As nippier fall weather starts to roll in like a wave, it might get too cold to go swimming. But who wants to give up the beach? Here are eight ways to enjoy Long Island's shorelines even when the goal isn't to dive into the water — from kite flying to biking to searching for clams.
Fly a kite at Jones Beach
The east end of Field 6 is a popular spot for flying kites on the sand year-round at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, says George Gorman, New York State Parks regional director. "They have some small kites and some really large kites," Gorman says. Conditions are ripe for kite flying because it’s a more secluded area of the beach. "You have crosswinds that bring the kites up really high," Gorman says. Parking fees vary by day after Labor Day, from full $10 per car fee to free, depending on day of the week and whether lifeguards are still on duty. Don't want to fly a kite yourself? Bring a chair and sit on the sand to watch other people's colorful kites soar; 516-785-1600, parks.ny.gov.
Search for clams at Cupsogue Beach County Park
The bay side is where the action is when it comes to clamming at Cupsogue Beach County Park in Westhampton Beach. The drive to the beach at the end of Dune Road is part of the entertainment, with opulent beach houses lining the roadway.
There's no fee to collect and carry away clams. There's also no fee to park unless lifeguards are on duty, and they typically end the season at Labor Day, says Allison McCann, public relations spokeswoman for Suffolk County parks; 631-852-8111, suffolkcountyny.gov/parks.
Bicycle on the Long Beach Boardwalk
Biking hours on the Long Beach boardwalk had been curtailed due to COVID-19, but currently have returned to dawn to dusk, says John McNally, director of public relations for the City of Long Beach.
It’s bring your own bicycle, and riders travel down a path in the middle of the 2.2-mile boardwalk. Bikes can be locked up if riders want to stop for refreshments at one of the five concessions that stay open to varying degrees in the off season, McNally says.
The beach is open, but after Labor Day there aren’t any lifeguards, so entering the water is prohibited, McNally says; 516-431-1000, longbeachny.gov/beach.
Hear live music at Babyon's Cedar Beach
Live music continues evenings at the Salt Shack Seaside Grill at the Town of Babylon’s Cedar Beach. The '90s Band plays at 6:30 p.m., every Thursday in the month of September, for instance. Seating at tables outdoors on the sand lets visitors enjoy the music and the surf while they eat. Take a walk along the shoreline to burn off the calories. Parking is free after Labor Day at 100 Ocean Pkwy., Babylon; 631-422-7222, saltshackny.com.
Horseback ride along a Montauk shoreline
The 90-minute experience leaves from Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk. It takes horseback riders through county parkland trails to reach the beach, with Oyster Pond on one side and the Long Island Sound on the other. "We ride on the beach for half an hour. We see bald eagles on the beach, we see red foxes along the trails, lots and lots of nature," says owner Cate Keogh. "The sand is swirled with purple, which is the minerals in the sand. Sometimes there are friendly seals that follow the trail rides in the water." The ride is limited to those ages 8 and older and costs $110 per person. Riders must call in advance to register at 631-668-2744. The ranch, which bills itself as the Oldest Cattle Ranch in the country, is at 8 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk; deephollowranch.com.
Glamp it up in Wading River
A few openings remain for the 10 one-bedroom and two-bedroom cottages at Wildwood State Park Campground in Wading River, open through Oct. 31. Each cottage has a full kitchen and bathroom, a screened-in porch, electric heating and queen-size beds (but you must bring your own linen). There are also outdoor picnic tables and firepits with attached grills. It’s a 10-minute stroll over to the park’s North Shore beach on the Long Island Sound, says Douglas Drozd.
The campground is at 790 Hulse Landing Rd., off of Sound Avenue; the phone number there is 631-929-4314. However, reservations — which require a three-night minimum — much be made through reserveamerica.com, 1-800-456-2267.
Catch a 'Bug' in Greenport
The shorelines of Shelter Island and Orient Beach State Park’s Long Beach Bar are in view on this weekly Saturday evening cruise to the lighthouse known as Bug Light. "We see seabirds and ospreys and sometimes seals," says Dave Abatelli, cruise chairman for the East End Seaport Museum, which runs the two-hour ride through the end of October (the last trip of the season is Halloween themed). The trip includes a stop inside the lighthouse and a lecture from a descendant of the lighthouse’s final keeper. The 90-foot motorboat can hold 150 people on its two decks, but the museum rarely signs up more than 70 passengers per trip, so there’s plenty of room, Abatelli says. The cost is $49 per adult (with a 10% discount for passengers older than 62) and $19 for children ages 3 to 12. The boat leaves at 5 p.m. from the museum’s dock at the south end of Third Street in Greenport, but Abatelli recommends arriving at 4:30 p.m. He also recommends registering in advance on the museum’s website at eastendseaport.org; 631-477-2100.
Tee off in Lido Beach
Enjoy a sweeping beach and water view from the seaside Pitch and Putt at Nickerson Beach County Park in Lido Beach.
The Nickerson Dunes golf course offers nine holes ranging in length from 47 to 105 yards, and it’s open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily after Labor Day. The course was designed and built in 2015 using pictures and records of the old Lido Beach Golf Club, and the paths were built from old county boardwalks that had been long forgotten about on the beach but reemerged after Superstorm Sandy.
The cost is $7 for adults and $5 for children younger than 12; 880 Lido Blvd., 516-571-7700, nassaucountyny.gov.
Kick up your heels at Wantagh's Gatsby on the Ocean
Gatsby on the Ocean, a Jones Beach restaurant at the West Bath House, plans to offer dinner and dancing on Wednesdays and Thursdays in September. A Latin band will play from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, and on Thursdays a D.J. will spin tunes. "My entire place is overlooking the ocean," says Elyse Remigio, director of catering. The restaurant is also open at other times from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., barring a special event that books the entire venue. Call 516-785-0012 to ensure the restaurant is open. 2000 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, gatsbyontheocean.com.