Hidden spots on Long Island
Long Island has its share of iconic destinations, from the Montauk Lighthouse to Jones Beach. But the region also has a long list of lesser-known jewels -- Long Island's hidden spots, so to speak. For example, there's Southards Pond in Babylon Village, three non-East End vineyards and a sanctuary in Nissequogue. Here, we spill the region's secrets.
A man tries his luck fishing from a kayak on New Mill Pond in Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown Friday, May 13, 2016.
Scenic beachfront picnic(Credit: Sara-Megan Walsh)
Did you know there's more to do than fishing at Captree State Park? Keep to the right when entering the park to head toward a beachfront picnic area with a scenic view of Fire Island Inlet and the Robert Moses Causeway.
Hidden wildlife sanctuary(Credit: Sara-Megan Walsh )
The Charles T. Church Nature Preserve, or Shu Swamp Preserve, can only be found by driving past a fenced patch of grass off the side of Frost Mill Road in Mill Neck. Follow a well-worn footpath around to a wooden viewing platform where you can watch heron, cranes and other native wildlife.
Scenic picnic on the Sound(Credit: Sara-Megan Walsh )
Cordwood Park may be small, but this piece of shoreline in Head of the Harbor offers a quiet, secluded picnic spot overlooking the Long Island Sound. Town of Smithtown residents with a permit can picnic or take a relaxing dip in the water.
Pirate's Cove(Credit: Amy Onorato)
Pirate's Cove is a hidden private beach nestled between large sand dunes at McAllister County Park on the northern tip of Belle Terre. Getting there can be tricky -- if you don't have a boat to ferry you into the cove, you have to walk more than a mile along the shoreline. But once you get there, the clean shallow water and quiet beachfront is more than sublime. It's also a great place for kayaking or fishing.
Camping on the beach(Credit: Amy Onorato)
Did you know that you can camp out under the stars in Suffolk? Residents of the Town of Smithtown are welcome to pitch a tent, grill and relax on shores of Short Beach, a quiet shoreline located off the end of Moriches Road in St. James. While you're there, keep an eye on the skies -- you may catch an osprey or two heading home to roost.
Secret salt marshes(Credit: Amy Onorato)
Though West Meadow is typically known for its sandy north shore beach, it's actually home to an expansive wetlands preserve and bird sanctuary, too. If you follow the long road behind the shore (perfect for runners or cyclists looking for a scenic workout) you will eventually find the Dr. Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center. One dirt path off the main road takes you into the heart of the salt marshes -- and there's a dock you can sit on to enjoy the breathtaking views.
A hidden well(Credit: Amy Onorato)
It may look like a simple pipe, but this constantly flowing well actually offers some of the freshest, cleanest water to drink -- if you can find it. It's tucked away in the heart of the West Meadow Wetland Preserve in Stony Brook and is frequented by those familiar with the park looking to take a break and cool off as they walk along the trails.
Massapequa oasis(Credit: Tara Conry )
Massapequa Preserve has many scenic spots including this one, which is located just off the running and biking trail. Here, visitors can sit on a small bench and watch swans and ducks swim by.
Indian Landing(Credit: Carl Corry)
Indian Landing in the Carmans River in Shirley is seen on Sept. 9, 2012. It once served as a meeting place for Native Americans. It can be reached by water and from a walking trail from the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge Complex Center and Headquarters.
A Jones Beach secret(Credit: Tara Conry)
Inside Field 10 at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh is a hidden trail that guides visitors through sand dunes to a spot on the beach that, during the winter time, is an ideal spot to search for seals bobbing from underwater.
Hike LI(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
Did you know that one of the most biologically diverse areas in New York is on Long Island? Now you do. The 1,100-acre Long Island Greenbelt extends from Sag Harbor to the Atlantic Ocean. This view is from the South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center in Bridgehampton.
End of the road(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
All along the East End, roads that come to an end have an adventure just beyond the dead end sign. For instance, this Southampton street runs right into the Shinnecock Inlet. Next time you're in the Hamptons, take a detour down a few side streets near the water.
Merrick's oasis(Credit: Tara Conry )
To reach this oasis you have to scale a 115-foot hill at the former Merrick Landfill, now the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve, located off the Meadowbrook State Parkway in Merrick. At the top, you'll see two man-made ponds, which attract natural wildlife, and impressive views of Jones Beach and the New York City skyline.
Let there be light(Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)
Have you visited Old Field Lighthouse? Chances are the answer is no. Change that this year and take a trip to the historical building, which has stood near the Long Island Sound since 1869. This photo is from February 2012.
Stony Brook's labyrinth(Credit: Adam Richins)
Right in the heart of Stony Brook is an eight-acre oasis with a mile-long path among the trees, flowering plants and the sounds birds. In the center is a labyrinth, a tranquil spot. Surrounding the park is the 76-acre Avalon Preserve open to biking. The photo is from July 2007.
The great Hamptons lawn(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
This is not a top secret: The Hamptons are hot during the summer. While everyone else mobs the beaches, take a break from the water by visiting Agawam Park, which is nestled right in Southampton's downtown. The park has a great lawn and a top-notch playground for the kids. This photo is from May 27, 2013.
Bluffs, on Long Island(Credit: Henry Powderly )
The David Weld Sanctuary in Nissequogue is a tight loop of trails that runs along the North Shore, skimming the bluffs of the Long Island Sound and winding through vine-laden woods. You can thank us later.
Babylon paradise(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
Babylon Village locals aren't going to like that we are blowing the top off one of Long Island's best-kept secrets. Southards Pond is 19 acres of paradise just south of Sunrise Highway. Fishing, walking and jogging trails, and foot bridges make Southards worth the drive. Sorry, Babylon.
A toast to LI wine(Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan)
Whisper Vineyards in St. James is one of three vineyards on Long Island that aren't on the East End. There's Whisper, Loughlin Vineyards in Sayville and Harmony Vineyards in Head of the Harbor. So enjoying local wine doesn't necessarily mean a drive out east. This is from Nov. 25, 2013.
Paddling at Belmont(Credit: David Reich-Hale )
Belmont Lake State Park in Babylon is known for its walking trails, picnic areas, children's playgrounds and cannons captured from a British warship. But it's during the summer months that Belmont's paddle boats become available. Only then can you paddle through the middle of the lake in peace, with ducks following nearby.
Secret scoops(Credit: John Dunn)
Old-fashioned ice cream places are getting harder to find, and McNulty's in Miller Place may be even more difficult to track down since it's off the beaten path. The shop is tucked away on North Country Road, so launch your GPS and enjoy.
Hoops at the harbor(Credit: Google )
Trying to stay in shape? You'll be hard pressed to find a prettier spot to practice foul shots than the basketball court on Woodbine Avenue in Northport Village. Can't get the hook shot to drop? Eh, don't sweat it. Walk a few steps to the water and enjoy the view. This photo is from January 2013.