Located in Riverhead, New York, the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center is a must-see on your drive out to the beach towns. Watch sea lions being fed outside the entrance to the aquarium and then enter the building to the sounds of birds chirping, water running and animals splashing. Touch tanks line the entrance area and kids can pet stingrays and feed turtles before heading to the other exhibits. The 120,000-gallon shark tank will make you feel like you are inside with the large fish, and if you dare, dives are scheduled for visitors age 12 and older (fees apply). Head over to the penguins in the outdoor area and sign up for an interactive activity there, too. The outdoor section includes a salt marsh, which children can walk around in and touch; alligators; boat trips from a private dock; seasonal rides (for additional fees); a pirate and snorkel activity; shows and more.
The Exhibition Center is home to butterflies, caterpillars and birds, all of which surround you as you walk through the jungle-like area. Visitors can enter a cage filled with colorful birds and feed them from the palm of their hands. Don’t be surprised if the birds land on your head, arms, shoulders and hands — sometimes five at a time! Two gift shops outside the Exhibition Center offer souvenirs like stuffed animals, post cards, games and toys, all based on areas within the Aquarium and Exhibition Center. A food court is also onsite with snacks, drinks and ice cream available.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Admission is $26.50 for adults 13 and older, $20.50 for seniors over 62 and children 3 to 12, and free for kids 2 and under. Additional fees apply for activities, rides, tours and dives. Not technically in The Hamptons, the aquarium is about 20 minutes from Southampton.