Jones Beach State Park has long been an iconic destination for sun-seekers who come in droves for an afternoon on the sand that may well bleed into an evening on the boardwalk. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, dine outdoors or play sports along 6½ miles of white sand and a 2-mile boardwalk, or find a quiet spot to surf, fish or look for wildlife, you can dive right in amid the park’s 2,400 acres. Here’s a guide to fun beyond the beach at one of the nation’s premier public recreational facilities, all are subject to availability given social distancing measures:
FIELDS 1 AND 2: THE WEST END
If you’re looking to shred waves free of bathers, hook into a lunker striped bass, catalog a rare bird or just hit a softball, then this is your destination. Amenities at both fields include full-service food and beverage areas, lavatories, locker rooms and a beach shop. Field 1 is open only on weekends and holidays, but you can take an alternate route here on foot: Field 1 is where the boardwalk ends. The West End Boat Basin features 60 slips where recreational boaters can tie up and picnic at a pavilion. At Field 2’s two softball fields you can play ball with waves crashing in the background, and there’s bleacher seating for spectators.
Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center: The recently refurbished nature center introduces the concepts of environment and energy to people of all ages through indoor and outdoor exhibits plus a series of free and fee-based programs, some geared toward children.
FIELDS 4 AND 5: CENTRAL MALL
Chances are, this is the Jones Beach you know best. The busy heart of the park has several marquee attractions beyond the snack and ice cream stands and souvenir shop:
West Bathhouse: Master builder Robert Moses designed Jones Beach as a summer playground for the public, with an architectural style that remains striking in this complex, which still houses a pool ($3-$5 admission). The building's second floor now hosts Gatsby on the Ocean, a full service restaurant that offers cocktails, lunch and dinner along with catered events.
Band shell: Open-air bandshell hosts free concerts, family programming and movie screenings.
Game courts: Lighted miniature golf course with replicas of the Montauk Point Lighthouse and a Captree State Park fishing boat, plus shuffle board, paddle tennis and volleyball courts.
Splash pad: A new fresh water play area is a destination for young kids or anybody wanting a quick cool off. Towering gray pipes shaped like blades of sea grass shoot water onto visitors, and spray also bubbles up from the ground. It's near a new playground and has shaded picnic areas, too.
Wild Play Adventure Course: The expansive complex has ropes courses plus zip lines and suspension bridges that give those who conquer it waterfront views. Or you can just try the zip line for a bucket list experience.
FIELD 5: Zach's Bay
By day, beachgoers come for a little slice of calm water Zach's Bay, courtesy of a small sandy area that has its own snack bar and restrooms. By sunset, the parking lot fills with concertgoers destined for a show at the 15,000-seat Northwell Health at Jones Beach amphitheater. This is also a good parking spot for access to the Jones Beach Bikeway, which runs parallel to Ocean Parkway clear to Captree State Park in Babylon, thanks to a recently opened extension.
FIELD 6: BEACH AND BOARDWALK
In a rush to cool off in the surf? Field 6 is popular among the stroller set because it’s a short walk from the parking field to the surf. (Arrive early for a parking spot.) Amenities include a concession stand, a beach shop and picnic grounds with barbecue grills and tables. On windy days, colorful kites soar over the sand. At night, surf-casters plumb the waves offshore for striped bass. The East Bathhouse pool remains closed but you can still check out the observation deck. Bring your walking shoes and windbreaker for a breezy stroll on the 2-mile boardwalk, which starts here.
FIELD 10: FISHING PIERS
Four piers extend into State Channel, offering anglers a crack at catching flounder and other local, edible species. A bait and tackle shop near the piers sells fishing gear, snacks and soft drinks. In colder months, this is the starting off point for seal-watching walks.
JONES BEACH STATE PARK
2400 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh, 516-785-1600, parks.ny.gov.
Lifeguards May 28-Sept. 12
Fee $10 a car daily May 28-Sept. 12; $8 weekends and holidays May 23-May 27 and Sept. 13-Nov. 7.