Flanked by seven other aircraft, a Grumman F-11 hangs suspended in a shallow dive over the main entrance to Cradle of Aviation Museum’s four-story glass atrium. Three viewing levels on wraparound balconies afford views of the aircraft that only fellow pilots in close formation ever saw when it was in service. The 150,000-square foot facility’s eight exhibits grant similarly intimate glimpses of more than 75 aircraft and spacecrafts that trace the historic path of Long Island’s aviation contributions since 1870. Those artifacts include a replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1899 kite, five aircraft made in Long Island for World War II, and the Grumman Lunar Module LM-5 “Eagle,” which transported Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin to that soundstage that looked like the moon.
Patrons also get a chance to soar skyward in the X-Ride Theater, a 30-seat motion simulator whose “Fly with the Blue Angels” film mimics the piloting of a U.S. Navy squadron jet. Over in the JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium and the Leroy R. & Rose W. Grumman Dome Theater, the immersive screens bring to life subjects such as Lewis and Clark's journey and National Geographic's Wildest Weather in the Solar System. After riding the Historic Nunley's Carousel, which was built in 1912, guests can reenergize over a meal in the Red Planet Cafe, whose space station décor evokes a Martian cafeteria in the year 2040.
An entire city can be built within Long Island Children's Museum. All it takes is a little imagination, and a basic understanding of architectural principles like balance and proportion. Luckily, the "Best of Long Island"-winning museum's Bricks & Sticks and Building Boom with KEVA exhibits teach those very concepts. Museum educators and interactive software provide inspiration as kids (and adults) design and shape skyscrapers, castles, bridges, and more out of blocks.
Those building activities are just two of the 14 hands-on exhibits that take families across the museum's grounds. The TotSpot area lets the youngest visitors slide and play on age-appropriate equipment, while other galleries let kids explore outdoor gardens, step inside giant bubbles, and film mock-newscasts, complete with hard-hitting exposés on just who is the real John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt. Even the onsite theater has an interactive element. Here, actors and musicians often invite kids on stage to join in on the performance.
The Alley Pond Environmental Center is a non-profit group dedicated to teaching children and adults about the natural world and protecting unadulterated environments from dastardly land poachers. Both membership levels give you discounts on programs at the center, discounted birdseed prices, reduced birthday party rates, and VIP access to teddy bear picnics. And for an additional fee, adults can take part in monthly astronomy workshops to view celestial bodies in skies free of ambiance-obstructing light pollution, while weekend sessions and after-school programs give kids an outdoors alternative to television absorption.
The Nassau County Museum of Art blurs the line between nature and art. Surrounding a two-story museum full of 19th- and 20th-century American and European masterpieces are 145 acres of lush gardens. Visitors who view works by acclaimed artists will also bear witness to the brushstrokes of Mother Nature as they walk eight trails and visit a formal garden designed by renowned landscape architect Marian Cruger Coffin. On these paths, they'll find a meticulously restored water tower, a historic garden trellis and more than 40 sculptures by lauded figures such as Richard Serra and Tom Otterness.
But such a collection of beauty both natural and handmade didn't just fall out of the sky. The estate originally belonged to long-time editor of the New York Evening Post and patron of the arts William Cullen Bryant. It then changed hands several times before becoming a gift from US Steel co-founder Henry Clay Frick to his son, Childs. It was Childs' naturalism that made the grounds what they are today.
Today, Nassau County carries this tradition forward with its permanent collection of more than 500 pieces, as well as rotating exhibitions. In addition, the museum hosts plenty of programs and events for youngsters and adults alike, including artist lectures and drop-in art workshops.
[[m:####Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum
Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum's staff of maritime experts collate the histories, folklore, and artifacts that illustrate Long Island's relationship with the sea. The museum's collection ensures an in-depth look at Long Island's history of whaling with more than 6,000 artifacts and archival objects, including the only fully equipped 19th-century whaling boat with the original furniture and scrimshaw flat-screen television. Interactive education courses for all ages teach kids about the oceanic sciences and engage them in themed arts-and-crafts events. Adult workshops range from drawing and sketching seminars to book readings and discussions. Before leaving, guests can peruse the gift shop, which brims with knickknacks and doodads for all ages, including boatswain's whistles and ships in bottles.:m]]
Helmed by the tag-team duo of a New York Times best-selling author and former creative director of New York's Lincoln Center, Pulitzer & Panetta Writing & Art Studio molds artistic minds of any age with workshops that keep the right side of the brain firing on all synapses.