For many, winter on Long Island means building forts, throwing snowballs, making snowmen and enjoying time outdoors with family and friends. For others, it's finding indoor, kid-friendly activities to help banish boredom, prevent cabin fever and, most of all, have fun.
This winter, bring the kids snowshoeing (yes, on Long Island) or try pottery making. Spend an afternoon ice skating on a hotel rooftop, learn something new at one of LI's children's museums or treat the little ones to a day at the spa.
From a Lego-building center and eateries serving hot chocolate with a twist, to sledding, bowling and more, we found 25 family-friendly activities to do this winter on Long Island, both outdoors and in.
Play and build with Legos
Kids can unleash their creativity by building unique creations, playing games and more at The Brick Center (481 Johnson Ave.) in Bohemia simply by playing with Lego bricks. Programs are tailored to specific age groups and areas on interest. Choose one of their hour-long classes that explore architecture with themes such as space, famous buildings, natural disasters and more. Or, head there for open build on Monday and Friday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., when kids can use and play with more than 1 million bricks at the center. They'll even store your project so you can work on it during multiple sessions. Price: $18 for a 90-minute session; unlimited monthly pass $99. For more information, call 631-572-8801 or visit thebrickcenter.com.
Head to a museum
Museums offer a way for families to indulge in learning together while having fun -- and lucky enough, Long Island has many that cater to children. The Long Island Children's Museum (11 Davis Ave.) in Garden City features 13 indoor and outdoor exhibits. Fan favorites include the two-story climbing sculpture, the Bubbles exhibit and the Bricks and Sticks building blocks area. The Children's Museum on the East End (376 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Tpke.) in Bridgehampton features a trendy and hands-on food truck exhibit, with a play stove where kids can "prepare" multicultural favorites such as ramen and flan. There's also a tree house bedroom, a soda-fountain and a windmill like the one in East Hampton. The museum also features an outdoor nine-hole mini-golf course. If your child is into planes, check out The Cradle of Aviation Museum (Charles Lindbergh Boulevard) in Garden City, which explores aviation history from the beginning of flight through space exploration with hands-on exhibits in eight galleries, including "From the Arcade to the Living Room," an interactive exploration of video game technology.
Some say it's a rite of passage growing up on Long Island. Climbing a hill with a piece of plastic designed to make you race down that little mountain. While some lament snowstorms, kids (and adults alike!) are excited to partake in this winter tradition -- as it is, there are only a few days each year we get to partake in the snowy fun.
Maybe you head to your local elementary school grounds to go sledding -- or maybe you head to a nearby park. To help you get the most of this fun, winter activity, check out our favorite places to go sledding on Long Island.
Go seal watching
Being on a boat in the winter may not sound fun, but it's peak season for seals on Long Island. The Riverhead Foundation sets sail on Captain Lou Fleet (28 Woodcleft Ave.) in Freeport on select dates through April 16, 2017. You'll sail throughout Hempstead Bay looking for winter harbor seals with a naturalist on board who will discuss seal behavior, marine life and more. Don't worry, there is a heated cabin and warm beverages available. Boarding time is 12:30 p.m. and sailing departures are at 1 p.m. returning at 3 p.m. Price: $26 adults, $22 children and seniors, free for ages 3 and younger. Fifty percent of all proceeds are donated to the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation. Be sure to dress for the weather; reservations are required. For more information, call 631-369-9840 or visit captloufleet.com.
See the Boardwalk Lights in Long Beach
Boardwalk Lights is a nautical-themed light show displayed on the Long Beach boardwalk from Long Beach Boulevard to Magnolia Boulevard through mid-January 2017 daily from 5 to 9 p.m. After a stroll, head into town for some more holiday lights and enjoy some of the restaurants for a cozy, family dinner. Lights will also be displayed throughout the city on Park Avenue, the West End, East End and Canal Bridges. Price: Free. For more information, visit longbeachny.gov.
Lace up your roller skates
At United Skates of America (1276 Hicksville Rd.) in Seaford, families can lace up their roller skates every Friday from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. for Laser Light Skate, where you can skate or rollerblade in the dark. Price: $11.50 per person, $5 skate rental. Every Tuesday from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m., admission is half price ($5.75 per person, $5 skate rental). For more information, visit unitedskates.com.
Hot Skates (14 Merrick Rd.) in Lynbrook also offers indoor roller skating for kids of all ages. The rink is open on Fridays from 4:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m., 3 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday from 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Price: $11. For more information, visit hotskates.com.
Every Thursday at 11 a.m., head to Book Revue (313 New York Ave.) in Huntington for Toddler Time. The hour-long event features stories, crafts and more. Once a month, kids can sing and dance along with guitarist Jeff Sorg. Price: Free. For more information, call 631-271-1442 or visit bookrevue.com.
If you're bored with sledding, you may want to try snowshoeing at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve (581 W. Jericho Tpke.) in Smithtown with your family. The park is one of the few public places that welcome cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The park is flat with a lot of open space, making it easy for you to snowshoe through a lot of snow.
Meet a penguin
Families can head to the "penguin preschool" area at the Long Island Aquarium (431 E. Main St.) in Riverhead to have an up-close encounter with African penguins with educational activities and meet-and-greets. Kids ages 5 and older can participate, with a paying adult. Price: $50 (in addition to the price of general admission). For more information, call 631-208-9200 or visit longislandaquarium.com.
Try a cooking class
Do you have a budding chef on your hands? If so, you're in luck. There are many places on Long Island where children and teens can bake their favorite sweets, prepare a full meal and learn basic cooking techniques. At Bubble (15 E. Main St.) in Babylon Village offers hands-on classes to expose young children to cuisines, cooking tools and more; bubblelearning.com. Celebrations in the Kitchen (3 E. Old Country Rd.) in Hicksville offers season and holiday-focused baking classes as well as other events such as cake and cupcake decorating and more; celebrationsinthekitchen.com. Kitchen Time's Party Place (691 Broadway) in Massapequa features cooking and baking classes for kids and adults; call for more information at 516-795-4980 or visit kitchentime.net. For a complete list, visit our guide to cooking classes for kids.
Go ice skating at the outlets
After shopping at Tanger Outlets (152 The Arches Circle) in Deer Park, check out the outdoor ice skating rink. The rink is open until February (weather permitting) Mon-Thurs: 3 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri: 3 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sun: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Price: $10 (children ages 5 and younger are free), $4 skate rental; for more information, visit tangericerink.com.
Get creative at home
Whether there's snow outside or just frigid temperatures, chances are you'll be looking for things to do indoors. DIY crafts and games can provide easy entertainment that the whole family can enjoy. From flower finger paint and Play-Doh to a sand-free sandbox and cardboard box creations, check out this list of 10 kid-friendly crafts and games.
Jump and bounce around
Indoor bounce and trampoline parks are popping up all over Long Island, helping kids reach new heights of fun. Kids can not only jump and bounce, but they can also play dodgeball, joust in an inflatable ring, run through inflatable obstacle courses, try trampoline bungee jumping as well as fitness classes for all ages. Check out Air Trampoline Sports (1850 Lakeland Ave.) in Ronkonkoma, Bounce U in Farmingdale, Nesconset and Oceanside, Bounce! Trampoline sports (310 Michael Dr.) in Syosset, Bouncers & Slydos (1835 New Hwy.) in Farmingdale, Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park (111 Rodeo Dr.) in Deer Park and more. For a complete list, visit our guide to indoor bounce and trampoline parks on Long Island.
Take up bowling
After school or on cold weekends, pack up your family and spend the afternoon bowling. Many Long Island bowling alleys offer discounts and deals. For example, Farmingdale Lanes (999 Conklin St.) has the Family Fun Pack, which features two hours of bowling, shoe rentals and up to six people on one lane for $54.95 Mon-Thurs: 9 a.m.-close and Fri: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. ($64.95 on Fri: 5 p.m.-close, all day Sat-Sun, weekends, school recesses and holidays) farmingdalelanes.com. Sundays are Family Day at Bowl Long Island at Patchogue (138 West Ave.) -- from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, it's $3 per person, per game; bowllongisland.com.
Plan a spa play date
Round up a few girls and head to Darlings & Divas (65 Merrick Rd., Amityville) for a spa play date. One of the packages includes a mini manicure, a candy-scented spa pedicure, glitter tattoo application and a choice of drink (pink lemonade, apple juice or fruit punch). Another package features a mini manicure, hair style, makeup application and a choice of drink. Price: $25 per child; play dates require reservations and can be made for up to six girls. For more information, visit 631-608-4710 or visit darlingsanddivas.com.
Stargaze at the Planetarium
Spend the afternoon checking out the solar system and other shows at the Vanderbilt Mansion, Museum and Planetarium (180 Little Neck Rd.) in Centerport. There are a variety of shows to choose from, including "Long Island Skies," which features the night sky that can be seen on Long Island from everyone's backyard. There are seasonal constellations, stars and deep-sky objects. Depending on the weather, the Observatory will open after the program. In the "Earth, Moon and Sun" show, families can learn why the sun rises and sets, examine the moon's orbit, craters and more with the help of Coyote, a comical character adapted from Native American traditions. The schedule is subject to change and prices vary; call 631-854-5579 or visit vanderbiltmuseum.org.
Challenge friends at an arcade, laser tag, more
Bowlmor Long Island (895 Walt Whitman Rd.) in Melville features an arcade, adding more entertainment to its glow-in-the-dark bowling alley. The price of the arcade games range from $1 to $4; for more information, visit bowlmor.com/long-island.
You can also find an arcades and laser tag Dave & Busters (Islandia and Westbury), Chuck E. Cheese (Hempstead, Hicksville and West Islip), Laser Kingdom in Coram and Farmingdale, Long Island's Laser Bounce (2710 Hempstead Tpke.) in Levittown and Q-Zar (151 Voice Rd.) in Carle Place.
Go see a puppet show
The Long Island Puppet Theater (10 Heitz Place) in Hicksville puts on many different puppet shows featuring children's favorite characters including Elmo, Anna and Elsa, Cinderella, Little Mermaid and more. Bonus: There are typically special events during school breaks when the kids are off from school. Tickets are $11 if you order ahead, $13 at the door. For more information, call 516-932-5469 or visit lipuppet.com.
Ride a go-kart
Go-karting isn't just for outdoors. Here on Long Island, there are two places you can ride a go-kart on an indoor race track. Pole Position Raceway (40 Daniel St.) in Farmingdale lets up to 12 child and adult drivers at a time compete in side-by-side racing on two separate, quarter-mile tracks. The go-karts can reach speeds of 45 mph on straightaways and hairpin turns. Open Monday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m., Friday noon to 11 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Price: $25; racers must have temporary race licenses or a membership.. For more information, call 631-752-7223 or visit polepositionraceway.com.
Karts Indoor Raceway (701 Union Pkwy.) in Lake Ronkonkoma) also features an indoor track, as well as an arcade and laser arena. Opens at daily at 11 a.m. Prices start at $12. For more information, visit kartsindoorraceway.com.
Bouncers and Slydos (1835 New Hwy.) in Farmingdale has an inflatable zip line. Children under 125 pounds can test it out. Kids are placed in a bucket seat and belted in by a staff member before swinging from the top to the bottom of the inflatable. Price: $12 to bounce, $15 to bounce and zip line. For more information, visit bouncersandslydos.com.
Watch ice carving at HarborFrost
The 2017 edition of the annual HarborFrost festival in Sag Harbor Village will be on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Ice sculptures will be placed on display throughout the village, there will be live music and a bake sale, with more events to be announced. For more information, call 631-725-9706 or visit sagharborchamber.com.
Treat the family to specialty hot chocolate
There's nothing like warming up with hot chocolate on a cold winter day. Luckily, there are a few places on Long Island serving up family-friendly cocoa with a twist. At Fresco Creperie (150A E. Park Ave. in Long Beach and 72 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park) creates hot chocolate using dark Belgian chocolate and milk, topped with whipped cream ($3.75; frescocreperie.com.
You can find sea-salted caramel hot chocolate at Chip'n Dipped (342 New York Ave.) in Huntington. It's made with semisweet chocolate that's combined with steamed milk and features caramel syrup, caramel sauce, whipped cream and sea salt ($3.80 for a small; $4.20 medium, $4.55 large); 631-470-2579, chipndipped.com.
Create pottery and other arts and crafts
Families can paint their own pottery, try glass fusing, candle making and canvas painting (7 and older) at Paint a Piece Pottery (6126 Jericho Tpke.) in Commack. The studio usually runs specials on school holidays and breaks. Price: average $18-$28; for more information, call 631-486-6969 or visit paintapiecepottery.com.
At ARTrageous (5 N. Village Ave.) in Rockville Centre, you can choose from more than 500 usable and food-safe shapes to create your own pottery. You can also drop in and try glass fusing or sign up for a class or workshop featuring clay creations or custom canvas painting. Price: Pottery pieces start at $12.95. For more information, call 516-255-5255 or visit artrageousrvc.com.
Check out the Parisi Speed School at NXT GEN Fitness (2 Channel Dr.) in Port Washington. This multi-purpose, non-sports specific workout focuses on strength, speed and agility for children ages 7 to 18, available every day from 3:30-7:30 p.m., and weekends from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. It's available every day from 3:30-7:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. For pricing and packages, call 516-883-7678 or visit nxtgenfitness.com.