New York state parks drew a record 78 million visitors last year — almost a million more than in 2019-- despite the pandemic limiting capacity and the canceling of traditional blockbusters, from charity walks and concerts to the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach State Park and July Fourth fireworks. These days, parks have reopened many facilities to visitors seeking outdoor recreation that might take the form of walking, biking, nature-spotting and more.
NASSAU Bike paths, hiking trails and more
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, 10 tennis courts, golf shop, driving range. Fee Picnic area only: $8 a car May 31-Sept. 6; weekends and holidays May 23-May 30 and Sept. 11-Nov. 7.
HEMPSTEAD LAKE STATE PARK, 1000 Lake Dr., West Hempstead, 516-766-1029, parks.ny.gov. This 775-acre park offers a historic carousel and party room (available to rent April-Oct.). Season All year. Facilities Softball field, basketball courts, playgrounds, hiking trails, bridle paths (9 miles), nearby horse stables with rentals (516-486-9673), freshwater fishing (license required), picnic areas, tennis courts, Hempstead Lake car top and inflatable boat access, carousel rides ($2). Events: Aug. 1 Family Fishing Clinic. Oct. 16 Fall Family Fishing and Children’s Festival. Fee $8 a car May 29-Sept. 6; weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
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, basketball courts with 5 half courts and 1 full court plus hopscotch/Four Square area (lighted at night), 9 volleyball courts, 2-mile boardwalk, surf chairs for the disabled (Field 2, West Bathhouse, Field 6, East Bathhouse and Central Mall), mobility mats at Field 6, Central Mall, East Bathhouse, Field 2 and West Bathhouse. Bike path from Cedar Creek Park in Wantagh to Field 1 to the West End 2 parking lot, and east to Captree State Park; year-round bicycling on the boardwalk, day-use slips at the Boat Basin, picnic areas and Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. Paddle tennis, pickleball, equipment rentals, miniature golf course (fee), 4 finger piers, surf casting, 2 softball fields, WildPlay Adventure Park (fee), shuffleboard courts, boccie courts and cornhole. Fee $10 a car May 28-Sept. 12; $8 weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 18-Nov. 7.
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, cactuses and other tropical plants, camellia house, gift shop and cafe in the visitors center. Fee $8 a car daily through Labor Day; weekends and holidays Sept. 7-Nov. 21. Coe Hall tours and exhibits: $10 ages 18-61, $9 ages 62 and older, $5 ages 12-17, free ages 11 and younger. Last tour begins at 2:45 p.m.
TRAIL VIEW STATE PARK, Jericho Turnpike (Route 25), 1⁄4 mile west of Woodbury Road, Woodbury, 631-423-1770. 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 State Park 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 daily June 1-Sept. 6; and weekends and holidays May 23-May 31 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
SUFFOLK Beaches, campgrounds and more
BELMONT LAKE STATE PARK, Exit 38, Southern State Parkway, North Babylon, 631-667-5055; parks.ny.gov. Season Year-round, sunrise to sunset. This 459-acre park surrounds a 28-acre lake (swimming not permitted). Facilities Two softball fields, basketball courts, 3 miles of biking/walking trails with 14 exercise stations, 2-mile bridle path with stables at Babylon Riding Center (631-587-7778), seasonal rowboat, kayak, and pedal boat rentals, kayak launch permitted around lake, freshwater fishing from shore with license (year-round) or rowboat (seasonal, Mon.-Fri. only excluding holidays), picnic area with grills and picnic tables, and 4 pavilions (permit required), 2 playgrounds (2-5 year old's and 5-12 year old's), birding, horseshoe pits, boccie ball. Dogs permitted on trails only with leashes no more than six feet. Fee $8 a car May 29-Labor Day; weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11. Pedal boat/rowboat rentals/kayak $20 for two hours; must be 18 years or older to rent.
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. Season Open all year, closed Mon. and Tues. Facilities 543 acres; ½-mile trail- wheelchair and stroller accessible, miles of trails for nature walks, nature museum, fly-fishing April 1-Oct. 15, ($25 permit, reserve); junior angler’s fishing area (15 and younger), April 1-Oct. 31; environmental programs for ages 3-5, ages 5 and older, families and adults (reservations required). No pets or bikes. Commercial and posed photography requires a permit, 631- 321-3515. Fee $8 a car May 31-Labor Day and weekends and holidays May 23-May 30 and Sept. 11-Nov. 21.
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 29-Sept. 6 and weekends and holidays May 1-May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
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, 631-587-3430; parks.ny.gov. Facilities 298 acres focus on a boat basin off State Boat Channel. 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 (seasonal), playground and picnic area. Fee $8 a car May 25-Sept. 6 and weekends and holidays May 1-May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
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 daily year-round.
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. Season All year, closed Mon. except Holidays. Facilities 3,473 acres, fly-fishing all year, ($25 fee, reservation recommended), 50 miles of hiking trails, bird watching, bridle paths ($50 annual permit required, $10 day-use permit, no horse rentals), museum, gift shop. Main house tours Sept.-June. Environmental/youth programs (631-581-1072), grist mill, house tours, nature walks. Fee $8 a car May 29-Labor Day; and weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-Nov. 21.
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, golf 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 (permit required for overnight fishing), 2 miles of Greenbelt Trail, first aid station open during swimming season. Fee $10 a car daily May 29-Sept. 12; $8 weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 18-Nov. 7.
HALLOCK STATE PARK PRESERVE, 6062 Sound Ave., Jamesport, parks.ny.gov. 631-315-5475. Season All year, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. April-Sept., 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct.-March. Features 225 acres, visitor center, gift shop, hiking trails, bridle paths, cross-country skiing, nature walks, birding and saltwater fishing. Nearly 1 mile of pristine beachfront along Long Island Sound. Launch site for kayaking, windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding. No pets permitted year-round. Fee $8 a car 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily April-Oct., free 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov.-March.
HECKSCHER STATE PARK, Southern State Parkway east to end of Heckscher Parkway, East Islip, 631-581-2100, parks.ny.gov. This 1,657-acre park draws boaters and landlubbers alike. Season All-year. Facilities Two swimming beaches, campgrounds with 69 sites, 15 rental cottages, 5 softball fields, biking and walking paths (4½ miles), boat ramp (no additional fee with vehicle-use fee), picnic areas and picnic 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). Fee $8 a car daily May 29-June 18; $10 daily June 19-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
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 2½-mile ocean beach, campsites (April 16-Nov. 20), 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 24-Aug. 26 Sand castle contests, 9:30 a.m. Thur. Fee $10 a car daily, May 29-Sept. 12.
MONTAUK DOWNS STATE PARK, 50 S. Fairview Ave., Montauk, 631-668-5000, parks.ny.gov; restaurant, 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 26-Sept. 6; 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. Fee $8 a car May 29-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
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 29-Sept. 6; weekends and holidays Sept. 11-Oct. 11.
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 26-Labor Day. Fee $8 a car May 29-June 25; $10 a car daily June 26-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-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 April 3-Nov. 21, picnic areas at Fields 2, 3 and 4. Fee $10 a car May 29-Sept. 12; $8 a car weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 18-Nov. 21.
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. Facilities 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, 1 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 a car daily May 24-June 18; $10 a car June 19-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends and holidays May 23 and Sept. 11-Oct. 11.