Local reviews

Long Island Game Farm

Long Island Game Farm is a wildlife park and children’s zoo. It’s a small farm, don’t expect the Bronx zoo, but do expect to get up close and personal with animals like deer, goats, peacocks, bunnies and our favorite , a giraffe named Clifford who we got to feed 3 times.Though the park is geared for the younger set, even my 10 and 12 year olds enjoyed it, especially the animal show (more about that later).

If you’re looking for leisurely afternoon with the family out in nature, or on your way out east and have a few hours to spare, definitely take the kids to the LIGF. Located right off exit 70 of the LIR, it’s been there for 44 years and has 25 acres and hundreds of animals. From the minute you walk through the front entrance, let the kids lead you on the “boardwalk,” stopping at the various pens and large cages to visit with the animals. The monkeys are adorable and we got to laugh at one licking the inside of a banana peel! Some other fun stops were the cougar, the ostriches, the bison, the lemurs and we even got to see some peacocks put on a magnificent show for us (they are just something, aren’t they?).
LIGF also has 3  small rides for the kids to enjoy: a slow moving tea cup ride (don’t expect crazy spinning), a miniature train that goes in an oval and a merry go round. The under 6 crowd would like these best. I’d love to see a larger ride around the park or where the kids can climb and play while you sit and have a snack. Speaking of snacks, there’s a very small snack stand with limited choices but the option to picnic is available. And since the park is small enough, you can even go to the car to have a quick lunch if you’d like.
Our favorite part of the park, though, was the animal show on the main stage. We arrived just in time to have 30 minutes to explore before the first show and actually stayed for 3 1/2 hours and watched the afternoon show as well. The shows had elements that overlapped but were different enough that we enjoyed both. And what a cute show it was! Running through the end of this month (June), the Awesome Animal Show really got the kids laughing with amazement. There were trained house cats! (let me just say, my cats wouldn’t know how to do ANY of that for sure!) and beautiful tropical birds. The 2nd show featured a donkey and pigs plus the birds. My daughter raised her hand to volunteer and had a great time on stage while we cheered her on. Trust me, the kids will be in love with this show! Throught the year, the shows will rotate and I’m sure the others are just as good. I’m familiar with Eric’s reptile adventure from my local library and he is a hoot! Reminds me of a mellower Chris Rock and brings with him a whole bunch of reptiles the kids  (and you) will be screaming and shuddering at.  We happened to go on a slow day but I know it can really fill up in there, so arrive at the show 10 minutes early to grab a seat. What’s nice is that it’s shaded, not only in the show area but throughout the park, with many benches and tables to take a break at. Not that there’s a lot of walking anyway.

The shows will rotate throughout the season. You can view a schedule here. We also checked out the alligator feeding. They have cougar and giraffe feeding times as well.  Animal food is available for purchase to feed many of the animals. For an extra fee, they also offer pony rides.
Don’t miss bambiland if you like to bottle feed the deer  and check out the nursery with those cute tiny goats.

All in all, Long Island Game Farm is a cute place and if you have kids under 10, it’s a nice spot to visit for a low-key but fun day out in nature where they actually get to see the animal up close not just from a monorail or in such a large field they can’t make out what’s inside the fence. There are quite a few different shows and events during the season so plan to visit more than once. I’d say the shows are the best part of the day.
Check out all the events here like flying pig races, Katie’s puppets, The extreme raptor  project, animal shows and more
They do birthday parties for the kids and  have a  popular summer camp now in it’s 9th year called Camp Zoo.

* The LIGF was generous to offer us tickets for this review. All opinions are my own and all pictures are property of myself.

When your family is craving the action and adventure of a theme park but you don’t want to drive 3 hours or pay an arm and a leg to enter and park, think Adventureland!  Located right off the LIE in Farmingdale, Long island, this  51 year old park is chock full of a day’s fun for the family. Once the ferris wheel comes into site from Route 110, you’ll hear yelling from the back seat I’m sure.The park is small enough that you won’t get blisters if you wear flip flops yet large enough that you can spend an entire day there ( however, if going on the rides, wear sneakers).
I recently took my 3 kids and we spent a full 8 hours (and they STILL didn’t want to leave!).
Pay-one-price bracelets are $24.99. I LOVE deals like that because if Mom, or Dad, or Grandma don’t want to go on rides but want to be there for the obligatory wave as the kids ride, they don’t pay. However there are some very cool rides that people of any age will like or will need to take the kids who don’t reach the height requirement on, so I recommend at least 1 adult in the party getting a wristband. Trust me, it’s worth it. You can also buy tickets for the rides.

As soon as we got in, my kids made a mad dash for the lady bug coaster, one of 2 roller coasters. It’s the right size for the 48 inchers and is one of the most popular rides in the park. Right next to it, though, is the larger Hurricane that is a step up from the ladybug. Boy, I remember going on this when I was about 21. It’s THAT old, ha! And as popular as ever. I only had one child brave enough and she absolutely LOVES the Hurricane! No loops or dramatic drops as in the larger theme park chains, but just a classic roller coaster with some nice twists and drops and enough speed to elicit those wonderful roller coaster screams that resonate through the park. Who doesn’t love the sounds of the screams, mixed with the bells and chimes of classic amusement park games and upbeat music? Brings back childhood memories to us and makes them for our children. There’s nothing more fun!
After the roller coasters my kids were thrilled to learn that both my older ones were tall enough for the Adventure Falls, the super popular flume ride with 2 drops and the soaking   wet finish that everyone wants, especially on a hot day. We happened to be in the park on an extremely crowded day- one attendant told me he had worked there 3 years and this was the most crowded he had ever seen( luck me!) however, what’s GREAT  is , even with that crowd, the longest wait we had was about 20 minutes! Seriously, that is not bad at all right? I’m sure you remember those hour waits with whining kids at larger parks for 90 second rides! So 20 is fine with me, and many were 10-15 minutes or less. IF the line is ling, just walk around and find another ride with a shorter line and come back later.

After Adventure Falls, the little guy(6) wanted to head to “kiddieland” where even the older 2 kids ( 10 and 12) found a few rides to go on. The giant swings are a big hit with kids of all ages( and I mean plenty of Dads and Moms were on that one). Personally they scare the heck out of me, but my wild days are over and I’ll stick to the tamer sort. The 2013 season brings a few NEW attractions, one being Surf’s Up , a DRY ride that riders swing up and down in a circular fashion 27 times( yes, my 6 year old counted!). My kids LOVED this new attraction and went on 3 or 4 times, laughing every second of it.
The younger kids have quite a few choices including the new mini train ride, the classic car and truck rides, mini swings, and Pirate Island, a fun climbing and slide adventure for them to run through. Kiddieland also has the ferris wheel,kiddie helicopters, a carousel( of course) and a few other fun rides for the 2-8 set.Thoughlike I said, even older kids can find a few they’d go on.
My 12 year old loved the bumper cars( what kid doesn’t?). Though Adventureland is geared for kids and families, I noticed quite a few teens there-heading for the coasters, the frisbee ( this one is CRAZY!),the pirate ship, the bumper cars and of course, all the carnival games with those giant stuffed animals, big bats, angry birds and other fun prizes. There’s an indoor arcade too , to take a break from the sun and try your skills.
What I liked, was the many small and large umbrellas to sit under and the strategically placed trees to offer some respite on sunny days, though much of the day will be in the sun so wear a hat or visor and shades in the hot months. There were also quite a few benches and tables to sit at, a welcome spot when your child wants to ride a ride 5 times in a row like mine do!
So, my son dared me to go on the haunted Mansion which I lived to tell. I remember this ride from my youth and it’s still a super popular attraction. If your child doesn’t mind darkness with glowing lights( think monster mini golf but a drop darker), then they will LOVE this ride! I also went on the lovely train ride around the park with the kids. We never miss a good train ride and love to sit back and talk about our rides. there’s some cute fake animals and pirates to see along the way and you’ll pass by most of the rides to see them in action.
Another ride we went on several times was the little dipper, a mini version of Adventure Falls and I do mean mini. But you still manage to get splashed and enjoy that little drop. It’s just big enough for a splash and small enough that you won’t need to change your entire outfit!
I didn’t even mention a few other rides that warrant it. My 6 year old couldn’t get enough of the antique cars. While there’s no gas pedal , there’s the steeering wheel and what kid doesn’t like to feel like he or she is actually in charge of the road? I sit in the backseat and my son narrates and we have a blast. We went on the cars 4 times while waiting for the older 2 who wanted to grab one last ride on  lady bug coaster on our way out. It’s a nice way to finish out the day, as we did.
IMG_2719Crocodile Run had quite a line this trip so we skipped it , but last summer , it was the hit of the day, with my kids going on this spinning ride over water where you can get splashed, over and over and over. It’s definitely a highlight on a hot day so don’t miss it.
Also there’s nothing like the fast spinning of the Musik Express-a classic amusement park ride with loud music and that slip- sliding in your seat, hair whipping feel as the ride alternates between fast and fastER! What fun!
There’s a few fun extras around the park too. Bungee bouncing is $5 and ladder climbing is $2 and I saw lines for these attractions all day. Last time we went my son did the bungee   and loved flipping and jumping. The staff is very helpful and make it fun for kids. There’s at least 9 carnival games like balloon darts and vertical water race plus Face painting too! We didn’t win when we played but will try again next time. ( there’s a giant angry bird a certain boy is eyeing)
A restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating is in the same building with the arcade and bathrooms, right near all the kiddie rides. We enjoyed the pizza and a little break from the action. Choices include wraps, salads, hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. Throughout the park there are small food stands with churros, pretzels and ice cream plus there’s another food court area with outdoor tables and a variety of foods and snacks, so you won’t go hungry, that’s for sure!
Parking is free, along the main road, or in their parking lots which extend behind the park. Spots are close enough that if you need to run to the car for a forgotten item, you certainly can.
There’s a gift shop,home made fudge and there was even a band playing when we entered. A bubble machine was spitting out bubbles kids were running through and park mascot Alfie, was high-fiving and posing for pics. Adventureland advised me that they will be adding a new stage and more shows in the future.
All in all, we had a fantastic day. I wasn’t exhausted as I can get at the large parks where I lug a heavy shoulder bag packed with waters , towels and change of clothes for 3 kids. It was exciting and action packed and everything you can want in an amusement park without large entrance fees. The park was clean and I saw plenty of staff walking around to help if needed.
Adventureland offers season passes which really pay for themselves if you go a few times. They also do birthday parties!
Last words:
Bring sunscreen and maybe a change of clothes or bathing suit if kids plan on going on the water rides. And have a fantastic and fun day!

Adventureland was kind enough to provide us with bracelets for our day at the park free of charge. All opinions expressed are my own and we appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback for this blog.
The Long Island Aquarium

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead can definitely boast about its location and beautiful water view as well as being LI’s only aquarium! I debated even writing this post, since the more I invite people, the more crowded it gets. But OK, I’ll do it since it really is a gem of an aquarium. Not the biggest, nor the fanciest but it has the great feel of the lost city of Atlantis ( which is actually it’s former name: Atlantis Marine World. Why they changed it, I have no clue). Kids can do some mock digging in the Indiana Jones
 style cave out back and you’ll see a shipwreck in the shark tank as well. The lost city it is.
Face it, aquariums are fun so I’m more than willing to share with you if you haven’t been there yet. As a member, we’ve been there countless times, and in all seasons. Summer being my favorite since the outdoor area is beautiful , but in winter it’s a nice escape and even feels a little tropical in the midst of a deep-freeze.
Another nice thing about aquariums is that , really, they are for any age. Even kids as young as 2 get excited watching the fish (where’s Nemo and Dory?)  and kids a bit older just love the sea lion show and watching the great whites in the shark tunnel. Older kids go for the rock wall, the simulator ride ( fee) and the game room. Yes, there’s even a cool game room so bring a few extra bucks. Plus indoor and outdoor dining and an ice cream shop outside. I’ve been known to kick off my flip flops and relax as the kids climb the rock wall for half an hour. There’s a great little wading area too, where families can roll up their pants and wade amongst the horseshoe crabs.
My kids love watching the seahorses and the underwater viewing of the sea lion who will swim the same lap endlessly( seriously, does this guy ever take a break?)
I really enjoy the monkeys outside and we all get a kick out of watching the bats hang upside down. To the bat pole Robin! (sorry, couldn’t resist!)
Kids can feed the koi and feed the stingrays. This also is another favorite-my girl loves to pet those stingrays. On the way out, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Conservation has a room where you can donate to help their rescued animals (there were over 25 last week they told me) and you can view a tank with one (a cute seal when I was there). There’s plenty of marine life education in the room and info about how man’s pollution is destroying water and hurting fish.That’s when you may want to take a minute to educate the kids that it’s not all fun and games, it’s about doing your part in the world.
I didn’t even mention it all as  I’m sure you’ll want to explore the aquarium on your own and who am I to take away the surprises?
Whichever season you choose, I hope you have a fabulous day at the aquarium.
Looking for more day-cations on the east end of  Island? Learn about 6  more places here.

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