Kids are easier to please in the summer, when there are parks to explore, beaches to play on and all kinds of family-friendly activities outdoors. Here are 10 of our top suggestions for keeping the clan entertained.
RIDE THE WAVES
Let them tap into their inner surfer — without the unpredictable conditions that come with the ocean. Splish Splash waterpark in Calverton has debuted Kahuna Bay, a body-boarding pool with four-foot waves. The attraction is surrounded by new VIP cabanas ($149) that give your bunch a place to hang out for the day. Park admission is $37.99 ($28.99 shorter than 48 inches, $12 parking; 631-727-3600, splishsplashlongisland.com).
GET ROASTED CORN AT A FARMSTAND
Come late August, summer sweet corn is ripe for the taking at farm stands all over the North Fork. If you can’t wait until you get home, buy an ear that’s already been roasted for about $3. The corn can be dipped in melted butter by request and seasoned to taste. It can make you forget that the end of summer is looming.
TAKE A PEDAL
Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale is a good place for a family-friendly bicycle ride. There are relatively few hills and kids of all ages routinely handle the paved path that meanders through the trees. Parking is $8 (99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., 516-249-0700).
EAT AT THE BEACH
When you make reservations for Sunken Meadow State Park’s Wednesday night “Seafood Fest at the Beach,” you won’t be holding a table but, rather, a lobster. More accurately, half a lobster, part of a $25 meal deal that also includes steamed mussels and clams, peel and eat shrimp, corn and potatoes. The concession also sells hot dogs, fried fish sandwiches, burgers and the like. You will want to snag an outdoor table on the boardwalk (first come, first serve), where the festive family scene features live music and often draws a hula-hoop crowd. (6-9 p.m. June 1-Sept. 7; Route 25A and Sunken Meadow Pkwy., Kings Park, 631-269-6850).
ICE CREAM — AND A STROLL
What’s better than strolling on the boardwalk? Strolling with an ice cream. Popztarz, just three blocks inland from the Long Beach boardwalk, takes very good gelato and fruit sorbetto and crafts them into more than 50 delicious (and strikingly beautiful) pops. Among the gelato pops: lemon cream pie, almond crunch and vanilla-salted-caramel. The cantaloupe sorbetto pop tastes more like cantaloupe than most melons. New this year: a nonfat Greek yogurt pop with fresh fruit (768 W. Beech St., 516-442-2688).
MEET A BUTTERFLY
Get up close with more than 1,000 butterflies and nearly 100 exotic birds flying freely in a natural setting at Atlantis Marine World’s brand new Long Island Exhibition Center in Riverhead. Beginning July 1, visitors will be able to stroll on paths surrounded by plants, trees and flowers and feed the birds or hold the butterflies ($12.50 adults, $10.50 ages 17 and younger; 631-208-9200, , atlantismarineworld.com ).
About a dozen U-pick farms welcome the public to wander the rows and pile their baskets full of strawberries starting as early as Memorial Day weekend. It’s a leisurely way to spend an hour or so on a summer afternoon. Among the newcomers: Patty’s Berries and Bunches — when the strawberries are done, you can head for its U-pick raspberries, blackberries and blueberries (9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. June-Oct., 631-298-4679, , pattysberriesandbunches.com ).
FLY A KITE
Dan’s Papers’ annual kite fly on Sagg Main Beach in Sagoponack is a summer staple. Hundreds of families will bring their favorite kites to fly between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Aug. 7. The celebration includes prizes for the best kites in a range of quirky categories. Join the event or stop in just to see the myriad colors soaring over the beach (free admission, 631-725-6216, , danshamptons.com/kitefly ).
EXPLORE THE SUNKEN FOREST
Fire Island’s Sunken Forest grows in the shadow of the sand dunes, appearing to be below sea level. A 1.5 mile boardwalk runs through it, showcasing the American holly, sassafrass and other species of trees. Kids will love riding the ferry from Sayville over to Sailors’ Haven for a few hours of exploration. The beach has lifeguards, a snack bar and public restrooms ($12 round-trip adults, $7 ages 2-10; 631-589-0810 for Sayville ferry).
HAVE AN ARTSY PICNIC
Spread your blanket out on the grounds of the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor and enjoy lunch among the more than 50 outdoor sculptures by artists including Fernando Botero. The 145 acres include marked nature trails for an after-picnic walk ($2 parking weekends, 1 Museum Dr., 516-484-9337).