Long Island Aquarium
Perfect for kids, families, and outdoor enthusiasts, the Long Island Aquarium has numerous exhibitions showcasing science and the natural world. Highlights include the 120,000-gallon (454,000-liter) shark tank and sea lion shows, as well as programs such as behind-the-scenes tours, boat excursions, and snorkeling.
With a range of exhibits featuring exotic animals, daily educational activities, and hands-on experiences for kids, the Long Island Aquarium is an ideal day-trip destination from New York City. Many visitors drive from Manhattan and pair the visit with an overnight excursion in the Hamptons—Long Island's stretch of beach towns. To see everything, most visitors buy general admission tickets. Travelers with limited time may visit the Butterflies, Bugs & Birds Exhibit only, without aquarium access.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Long Island Aquarium is a family-friendly attraction and a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and budding scientists.
Kids shouldn't miss the Ray Bay touch tank, where they can feel the rays and sharks and even feed the aquatic creatures for a small fee.
When the sun's shining, don't miss the aquarium's outdoor exhibits, including the Koi Pond and Penguin Pavillion.
When you arrive, be sure to check the daily schedule—the aquarium offers lots of activities, from boat cruises to educational programs.
Boat cruises and special behind-the-scenes tours and programs cost extra.
How to Get There
The most convenient way to reach the Long Island Aquarium is by car. From New York City, take the Long Island Expressway (Interstate 495) to Route 24, and head to Main Street in Riverhead. Find the aquarium at 431 East Main Street, and follow the signs to municipal parking. To avoid driving, you can also take the Long Island Railroad. Take the Ronkonkoma line from Penn Station, and hop out at the Riverhead stop.
When to Get There
The Long Island Aquarium is open seven days a week from midmorning until late afternoon, and closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Plan to visit within a week of your birthday to enjoy free admission, and beat the crowds by planning a trip earlier in the week, since the aquarium is a popular weekend destination.
Visiting the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
If you're visiting the Long Island Aquarium on a day trip from New York City, make more of your trip with a stop at the historic Vanderbilt Museum. Once the home of William K. Vanderbilt II, the museum houses a collection of scientific objects, animal specimens, and habitat dioramas. Don't miss the on-site planetarium—and its frequent dome theater shows—and book a mansion tour to learn more about the museum's namesake.