Ahh, winter wonderland. For families, it can feel more like winter, wonder what to do? Just because the weather may sometimes be frightful doesn't mean Long Island winter days can't be delightful.
Here are 25 ideas for winter outings for the family, from riding an indoor coaster to creating a fluorescent painting under black light to even spending some time frolicking on the beach:
1. Ride an indoor coaster: The Urban Air Sky Rider Indoor Coaster at Urban Air in Lake Grove follows a winding track flying along 30 feet in the air. The indoor adventure park also offers trampolines, high ropes course, bumper cars, virtual reality and more. Admission starts at $13.99 for ages 5 and younger and ranges to $37.99 for all-day, all-access play. There’s no charge for spectating, and if a parent wants to play along with a paying child, they pay $18.99. The park is at 3147 Middle Country Rd., and reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance at urbanairtrampolinepark.com to guarantee a spot. Masks required.
2. Lace-up some roller skates: United Skates of America in Seaford (1276 Hicksville Rd.) offers two-hour family roller skating or in-line skating sessions Thursdays through Sundays. Skating is $14 per person, with a $6 fee to rent skates. Masks required. Check unitedskates.com/seaford for session times.
3. Design your own pottery bowls: Schedule a private "Parttery" — that’s a play on pottery and party — at Island Pottery & Studio in Mineola (315A Willis Ave.). Make your own bowls from coils of clay — a video on the studio’s website shows the process. A two-hour experience with personal instructor is $50 per person. Islandpotterystudio.com
4. Play a new board game: There’s more to family competition than just Monopoly. Try some of the more than 300 games in the collection at Main Street Board Game Café in Huntington — staff members can teach your family how to play. Love the game? You can buy it and take it home. A three-hour admission ticket is $15 per adult and $10 per children younger than 12. Coffee, desserts and soft drinks for sale at 307 Main St. Check mainstboardgamecafe.com for hours. Proof of vaccination required.
5. Take to the ice: Glide along with the family at an outdoor ice-skating rink. Try skating on the harbor at The Rinx at Harborfront in Port Jefferson Village (101-A East Bdwy.), where prices are $8.50 to $13 and skates rent for $6. Or skate at The Rinx at Wyandanch Plaza (40 Station Dr.), with prices from $5 to $8, including skate rental. Information and times for both available at therinx.com.
6. Take a dip: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t go swimming. The Nassau County Aquatic Center at Eisenhower Park has one hour and 45-minute sessions on weekends at the indoor facility. For adults with a Nassau County Leisure Pass, the cost is $8 per adult and $6 per child. For others, the cost is $22 per adult and $14 per child. Check the website for session times, nassaucountyny.gov.
7. Climb 182 steps: The Fire Island Lighthouse museum is open during the winter from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the tower open until 3:30 p.m. Climb the 182 steps and then explore the interactive museum and learn about the lighthouse’s history. Climbing costs $10 per adult and $5 per child, with a 42-inch height requirement. The lighthouse is about a 15-minute, ¾ mile walk along a boardwalk from Field 5 of Robert Moses State Park, fireislandlighthouse.com. Masks required.
8. Take a family cooking class: Polly Talbot, owner of A La Carte Culinary Services, gives private cooking classes in her home in Lynbrook. Choose whatever menu your family would like to make. "Homemade pasta seems to be really popular," Talbot says. Cost for a two-hour lesson for a family of four is $555; each additional family member is $85. There’s also a fee for the cost of the food. See what’s cooking at pollytalbott.com.
9. Play mini-golf: The nine-hole, outdoor course is open year-round at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton (376 Bridgehampton Tpke.) and is included in museum admission. Indoors, there’s an interactive fire truck, farm stand and ice cream parlor for imaginative family play. Admission is $19 per person, younger than 1 is free. Cmee.org.
10. Go sledding at a local park: What kid doesn’t want to grab a sled as soon as the first flakes start to fall? Popular parks for sledding include Bethpage State Park, Cedar Creek Park and Hempstead Lake State Park.
11. Try snowshoeing: Snowshoeing lets kids strap on contraptions and walk on top of the snow. Kids’ snowshoes run from about $50 a pair and adults about $100. Try Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park or Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown.
12. Experience another type of skiing: So what if Long Island is flat? To try cross-country skiing, there’s no need for hills. At Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, for example, cross-country skiing is permitted on the blue and yellow golf courses. In Suffolk, it’s permitted at Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown. It’s B.Y.O.E. — bring your own equipment.
13. Hit the beach: Every so often, there’s a mild winter day. Seize the opportunity to go to the beach. Sunken Meadow State Park allows for a stroll on the boardwalk and a chance for the kids to frolic on the sand.
14. Hand-feed the deer: For the first time in its more than 50-year history, the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville is staying open on weekends through the winter as weather permits. It is offering a scaled-down experience that still lets children enter the deer park and feed the more than two dozen deer, and also get close to the goats. While the giraffe and the camels spend the winter in Florida, the alpacas, sheep, zebras, emu, ring-tailed lemurs, wallabies, bison, peacocks and more are still on hand. The game farm is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 489 Chapman Blvd.; check the farm's Facebook page or Instagram account to make sure weather hasn't closed the park. Cost is $18.75 per adult, $14.25 per child 3 through 12, and $16.45 ages 62 and older.
15. See a Pteranodon: A traveling exhibit called "Age of the Dinosaur" opens at the Long Island Children’s Museum at the end of January. Animatronic and model dinosaurs include a T-Rex, a Stegosaurus and a Pteranodon with a 24-foot wingspan hanging from the ceiling. The exhibit is included with museum admission of $14 per adult and child older than 1, and $13 for seniors. 11 Davis Ave., Garden City, licm.org.
16. Root for the Islanders: Don some home-team regalia and check out a hockey faceoff at the new UBS Arena in Elmont. The 700,000 square-foot arena, which seats 17,250 for hockey games, opened in November.
17. Look up: Take in a planetarium show at the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport (180 Little Neck Rd.). The planetarium offers a variety of shows for all ages, including a "Sesame Street"-themed show and a show that mimics the night-sky on Long Island led by an astronomy educator. Check the website for times and costs at vanderbiltmuseum.org. Masks required.
18. See the sharks get fed: At 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays, it’s mealtime for the sharks that live at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, and an educator tells visitors about their lives. Some of the other fish that usually hide in that habitat may also make an appearance, lured by the food. The shark feeding is included with aquarium admission of $39.99 per adult, $27.99 children ages 3 to 12 or $29.99 for ages 62 and older. Younger than 3 is free. Shark feedings also occur at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Longislandaquarium.com.
19. Enjoy live theater: The children's series at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson (412 Main St.), for instance, is staging two family shows this winter, "Puss-In-Boots" and "Dorothy's Adventures in Oz." Tickets are $10 per seat at theatrethree.com.
20. Go on a hike: Join the Hike It Baby Long Island Facebook page for plenty of suggestions of where to take walks in nature with your family on Long Island — maybe you'll even meet up with some other families to embrace the outdoors together.
21. Glow for it: At Pinot's Palette in East Meadow (2557 Hempstead Tpke.), two-hour instructor-led paint sessions happen under black light using fluorescent paint. Sessions are typically $42 per person; for more information or to sign up visit pinotspalette.com.
22. Fly a drone: Families can fly a drone through an obstacle course inside a 10-foot-by-10-foot cage at the Long Island Science Center in Riverhead. The center also offers virtual reality headsets, a robot programming area and more STEM activities at its newly opened location at Tanger One, Suite 401, where it will be operating 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through the end of 2022. Admission is $15 per person, sciencecenterli.org. Masks required.
23. Visit a selfie venue: Here are two options that opened this year: Selfie Clubhouse in the Broadway Mall in Hicksville (460 Broadway Mall) has 30 stations where people can take selfies including the White House press secretary’s room, a private jet and a bank vault. Entry is $25 for adults and $15 for children ages 15 and younger, with 3 and younger free. Sign up for a time slot at selfieclubhouse.com. PopUp Speakeasy Selfie Studio is in a warehouse in Ronkonkoma (1860 Pond Rd.) and offers 15 scenes, including a pink claw foot bathtub and a vintage VW bus. Entry is $25 (ages 13 and up) for one-hour sessions; kids 5 through 12 are $15; kids 4 and under are free. Reservations at popupspeakeasy.com.
24. Search for seals: The Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island boasts more than 28,500 seal encounters at Cupsogue Beach since 2006 (975 Dune Rd., Westhampton Beach). Try one of the society’s seal walk excursions and your budding marine biologists may get lucky as well. Bring your cameras and binoculars for this 1.2 mile, 60- to 90-minute adventure. Hats, gloves and warm waterproof shoes are recommended as it can be windy by the water. Advance registration is required at cresli.org and there is a suggested, but not required, donation of $5 per adult and $3 per child younger than 18.
25. Learn about the Hubble Space Telescope: A new, interactive exhibit called "New Views of the Universe" has opened at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City (Charles Lindbergh Blvd.). It explores how the Hubble Space Telescope works. It includes images from the telescope including other planets and galaxies. It also introduces visitors to the new James Webb Space Telescope. The traveling exhibit is at the museum through April. Free with admission of $16 for adults, $14 for children and seniors. Children 2 and younger are free. Cradleofaviation.org.