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Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh: An insider's guide to bathhouses, nature center, more

Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh offers an astonishing variety of things to do on a summer day. 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. Destinations begin in the west and move east.

The Jones Beach Nature Center

Ashley Zavala, 9, a 4th-grade student from Freeport's
Credit: Barry Sloan

Also known as the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, this beachfront educational facility offers kids a chance to handle live marine animals in touch tanks.

Pictured: Ashley Zavala, 9, snaps a selfie with her classmates during a visit to the nature center. 

The Jones Beach Nature Center

Members of the Amateur Observers' Society of New
Credit: Allen Agostino

The nature center also offers indoor and outdoor exhibits with information about the South Shore ecosystem. Outside, a boardwalk winds through a beachfront natural area that’s popular with bird watchers year-round.

Pictured: Members of the Amateur Observers' Society of New York and others gaze at the stars at the nature center.

West Bathhouse

The West Bathhouse at Jones Beach State Park
Credit: Heather Walsh

Not much of an ocean swimmer? Point your flip-flops to the Olympic-size swimming pool at the West Bathhouse. Chill out on a beach chair in a resort-like vibe while the young ones splash around the kiddie pool.

The West End: Fields 1 and 2

A group of fishermen at the West End
Credit: Ryan C. Jones

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. 

West Bathhouse

The West Bathhouse at Jones Beach State Park
Credit: Heather Walsh

There’s a locker room at the West Bathhouse with showers topped by an observation deck overlooking the pool. 

Fields 4 and 5: Central Mall

The Central Mall at Jones Beach in Wantagh
Credit: Barry Sloan

Winding walkways decked with flowers lead from Parking Fields 4 and 5 to Central Mall, the busy heart of the park. It’s a “muscle beach” kind of place, where tanned and toned millennials bake on beach blankets and play Frisbee in the sand. This summer, an adventure play area with a zip line is expected to open on the former site of the pitch-and-putt course.
At the Central Mall you can buy souvenirs at the beach shop, get directions at the park information office or find medical attention at the first-aid station. 

Central Mall and Band Shell

Lana Molina and Samantha Iaccino of Huntington dance
Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Jones Beach was designed to make visitors feel as if they are on a cruise ship, so there are free concerts and movies at the band shell, a miniature golf course with replicas of the Montauk Point Lighthouse and a Captree State Park fishing boat, and shuffle board, paddle tennis and volleyball courts.

Pictured: Lana Molina and Samantha Iaccino of Huntington dance at the band shell.

East Bathhouse

Newly restored East bathhouse at Jones Beach, circa
Credit: Newsday File/Michael Ach

This quieter stretch of the 6½-mile strand offers an observation deck overlooking the ocean, a beach shop, concession stand, and first-aid and comfort stations.

East Bathhouse

A sign points the way to the East
Credit: Susye Greenwood

The pool at the East Bathhouse remains closed, but the beach is less crowded than other parts of the park.

Field 6

Members of (LIFE) Long Island Fatbike Enthusiasts, ride
Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

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. Bring your walking shoes and windbreaker for a breezy stroll on the 2-mile boardwalk, which starts here.

Pictured: Members of Long Island Fatbike Enthusiasts ride at Jones Beach.

Zach’s Bay

Jinwoo Chon, 2, of Flushing, plays near the
Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

On Zach’s Bay, the tiniest tots can romp in calm waters. Along the beach crescent you’ll find a playground, food concessions, picnic area with barbecues and picnic tables.

Pictured: Jinwoo Chon, 2, of Flushing, plays near the shore at Zach's Bay.

Jones Beach Theater

Fans cheer on Of Mice and Men as
Credit: Johnny Milano

The 14,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, recently renamed Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, hosts several dozen concerts each summer season.

Pictured: Fans cheer on Of Mice and Men as they take the stage at the theater.

Field 10 Fishing Piers

Artie Catalano age 60 pulls up a crab
Credit: Steven Sunshine

A quiet stretch of the Bay Parkway takes you to the Field 10 entrance. Four piers extend into State Channel, offering anglers a crack at catching flounder and other local, edible species.

Pictured: Artie Catalano, 60, pulls up a crab while fishing the Green Island Pier at Jones Beach.

Field 10 Fishing Piers

Hilberto Albarato (28) of Levittown catches a fluke
Credit: Steven Sunshine

A bait and tackle shop near the piers sells fishing gear, snacks and soft drinks.

Pictured: Hilberto Albarato, 28, of Levittown, catches a fluke at the Green Island Pier.

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