As winter’s drudgery is thankfully receding in the rearview mirror, summer brings to mind hotter temperatures and a greater opportunity to create memories in your free time. If you can do it without breaking the bank, all the better. The following are suggestions of things to do that’s rich in experience but inexpensive in cost.
1. Ride The Pony – There are undoubtedly generations of Long Islanders that remember trying to grab the brass ring riding the carousel at Nunley’s Amusement Park. Built in 1912, Nunley’s Carousel was in Baldwin until the park closed down in 1995. After being completely restored and moved to Garden City’s Cradle of Aviation, it opened in May 2009. Open daily through Labor Day from noon to 5 p.m., the carousel is a great bargain for kids of all ages thanks to its $2 tickets or $20 for 15 tickets if one time around just isn’t enough. Call 516-572-4111 or visit www.cradleofaviation.com
2. Put On Your Hiking Shoes – Contrary to popular belief, Long Island has open space begging to be explored. Of particular note are the numerous trails that beckon those of the two-wheeled persuasion. Among the most notable are the Bethpage Multiuse Path, which starts in the picnic area lot in Bethpage runs the length of Bethpage Parkway all the way through the Massapequa Preserve to Merrick Road and clocks in at around 9.5 miles. Also notable is the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Mountain Bike Trail that’s marked for mountain bikes and stretches from the Bethpage State Park picnic area north to Stillwell Woods in Syosset. You’ll be required to wear a helmet if you take on this 8-mile endeavor that includes a 4-mile loop in the woods that has pretty challenging terrain.
3. Getting A Pass — The Nassau County Leisure Pass provides a gateway to lots of great outdoor activities in the county. For $25, residents are provided with discounts to pools, skating rinks, golf courses, tennis courts, beaches, marinas and cabanas operated by the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation and Museums. In general, a leisure pass is required of residents 13 years of age and older. Youngsters who utilize county-operated golf courses, regardless of age, must have a leisure pass. For more information, please visit www.nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/parks/leisure.html The equivalent further out east is the Suffolk County Green Key Card which goes for $24. (There are also discounts available for seniors, veterans, active military, 17-and-under, handicap/volunteer firefighters/EMT personnel/auxiliary police.) With it, the holder is identified as a Suffolk County resident and insures reduced fees for park activities. Suffolk County Green key cards are required to access the automated golf and camping reservation system. It can be purchased at golf pro shops, active parks, or the Suffolk County Parks & Recreation Office, 200 W. Main St., West Sayville. For more information, please call 631-854-4949 or visit www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/Parks/Parks.aspx
4. Beach Baby, Beach Baby — Now that you have your Nassau County Leisure Pass in hand, head over to Nickerson Beach. A part of the county park system since 1967, this particular beach is 155 acres of beachfront, campground, Fun Zone, ball fields, beach volleyball courts, cabanas and lockers. As for the bargain, understand that from Memorial Day to Labor Day, anyone wishing to hit the beach will either pay $30 for daily entry unless they have a Leisure Pass, which gets you on to the sand for a far more reasonable $8. If you live out East, Smith Point County Park in Shirley is the way to go. Located on the Fire Island barrier beach, Smith Point offers pristine white sand, rolling Atlantic surf and camping facilities (which require reservations). There is also a western portion of the beach where off-road vehicles with permits can drive around. And if you forget to pack food, dining options are available at the Smith Point Beach Hut, which features a diverse menu and seafood specialties.
5. The Sound Of Music — One of the best venues around is Nikon@Jones Beach, an open air shed that presents its offerings where sea meets land. But with concert prices being what they are, what’s a music fan to do? Your best bet is to head down to Jones Beach, (by sundown, the tolls are closed), bring yourself a blanket and/or folding chair and soak up the sounds of your favorite musical artist all while doing outside the pricey confines of the venue. You may not be seeing anything, but music is best enjoyed with ears anyway. Please visit www.jonesbeach.com for the schedule. Other free music options are offered by the likes of the Town of Hempstead (www.toh.li/activities/performing-artgs-and-concerts), Town of Oyster Bay (www.oysterbaytown.com), the Islip Arts Council (www.islipartscouncil.org), Town of North Hempstead (www.northhempsteadny.gov/content/4145/9827.aspx), and the Huntington Arts Council (www.huntingtonarts.org).
6. Duffer’s Delight — Along with malls, Long Island seems to be the land of mini golf. And while there are plenty to recommend, Freeport’s Crow’s Nest Mini Golf really jumps out at you. Located on the village’s popular Nautical Mile, this 18-hole course has been open since 2004 and includes a cave, waterfall and the expected pirate theme. Opening at 11 a.m. and open till either 10 or 11 p.m. each night, the Crow’s Nest charges $8.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids under 10 and seniors. Best bet for our friends out east is Centereach’s Tiki Action Park located on 1878 Middle Country Rd. Large caves, a 10-foot Tiki Fountain and waterfalls all add to the ambiance along with an on-site gaming arcade and go-kart racing. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Tiki Action Park charges $8.50 (adults) and $6 (children under 6, seniors over 60 and members of the military, police and fire department) per 18 holes of golf with $3 for repeat play (same day only).
7. Getting Your Scoop On — Between July being National Ice Cream Month and summer being the quintessential season for this delightful dessert, there are not shortages of places to go to. Might we suggest Krisch’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour (Massapequa), 5 Pennies Creamery (Rockville Centre), Coyle’s Ice Cream (Bay Shore), Hildebrandt’s (Williston Park), Gooseberry Grove (Oyster Bay), Itgen’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor (Valley Stream), Henry’s Confectionary (Glen Cove), Bollinger’s Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor (Farmingdale) or Mitchell’s Restaurant (Oceanside)?
8. Roll Film — What better way to check out the cinema than under the summer stars. There are plenty of offerings throughout Nassau County. Saturdays at Port Washington’s Sunset Park as part of the Cinema On the Bay Series (Sixteen Candles-July 12; For the Love of the Game-July 26; The Lego Movie-Aug. 9) Thursdays at Farmingdale’s Village Green located on 361 Main St. starting July 10 through Aug. 28 (Frozen, Parental Guidance, Despicable Me 2, Tangled, The Lego Movie, Night At the Museum 2, The Nut Job), every other Friday at Rockville Centre’s Molloy College starting June 27 through Sept. 5 (Independence Day, The Wizard of Oz, Avengers, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, The Goonies, The Hunger Games) and Tuesdays at Port Jefferson’s Movies On the Sound Series held at Harborfront Park located at 101 E. Broadway starting July 15 through Aug. 19 (Super Buddies, Saving Mr. Banks, Despicable Me 2, Gravity, The Lego Movie, Frozen).