Summer always seems to fly by way too fast. But, somehow, heading back to school seems less painful when you’ve had an awesome break, doing all the things that embody the season. Nothing says summer like being outdoors and, since we’re surrounded by it, spending time on or near the water is essential.
Take a few afternoons off from work. Relish these last few weeks before Labor Day, enjoying activities that make you feel you’ve taken full advantage of the warm weather and all that Long Island has to offer.
Rent a kayak and paddle on the open water at the WaterFront Center in Oyster Bay. You’ll feel so far from home as you pass other kayakers, sailboats and stunning scenery.
This nonprofit community center for marine education and recreation provides skills and equipment, so everyone can enjoy the bay. After your boat trip, stroll along the waterfront to extend that vacation sensation.
The center is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Mondays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Labor Day. Rentals cost $18 per hour including tax for a single kayak and $23 per hour with tax for a double kayak or paddleboard/SUP. Tours, including sunset kayak, SUP and open paddle, are available for $30 per person.
WaterFront Center • One West End Ave. in Oyster Bay; www.thewaterfrontcenter.org; 516-922-7245.
In addition to a playground, lighted tennis, handball and basketball courts, athletic fields, an 18-hole mini and 9-hole golf course, illuminated driving range and indoor ice skating rink, on 127 acres at Cantiague Park, you’ll find an amazing aquatic complex, which includes an Olympic-size pool; two water slides for children taller than 45 inches; diving, kiddie and training pools; as well as an interactive water-play area for those younger than 10. Conveniences like lockers, showers and a refreshment area are also available.
Cantiague Park • 480 West John St. in Hicksville; www.nassaucountyny.gov; 516-571-7056.
A similar Nassau County offering on Wantagh Park’s 111 waterfront acres provides a playground, tennis courts, a basketball court, athletic fields, one-mile and two-mile paths for walking, bicycle riding or jogging, a two-mile fitness trail for jogging or walking with 20 fitness stations as well as a swimming complex that includes an Olympic-size main pool; diving, kiddie and training pools; an interactive water-play area and two 30-foot water slides.
The pools at both parks are open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. With a Leisure Pass for Nassau County residents, which costs $25 for three years, admission is $8 (adults), $6 (children 4 to 17) and $4 (seniors, disabled, volunteer firefighters, ambulance corps, auxiliary police and veterans).
Wantagh Park • One King Rd. in Wantagh; www.nassau countyny.gov; 516-571-7460.
Whether you have the time to drive to the Hamptons or ferry to Fire Island, or just have a few hours to run your toes through the sand, one last trip to the beach is mandatory before wrapping up summer. A day at the seashore in Bayville or Long Beach, followed by a walk along the sand or boardwalk, eating al fresco and savoring a treat at a local creamery, make for a memorable day.
Visit an Old-Fashioned Amusement Park
Well worth the 90-minute drive from central Nassau, for more than 40 years, the Land of Make Believe has been bringing visitors back to simpler days at this old-time amusement park. What makes this trip even more worthwhile is Pirate’s Cove WaterPark, which offers an enormous pool area replete with an interactive pirate ship and water slides.
In season, the park is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The pay-one-price admission includes all rides, shows, attractions, Pirate’s Cove and free parking for $27 (adults), $29 (children 2 to 18), $25 (seniors 62 and older) and is free for children younger than 2.
Land of Make Believe • 354 Great Meadows Rd. in Hope, NJ; www.lomb.com; 908-459-9000.
Catch Sunset Over the Nautical Mile
Watching the sun set from the sea summarizes Long Island’s summer style. Freeport Water Taxi offers reasonably priced sunset cruises, where you can sip cocktails as you watch the sun go down. Before or after the boat trip, walk the Nautical Mile and dine on seafood from a dock overlooking the water.
The 90-minute South Shore sunset cruise departs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and costs $25 per person. On Saturday nights, live steel drum music by Kalypso Kevin will transport you to a tropical island for just a little while.
Freeport Water Taxi • 211 Woodcleft Ave. on the Nautical Mile in Freeport; www.freeportwatertaxi.com; 516-521-7744.
Attend the Ultimate Outdoor Concert
Nothing sings out summer louder than watching your favorite musical group perched in front of an ocean backdrop. Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, an outdoor amphitheater located at Jones Beach State Park, offers a memorable night at the perfect summer venue. Tickets all sold out? Picnic on the beach adjacent to the arena and enjoy the concert from your blanket as the waves roll in.
Explore a Quaint Town on the Coast
Watching boats and strolling through a charming hamlet will make you feel like you’re on vacation. Be sure to dine outdoors and order an ice cream cone at one of the many adorable shops in Northport, Port Washington, Cold Spring Harbor or Sag Harbor.
Catch that hot Broadway show you’ve been coveting, then cool off with these last licks. From July 29 to Aug. 31, the Museum of Ice Cream will be popping up in the heart of the Meatpacking District with an ice cream–centric experience near the Gansevoort Street entrance to the High Line.
Curated by a collection of ice cream–obsessed designers, artists and friends, the museum will offer a swimmable rainbow sprinkle pool, edible balloons, an immersive chocolate room and a massive collaborative sundae. Guests can swing on an ice cream sandwich made for two, seesaw on a scooper and indulge in a one-of-a-kind tasting created by Dr. Irwin Adam, founder of Future Food Studio.
The museum is open Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and all other days (aside from Tuesdays, when it’s closed) from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission costs $18 per person or $30 for two, which includes the Scoop of the Week and Future Food Studio custom tastings. Opening day visitors who arrive between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. will be admitted for free and be served free ice cream.
Museum of Ice Cream • 100 Gansevoort St. in New York City; www.museumoficecream.com.
Hungry for more? Beat the heat on the Ice Cream Sundays Frozen Treats Tour, where you’ll learn about—and taste—delicious cool desserts from uniquely flavored ice creams, artisanal gelato and pops. Outings begin at 1 p.m. on Sundays around Union Square and cover a leisurely two miles of the East Village and Little Italy. Tours run through Aug. 28 and cost $50 per person.
Sugar Tooth Tours • www.sugartoothtours.com
Savor every last sunny second. Sample everything that will make this a summer to remember.