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Long Island family-friendly beaches offer kids plenty of things to do

What makes a great beach for families? Non-negotiables: A short walk from the parking area to the sand to minimize the schlep with the kids and all their beach chairs, towels, buckets and shovels. Lifeguards. Nearby bathrooms. A perk: Something extra to entertain the kids, such as an adjacent playground or a spray park. Here are 10 Long Island beaches that meet the non-negotiables and throw in some perks as well.

Heckscher State Park in East Islip

People walk on the beach at Heckscher State
Photo Credit: Ed Betz

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Field 6. Heckscher is a great choice when parents can’t decide between a day at the park and a day at the beach. The parking area is between the Great South Bay beach and a grassy picnic area with dozens of tables, grills and a playground. The picnic area has trees, but to be safe, B.Y.O.S. — Bring Your Own Shade. A paved path runs alongside the picnic area in case kids want to bring scooters or tricycles. INFO 1 Heckscher Spur Dr., East Islip; 631-581-2100, parks.ny.gov 

Sailor's Haven on Fire Island

Kids and dad dip into the water on
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Near the lifeguard stand on the ocean side. The ferry ride across Great South Bay from Sayville to Fire Island is part of the fun of a trip here. The bay side has a snack bar and gift shop. Families can take a walk through the Sunken Forest’s boardwalk (bring mosquito repellent); there are free ranger-guided tours during many summer mornings. Park the blanket and umbrella near the lifeguard stand and frolic in the ocean. INFO Fire Island National Seashore; 631-597-6183, sailorshaven.com

Tanner Beach in Copiague

Children and families play in the splash park
Photo Credit: Daniel Brennan

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Close to the spray park. The fenced-in spray park has a small slide, water shooting out of a fake tree, gushing up from the ground and more. For more fun, take a walk out onto the fishing pier, and even drop a line in the water. There’s also a concession stand run by the Beach Hut. This is a Babylon Town park; nonresidents pay a higher daily fee. INFO 400 Baylawn Ave., Copiague; 631-893-2100, townofbabylon.com 

Robert Moses State Park in Wantagh

At Robert Moses State Park, Field 5 some
Photo Credit: Daniel Goodrich

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Field 5. The parking area abuts the sand and the ocean, and there’s a playground between the beach and the parking field. The beach here is also in the shadow of Fire Island Lighthouse. Take a fun, 3/4-mile walk along a wood boardwalk from the parking lot to the lighthouse and, for a fee of $8 per adult and $4 per child, climb to the top for a view of the ocean, bay and the barrier island. INFO Robert Moses Causeway, Babylon; 631-669-0470, parks.ny.gov 

Crab Meadow Beach in Northport

Beachgoers enjoy a summer day at Crab Meadow
Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Close to the playground. The North Shore beach at Crab Meadow on Long Island Sound has a playground near a covered picnic area that provides shade. It also has a restaurant called La Casa Cafe that has a pizza and ice cream window and some covered outdoor seating. INFO Waterside Ave., Northport; 631-261-7574, huntingtonny.gov

Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh

Lifeguards keep watch over Zach's Bay at Jones
Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Field 6. This field is on the ocean side, so families don’t have to schlep through an underground tunnel to get to the water. And, if the ocean waves are too rough, drive quickly across the way to Field 5, where kids can swim in the calmer waters of Zach’s Bay (pictured), next to Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Field 2 also has parking next to the sand, but families may prefer Field 6 because it’s closer to the other Jones Beach attractions along the boardwalk. INFO 1 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh; 516-785-1600, parks.ny.gov

Nickerson Beach Park in Lido Beach

Extreme Volleyball Professionals Pro Beach Volleyball Tour event,
Photo Credit: Nassau County Department of Parks

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Pass the first parking area on the left (with the skate park and concession stand) and drive to the parking area next to the nine-hole pitch and putt golf course that opened in 2015 and the playground that’s adjacent to the beach. The pitch and putt and pool are available for additional fees. This is a Nassau County park; nonresidents pay a higher daily fee. INFO 880 Lido Blvd., Lido Beach; 516-571-7700, nassaucountyny.gov 

West Meadow Beach in Stony Brook

People gather at at West Meadow Beach in
Photo Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Close to the sprinkler park. When the long, narrow North Shore beach gets hot and parents don’t want to worry about keeping an eye on the kids swimming in the Sound, they can just walk over to the fenced-in sprinkler park and let the kids cool off in the misters. There also are two fenced-in playground areas that keep kids contained so they can’t dart off toward the parking area or water. INFO Trustees Road, Stony Brook; 631-451-6101, brookhavenny.gov

Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach

Cupsogue beach is a public beach outside of
Photo Credit: Kirsten Luce

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES If you sit facing west, you can watch the sun set over the sand. The Beach Hut concession sells food and runs periodic sand castle building contests. The ride down Dune Road to the beach can be congested, but there’s a view of beautiful homes along the way. Get there early; the parking lot fills up around 10:30 or 11 a.m. on busy days. This is a Suffolk County beach, so nonresidents pay a higher daily fee. INFO 955 B Dune Rd., Westhampton Beach; 631-852-8111, suffolkcountyny.gov/parks

Hither Hills State Park in Montauk

Judges look at a sandcastle on the beach
Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

BEST SPOT FOR FAMILIES Hither Hills is small enough that every spot on the ocean beach is prime. On the north side of the dunes is the Hither Hills campground, with a general store and playground. Kids’ beach activities include sand castle building contests. Check website for rates and times. INFO 164 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk; 631-668-2554, parks.ny.gov

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