Spring activities to enjoy in Nassau and Suffolk


Finally! Spring is busting out at public gardens abloom with cherry blossoms and magnolias, demonstration farms buzzing with newborn goats and lambs, and bays teeming with fresh filets. Here are activities that put the spring back in your step.


Suffolk County Farm and Education Center

Visitors get up close and feed the sheep
(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

WHEN | WHERE 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, 350 Yaphank Ave., Yaphank
INFO 631-852-4600, ccesuffolk.org/suffolk-county-farm
Kaylyn Reynolds, administrative assistant at the Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, says spring “is a unique time of year at the farm with all the babies being born.” The four-legged baby boom had produced two kids (baby goats) and two lambs (baby sheep) as of late March. More cute barnyard critters are expected to be born through May. Families can interact with the animals in the yard and sheep pasture, and feed them with special food pellets purchased for $3 per cup. Lucky visitors might also see a chick hatch out of its shell in the farm’s incubators.


Bayard Cutting Arboretum

Westbrook, the Tudor-style English country house built by
(Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas)

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, Montauk Highway, Great River. Spring into Spring arboretum grounds tour, 11 a.m. Saturdays.
INFO 631-581-1002, bayardcuttingarboretum.com 
ADMISSION $8 vehicle entrance fee, weekends only through Memorial Day. 
Fragrant pink, white and yellow magnolias put on a splashy show throughout April in the riverside park’s Perennial Garden and Old Pinetum. First come the Star Magnolias covered in pale pink flowers that turn white, then pink-blossomed Saucer Magnolias, and, finally, hybrid Magnolia “Butterflies” show off their yellow flowers. 


Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park

Lea La Ferlita and Mary Elizabeth La Ferlita
(Credit: Yvonne Albinowski)

WHEN | WHERE Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay
INFO 516-922-9200, parks.ny.gov 
ADMISSION $8 vehicle entrance fee, weekends only through May 1, then daily.
More than 100 species and varieties of magnolias are expected to reach peak bloom in April.




Old Westbury Gardens

Visitors pause to take a close up look
(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except Tuesdays, 71 Old Westbury Rd.
INFO 516-333-0048, oldwestburygardens.org 
ADMISSION $12 ($5 ages 7-17)
The stunning gardens created by the wealthy Phipps clan for their springtime pleasures feature cherry and crabapple blossoms in the Walled Garden, says Maura Brush, director of horticulture. The tens of thousand of bulbs planted at Old Westbury include anemone and daffodils, which also break forth in early spring. The Primrose Path reaches its peak in late April with azaleas, primroses and blue forget-me-nots, Brush says. 


Dog parks

Robin Tornabene, left, pets dogs in the newly
(Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang)

It’s been a long winter for the four-leggers, too. The Town of Hempstead’s first official dog park opened in September, and it’s a veritable playground for your pooch to run free, and play on ramps, weave poles and hurdles. The 14,025-square-foot synthetic-turf facility is divided into small and large dog areas, enclosed by a chain-link fence. Picnic tables, benches, shaded areas and water fountains are available for people and dogs. Dogs must wear current rabies vaccination tags and a Town of Hempstead dog license (8 a.m. to dusk daily, 2600 Newbridge Rd., Bellmore; 516-783-2500, toh.li).
More accessible are county-run dog parks at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow (516-572-0347) and Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown (631-854-3712). For a crowd pleaser, try West Hills County Park in Huntington, where dogs large and small have their own runs and can take leashed trail walks with their owners (631-854-4423).


Captree Fleet

The Island Princess, owned by Captain Nick Manzari,
(Credit: Daniel Brennan)

Put out the “gone fishin’ ” sign and head out with the Babylon-based Captree Fleet for flounder (through May 30) and striped bass beginning April 15. By mid-April, about a half-dozen boats will head out to local waters and provide everything you need for a successful fishing expedition, including tackle, bait and a heated cabin, says Joe Vanderveldt, vice president of the Captree Boatman’s Association, and captain of the Jib VI fishing boat (about $50, 631-669-6464, captreefleet.com).
It’s a pleasant trip even if you don’t catch anything.
“The air is crisp, the boats are less crowded,” Vanderveldt says, “and you get some really pretty days out there in the spring.”


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