Written by Charlene Cooper
Whether you're gathering the little ones for a play date with friends or just looking for bonding time with your own group of pals, here are four budget-friendly trips, each with something for everyone. The best part? You only need a tank of gas (or less) to get there.
1395 Planting Fields Rd.
Why Go? The former Gold Coast estate boasts 409 acres of greenhouses, rolling lawns, gardens, woodland paths and an extensive collection of plants.
Must Do: While at the arboretum, make sure to take in the beauty and refreshing fragrance of the flower garden.
Insider Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and be sure to grab a map before heading out on a self-guided tour.
Fine Print: Visit the grounds daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free during the winter season.
Merrick and Stewart Ave.
Why Go? Get back to basics for a day filled with miniature golf at a park that boasts two 18-hole courses and holes that range from easy to challenging. While there, take in the stunning views of waterfalls, small ponds and flowerbeds sprawled across the course.
Must Do: Take advantage of the other park amenities like the fitness trail, indoor swimming and playground area. If there's snow on the ground when you visit, be sure to take a ride down Sled Hill.
Insider Tip: For discounts on all the park's activities, Nassau County residents can get a Leisure Pass that will cut the costs on pools, golf courses and tennis courts, to name a few. Find out how to get a Leisure Pass here.
Fine Print: Enjoy a mini golf session Fridays from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission for adults is $10; children 13 and under, $4.
1 Heltz Pl.
Why Go? Learn about earth science and natural history through a collection of artifacts and activities at The Hicksville Gregory Museum. Both kids and adults will walk out of this experience knowing more about fossils, minerals, insects and local history.
Must Do: For a bit of a thrill to keep you on your toes, check out the 5-foot-6-inch replica of a Mosasaur reptile skull or amber stone from Colombia with 100 termites and other insects trapped inside it. “They have the most beautiful rocks and fossils,” said museum visitor Erin Burke. “I highly recommend this museum to all, especially to spark an interest in children.”
Insider Tip: If you plan to come with a fairly large group, please be sure to make a reservation and be warned that a separate group fee will be charged.
Fine Print: Visit the museum Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $5; children 4 to 14 and seniors 65 and older, $3.
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
20 Sagamore Hill Rd.
Why Go? Explore a piece of history at Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until 1919. The park grounds, Theodore Roosevelt Museum and visitor centers will give you an inside look at the place Roosevelt referred to as his "Summer White House."
Must Do: Enjoy a self-guided tour at the Theodore Roosevelt Museum. At your own pace, watch movies and see exhibits that display what Sagamore Hill was like 100 years ago. "Beautiful and historic," said Peter Bourdelle, a visitor of the museum. "I could walk there as a kid, and did so many times to tour the exhibits and imagine how Teddy lived."
Insider Tip: The Roosevelt Home is currently closed for a reconstruction project. However, the park, museum and visitor center offer a world of exciting activities. Be sure to stop by the visitor's center and bookstore to find out about the park and museum's offerings for the day.
Fine Print: Visit the park grounds every day from dawn until dusk and The Roosevelt Museum at Old Orchard Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., all at no cost.