Kayte Camarata, of Huntington, and her daughters Liva, 14, and...

Kayte Camarata, of Huntington, and her daughters Liva, 14, and Nova, 8, walk around the town of Sea Cliff. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Long Island welcomes spring for its warm weather, blooming flowers and budding opportunities to explore. We found spots in neighborhoods across Nassau and Suffolk where families can pair hilly hikes or town strolls with activities and delicious bites.


WALK AND PLAY: In this charming village, begin by walking along streets lined with Victorian homes in every shade of blue, green and yellow. But you'll soon find out why they call it Sea "Cliff." As you continue to travel past pink and periwinkle dwellings, you might also find yourself hiking down a steep hill toward the beach. (Cliff Way, Winding Way and Prospect Avenue are some of the steepest.)

Kayte Camarata, of Huntington, and her daughters Liva, 14, Caleigh,...

Kayte Camarata, of Huntington, and her daughters Liva, 14, Caleigh, 11, taking a break after walking this steep staircase in the town of Sea Cliff. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Cayte Camaratta, 40, of Huntington, recently visited Sea Cliff with her three daughters, Liva, 14, Caleigh, 11, and Nova, 8. "We walked down and up Cliff Way. It was pretty hard, but when we made it back to the top we felt quite accomplished," Camaratta says.

There are also hidden stairways leading down to Sea Cliff Beach and a mini boardwalk. Most are concrete and have railings, though the Camaratta family made their way down a wooden, rickety set of stairs. "I really liked walking down the steps," Caleigh says. "It was kind of scary because they were really steep. I felt like I was going to fall off, but it was fun."

After walking down a stairway of your choosing, start your walk to the right toward Sea Cliff Beach, or lelft toward Tappen Beach. There is a 1.5-mile walk between the two beaches. There are playgrounds and pocket parks beside the beaches and hiding in the hills. Camaratta also notes, "The air in Sea Cliff is different. There’s a stillness. It was nice to go there and find it so calming. It’s really a neat experience."

AND TO EAT: "After climbing around Sea Cliff, the kids were starving," Camaratta says with a smile. "So we found the Onion Tree cafe on the main street in town." Jay Jadeja, the Onion Tree’s international chef whose roots are in India, creates dishes that combine a unique range of global ingredients. (242 Sea Cliff Avenue, Sea Cliff; 516-916-5353; theoniontree.com)

It’s also fun to grab a snack at Sea Cliff Shave Ice (reopening in April for the season; 247 Sea Cliff Avenue, Sea Cliff; seacliffshaveice.com). Fluffy, Hawaiian shave ice joins organic syrups ranging from banana to root beer to chocolate peanut butter. Many are topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and coconut.


WALK AND PLAY: Take a walk, jog or bike ride on the Long Beach boardwalk. Yael Walkover, 35, of Long Beach and her daughter Hannah, 2, have a routine. "I walk on the boardwalk with my daughter every day when the weather is nice," she says. "We take the stroller or Hannah goes on her scooter. Along the way, we stop at a lovely park right off the boardwalk on Magnolia Boulevard. Then we stop at Marvel ice cream as a treat. You can make a few hours of entertainment out of it."

Rollerbladers ride down the Long Beach boardwalk.

Rollerbladers ride down the Long Beach boardwalk. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Walkover notices lots of families come on the weekends. "Even when Hannah was a newborn, I appreciated having a place to walk outside with her that was open and airy," she says.

There are restrooms on the boardwalk, and several concession stands will open in the spring. Since the boardwalk is 2.2 miles long, it’s a solid place to exercise, or you can sit quietly on a bench and take in the sound of the ocean waves. Even better, take a few steps down to the beach and walk along the shore. Walkover and Hannah are regulars there, too. "Whenever we go out, Hannah and I always bring a pail and shovel in case we end up by the ocean. We love to collect shells."

AND TO EAT: As soon as you open the door to a tiny bakery in Long Beach known as Baked by the Ocean, you’ll feel like Dorothy when she arrives in Oz (919 W. Beech St., Long Beach; 516-889-2253). The brilliant colors on all the cakes, cookies, brownies and cake pops will remind you you’re not in Kansas anymore. A fun surprise treat is the apple crumb muffin. Beneath a super-thick, crunchy crumb topping hides a juicy, sweet baked apple.

Dough Hut (891 W. Beech St., Long Beach; 516-432-1400) is a small doughnut shop right next door. The owner prepares freshly baked doughnuts all day long. Buy one for about $2. Flavors range from Snickers to Fluff Nut to Jelly Cinnamon Glaze. Wash one down with a great cup of coffee.


WALK AND PLAY: Less than a mile from the town of Port Jefferson, you’ll find Pirate’s Cove. It’s a stunning series of sand dunes surrounded by water. Though it’s a steep, challenging climb to the top of the dunes, once you’re there, the views are spectacular. You’ll feel as if you’ve discovered a private paradise.

A family strolls Main Street in Port Jefferson. 

A family strolls Main Street in Port Jefferson.  Credit: Howard Simmons

If you’re not into climbing dunes, a walk along the shoreline is also a must (wear water shoes or sneakers since some sections are rocky). Suffolk County park supervisors say Pirate’s Cove is mostly utilized by boaters who anchor there for the day during the summer. If you arrive by car, parking is limited. Supervisors suggest if you plan to drive to Pirate’s Cove, arrive at a nonpeak time, such as during the week or early or late in the day. Keep in mind Pirate’s Cove is a sunup to sundown park (Harbor Hills Drive, Port Jefferson).

After Pirate’s Cove, drive down country-like roads to the waterside town of Port Jefferson. Walk along quaint streets with all different kinds of shops.

Kennedy, 5, and Carson Williams, 2, have ice cream with Micah Pierce,...

Kennedy, 5, and Carson Williams, 2, have ice cream with Micah Pierce, 18 months in Port Jefferson.  Credit: Howard Simmons

AND TO EAT: There are lots of eateries in town. Prohibition Port Jefferson (115 Main St., Port Jefferson; 631-473-0613) has a menu ranging from Kung Pow Cauliflower (Ritz cracked, crusted cauliflower, sesame studded hummus, and Kung Pow sticky sauce), to BBQ grilled cheese, to a chicken pot pie doughnut special. There’s also the Sweet ‘n’ Savory Cafe (104 Main St. Chandler Square, Port Jefferson; 631-828-6053), where you can grab countless, creative crepes, and rice pudding in 14 flavors, including French toast, pistachio and cheesecake.


Suffolk County legislator Kara Hahn, walks along a path at...

Suffolk County legislator Kara Hahn, walks along a path at Lakeland County Park in Islandia. Credit: James Carbone

WALK AND PLAY: If you can’t decide if you’d rather walk on a nature trail or a boardwalk, here you can do both. Here, a boardwalk meanders through a wooded nature trail. As you walk, there’s a lot to see. You’ll travel over part of the Connetquot River and past rows of trees welcoming their spring leaves. Some signs lead to quiet benches a bit off the main trail, perfect for spotting wildlife or meditating. For the grand finale, follow signs to the Honeysuckle Pond. It’s bursting with ducks.

AND TO EAT: In the Islandia Shopping Center, pick up pizza, Chinese, sushi, bagels, smoothies and more. Another fun choice: Drive three miles to the Strong Island Ice Cream shop in Nesconset (127 Smithtown Blvd.; 631-656-5930). Owner Paul Cairo makes homemade ice cream daily (dark chocolate and Vegan pistachio are favorites). Since a large dog park is nearby, Cairo also creates dog-friendly ice cream: a variation on vanilla combined with dog treats and biscuits.


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