(Photo: Garvies Point Museum and Preserve)
With more than 70 parks and recreation facilities, comprising 600 acres, Nassau County is literally full of places to play. Many of the parks have pools--both indoor and outdoor, great playgrounds, and winter skating. Others, which we've chosen to feature here, offer some of Long Island's most unique opportunities for recreation. From a re-creation of a 19th-century village to an aerodrome field to castle-like mansions, Nassau County has a lot to offer.
Hiking and biking trails, swimming pools, and outdoor adventures can be had all over Long Island. Our guide to playgrounds and parks is a great place to start!
Christopher Morley Park - Roslyn
With 98 acres this park, located in northern Nassau, boasts a recently renovated playground with a non-traditional climbing apparatus, a boat basin designed for model boats, shuffleboard, horseshoes, and tennis. Additionally, there are 30 acres of peacefully wooded nature trails and the park hosts a farmer's market on Wednesdays from 7am-1pm mid May-late November. Golfers can enjoy a 9-hole 30 par golf course. Families can get fit along the one-mile fitness trail. There are twenty stops along the trail with equipment and directions that will have you doing pull-ups and balance activities.
Eisenhower Park – East Meadow
Larger than Central Park in New York City, Eisenhower Park offers visitors a multitude of athletic and recreational activities. Fitness facilities include a world-class aquatic center and gym, 16 tennis courts, ice skating center with two NHL-sized rinks, athletic fields, and basketball courts. There is also an outdoor fitness trail with stations along the trail that incorporate different exercises. For families looking to spend some time together, there is an 18-hole miniature golf course and three renovated playgrounds, one of which has a sprinkler pool. The Let All Children Play playground is one of only a handful of playgrounds on Long Island that is designed to be accessible for all children. The park hosts many seasonal events throughout the year including outdoor movie nights, concerts, and celebrations.
Cedar Creek Park - Seaford
With an archery range, tether car speedway, an aerodrome field for model airplanes as well a playground designated by the Long Island Press as the best on Long, and a year-round roller rink, this park is worth a visit. The archery range is free and open to the public from dawn to dusk seven days a week. Archers must bring their own equipment. An Academy of Aeronautics Card is required for a permit to use the aerodrome field but spectators are always welcome at no charge. Spectators are also permitted at the tether car racetrack which attracts visitors from all over the world as it is one of the few such tracks in the U.S.
Sands Point Park and Preserve – Sands Point
With not one, but three castle-like historic mansions, this park is a treat for the imagination. Step back in time to the era of The Great Gatsby with a tour of Hempstead House, Castle Gould, and Falaise. For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, the preserve offers six hiking trails throughout the grounds, woods, and around ponds as well as trails leading down to the beach. The breathtaking views of Long Island Sound make the trek more than worth it.
Nickerson Beach Park – Lido Beach
With 155 acres of recreation, including half a mile of beachfront on the Atlantic, a fun-zone for kids that includes a playground and basketball courts, and a food concession open in the summer, Nickerson Beach Park is more than just a beautiful beach. For families looking to do some camping, there is a campground with 74 recreational vehicle sites and 13 sites available for tents. Group area camping is also available and reservations are required. Check the website for more info on campsites and cabana rental policies.
Old Bethpage Village Restoration – Old Bethpage
Step back in time and visit a re-creation of a 19th-century village. The 209-acre village features a variety of homes, shops, and businesses. Each fall the village hosts a fall fair with family-friendly activities including midway rides and games, a petting zoo as well as old-time games and crafts. On Sundays, you can catch a game of baseball 1860's style.
Wantagh Park – Wantagh
Another Nassau County Park, Wantagh Park is right on the water. This park often gets overlooked by Jones Beach State Park, which lies just south of it but this means that it is quieter and easier to access. The main attraction is the swimming complex that includes an Olympic-sized pool, diving pool, kiddie pool, training pool, and an interactive sprinkler pool with two water slides. A family could spend the day just at the pool here. There are a variety of fitness facilities, fields, and courts in addition to a fitness trail or simply walk along the water and enjoy the views. For dog owners, there is a dog run with separate areas for big and small dogs.
Planting Fields Arboretum – Oyster Bay
This State Park is the former estate of the Coe family. It is one of the few remaining Gold Coast estates that includes the original 409 acres of property, including historic buildings, English gardens, and green houses. Take a stroll through the lush grounds and woodlands and admire the largest collection of camellias in the northeast in the Camelia Greenhouse. Enjoy a picnic on the lawn or grab lunch at the café. Tours of Coe House, the Tudor style residence of the Coe family are available and public events are held year round.
Garvies Point Museum and Preserve – Glen Cove
Tour the dioramas illustrating Long Island's geological history as well as Native American archaeology. An interactive exhibit in the back room encourages children to climb aboard an authentic dugout canoe, gather some fish, then pick some corn and other vegetables, place them on the realistic looking fire then head to the inside of the wigwam and enjoy their meal. After touring the museum, visitors can amble out back, enjoy a picnic, identify butterflies in the colorful garden then head down to the beach. A short but steep woodland path will take you down to the rocky shore of Long Island Sound. The museum hosts workshops and events all year long.
Originally posted 2013. Updated on 9/19/2017.