This is not your typical walk in the park.
Many parks across Long Island offer a wide variety of activities and amenities in addition to the traditional playgrounds, foliage and fresh air. With the temperature dropping, the leaves changing colors, and summer fees reducing as fall nears, it's the perfect time to explore these local parks and take advantage of their unique offerings.
Here are four on Long Island that stand out for those looking to spend some time outdoors this fall.
Hempstead Lake State Park: West Hempstead
Go for a horse ride around a lakeside bridle trail or on the park's famous carousel.
New York Equestrian Center, which is just outside the park on Eagle Ave., offers guided horseback-riding tours that take riders around portions of the park's five lakes and nine scenic miles of dedicated bridal path. Trail rides for two people with a guide cost $60 per person, reducing to $55 per person for groups of three or more.
Or simply hop aboard a horse on the hand-carved wooden carousel, which is open on weekends and holidays until Oct. 11 and costs $2 per ride.
The 775-acre park also features recently-resurfaced tennis courts, pickle board courts, basketball courts, playgrounds, cross-country skiing and a dog walk. Kayaks and inflatable boats are permitted on Hempstead Lake, the largest lake in Nassau County. It is also one of the park's three ponds that are accessible for fishing. The park is set to open an Environmental Education and Resiliency Center this fall and add new fishing piers and a kayak launch, per Mike Drumm, the park's assistant manager.
There is no weekday fee after Labor Day. A vehicle entrance fee of $8 will be collected on weekends through Oct. 11.
INFO: 1000 Lake Dr., West Hempstead; 516-766-1029, parks.ny.gov
Cantiague Park: Hicksville
This park offers athletes a little bit of everything.
For golfers, there's a 9-hole, par-30 golf course, an illuminated 270-yard driving range with 36 heated and covered bays and an 18-hole mini golf course. For baseball and softball players, there's an outdoor batting cage and turf fields. For hockey players and skaters, there's an indoor ice-skating rink formerly used as the New York Islanders' practice facility. For swimmers looking to soak up the final days of summer, there's a complex that includes an Olympic-sized pool, a kids pool, a training pool and an interactive water-play area.
The park also features three basketball courts, five tennis courts, six handball courts, two playgrounds, and a multipurpose turf field for football, lacrosse and soccer.
Prices for each activity are reduced with a Nassau County resident Leisure Pass. Mini golf costs $9 with the pass and $14 without ($6 for kids), the batting cages are $7 with the pass and $9 without. Admission to the Nassau residents-only pool is $10 with the pass and $25 without ($6 for kids with a pass, $20 without). Admission to the ice rink is $10 for a resident and $15 for a nonresident ($6-$10 for kids).
INFO: 480 West John St., Hicksville; 516-571-7056, nassaucountyny.gov
Southaven County Park: Brookhaven
Winding through areas of this 1,300-plus acre park are the Long Island Live Steamers, miniature and rideable steam, diesel and electric trains that run along eight acres of tracks. Hop on and secure a seat during one of the remaining public run days, which will be Sept. 12, Sept. 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24. Rides are free but donations are accepted.
Running through the park's pine-oak forest is the Carmans River, which offers freshwater fishing for trout, bass and perch with a New York State fishing license. Rowboat rentals were available only through Labor Day, but kayaking and canoeing is offered Thursday through Sunday with a required $5 permit. Bring your own or rent one at nearby Carmans River Canoe & Kayak.
The horseback riding stables are now closed but a horseback riding permit can be purchased to take advantage of the park's bridle trails. The park also includes a picnicking area and 104 general campsites available for tents and trailers. Parking is free after Labor Day.
INFO: Victory Ave., Brookhaven; 631-854-1414, suffolkcountyny.gov
Avalon Park and Nature Preserve: Stony Brook
Walk the winding boardwalk and be surrounded by foliage at this hidden gem in Stony Brook Village.
Avalon offers roughly five miles of trails and 140 acres that are open to the public at no cost. Walk through a forest sanctuary or along the hilltop meadow, explore nature and bird watch, sign up for a yoga or meditation program, or go fishing at the duck pond with the proper permit. At the center of it all is a slate labyrinth, offering a tranquil and shaded resting spot.
Take a short walk down Main Street and spend some time on the water by visiting Stony Brook Harbor Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals. Cap the day by visiting the shops and boutiques just across the street.
INFO: 200 Harbor Rd., Stony Brook; 631-689-0619, avalonnaturepreserve.org