Long Island’s east end is an incredible place to discover your children’s creative and artistic talents and explore the picturesque bounties of nature. With beautiful beaches just minutes away, the Hamptons offers an abundance of attractions and activities. Expand your young one’s imaginations away from the Hamptons summer crowds with activities off the beaten path that are just minutes apart. Observe the historic character of the Hamptons as you comb the lush farmlands and shingled cottages along the winding roads. This quiet little artist and farming community tucked away in a wealthy resort destination exemplifies the true feeling of living with expression through art.
The Secret Garden
Tucked away in East Hampton’s tangled roads, you will find a sculpture garden that will light up your child’s curiosity. The LongHouse Reserve is a beautiful oasis entwining permanent displays of over sixty whimsical, grand sculptures like a white life-size chess set and a larger-than-life fly’s eye dome. These are encircled with rows of manicured shrubberies, a pond filled with delicate lilies and a garden scene known as “tropicals” filled with brilliantly colored flowers that your child will have a keen eye for. This particular garden scene will awe inspire your young one with its bountiful colors, breathtakingly beautiful flowers and whimsical splendor through sights, smells, sounds and touch. You and your child will be surprised by all of the unexpected art designs you will find—not only will the life-size chess set amaze, but little ones will adore the larger-than-life Cryptomeria trees. Your child’s senses will be welcomed with sweet smelling air while traveling a path filled with a collection of sculptures integrated among the gardens. The reserve is open from mid April through October.
Paint Like Pollock
At the Pollock-Krasner House and Study Center, observe art history in its exact origin. The center is the former home and studio of husband and wife artists Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Your child can step inside the world of Pollock and replicate his unique drip painting style in the very place he did his artwork more than a half century ago. They will love creating their own work of art that you will be able to bring home and proudly display. Adults will even be tempted to join in on the fun! In addition to your child’s art project, you and your family will be able to tour the home—observe the black and white photos of Pollock and Krasner lining the walls and view a rare film of Pollock painting in the backyard of his home, giving your child the opportunity to appreciate and learn more about his creative process. The drip painting sessions are offered during the summer and autumn months on Saturdays.
The Guild Hall of East Hampton offers an opportunity to get your child involved in the arts by hosting KIDSFEST. These events are offered on Wednesdays during the months of July and August. They offer hands-on arts and crafts workshops ranging from cookie decorating to creating unique theater posters. After the art activities, families can attend child-friendly performances in their theater. The art projects are formatted to match the theme of that day’s theater performance, including interactive pirate, big bubble and science shows that gets the crowd up out of their seats and laughing along.
You can’t miss the Parrish Art Museum just off of Montauk Highway in Southampton. The museum first opened in 1898 and has showcased American art ever since. The museum finished a massive renovation in November of 2012, resulting in a 12,000 sky-lit exhibit space that will awe-inspire your kids. The Parrish programs include open studio times, gallery talks and workshops. The open art studio is a delightful place for families to create art together through hands-on activities, with each month featuring a different theme and a variety of art materials inspired by the artwork within the galleries. Permanent collections at the museum encompass work by modern American artists with a focus on art that highlights the aesthetics of the East End of Long Island. Dennis Oppenheim’s exhibit called “Splash Buildings” contains magnificent cylindrical sculptures with distinct planets and moons bursting above the works of art. Oppenheim established his studio in East Hampton back in the mid 1980s.
In between artistic adventures, let your child release their energy at the many parks and playgrounds spread across the Hamptons. Herrick Park, with its own tennis courts, baseball field, a gazebo and a full playground, is located in the center of the East Hampton village. Another nearby park is Agawam Park in Southampton, with a partially fenced duck pond, and a playground combining a unique climbing design with soft flooring for kids to run and jump on. There are great family-friendly eateries including Bay Burger in Sag Harbor that has its own private eating area for kids with comfortable seats and a flat screen television, and the old-fashioned style Scoop du Jour in the heart of the East Hampton village that offers freshly made cinnamon donuts, ice cream with dozens of tempting toppings and the famous New York City Crumbs cupcakes.
Vanessa Pinto is a freelance writer and English language instructor residing in New York. She received her Master of Arts in Education from New York University while also studying abroad at St. Edmund’s College, Oxford. You can follow Vanessa on Twitter at @EastEndTaste