From Maritime History to Leaping Lizards, Explore Long Island’s Niche Museums

Written by Lyndsay McCabe  |  06. July 2014

You may have been to the bigger museums on Museum Row, but Long Island is home to over one hundred museums, including a variety of smaller, more focused museums that cater to people of different interests.  Most Long Island museums are maritime-based, as evidenced by the many museums for boating and whaling. All of these museums are kid-friendly, so you can enjoy a family trip this summer and be able to stay cool and indoors while also keeping your kids’ brains working as they learn more about local history. Here is a sampling of museums on Long Island with a more specific focus than others, but will be sure to still broaden your horizons!

Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages: Known to many as the Carriage Museum in Stony Brook, this museum has art dating back to the 1800s, but what is more impressive is the collection of over 200 horse-drawn carriages.  You can feel transported back in time as you look at the ornate carriages that were actually used for transport over one hundred years ago.

Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum: This museum chronicles the entire history of whaling, and has over 6,000 artifacts, including a real whaling boat.  It has interactive activities for kids and adults alike, and also brings the learning home with the history of whaling on Long Island.

The Maritime Explorium: This Port Jefferson treasure is the only museum that tells visitors that everything is touchable.  Kids and their parents are welcome to explore this nautical-themed museum together and take part in different science, engineering, and math challenges together in this creative space. This museum offers a new activity every weekend for kids to design, build, and create.

Stony Brook Grist Mill: If you are interested in how Long Islanders lived long ago, this 250 year old mill is the only functioning grist mill on Long Island.  Hands-on milling events are also offered, and guided tours are given by a miller on the weekends.

Railroad Museum of Long Island: For the fans of trains, stop by this Greenport museum to learn about the history of trains while touring a history 1892 freight house of the Long Island Rail Road.

Tugboat Museum: This quirky museum is actually a museum inside a real tugboat, so it is quite small.  Those walking around Port Washington Town Dock can come up to the windows and peer inside the boat to see the exhibits, which are changed periodically.

Southold Indian Museum: This museum is owned and operated by the Long Island Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association, and has the world’s largest collection of Algonquian ceramic pottery, as well as many spearheads and arrowheads, as well as a vast collection of other tools from those who first inhabited Long Island.

The Serpentarium: Lovers of reptiles should head down to this Riverhead museum, which is Long Island’s only indoor reptile museum, and features all kinds of snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and other lizards.

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