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 d?cor 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 expos?s 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 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.
Fun Station USA fills its indoor space with the scaled-down amenities of an amusement park, such as mechanical rides, a multileveled maze, and a large concession stand stocked with carnival cuisine. At all hours of operation, the air buzzes with excitement?a byproduct of jingle-jangling machines, flashing lights, and splashes of color at every corner. After acquiring tickets from myriad arcade games that include skee-ball and air-cannon shooting galleries, revelers head to the redemption counter to exchange their winnings for prizes and foreign currency.
A rolling good time for bowlers of all ages and abilities, Rockville Centre Lanes is the ideal spot for families, parties, competitive bowlers, and even business outings. A number of bowling leagues cater to parent-child teams, or competitive adult teams that vie for prizes. Bowlers can celebrate a birthday with a cosmic bowling party on Friday night, which includes a party host, invitations, and horoscopes written on every paper plate. In the summer, groups can even rent a portable lane to host outdoor bowling soir?es.
Baldwin Bowl entertains families with bowling, games, food, and libations. Newly renovated, the upscale space invites players to lounge on leather couches and enjoy a beverage while gluing their eyes to the large-screen TVs above their lane. Automatic scoring takes all the math away from outings and the fun continues away from the game with a full arcade and pub fare. The bowling mecca also hosts parties for kids and adults as well as bowling-league play, karaoke, and darts leagues.