10 Ways to Explore the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in the Hamptons

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One of the highlights of our recent trip to the Hamptons was the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton, New York. What started as a small space to protect the Eastern Tiger Salamanders, now an endangered and protected species that were found to have inhabited the area, the center opened in 2006 on three acres of property on the 1100 acre Long Pond Greenbelt Preserve. While most of the 1100 acres is protected, untouched land, the museum and nature center also include three ponds (one of which is a “teaching pond”), and walking trails.

Travel Tips:

  • The indoor spaces are traditionally open every day from 10am-4pm, but call ahead or check online to verify; there are often school groups visiting during school hours. Information on admission fees and hours here
  • Both floors of the museum are handicap accessible via a lift; leave the stroller in the car as the toddler crew will want to get up close to the tanks.
  • Restrooms are located on both floors; there is a small gift kiosk near the admissions desk. 
  • There is plenty of free parking in front of the museum.
  • Check here for educational programs like nature walks and workshops; the center also offers STEAM classes and  summer programs.
  • No dining facilities on site; check here for a good index of nearby restaurants. Our favorite is Estia’s Little Kitchen, less than 5 minutes down Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.
  • Ask for Sandra, one of the museum staff educators. Recently graduated from college, Sandra is one of the most educated, informed, and enthusiastic museum staffers we have ever met- she taught us SO much, we could have spent an entire day with her! We truly have met few people who seem to love their “job” as much as Sandra.

10 Things to Do at the SoFO Nature Center:

  1. Explore both the aquaside and the terrestrial sides of the ecosystems in the four cylinders. There are live fish, frogs, and turtles on the “aqua side” and taxidermy and models on the “terrestrial side”.
  2. Search for the super photogenic Diamondback Terrapin turtle (whose names changes each day), who will come right up the glass wall and follow visitors from side to side. 
  3. See the varying stages of tree decay and learn how to prevent it.
  4. Check out all five sentiment layers of the beach in Montauk and use a magnet to separate the magnalite (black sand) from the garnet sand.
  5. Hold an Indian Walking Stick.
  1. Use binoculars on the Observation Deck to find the osprey nests and bat houses
  2. Learn how little holes are created in shells (hint: you can blame the whelks!)
  3. Touch various sealife like crabs and starfish in the large marine touch tank (make sure there is staff nearby to explain who is friendly and who is not!)
  4. Track a shark’s journey on the interactive tv screens to learn about the South Fork Shark Research and Education Program that tags sharks throughout the area.
  5. Borrow a field guide to take into the walking trails

Disclaimer: My family was given a media pass to explore the Nature Center; all opinions expressed are my own.

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9 Comments

  1. That’s pretty cool you can see the different stages of tree decay – and also great that they give you information on how to help prevent it! The more people who know, the better we all can do.

  2. This looks so interesting and fun! Had no idea about these places, so this is a great discovery 🙂 Loved that you shared useful tips as well!

  3. Well, those Eastern Tiger Salamanders have a beautiful place to be protected! This looks like a great area to explore with kids too. 😉

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