These outdoor playgrounds are among the top gems of the New York State park system.
Bethpage State Park
99 Quaker Meeting House Rd., Farmingdale, 516-249-0700; golf reservations 516-249-0707; pro shop 516-249-4040; restaurant 516-927-8380; stables 516-531-8007; Greenbelt Trail tours 631-360-0753; tennis 516-777-1358; parks.ny.gov. This 1,475-acre park boasts one of the nation’s finest public golf complexes. Season All year. Facilities Five 18-hole courses, including the famed Black Course, restaurant and bar, softball fields, basketball courts, boccie ball, horseshoes, volleyball, handicapped-accessible playground, bridle paths (5 ½ miles), bike paths (2 ½ miles), 5-mile stretch of the Greenbelt Trail, hiking, picnic area, 12 tennis courts, golf shop, driving range. Fee Picnic area only: $8 a car May 25-Sept. 2; weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Nov. 3. Picnic area, golf courses closed till May 24 for the PGA Championship.
HEMPSTEAD LAKE STATE PARK
Southern State Parkway, West Hempstead, 516-766-1029, parks.ny.gov. This 775-acre park offers a historic carousel and party room (available to rent). Season All year. Facilities Softball field, basketball courts, playgrounds, hiking trails, bridle paths (9 miles), nearby stables with rentals (516-486-9673), freshwater fishing (license required), picnic areas, tennis courts; main lake, boat access (permit required, $50); antique carousel ($2); outdoor pavilion (reservations required). July 15 Summer Run. Aug. 3 Family Fishing Clinic. Oct. 19 Fall Family Fishing and Children’s Festival. Fee $8 a car May 25-Sept. 2; weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Oct. 14.
Jones Beach State Park
2400 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, parks.ny.gov, 516-785-1600. Season Parking lots 4, 6, 10 and West End 2 open all year. Facilities 7 ocean beaches (6 ½ miles); part of a 2,413-acre park. Band shell, new basketball courts with 5 half courts and 1 full court plus hopscotch area (lighted at night), 9 volleyball courts, 2-mile boardwalk, surf chairs for the disabled (Field 2, West Bathhouse, Field 6 and Central Mall), beach ramp at Field 6, Central Mall and West Bathhouse. Bike path from Cedar Creek Park in Wantagh to Field 1 to the West End 2 parking lot, and east to Tobay Beach; year-round bicycling on the boardwalk, day-use slips at the Boat Basin, picnic areas and Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Paddle tennis, equipment rentals, miniature golf ($5), 4 finger piers, surf casting, 2 softball fields, WildPlay Adventure Park, shuffleboard courts, boccie courts and cornhole. Fee $10 a car May 25- Sept. 8; $8 weekends and holidays Sept. 14-Nov. 3.
PLANTING FIELDS ARBORETUM STATE HISTORIC PARK
1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay, 516-922-8600, parks.ny.gov. Facilities 409 acres; 6 miles of trails and 200 acres of landscaped plantings, synoptic garden, rose garden, main greenhouse with orchids, begonias, cacti and other tropical plants, camellia house, gift shop and cafe in the visitors center. Fee $8 a car April 27-Labor Day; weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Nov. 11. Coe Hall tours and exhibits: $5, free younger than 12.
Trail View State Park
Jericho Turnpike (Route 25), 1⁄4 mile west of Woodbury Road, Woodbury, 631-423-1770, parks.ny.gov. Facilities Hiking, biking and birding trails throughout its 400 acres; 7.4-mile stretch of the Greenbelt Trail (trail runs 22 miles, from Cold Spring Harbor to the Massapequa Park Preserve). No pets. Fee Free.
VALLEY STREAM STATE PARK
Exit 15A, Southern State Parkway, Valley Stream, 516-825-4128, parks.ny.gov. Its 97 acres feature ballfields, playgrounds and picnic areas. Facilities Picnic pavilion (permit required), 2-mile biking and hiking trail, 5 horseshoe pits, 2 basketball courts, 2 softball fields, 2 playgrounds, volleyball courts, board games; 2 environmental trails. Games equipment rental at park office. Fee $8 a car May 25-Sept. 2, and weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Oct. 14.
Belmont Lake State Park
Exit 38, Southern State Parkway, North Babylon, 631-667-5055; parks.ny.gov. This 459-acre park surrounds a lake. Facilities Two softball fields, 2 miles of biking/walking trails, 2-mile bridle path with stables at Babylon Riding Center (631-587-7778), rowboat, kayak, and pedal boat rentals, freshwater fishing from shore with license (year-round) or rowboat (seasonal), picnic area and four pavilions (permit required), two playgrounds, exercise trail, horseshoe pits, boccie ball. Fee $8 a car May 26-Labor Day; weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Oct. 14. Pedal boat/rowboat rentals $15 for 1 ½ hours; kayak rentals $20 for 2 hours; must be 18 or older.
Brentwood State Park
375 Crooked Hill Rd., Brentwood, parks.ny.gov, 631-667-5055. Season Year-round. Facilities 60-acre complex with synthetic turf soccer and baseball fields, soccer-themed playground. Concessions available during league play. Fields for use by permit holders only.
CALEB SMITH STATE PARK PRESERVE
581 W. Jericho Tpke., Smithtown, 631-265-1054, parks.ny.gov. For more, see Preserves.
Camp Hero State Park
1898 Montauk Hwy. (Route 27), east to the end, Montauk, 631-668-5000, parks.ny.gov. Facilities 415 acres includes woods, beachfront and a historic military installation; maritime forests, freshwater wetlands, dramatic bluffs, ocean vistas; trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; surf fishing locations open 24 hours a day to fishermen with permits; picnic areas; environment shelters. The former military base is a National Historic Site. Fee $8 a car May 25-Oct. 7.
Captree State Park
off Robert Moses Causeway, Bay Shore Captree Boat Basin, 631-669-0449; restaurant, 631-333-1063; Captree Boatman’s Association, 631-669-6464; bait, tackle and fuel, 631-321-1716, 631-669-0449; parks.ny.gov. 298 acres focus on a boat basin off State Boat Channel. Facilities Marina with open and charter fishing, excursion and scuba diving boats (reservations required), 2 fishing piers (open 24 hours, night permit required), boat launch ramp, bait and tackle and marine fuel station, restaurant (seasonal), snack bar (all year), playground and picnic area. Aug. 10-11 Snapper & Crab Fishing Derby. Sept. 7-8 Dockside Family Festival. Fee $8 a car May 27-Sept. 3; weekends and holidays Sept. 8-Oct. 8.
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve
25 Lloyd Harbor Rd., Lloyd Neck, 631-423-1770; Lloyd Harbor Equestrian Center (stable), 631-427-6105; Lloyd Harbor Historical Society, 631-424-6110; Nassau BOCES, 631-549-0071; parks.ny.gov. Facilities The 1,600-acre park sits at the head of a scenic peninsula overlooking Long Island Sound; 27 miles of trails. Bicycling (helmets required); scuba diving; fishing sunrise to sunset (permit required for overnight fishing); bridle trails (helmets required), nature walks, jogging, bird watching and nature photography (commercial photographers need a permit, 631- 321-3515). No pets. Fee $8 a car May 27-Oct 14.
Cold Spring Harbor State Park
Route 25A, across from the harbor, Cold Spring Harbor. parks.ny.gov. Facilities Hiking trails and bird-watching in 40 acres. Dogs permitted on leash. Restrooms accessible outside Cold Spring Harbor library during building hours. Fee Free.
Connetquot River State Park Preserve
Sunrise Highway, Oakdale, 631-581-1005, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Sunrise Highway, Oakdale, 631-581-1005, parks.ny.gov For more, see Preserves.
Gov. Alfred E. Smith/Sunken Meadow State Park
north end of Sunken Meadow State Parkway, Kings Park, parks.ny.gov, 631-269-4333. The 1,288-acre beachfront park on Long Island Sound has a ¾-mile boardwalk, 9-hole and 18-hole golf courses. Facilities 3-mile beach on Smithtown Bay and Long Island Sound. Swimming in season (call for lifeguard hours), beach ramp and sand wheelchair available, picnic area, driving range, putting green, clubhouse with cafe and bar, pro shop 631-544-0036, biking and running trails, refreshment stands, beachfront catering hall 631-269-6850, 6 playgrounds, outdoor showers, 4 softball fields, soccer field, 8 basketball courts, Field 4 picnic shelter available for rent, 4-mile nature trail, fishing (night fishing to Dec. 31; permit required), 2 miles of Greenbelt Trail, aid station open during swimming season. Fee $10 a car daily May 25- Sept. 8; $8 weekends and holidays Sept. 14-Nov. 3.
Heckscher State Park
Southern State Parkway east to end of Heckscher Parkway, East Islip, 631-581-2100, parks.ny.gov. 1,657-acre park. Facilities Two swimming beaches, 5 softball fields, biking and walking paths (4 ½ miles), boat ramp, picnic areas and pavilion rentals; Greenbelt Trail (1 ½ miles); basketball courts, playgrounds, 21-hole disc golf course; fishing (7 a.m.-sunset); nature programs (631-581-1072). Beach access for kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, catamarans and windsurf equipment (Field 7). Cottages for rent through ReserveAmerica.com Fee $8 a car May 25-June 21; $10 daily 7 a.m.- 6 p.m. June 22-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sept. 7-Oct. 14.
Hither Hills State Park
164 Old Montauk Hwy. (Route 27), 4 miles west of Montauk, 631-668-2554, parks.ny.gov. 1,755-acre park features camping along the Atlantic, nature trails and a freshwater fishing pond. Facilities 2 ½-mile ocean beach, campsites (April 12-Nov. 24), call 800-456-2267, softball field, hiking and nature trails, saltwater fishing, ocean surf casting, fishing on 40-acre freshwater pond (license required), 2 volleyball courts, 3 sand chairs, playground, 2 picnic areas, general store, horseshoe pits, movies. June 27-Aug. 29 Sand castle contests, 9:30 a.m. Thur. Fee $10 a car daily, May 25-Sept. 8.
Montauk Downs State Park
50 S. Fairview Ave., Montauk, 631-668-5000; restaurant, parks.ny.gov, 631- 483-5024. This 160-acre park is built around an 18-hole golf course. Season Golf all year; tennis mid-May to mid-Sept., pools open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. June 22-Sept. 2; 6 tennis courts mid-May to mid-Sept., pro shop, grill room, driving range. No entrance fee.
MONTAUK POINT STATE PARK
2000 Montauk Hwy., Route 27 east to end, Montauk, 631-668-5000, parks.ny.gov. 724 acres with breezes and vistas. Facilities Surf casting (overnight requires a permit), hiking trails (5 miles), picnic area, refreshment stand, gift shop. Sept. 20-22 Montauk Surf Classic. Fee $8 a car May 25-Oct. 7.
Nissequogue River State Park
799 Saint Johnland Rd., Kings Park, 631-269-4927, parks.ny.gov. Natural habitats, wildlife, hiking trails, canoe/kayak rentals, canoe launching, tours by reservation (631-219-4887). Facilities Hiking, birding, canoe/kayak launch (rentals available, 631-979-8244), stand-up paddleboarding with permit (from park office), boat launch at marina, environmental programs (631-581-1072). Fee $8 a car May 25-Sept. 2; weekends and holidays Sept. 3-Oct. 14.
Orient Beach State Park
40000 Main Rd. (Route 25), Orient, parks.ny.gov, 631-323-2440. 357-acre park, 8 miles of shoreline ideal for shell collecting, plant study and birding. Facilities 300-foot swimming beach on Gardiners Bay, playground, picnic areas with barbecues, 2 sand wheelchairs, pavilion (reservations required), gazebo, hiking, birding, bike path, gift shop, bathhouse, showers, snack bar, concession, surf fishing, windsurfing, boccie, horseshoe pits, volleyball, shuffleboard. Kayaks and paddleboards for rent. Launch site for windsurfing, kayaks and paddleboards. Swimming permitted June 22-Labor Day. Fee $8 a car May 27-June 21; $10 a car June 22-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Columbus Day.
Robert Moses State Park
Sagtikos Parkway south to Robert Moses Causeway to Fire Island, parks.ny.gov, 631-669-0449. Facilities 875 acres with 5-mile beach, 4 bathhouses. Overnight marina at Robert Moses (fee). Field 5 open all year, beach shop, bathhouses, fishing (night fishing by permit), sand wheelchairs, accessible playground (Field 5), bodyboarding and surfing areas, first-aid stations, 18-hole par-3 golf course March 30-Nov. 11, snack bars, picnic areas at Fields 2, 3 and 4. Fee $10 a car May 25-Sept. 15; $8 a car Sept. 14-Nov. 10.
SHADMOOR STATE PARK
900 Montauk Hwy., Montauk, parks.ny.gov, 631-668-5000. Facilities 99-acre park with ocean beach, wetlands, hiking and biking trails and two bunkers (designed to look like cottages from the water) built for surveillance during World War II. Dogs on leash allowed. Fee Free.
Wildwood State Park
790 Hulse Landing Rd., Wading River. 631-929-4314, 800-456-CAMP (for camp reservations), parks.ny.gov. 769-acre park on Long Island Sound with 242 campsites, 80 full hookup trailer sites, 10 cottages, no pets. The park also has 1.5 miles of Beach with a protected bathing area, 2 sand wheelchairs, showers, 2 picnic areas, playground, softball field, 2 basketball courts, volleyball court, 5 hiking trails (14 miles total), saltwater fishing, 2 snack bars, store, horseshoe pits. Fee $8 daily May 27-June 21; $10 a car June 22-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Oct. 14.