TODAY'S PAPER

Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh: An insider's guide to bathhouses, nature center, more

By Jim Merritt Special to Newsday

Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh offers an astonishing variety of things to do on a summer day. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, dine outdoors or play sports along 6½ miles of white sand and a 2-mile boardwalk, or find a quiet spot to surf, fish or look for wildlife, you can dive right in amid the park’s 2,400 acres. Here’s a guide to fun beyond the beach at one of the nation’s premier public...

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Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh offers an astonishing variety of things to do on a summer day. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, dine outdoors or play sports along 6½ miles of white sand and a 2-mile boardwalk, or find a quiet spot to surf, fish or look for wildlife, you can dive right in amid the park’s 2,400 acres. Here’s a guide to fun beyond the beach at one of the nation’s premier public recreational facilities. Destinations begin in the west and move east.

The Jones Beach Nature Center

Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Also known as the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, this beachfront educational facility offers kids a chance to handle live marine animals in touch tanks.

Pictured: Ashley Zavala, 9, snaps a selfie with her classmates during a visit to the nature center. 

The Jones Beach Nature Center

Photo Credit: Allen Agostino

The nature center also offers indoor and outdoor exhibits with information about the South Shore ecosystem. Outside, a boardwalk winds through a beachfront natural area that’s popular with bird watchers year-round.

Pictured: Members of the Amateur Observers' Society of New York and others gaze at the stars at the nature center.

West Bathhouse

Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

Not much of an ocean swimmer? Point your flip-flops to the Olympic-size swimming pool at the West Bathhouse. Chill out on a beach chair in a resort-like vibe while the young ones splash around the kiddie pool.

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The West End: Fields 1 and 2

Photo Credit: Ryan C. Jones

If you’re looking to shred waves free of bathers, hook into a lunker striped bass, catalog a rare bird or just hit a softball, then this is your destination.
Amenities at both fields include full-service food and beverage areas, lavatories, locker rooms and a beach shop. Field 1 is open only on weekends and holidays, but you can take an alternate route here on foot: Field 1 is where the boardwalk ends. The West End Boat Basin features 60 slips where recreational boaters can tie up and picnic at a pavilion. At Field 2’s two softball fields you can play ball with waves crashing in the background, and there’s bleacher seating for spectators. 

West Bathhouse

Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

There’s a locker room at the West Bathhouse with showers topped by an observation deck overlooking the pool. 

Fields 4 and 5: Central Mall

Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Winding walkways decked with flowers lead from Parking Fields 4 and 5 to Central Mall, the busy heart of the park. It’s a “muscle beach” kind of place, where tanned and toned millennials bake on beach blankets and play Frisbee in the sand. This summer, an adventure play area with a zip line is expected to open on the former site of the pitch-and-putt course.
At the Central Mall you can buy souvenirs at the beach shop, get directions at the park information office or find medical attention at the first-aid station. 

Central Mall and Band Shell

Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Jones Beach was designed to make visitors feel as if they are on a cruise ship, so there are free concerts and movies at the band shell, a miniature golf course with replicas of the Montauk Point Lighthouse and a Captree State Park fishing boat, and shuffle board, paddle tennis and volleyball courts.

Pictured: Lana Molina and Samantha Iaccino of Huntington dance at the band shell.

East Bathhouse

Photo Credit: Newsday File/Michael Ach

This quieter stretch of the 6½-mile strand offers an observation deck overlooking the ocean, a beach shop, concession stand, and first-aid and comfort stations.

East Bathhouse

Photo Credit: Susye Greenwood

The pool at the East Bathhouse remains closed, but the beach is less crowded than other parts of the park.

Field 6

Photo Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara


In a rush to cool off in the surf? Field 6 is popular among the stroller set because it’s a short walk from the parking field to the surf. (Arrive early for a parking spot.) Amenities include a concession stand, a beach shop and picnic grounds with barbecue grills and tables. On windy days, colorful kites soar over the sand. At night, surf-casters plumb the waves offshore for striped bass. Bring your walking shoes and windbreaker for a breezy stroll on the 2-mile boardwalk, which starts here.

Pictured: Members of Long Island Fatbike Enthusiasts ride at Jones Beach.

Zach’s Bay

Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

On Zach’s Bay, the tiniest tots can romp in calm waters. Along the beach crescent you’ll find a playground, food concessions, picnic area with barbecues and picnic tables.

Pictured: Jinwoo Chon, 2, of Flushing, plays near the shore at Zach's Bay.

Jones Beach Theater

Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

The 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, recently renamed Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, hosts several dozen concerts each summer season.

Pictured: Fans cheer on Of Mice and Men as they take the stage at the theater.

Field 10 Fishing Piers

Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

A quiet stretch of the Bay Parkway takes you to the Field 10 entrance. Four piers extend into State Channel, offering anglers a crack at catching flounder and other local, edible species.

Pictured: Artie Catalano, 60, pulls up a crab while fishing the Green Island Pier at Jones Beach.

Field 10 Fishing Piers

Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine

A bait and tackle shop near the piers sells fishing gear, snacks and soft drinks.

Pictured: Hilberto Albarato, 28, of Levittown, catches a fluke at the Green Island Pier.