10 Best Long Island Museums to Visit 🏛 – Whaling, Children’s, Science, Aviation, Carriage Museum & More!


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Whether you’re planning a visit to Long Island or choosing the best neighborhood on Long Island to call home, you’ll definitely want to explore the best museums in the area. There are more than 100 museums on Long Island including whaling museums, art museums, science centers, and children’s museums. Here are the 10 best Long Island museums to check out!

Long Island Children’s Museum (Garden City) – One of the Largest Museums on Long Island for Children

The most popular children’s museum Long Island has to offer, the Long Island Children’s Museum in Garden City is located in a 40,000-square-foot former airplane hanger. The museum has tons to do for toddlers through elementary school kids with 14 interactive exhibits, art spaces, daily activities for kids, and live theater.

LICM is one of the coolest garden museums on Long Island with an outdoor sensory garden that lets kids explore the water cycle, nature, and weather. The Bubbles exhibit lets kids step inside a huge bubble and create giant bubbles with wands. The Feast for Beasts exhibit uses live animal habitats to teach kids about herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores. The Nassau children’s museum also has an accessible climbing sculpture!

Note that Long Island Children’s Museum hours change by season. Check their website for current hours!

The Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and Carriages (Stony Brook) – World Renowned Collection of Horse-Drawn Carriages & New York Artists

Known more simply as the Long Island Museum, Stony Brook is home to one of the best museums on Long Island for American art and local history.

The Stony Brook museum has a mission to inspire children and adults with a deep enjoyment and appreciation of American art, carriages, and history through Long Island heritage. It has over 50,000 artifacts in its collection in three categories: history, carriages, and art and archives.

The art collection includes about 450 paintings, 40 sculptures, and 2,000+ paper works including many from renowned New York artists. It has the largest collection of William Sidney Mount artwork. The internationally renowned carriage museum collection features 200 horse-drawn carriages, most in original condition, and 25,000+ non-vehicle artifacts.

 

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Nassau County Museum of Art (Roslyn Harbor) – One of the Best Art Museums on Long Island

Located in the Town of Oyster Bay and the Town of North Hempstead, Roslyn Harbor is one of the most charming North Shore Long Island towns. It’s also home to one of the most visited museums on Long Island. This art museum in Nassau County NY is located on the former Clayton estate, an excellent example of the many Gold Coast mansions in the area.

The Nassau County Museum of Art or NCMA has 145 acres of sculpture, one of the largest public sculpture gardens on the East Coast! It also has a collection of over 600 objects covering European and American art of the 19th through the 20th century with rotating exhibitions.

Cradle of Aviation Museum (Garden City) – Fun Long Island Aircraft Museum

Located in Uniondale, a hamlet of Garden City, the Cradle of Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum that celebrates Long Island’s history as the “Cradle of Aviation.” The museum is located on the former Long Island Air Force Base that, with the Roosevelt Field and Hempstead Plains, were the site of historic flights including the first night flight, the first transatlantic airplane flight, and the first solo transatlantic flight by Charles Lindbergh.

The air and space museum on Long Island features over 75 aircraft and spacecraft in eight galleries plus the jetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium and STEM camps for kids. It also hosts fun events like the Long Island Chocolate Expo, the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, and more!

American Airpower Museum (Farmingdale) – American Aviation Museum at the Former Republic Airport & P-47 Thunderbolt Plant

The American Airpower Museum is one of the best museums on Long Island for military and aviation enthusiasts. It’s located at the former Republic Aviation plant where thousands of P-47 Thunderbolts were produced in the village of Farmingdale. This unique aircraft museum is one of the most visited museums in Nassau County and fully immerses visitors in the history of aviation with historic jet fighter bombers and Thunderbolts on display in hangers and flying off the runway.

The American Airpower Museum is best known for its air shows and regular events like TOPGUN Weekend and the US Navy Blue Angels air show.

Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium (Centerport) – One of the Best Suffolk County Museums & Long Island Mansions

The Vanderbilt Museum is one of the most famous Gold Coast museums of Long Island and the former estate of William Vanderbilt II. The 43-acre estate was named Eagle’s Nest. It was donated at his death for use as a museum for his many collections. The Vanderbilt museum is operated by Suffolk County.

One of the most unique museums on Long Island, the Vanderbilt museum boasts a seaplane hangar, boathouse, curator’s cottage, marine museum with many specimens, and ethnographic collections. You can tour the gardens and mansion with fine art and historic furnishings. During the summer, the museum hosts a “living history tour” with costumed actors playing the roles of Gold Coast socialites based on information from Vanderbilt’s journal and historical archives.

 

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Heckscher Museum of Art (Huntington) – Gorgeous Long Island Art Museum Walking Distance from Downtown Huntington

The Heckscher Museum of Art is one of the most beautiful museums in Suffolk County NY. It’s located in the picturesque Heckscher Park and walking distance to shops and other attractions in Huntington, NY.

The Heckscher Museum features over 2,000 works with an emphasis on American landscapes and Long Island artists. The collection spans more than 500 years and includes a 1534 painting by German Renaissance artist Lucas Cranach the Elder and the 1926 painting “Eclipse of the Sun” by George Grosz.

There are regularly changing exhibitions and community events like Moonstruck Mania: An Art and Science Adventure in collaboration with the Vanderbilt Museum and summer classes for kids.

The Whaling Museum & Education Center of Cold Spring Harbor – Fun Whaling Museum on Long Island

This Cold Spring museum is open year-round and explores the Long Island whaling history where whaling began in North America. The museum uses changing and permanent exhibitions, educational programs, and events to explore the history of whaling and conservation efforts.

The coolest exhibit is the historic whaleboat which is fully equipped with its original gear. The museum also boasts a huge scrimshaw collection, plus correspondence, journals, and ship logs from the Cold Spring Whaling Company, whaling implements, and maritime art.

The whale museum of Long Island hosts many fun Long Island museum events. During June, visit for the annual Whales, Ales & Salty Tales craft brew fundraiser. The Cold Spring whaling museum also hosts the the Sea Glass Festival in August with sea shanties, sea glass jewelry for sale, and educational presentations.

 

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Railroad Museum of Long Island (Riverhead & Greenport) – Kid-Friendly Riverhead Museum

The family-friendly Long Island Railroad Museum operates facilities in Riverhead and Greenport. The Riverhead facility is the main museum with interactive, kid-friendly exhibits. This fun train museum on Long Island lets you climb into a 1960’s LIRR double decker car, activate dozens of accessories on an Historic Lionel Layout, watch scale model Lionel train cars operate on indoor and outdoor layouts, and ride the Long Island Rail Road miniature train from the 1964 World’s Fair.

There are no excursion train rides, but the Railroad Museum of Long Island is on the LIRR mainline. You are encouraged to travel between the Riverhead and Greenport sites on the LIRR Greenport Scoot.

Walt Whitman Birthplace Association (Huntington Station) – Small Museum

West Hills, a hamlet in the Town of Huntington, is best known as the birthplace of Walt Whitman. The Walt Whitman museum in West Hills and Huntington Station is a New York State Historic Site and on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1819 by Walt Whitman’s father and it has been fully restored. It was here that the poet Walt Whitman was born more than 200 years ago.

Take a guided tour of Walt Whitman’s birthplace to see 19th century furniture, original letters, portraits, and artifacts then stop by the bookstore and gift shop.

Museums on Long Island Map

With so many amazing Long Island museums to explore, where are you going to start? If you’re moving to Long Island, you’ll have all the time in the world to explore the many beaches, parks, and museums on Long Island from the North Shore and North Fork to the South Shore and everywhere in between. Give us a call at Zippboxx for a free moving estimate from our 5-star Long Island movers; we’ll handle all the hard work to get you settled in your new home without the stress.


Rob Marchese
about the author, Rob Marchese
Rob Marchese is one of the founders of Zippboxx Moving and Storage. Since the start of the company it's been Rob's mission to change the way the moving industry is perceived.  The number one goal is to make the moving and storage process as stress free as possible for each and every customer. "The way we do this is by honesty, transparency, and providing a high quality of service."
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