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Playgrounds worth the drive on Long Island 

Kids play at the playground at Jones Beach

Kids play at the playground at Jones Beach on the board walk at Field 4. Credit: Jennifer S. Altman

As playgrounds across Long Island reopen, it’s worthy to note that while nearly every neighborhood on Long Island has a place where kids can climb, slide and run, there are some spots that just go bigger than others. Once you and your little ones are prepped to play at a social distance—consider these places for a day of fun.

Children’s Park in Rockville Centre

The entire playground area is surrounded by a fence with a single gate, so parents and guardians can control all entrances and exits. The play sets are separated into zones for kids ages 2 to 5 and 5 to 12, and there are two swing sets. One features a large yellow swing for children designed to hold children who use wheelchairs or have other ambulatory issues. Kids can play in a sandbox, too — there sits a multicolored statue of a dolphin that's a hit for youngsters looking for a spot to sit. There is a small water park with two ground jets and a tower (designed to look like a flower) that sprays from about seven feet above the ground, but it may not be in operation due to current health mandates. Also keep in mind: from July 6-Aug. 14 9 a.m.-noon Mondays thru Fridays, due to special summer program this fun zone is off-limits to the general public.

THE GROUNDS The neighboring John A. Anderson Recreation Center, usually available for a fee for parties and featuring a small, toddler-size indoor play space, is closed due to the health crisis until further notice. For some more outdoor fun however, behind the center is Veterans Park, which has basketball courts, open fields and a walking path (and it’s also closed to the public from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. weekdays July 6-Aug. 14).

INFO Free to enter and park. 111 N. Oceanside Rd., Rockville Centre. 516-678-9338, rockvillecentre.recdesk.com.

Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn

The playground here is spread out into various zones, each designated for various ages (2 to 5, 5 to 8). All offer opportunities to climb and slide with equipment positioned over rubber mats or blue foam for cushioning. There are swings as well, and the entire play area is fenced in with gated entrance points.

THE GROUNDS Kids and adults alike can use outdoor chess tables, play shuffleboard or pitch horseshoes. If you were hoping to include your dog in the day’s fun, the park has a dog run and there are baseball diamonds and handball courts as well. Come in the winter and ice skate, or swim during the summer in either the Olympic-sized pool, kiddie pool or diving pool (as of July 3, Nassau County has reopened this public pool; open to county residents only). You will see a nine-hole golf course for adults, but there also a nine-hole mini-golf course for kids; the course may be closed due to health mandates, so ask the the main office to find out if things are running, and if so guests can ask for clubs and balls for no added charge.

INFO Parking is free for county residents, and nonresidents normally pay a $10 fee Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) between Memorial Day and Labor Day; these fees have not been currently collected but call before arriving to confirm if this is still the case. 500 Searingtown Rd., Roslyn. 516-571-8113, nassaucountyny.gov.

Cedar Creek Park in Seaford

The large play area is divided into zones recommended for kids ages 2-5, 5-8 and 8-12, and consists of climbing obstacles, slides, poles, swings and elevated running paths. The space also features a gazebo and a sand pit, and the playground sets are arranged over either blue mats or blue foam for cushioning.

THE GROUNDS Cedar Creek has a dedicated rink for roller skating or blading, plus a dog run, handball and basketball courts, baseball diamond and turf soccer field. The picnic areas have charcoal grills and a number of shelters that should help in case of rain. In addition, should your kids be into archery, there is a year-round regulation-sized range open to the public, while hobbyists into remote control planes can come here and fly over a field designated for such activities (which may be currently closed; call ahead to confirm).

INFO Parking is free for county residents, and nonresidents normally pay a $10 fee Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) between Memorial Day and Labor Day; these fees have not been currently collected but call before arriving to confirm if this is still the case. 3340 Merrick Rd, Seaford. 516-571-7470, nassaucountyny.gov.

Wantagh Park in Wantagh

Only about 1.5 miles from Cedar Creek Park, the massive play area is divided into zones recommended for kids of varying ages and consists of climbing obstacles, slides, poles and elevated running paths. There are four swingsets, two with seats for larger kids and the others with bucket seats for toddlers. Part of the playground is a large sand pit that holds climbing and sliding fun, as well as a metal “spider” that connects ladders to a center disc (test with your hand before letting kids climb, in the sun the spider can get pretty hot to the touch). For another unique climbing item, head to the rear of the playground to find a fire truck-inspired obstacle with a small slide attached.

An extra cool feature about Wantagh Park: Once the younger kids are tired of this set-up, drive deeper through the grounds to find a second playground for ages 2-5 set near the tennis courts and behind the dog run. This play zone is behind a short castle-style wall and holds a play battleship and tug boat, among other plastic obstacles and climbing items.

THE GROUNDS Equipped with a water slide and several pools of varying depths, the park’s swimming section (open to county residents only as of July 3) requires guests ages 13 and older to have a Leisure Passport to enter but must still pay $10 ($6 ages 4-17, kids age three and younger are free). There’s the aforementioned dog run and basketball courts plus facilities for basketball and baseball/softball. The picnic areas have charcoal grills and sheltered areas, and there’s a popular mini-golf course as well (noon-9 p.m.). Head to the rear of the park to find a walking path with bay views that extend out as far as Jones Beach and the parkway—and observant guests might notice some very unusual birds flying overhead as green Monk Parakeets have made the park their home. Native to South America, these noisy birds stand out and can be watched in the trees and poking through picnic areas.

INFO Parking is free for county residents, and nonresidents normally pay a $10 fee Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (8 a.m.-3 p.m.) between Memorial Day and Labor Day; these fees have not been currently collected but call before arriving to confirm if this is still the case. 1 King Rd., Wantagh; 516-571-7460, nassaucountyny.gov.

Heritage Park in Mount Sinai

Kids can enjoy two large arrangements of slides, poles, ladders and tubes in which to crawl, as well as a pair of swing sets and a single swing chair designed for children who use wheelchairs and have other needs. Wood mulch is spread under the rides to cushion falls, and there is a small but cool hopscotch pad, with numbers drawn out in rocks.

THE GROUNDS Heritage Park has its Heritage Center event space (reopening July 6; hours are being limited to 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays until further notice), but walk around the back to find a nifty walking trail that features a retrospective display of farming equipment that recalls when Mount Sinai was a center of agriculture. The park itself features rolling meadows large enough for both sunbathers and kite-flyers to coexist. There are a turf athletic field and two baseball diamonds plus a walking/jogging/stroller path that winds around most of the space. Picnic fans can either set up a blanket on the meadow or sit at benches near a snack shop with restrooms (closed until further notice).

INFO Free to enter and park. 633 Mount Sinai-Coram Rd., Mount Sinai. 631-509-0882, msheritagetrust.org.

Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh

Located between The Landing restaurant and Field Four, the playground is broken down into sections for kids ages 2-5 and 5-12 — with both sporting play sets offering poles, slides and places to climb. The entire area is painted blue, as is the foam or mats that sit under the play spaces.

THE GROUNDS Visitors can spot the Atlantic Ocean, the famous Jones Beach Boardwalk and miles of sandy shores on which kids can play, as well as a recently upgraded mini-golf and court games section (as of July 9).

INFO Parking is $8, $10 when the beaches are open for swimming; fees are collected at different times through the year, check the website to see when. 1 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh. 516-785-1600; parks.ny.gov.

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