The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center offers families a close-up look into the native wildlife of the Hamptons and Long Island. Upon entering, kids can get eye-level looks into the various habitats of local animals, including reptiles, birds, amphibians and marine animals. First, pick up a field guide or ask one of the educators to give you a tour. All of the animals are native to the area. The various exhibits on this main floor offer hands-on areas, too, such as logs for little ones to touch, holes to peek through and places to smell the musk of various wildlife, like a fox. After seeing all of the exhibits, head outside onto the viewing deck where telescopes and binoculars await. Kids can see if they can spot foxes, blue birds, ducks, deer and more.
Next, head downstairs for some real fun. After viewing the various tanks, which house fish, sea horses, frogs, salamanders, turtles and more, kids can can get their hands wet in the touch tank. An educator will guide littles ones’ hands to the various species within the water. Touch a crab, a snail, a sea star and more. This will definitely be a child’s favorite area and they’ll learn so much about the various animals and their habitats, too. Next to the touch tank is another area for hands-on learning. The Wet Lab offers families a chance to conduct their own sort of experiments. Ask an educator to help you look at water samples beneath a telescope or to compare the samples in different beakers.
After having fun inside, walk out the doors from this downstairs area and check out the carnivorous plant garden and the butterfly garden. There are also various trails for which families can explore, as well as grassy areas for kids to run and play.
The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center is a 501(c)3 non-profit. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids between 3 and 12; children 2 and under are free.