Visiting the Vanderbilt in the summer

Summer is a great time to visit the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, where there’s something to interest everyone.

On Saturday, July 19, the Vanderbilt will hold its third annual Clam Bake, a benefit for the Museum’s education programs. It’s an evening of seafood, music and a Planetarium show. Guests are invited to bring their nine irons and take part in a chip-shot contest in honor of Willie Vanderbilt’s original estate golf course.

On most Thursdays, you can dance, and learn to do new steps, at one of the popular Midsummer Night Dances in the Celebration Tent overlooking the water. Details and tickets here.

On Friday, August 1, you can enjoy Alex Torres and His Latin Orchestra, who will make their eighth annual appearance at the Vanderbilt (rain or shine in the Celebration Tent). The event, Spicy Sounds for a Hot Night, includes dancing and professional, club-style Latin dance lessons. Torres and his orchestra have played a spicy mix of salsa, merengue and Latin jazz throughout North and South America, and have released 10 critically acclaimed CDs.

Every Saturday and Sunday, you can take a Living History tour of the Vanderbilt Mansion, where the clock has been turned back to the summer of 1932. Hear tales of the Vanderbilt family and its world-famous summer guests. (Tickets available at the door.)

In July and August, the Arena Players Repertory Theater offers its 26th annual Shakespeare Festival, performed on the stage in the elegant Vanderbilt Mansion Courtyard. This year’s production is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And the Arena Players Children’s Theater is performing The Wizard of Oz in its signature audience-participation format.

You can see several exciting new shows in the Vanderbilt Planetarium. After a $4-million makeover and technological update, the facility is one of the finest and most advanced in the United States. Check out the Vanderbilt Gift Shop, too.

Tour the 24-room, Spanish-Revival mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You and your children, or guests, will marvel at the collections in the natural history and cultural artifact galleries, and the wild-animal dioramas of the Habitat and the Stoll Wing.

In summer, the Mansion and Estate grounds are in full bloom, thanks to the Museum’s corps of volunteer gardeners. On a beautiful afternoon, you can bring a picnic basket, sit under a tree and enjoy breezes from Northport Bay and views (with gulls, sailboats and fishing boats) across Long Island Sound to Connecticut. You might see fox and deer running into the woods near the Mansion, or hawks soaring above the Estate.

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