Top 10 outdoor activities
Traipse through a field of sunflowers and pick your own bouquet, or pitch a tent at a campsite for a (cheap) one-night adventure--these excursion are only the start of how you might spend your time outdoors this season.
PEEK AT PRIVATE GARDENS(Credit: Garden Conservancy)
Set your eyes on glorious gardens normally off-limits to the public during The Garden Conservancy's annual Open Days program. Owners of private homes have agreed to let strangers stop by and smell their roses June 8 in Nassau County and June 21 in Suffolk ($5, 888-842-2442, gardenconservancy.org).
PAINT OUTDOORS(Credit: istock)
Plein air painting seems like a serene way to spend a summer afternoon. You can see artists at work around Long Island -- but why not join them? The Plein Air Limner Society meets every week at a different outdoor spot for members to paint, sketch or photograph -- all skill levels welcome ($25 annual membership, 631-241-3749, palspleinair.blogspot.com).
WALK WITH WALT(Credit: Daniel Brennan)
More than 200 miles of hiking paths are part of the Long Island Greenbelt Trail. Guided tours of certain legs run several times a week. Of note to fans of Walt Whitman: A trail the poet favored is still accessible today in East Hills County Park at Reservoir Road. Travel along the path and climb to Jayne's Hill, the highest point on Long Island (631-360-0753, ligreenbelt.org).
GO CAMPING(Credit: Randee Daddona)
Spend a night under the stars -- an entire night --by booking a campsite at Wildwood State Park Campground in Wading River, which has 242 tent sites. The park has a beach on Long Island Sound, and fishing and hiking trails. There are outdoor movies on Wednesday nights and square-dancing on Fridays July 4 through mid-August ($15-$22 a night plus $9 reservation fee 800-456-2267, http://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/).
CUT YOUR OWN SUNFLOWERS(Credit: Randee Daddona)
Lovely, happy sunflowers are yours for the picking straight from the field at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic in late summer. They'll loan you a pair of shears to cut your own bouquet ($1 per stem). Afterward, taste the winery's Sunflower chardonnay, inspired by the flower ($10 for a flight of five tastings, 631-734-6200, pindar.net
RELAX BY THE RIVER(Credit: Randee Daddona)
The Bayard Cutting Arboretum is the beautiful former Great River home of William Bayard Cutting. Take a house tour and walk the grounds, or grab a snack from the quaint cafe and claim one of the Adirondack chairs on the expansive lawn to take in the beauty of the Connetquot River ($8 parking, 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com).
BARD WITH A VIEW(Credit: Barbara Alper)
You don't have to travel to Central Park and wait in line six hours for tickets to enjoy Shakespeare by moonlight. Arena Players presents "A Midsummer Night's Dream," July 2-Aug. 24, on the cobblestoned courtyard of Centerport's Vanderbilt Mansion, with the Spanish-style clock tower, balcony and staircase as a backdrop ($15, 516-293-0674, arenaplayers.org).
TOUR POLLOCK'S PLACE(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
See where two of the East End's most celebrated husband-and-wife artists, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, lived and worked, including the barn studio where Pollock's drip paintings were executed. The Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center in Springs is open 1-5 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, June through August ($5, 631-324-4929, pkhouse.org). Guided tours by reservation at noon ($10).
EXPLORE EAST END ART(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
Maya Lin, who created Washington, D.C's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, constructs "Pin River -- Sandy," a geographic installation depicting superstorm Sandy's high-water flood plain, using thousands of straight pins, July 4-Oct. 13 at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, where Roy Lichtenstein's monumental outdoor sculpture exhibit was recently erected. Sit on the museum's open-air terrace and ponder it all over a glass of wine from the cafe ($10, 631-283-2118, parrishart.org).
SEND YOURSELF TO DAY CAMP(Credit: Usdan)
Grown-ups can head to summer camp -- for a day -- at the Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights. From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on July 18, adults can partake in courses such as musical theater, organic gardening and pottery -- or try archery, swimming and nature walks. Everyone earns a "diploma" at the end of the day ($65 a person or $100 for two, includes lunch, 631-643-7900, usdan.com).