Families have lots of fun places to go on Long Island this summer. From rides on a riverboat, steam-engine train or old-fashioned carousel to an open-air circus, here are the seasonal gems that will please more than just the youngest generation.
1. GRAB A BRASS RING
-- Reader pick submitted by Joseph Fratto, 72, East Meadow
Sit on the colorful wooden horses - or even a lion - at Nunley's Carousel on Museum Row in Garden City. The carousel's border is painted with Long Island attractions ranging from Sagamore Hill to Bethpage State Park's Black Course. Riders can catch a brass ring for a free ride - "All rings must be returned," a sign warns. A $485,000 restoration project resurrected the 1912 attraction, which had operated at Nunley's Amusement Park in Baldwin from 1940 to 1995. ($2 a rider, 516-572-4111, cradleofaviation.org).
Video: ExploreTV travels to Museum Row
Photos: Museum Row festival | LI Children's Museum
Guides: Museum Row daytrip | Our 10 favorite museums
2. SPEND TUESDAY EVENING IN THE PARK
When the weather is swell, the stage is set for a wonderful evening at Huntington's Heckscher Park - literally. At 7:30 p.m. on summer Tuesdays, children's performers take to the Chapin Rainbow Stage for free outdoor shows. Bring your own blanket. A highlight of this summer's family programming is July 27's "Out With the Kids," featuring Brady Rymer (631-271-8423, huntingtonarts.org).
Events: More things to do at Heckscher Park
3. TAKE A RIVERBOAT TOUR
Learn about the North Shore's wetlands ecosystem aboard the "Discovery" in Stony Brook. The 90-minute sightseeing tours aboard a 35-passenger pontoon boat are led by a naturalist. Trips leave morning, midday and at sunset and cost $22-$25 ($15 younger than 6, 631-751-2244, stonybrookvillage.com).
4. RIDE THE RAILS
The five-minute loop on the railroad tracks at Southaven County Park mesmerizes the little ones who are enamored with trains. The Long Island Live Steamers club runs the miniature engines and sit-on-top cars on the second and last Sundays of each month all summer ($1-$2 donation, 631-345-0499, longislandlivesteamers.org).
Video: Long Island Live Steamers
Photos: Southaven Park
Guide: Best parks for kids
5. PADDLE WITH YOUR FEET
Colorful paddle boats are a hit with kids, who may have an easier time working their feet than they would rowing a boat with oars. The paddleboats at Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon can fit a family of four, two paddling and two who can sit back and relax. Life jackets provided. ($10 an hour, $8 parking; 631-667-5055).
Photos: Belmont Lake State Park | X-Team at Belmont Lake
Events: Summer happenings at Belmont Lake State Park
6. ENTER THE BIG TOP
The Big Apple Circus makes its annual trip to Eisenhower Park in East Meadow for 35 performances under an outdoor tent June 11-July 4. This year, Bello Nock, the clown with the hand-in-the-socket hair and trademark tuxedo, is back for the one-ring festivities. He's joined by acrobats from Italy, flying trapeze artists, horses, dogs and a juggler (from $15, 888-541-3750, bigapplecircus.org).
Video: Big Apple Circus at Eisenhower Park
Events: Complete circus schedule
7. LACE UP YOUR SKATES
It may seem counterintuitive to put on ice skates in the summer, but it can be one of the best times. "It's a break from the heat, which makes it much more pleasant," says Fred Nielsen, owner of Port Washington Family Skating Center. "It's much less crowded than it is the rest of the year." Summer family skating sessions run 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays and cost $7 a person, plus $4 skate rental (516-484-6800, pwskating.com).
Guide: Ice skating on Long Island
8. SKIPPER A BOAT - FROM LAND
A new concession in Eisenhower Park lets visitors rent remote-controlled model sailboats to pilot around the lake. The Eisenhower Park Sailing Center will be open daily during the summer, weather permitting. Rentals cost $10 for 30 minutes ($5 each additional 15 minutes, 917-796-1382).
Video: ExploreTV tours Eisenhower Park
Events: Movies, music and more at Eisenhower Park
9. FEED A GIRAFFE
At the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville, kids can bottle-feed baby animals, hand-feed a giraffe and see kangaroos, buffalos, ostriches and zebras. Admission is $17.45 ($15.45 ages 3-11, 631-878-6644).
Video: ExploreTV visits Long Island Game Farm
Photos: Long Island Game Farm
10. FLY A KITE
At 10:30 a.m. June 19, build your own kite, then fly it on the 145 acres of the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn. The one-day event costs $30 for a parent-child kite-making team, plus $2 parking (registration required, 516-484-9337).
Video: ExploreTV tours Nassau County Museum of Art
Photos: Nassau County Museum of Art
Events: Exhibits and other event listings at Museum