By Carolann Ryan
As the temperatures drop and days shorten, many of us find ourselves stuck inside at home, glued to our couches and televisions, during the long, cold winter months. This year, tell yourself it’s time for a change of pace. Long Island offers a wide array of fun children and family-friendly programs, events and activities all winter long. Whether your little ones enjoy sports, arts and crafts, reading or just playing with others, there is a place for it. This list of Long Island winter activities will get you and your kids out of the house exploring in no time.
Long Island Aquarium, Riverhead
If you and your children are animal lovers, check out the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead. Daily events such as shows and “talk and feeds” with various animals like piranhas, sea lions, stingrays, African penguins and sharks provide educational and interactive fun. On holidays and weekends, you can even take a “selfie” with one of the lovable sea lions or be a shark keeper for the day. There are also various indoor exhibits, a touch tank, an exciting shark dive and a submarine simulator. The aquarium will also be holding a special Santa brunch on Sunday, Dec. 13, where you can explore the aquarium for the day and meet Santa. For more information on the Long Island Aquarium and its events, you can call 631-208-9200, or visit www.longislandaquarium.com
The Rinx — Skating on the Harbor, Port Jefferson
Visit the Port Jefferson Village Center for the ultimate winter activity — ice skating! The Rinx has an ice skating school that offers programs for children as young as 3½ years. Classes are offered in two series, each of which is six weeks long for $125. Each of the series includes one 30-minute lesson per week on your preferred day and time, admission weekly to a public skating session and a membership in USFS Basic Skills Program, as well as a USFS Basic Skills record book and stickers and USFS badges upon mastering of each level. With an experienced and qualified staff of professionals, your kids will learn the fundamentals of ice skating with a major emphasis on fun. Series 1 will begin on Nov. 29 and registration is open now! For more information on The Rinx and its ice skating school, call 631-403-4357 or visit www.therinx.com/pjrinx.
Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Mount Sinai
When your kids are stuck inside during the cold winter months, they need a way to get out that pent up energy, and Sky Zone Trampoline Park is the perfect place to jump it out. The park has numerous activities inside to choose from, including free jump sessions, a foam pit for freestyle jumping, ultimate dodge ball, basketball hoops and more. All ages are welcome, and with jump times starting every 15 to 30 minutes, there is no shortage of fun, so jump in. For reservations, pricing and information call 631-938-1420 or visit www.skyzone.com/mountsinai.
For everyday activities that promote healthy, fun lifestyles, spend your winter at the YMCA in Huntington. With exclusive winter memberships available, the Y features two heated indoor pools for recreational swimming as well as lessons and a separate building complete with gymnasium and studio classes. The Huntington YMCA also includes a new children’s center that features 13 modern classrooms for early childhood programs and before and after school care. To get more information and membership pricing on the YMCA of Huntington, visit www.ymcali.org/huntington or call 631-421-4242.
Port Jefferson Free Library
The Port Jefferson Free Library offers many free programs for children all winter long. Activities offered include toddler and preschool story times and playtimes, robotics camp, a Mad Hatter Tea Party, movie screenings, game nights, Habitat for Humanity programs and classes for activities such as dance, chess, science and winter-themed arts and crafts. The library will also be hosting a family holiday bus trip to New York City on Saturday, Dec. 12. You must be a Port Jefferson Free Library cardholder to register for programs. For more on this event and other programs, please call the Port Jefferson Free Library at 631-473-0022, or visit www.portjefflibrary.org.
Take the kids out to play this winter at various spots across Long Island. Above left, scenes of fun at the Port Jefferson Free Library. Center and right, kids have a blast at a Sky Zone Trampoline Park.