No matter where you are on Long Island, or what season it is, there is a state park you and your family are sure to enjoy. Long Island is noted for its beaches, golf courses, arboretums and grand estates attracting millions of visitors annually to its state parks and historic sites–so what are you waiting for?!
There is so much to do and explore, like hiking in the fall or snowshoeing in the winter, to bird watching in the spring and camping in the summer–everyone is bound to have a little bit of fun when visiting Long Island State Parks!
To get you started, here is a list of parks that are worth a visit. And don’t forget to grab an Empire Pass so you can have access to all parks in New York state for an entire year!
Long Island State Parks
Hempstead Lake State Park — West Hempstead
This large park seems to have it all, including multiple tennis courts, playgrounds, basketball courts, horseback riding and hiking trails, and picnic areas.
There are three ponds that are accessible for fishing. On Hempstead Lake, the largest lake in Nassau County, you are permitted to use car top boats with an annual permit issued from the Park. McDonald Pond, South Pond, and Hempstead Lake are stocked with trout in the fall and you may target trout year-round.
Teaching kids how to fish? It’s a skill they’ll never forget!
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park — Oyster Bay
Family-friendly events abound at this state park and nature preserve that has more than 400 acres of public gardens, woodlands, and nature trails.
Take a guided tour of historic Coe Hall (closed in winter); check out Camellia Greenhouse, which boasts the largest collection of camellias in the Northeast (blossom December through March). My favorite, though, is the sensory garden!
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve — Huntington
Trails for hiking, horseback riding, running, cross-country skiing, and more can be found at this scenic nature preserve. Historic buildings house equestrian services as well environmental education programs for kids.
Photo credit: Gail Frederick, Flickr
The polo pony barn provides lessons, boarding & equestrian services as part of the Lloyd Harbor Equestrian Center. The summer cottage houses the Nassau BOCES Outdoor and Environmental Education Program. Fishing and scuba diving (by permit) is also available. There is surely something for everyone at Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve.
Orient Beach State Park — Orient
There is plenty to explore at this national natural landmark located on the eastern tip of the north fork of Long Island. Along its 45,000-foot Gardiners Bay beachfront, you’ll find a maritime forest with prickly cactus, a saltwater marsh, and lots of marine wildlife.
Patrons come to the park primarily for relaxing, picnicking, enjoying the peaceful outdoors, and various recreation activities. Visitors can swim in the bay, fish from shore, go kayaking, windsurfing, and stand-up paddle boarding, go hiking or biking or walk a nature trail. Programs and special events such as the Spring Egg Hunt and Holiday Tree Lighting, Bike-a-thons, and kayaking tours are held either by the park or in cooperation with partners like the Long Island Paddlers.
Orient Beach is now a United States Light House Society Passport Stamp Location where patrons can view four lighthouses; Orient Point Lighthouse, Plum Island Lighthouse, Long Beach Bar Lighthouse and the Cedar Island Lighthouse as well as get their Lighthouse Passport Stamped.
Photo credit: Erik Anestad, Flickr
Hither Hills State Park — Montauk
This state park’s oceanfront campground is a favorite of Long Island families. Picnic areas, playgrounds, sporting fields, and fishing add to its popularity.
Walk along the dunes of Napeague Harbor and enjoy its woodlands. It also offers trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
Did You Know? Hither Hills ranks in the top ten state parks for biodiversity in the state!
Heckscher State Park — East Islip
Situated on Great South Bay, this park offers swimming, boating, kayaking, and other water sports. There are also picnic areas, sporting fields, and four miles of paved walking and biking trails. Visitors see whitetail deer, a variety of birds and other wildlife as they wander through the park.
Photo credit: Michael Mulqueen, Flickr
Views of the Great South Bay with Fire Island serve as the backdrop for this great family location.
Thanks to Atlantic Toyota for sharing these great family friendly park locations with us!