These Long Island spots are among the top gems of the New York state park system.
Bethpage State Park
The park is at 99 Quaker Meetinghouse Rd., Farmingdale, 516-249-0700; golf reservations 516-249-0707; pro shop, 516-249-4040; restaurant 516-501-9700; stables 516-531-8007; Greenbelt Trail tours 631-360-0753; tennis 516-777-1358; parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx This 1,475-acre park boasts one of the nation’s finest public golf complexes. It's open all year except Christmas Day. Facilities include five 18-hole courses, including the famed Black Course, restaurant and bar, softball fields, basketball courts, bocce ball, horse shoes, volleyball, handicapped-accessible playground, bridle paths (5 1⁄2 miles), bike paths (2 1⁄2 miles), 5-mile stretch of the Greenbelt Trail, hiking, picnic area, picnic pavilions (permit), 8 clay tennis courts (fee), 4 all-weather courts (fee), golf shop, driving range. Fee Picnic area only: $8 per car daily May 28-Labor Day; weekends and holidays April 2-May 22 and Sept. 10-Nov. 12.
Hempstead Lake State Park
The part is off the Southern State Parkway in West Hempstead, 516-766-1029, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx This 775-acre park offers a historic carousel and party room (can be rented). Open all year, sunrise-sunset. Facilities include a softball field, basketball courts, playgrounds, hiking trails, bridle paths (9 miles), nearby stables with rentals (New York Equestrian Center, 516-486-9673), freshwater fishing (license required), snack bar, picnic areas, tennis courts (fees April 18-Nov. 8); main lake, car top-boat access (permit required, $50); antique carousel (weekends and holidays, $2); outdoor pavilion (reservations required). July 18: Summer Run. Aug. 6: Summer Family Fishing Clinic. Oct. 15: Fall Family Fishing and Children’s Festival. Parking fee is $8 a car daily May 28-Sept. 5; weekends and holidays April 2-May 22 and Sept. 10-Oct. 10. Buses by permit. Fee may apply.
Jones Beach State Park
JONES BEACH STATE PARK, 2400 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, 516-785-1600, parks.ny.gov/parks/ default.aspx Parking lots 4, 6, 10 and West End 2 open all year. Season Daily, hours vary. Facilities 7 ocean beaches (6.5 miles); part of a 2,413-acre park. Zachs Bay beach, band shell, 4 basketball courts, 2-mile boardwalk/ health walk, surf chairs for the disabled (Fields 2, 6 and Central Mall), beach ramp at Field 6 and Central Mall and West Bathhouse, 7-mile bike path, boat basin, picnic areas, amphitheater, paddle tennis, equipment rentals, miniature golf ($5), 4 finger piers, surf casting, 2 softball fields (permit), 22 shuffle board courts, food concessions. Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center (West End 1) with displays, hands-on children’s activities and programs; call 516-679-7254; open all year, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekends and holidays and Wed.-Fri. and holidays May 26-Labor Day. Fee Call; $10 a car daily May 28-Sept. 5; $8 weekends and holidays Apr. 2-May 22 and Sept. 17-Nov. 6.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
PLANTING FIELDS ARBORETUM STATE HISTORIC PARK, 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay, 516-922-9200, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Season Daily, closed Christmas Day. Facilities 409 acres; 6 miles of trails and 200 acres of landscaped plantings, synoptic garden, rose garden, main greenhouse with exotic plants year round, camellia house, gift shop and cafe in visitors center. Fee Parking $8 a car daily Apr. 25- Labor Day; Sept. 10-Nov. 13 weekends. Coe Hall tours and exhibits: $5, free younger than 12.
Trail View State Park
TRAIL VIEW STATE PARK, Jericho Turnpike (Route 25), 1⁄4 mile west of Woodbury Road, Woodbury, 631-423-1770, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Season Open daily. Facilities Hiking, biking and birding trails throughout its 400 acres; 7.4-mile stretch of the Greenbelt Trail passes through; (Greenbelt runs 22 miles from Cold Spring Harbor to the Massapequa Park Preserve.) Features nature views, bird-watching and cross-country skiing. No pets. Fee Free.
Valley Stream State Park
VALLEY STREAM STATE PARK, Exit 15A, Southern State Parkway, Valley Stream, 516-825-4128, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Smallest of the Island’s state parks with 97 acres, it features ball fields, playgrounds and picnic areas. Season Sunrise-sunset year round. Facilities Picnic pavilion, 2-mile biking and hiking trail, 5 horseshoe pits, 2 basketball courts, 2 softball fields, 2 playgrounds, volleyball courts, board games;
2 environmental trails. In the winter, cross-country skiing permitted. Games equipment rental at park office. Fee $8 a car weekends and holidays April 2-May 22 and Sept. 10-Oct. 10; daily May 28-Sept. 5.
Belmont Lake State Park
BELMONT LAKE STATE PARK, Exit 38, Southern State Parkway, North Babylon, 631-667-5055; Babylon Riding Center, 631-587-7778, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx This 459-acre spread surrounds a lake, with picnic and play areas nearby. Season All year. Facilities 3 softball fields, 2 miles of biking, walking trails, 2-mile bridle path with stables (631-587-7778 for rentals), rowboat and paddleboat rentals (seasonal), freshwater fishing from shore (year round) or rowboat (license required), picnic area and pavilions (rental), playgrounds, exercise trail, horseshoe pits; fishing clinic. Fee $8 a car weekends and holidays April 2-May 22; daily May 28- Labor Day; weekends and holidays Sept. 10-Oct. 10.
Brentwood State Park
BRENTWOOD STATE PARK, 375 Crooked Hill Rd., Brentwood, 631-667-5055, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Season Year round. Facilities 60-acre complex consists of synthetic turf soccer and baseball fields, soccer-themed playground. Bathroom open during park hours and concessions available during league play, parking for 285 cars. Fee For permits.
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve
CALEB SMITH STATE PARK PRESERVE, Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown, 631-265-1054, parks.ny.gov /parks/default.aspx Season All year. Features 543 acres; ½-mile trail accommodates wheelchairs, self-guided trails, 3½ miles of Greenbelt Trail, nature museum, fly-fishing April 1-Oct. 18; ($20 permit, reserve) reservation required), junior angler’s fishing area (15 and younger, April 1-Oct. 31), interpretive environmental programs for ages 3-5, ages 5 and older, families and adults. ($4, $3 children).
Camp Hero State Park
CAMP HERO STATE PARK, 1898 Montauk Hwy., (Route 27) east to the end, Montauk, 631-668-5000, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Facilities 415 acres includes woods, beachfront and a historic military installation; maritime forests, freshwater wetlands, ocean vistas and dramatic bluffs; trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding; surf fishing locations open 24 hours a day to fishermen with permits; picnic areas; environment shelters, birds and other wildlife. The former military base inside the park is registered as a National Historic Site. Fee $8 a car weekends May 7-22; daily May 28-Oct. 10; weekends and holidays Oct. 15- Nov. 13.
Captree State Park
CAPTREE STATE PARK, off Robert Moses Causeway, West Islip Captree Boat Basin, 631-669-0449; restaurant, 631-376-1866; Captree Boatman’s Association, 631-669-6464; bait, tackle and fuel, 631-321-1716, 631-669-0449; parks.ny.gov /parks/default.aspx Captree’s 298 acres focus on a boat basin off State Boat Channel that draws all levels of boaters. Season All year. 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 (closes Nov. 29), free tire air-up station, free pump-out station, restaurant (seasonal), snack bar (all year), playground and picnic area. Aug. 20-21: Snapper Fishing Derby. Sept. 17-18: Captree Dockside Family Festival. Oct. 14-16: South Shore Fishing Classic. Fee $8 a car daily May 28-Sept. 5; weekends and holidays May 1-27 and Sept. 10-Oct. 10.
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve
CAUMSETT STATE HISTORIC PARK PRESERVE, 25 Lloyd Harbor Rd., West Neck Road north from Huntington Village to the park, Lloyd Neck, 631-423-1770; Lloyd Harbor Equestrian Center (stable), 631-427-6105; Lloyd Harbor Historical Society, 631-424-6118; Nassau BOCES, 631-549-0071; parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Season All year, sunrise-sunset. Facilities Formerly the estate of investment banker and publisher Marshall Field III, the 1,600-acre park sits at the head of a scenic peninsula jutting into Long Island Sound; 27 miles of trails. Bicycling permitted (helmets mandatory); scuba diving area (permit good to Dec. 31); Long Island Sound fishing sunrise to sunset April 1-Dec. 31 (permit required for overnight fishing); cross-county skiing and snow shoeing in the winter; bridle trails (no rentals), nature walks (reservations), walking, jogging, bird watching and nature photography. No pets. Fee Parking $8 a car. Call for hours of collection.
Cold Spring Harbor State Park
COLD SPRING HARBOR STATE PARK, Route 25A, across from the harbor, Cold Spring Harbor. parks.ny.gov /parks/default.aspx Season All year, sunrise to sunset. Facilities Hiking trails and bird-watching in 40 acres in the heart of Cold Spring Harbor. Dogs permitted on maximum 6-foot leash. Restrooms for trail users are accessible from the outside of the Cold Spring Harbor library during building hours. Fee Free.
Connetquot River State Park Preserve
CONNETQUOT RIVER STATE PARK PRESERVE, Sunrise Highway, Oakdale, 631-581-1005, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Season All year, free permit available from P.O. Box 505, Oakdale, N.Y. 11769; valid 1 year. Features 3,473 acres, fly-fishing Feb. 1-Oct. 15, catch and release only ($20 permit, reservation required), 50 miles of hiking trails, bridle paths ($50 annual permit, $10 day use permit — no horse rentals available) museum, gift shop. Grist mill and main house tours by appointment. Regional Environmental Education Office (631-581-1072) offers nature walks and programs, call for details.
Gov. Alfred E. Smith/Sunken Meadow State Park
GOV. ALFRED E. SMITH/SUNKEN MEADOW STATE PARK, at north end of Sunken Meadow State Parkway, Kings Park, 631-269-4333, parks.ny.gov /parks/default.aspx This 1,288-acre beachfront park on Long Island Sound features a ¾-mile boardwalk and a golf course with three 9-hole links (set up as a 9-hole and 18-hole course in rotation; open all year). Cross-country course used for track programs. Season All year, sunrise to sunset. Facilities 3-mile beach on Smithtown Bay and Long Island Sound. Lifeguards: Call for hours. Swimming in season, beach ramp and sand wheelchair available, picnic area, driving range, putting green, clubhouse, pro shop, biking and running trails, refreshment stands, 3 playgrounds, outdoor showers, 4 softball fields, soccer field, 8 basketball courts, Field 4 picnic shelter available for rental in the East Orchard Picnic Area, 4-mile nature trail, fishing (night fishing to Dec. 31; permit required), 2 miles of Greenbelt Trail, first aid station open during swimming season. Fee $10 a car daily May 28- Labor Day; $8 weekends and holidays, April 2- May 22 and Sept. 11-Nov. 13.
Heckscher State Park
HECKSCHER STATE PARK, Southern State Parkway east to south end of Heckscher Parkway, East Islip, 631-581-2100, parks.ny.gov/parks/ default.aspx This 1,657-acre park draws boaters and landlubbers alike. Season All year. Facilities Two beach areas, 5 softball fields, biking and walking paths (4 1⁄2 miles), horseshoe pit, boat ramp (no additional fee with vehicle-use fee; day use only), snack bars, bathhouse, picnic areas; Greenbelt Trail (1 1⁄2 miles); basketball courts, 21-hole disc golf course; fishing in Great South Bay (7 a.m.-sunset); nature programs (631-581-1072). Fee $8 a car weekends April 2- May 22 and daily May 28-June 24; $10 daily June 25-Labor Day; $8 a car weekends Sept. 10- Oct. 10.
Hither Hills State Park
HITHER HILLS STATE PARK, 164 Old Montauk Hwy. (Route 27), 4 miles west of hamlet of Montauk, 631-668-2554, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Major lure at this 1,755-acre park is camping along a beautiful stretch of the Atlantic; features nature trails and a freshwater fishing pond. Season All year, sunrise-sunset. Facilities 2 1⁄2-mile ocean beach, campsites (April 17-Nov. 22), call 800-456-2267 for reservations and fees, softball field, hiking and nature trails, saltwater fishing (bluefish and striped bass season April-Dec.), ocean surf casting, fishing on 40-acre freshwater pond (license), 2 volleyball courts, 3 sand chairs, playground, 2 picnic areas, general store (hours vary), horseshoe pits, movies, children’s activities. June 30- Aug. 25: Sand castle contests, 9:30 a.m. select Thurs. Fee $10 per car daily, May 28-Sept. 11.
Montauk Downs State Park
MONTAUK DOWNS STATE PARK, 50 S. Fairview Ave., north of Route 27, Montauk, 631-668-5000; restaurant, 631-483-5024, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx This 160-acre park is built around a golf course. Season All year, sunrise-sunset. Golf season all year; tennis mid-May to mid-Sept., outdoor pool from late June to early Sept., kiddie pool, 6 tennis courts mid-May to mid- Sept., fee), pro shop, grill room, 18-hole golf course, driving range. Fee No entrance fee.
Montauk Point State Park
MONTAUK POINT STATE PARK, 2000 Montauk Hwy., Route 27 east to end, Montauk, 631-668-5000, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx On 724 acres, Montauk Point offers breezes and vistas. Season All year, sunrise-sunset. Facilities Surf casting (no license), hiking trails (5 miles), picnic area, refreshment stand, gift shop (all year, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.). Sept 23-25: Montauk Surf Classic. Fee $8 a car, daily May 28-Oct. 10; weekends only April 2-May 22 and Oct. 15-Nov. 13.
Nissequogue River State Park
NISSEQUOGUE RIVER STATE PARK, 799 Saint Johnland Rd., Kings Park, 631-269-4927, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Features natural habitats, wildlife, hiking trails, canoe launching and tours by reservation. Season All year, sunrise to sunset. Facilities Fishing, hiking, birding (ask for a checklist of birds frequently sighted), canoe/kayak launch (rentals available, 631-979-8244), boat launch at marina, environmental programs (registration and fee required, call for details). No equipment rentals. Fee $8 a car daily May 28-Sept. 2; weekends and holidays only after Sept. 10-Oct. 10.
Orient Beach State Park
ORIENT BEACH STATE PARK, 40000 Main Rd., (Route 25), Orient 631-323-2440, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx The 364-acre park offers 8 miles of shoreline, including wilderness areas ideal for shell collecting, plant study and bird-watching. Season All year; bird-watching 8 a.m.-8 p.m. May 23-Labor Day. Facilities 300-foot beach on Gardiners Bay, playground, picnic areas with barbecues, 2 sand wheelchairs, pavilion (rentals available), gazebo, hiking, birding, bike path, gift shop, self-guided nature and water trails, bathhouse, showers, snack bar, comfort station, food concession, surf fishing, windsurfing, bocce, horseshoe area, volleyball, shuffleboard and rentals available for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Launch site for windsurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Swimming permitted June 27-Labor Day. Fee $10 a car daily June 25-Labor Day; $8 a car daily May 30-June 24 and weekends and holidays Sept. 10-Columbus Day weekend.
Robert Moses State Park
ROBERT MOSES STATE PARK, Sagtikos Parkway south to Robert Moses Causeway to western Fire Island, 631-669-0449, parks.ny.gov/parks/ default.aspx Facilities 875 acres center on its 5-mile beach, with 4 bathhouses, and a nearby boat basin (with pump-out stations). Field 5 open all year, beach shop, umbrella rentals, bathhouses, fishing (night fishing to Dec. 30 by permit), sand wheelchairs (all fields), specially equipped playground (Field 5), protected body-boarding areas, surfing areas (all fields; unprotected), first-aid stations, 18-hole par-3 golf course April 2-Nov. 13, hours vary, snack bars, picnic areas at Fields 2, 3 and 4. Fee $10 a car daily May 28-Sept. 5; $8 a car weekends and holidays April 2-May 22 and Sept. 6-Nov. 13.
Shadmoor State Park
SHADMOOR STATE PARK, 900 Montauk Hwy., Montauk 631-668-5000, parks.ny.gov/parks/default.aspx Season All year, daily. Facilities 99-acre park (owned by New York State, Suffolk County and East Hampton Town, which manages it with the Nature Conservancy) opened in 2001; ocean beach, freshwater wetlands, hiking and biking trails and two bunkers (designed to look like cottages from the water) built for surveillance during World War II. Fee Free.