassau or western Suffolk, pick a fork. Begin with a stop on Main Street in Riverhead for a trip to the Long Island Aquarium or for a bite to eat at Star Confectionery, an old-fashioned diner and ice cream shop with stools at the counter.
Head into Southampton and East Hampton for some shopping and then drive farther east to "The End." Montauk is a great place off- season since some restaurants are still open and the beach is less crowded (lifeguards aren't provided after Labor Day, though).
On the North Fork, drive about another hour to Greenport, where kids can ride the carousel and stroll along the harbor. Orient Point County Park, the end of the fork, is a short ride from there.
If the East End is too far for a day trip, consider driving along the North Shore, where you can visit the Northport harborfront. The kids can romp on the playground and walk down Main Street to have ice cream.