Long Islanders are lucky to have dozens of parks, beaches, historic buildings and other recreational areas to flock to in the summer. Here are some of Long Island Weekly editors’ favorite picks of things to do outdoors and close to home.
Old Bethpage Village Restoration
Step back in time and experience life in a recreated mid-19th-century American village. The 209-acre Old Bethpage Village Restoration includes 51 historic buildings such as an inn, a store and a church. All were transported from other areas of Long Island. Treasured for its accurate depictions of pre-Civil War life, actors in period costume bring the village to life with craft demonstrations and farm work.
Throughout the year, Old Bethpage hosts special events including the Long Island Fair, A Haunted Long Island 1880 Halloween and holiday Candlelight Evenings. Click here for more information.
Old Westbury Gardens
The former estate of John S. and Margarita Grace Phipps, and today site of numerous concerts, lectures, special events and feature films, Old Westbury Gardens is perhaps the most recognizable of all Gold Coast properties. Its centerpiece is Westbury House, a Charles II-style mansion where the Phipps family lived for 50 years. The 160-acre property also features world-renowned gardens with sweeping lawns, woods, ponds and lakes, and more than 100 species of trees.
Tour the palatial home, walk its grounds, and enjoy a window into Long Island’s Gilded Age. Click here for more information.
Sands Point Park and Preserve
The Sands Point Park and Preserve features three castle-like mansions; Hempstead House, Castle Gould, and Falaise. Falaise, built by Harry S. Guggenheim, is open to the public and has many distinctive architectural features including thickly mortared walls, steeply pitched tile roofs and a round tower that echoes a medieval fortress. Furnished with antiques dating back to the 16th century, Falaise also boasts paintings from the Renaissance, and several important pieces of modern art.
Click here for more information.
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
From 1902 to 1908, when Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th president of the United States, Sagamore Hill was the “Summer White House.” He lived there until his death in 1919, and it remains just as it was when he was in residence—moose heads and all. The grounds include an Audubon Center and songbird sanctuary. History buff or not, the Roosevelt home is not to be missed. And because the National Parks Service manages it, you don’t have to travel all the way to Yellowstone to see a real life ranger.
Click here for more information.
A 930-acre oasis of open space and recreation in the heart of Nassau County, Eisenhower Park is one of the largest public spaces in the New York metropolitan area—larger, in fact, than Central Park. The park offers a full range of athletic and family activities, including one of the finest swimming facilities in the U.S., a major golf facility, dozens of athletic fields and courts, picnic areas, summertime entertainment, playgrounds, fitness trails, ice skating rink, dining and more. Click here for more information.
Queens County Farm Museum
The Queens County Farm Museum is a working farm, located in Floral Park, Queens. The site features restored farm buildings from three different centuries, a greenhouse, planting fields, livestock and various examples of vintage farm equipment. The museum includes the Adriance Farmhouse which is a New York City Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Free guided tours of the farmhouse are offered to the public Saturdays and Sundays year-round. Hayrides are offered on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from April through October. An on-site seasonal farmstand featuring Queens Farm vegetables takes place every Wednesday through Sunday from June through October. Click here for more information.
The Waterfront Center
The Waterfront Center is an independent, nonprofit organization working in partnership with the Town of Oyster Bay to provide access for all to educational and recreational programs that will excite students about the marine environment. The Waterfront Center provides sailing lessons, school field trips, summer programs for children, sails aboard the National Historic Landmark oyster sloop Christeen and rentals of sailboats, kayaks and bicycles.
It is located on the north shore between Beekman Beach and Theodore Roosevelt Park on the site of the former Jakobson Shipyard. Click here for more information.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
Long Island’s public arboretum and historic site is located in Oyster Bay. A former Gold Coast estate, the arboretum is comprised of 409 acres of greenhouses, rolling lawns, formal gardens, woodland paths and outstanding plant collections. The original historic estate buildings remain including the 65-room Tudor Revival mansion, Coe Hall, which is open for tours spring through fall. The grounds, landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, MA, are spectacularly beautiful year round.
Educational programs are offered for children and adults. Planting Fields is an ideal location for wedding photography. Click here for more information.
Fire Island Lighthouse
The Fire Island Lighthouse is a visible landmark on the Great South Bay, on the western end of Fire Island, a barrier island off the southern coast of Long Island. The lighthouse is located within Fire Island National Seashore and just to the east of Robert Moses State Park. The lighthouse can be accessed by a short walk from parking field 5 at Robert Moses State Park.
It is open to the public daily. Tower tours are available for a small fee. Click here for more information.
Long Island Adventure Park
Within seven acres of woodland you will find an amazing “aerial forest park.” Test your bridge-crossing and ziplining skills. Course trails are marked for beginners, intermediate climbers and challenging or most advanced. You’ll receive a safety orientation before your climb and safety harness and locks are always engaged.
For ages 7 and up. Click here for more information.