Nature Walks for Kids and Families on Long Island

Nature Walks for Kids and Families on Long Island

(Photo courtesy of South Fork Natural History Museum)

One of the best ways for families to romp through the beautiful parks, preserves and beaches of Long Island is under the expertise of a naturalist, park ranger, or educator on a guided nature walk. Nature walks are a great way to get kids to strengthen their muscles and their knowledge of the natural world that surrounds them.  We’ve rounded up nature walks at some of our favorite spots that are currently (or will soon be) accepting reservations for guided walks scheduled over the next several weeks.

Before heading out on a nature walk, be sure to dress the kids appropriately. Water shoes for the kids are ideal for beach walks, and sneakers are appropriate for walks through parks and preserves. Fill a backpack with plenty of water to drink, sunscreen, insect repellent, a few Band-Aids, and antiseptic.  Evening walks on the beach will require a flashlight and will likely be cold and wet, so dress the kids in layers and bring a towel and a change of clothes for a comfortable drive home.

Saturday, April 21

"Let's Move Outside" 3 Mile Walk
Fire Island National Seashore
120 Laurel St, Patchogue
11:30am3:30pm
Ages 10 and up
Free
April 21st is Junior Park Ranger Day, a fun-filled day celebrated at state parks throughout the country during National Park Week. Rangers at the Fire Island Lighthouse will take children who have registered in advance on an exploration of the the special natural and cultural features of the park. These activities provide great exercise for the kids and provide a fun way to learn all about the park. For a fee, children who are at least 42" tall may participate in a tour of the lighthouse. Food and drinks will not be available, so pack lunches and plenty to drink! Call 631-281-3010 for reservations for the three-mile walk.

Sunday, April 22 

Swing into Spring
Betty Allen Nature Park
Route 25a and Stony Hollow Road, Centerport
11am12pm or 12pm
Ages 35
Children $12
Join the team from Cornell Cooperative Extension for a celebration of spring and  take a leisurely walk through Betty Allen Twin Ponds Park in Centerport. $12 per child includes admission for one adult. Ages 3-5.  Strollers are not permitted for this walk. Call 631-239-1800 to register.

Family Adventures: Friends of Connetquot Earth Day Family Walk
Connetquot River State Park Preserve
Oakdale
11am12:30pm
All ages
Parking $8
This beginner fitness walk through Connetquot River State Park Preserve will be led by
Shihan Mike Iannone, a seventh-degree black belt and owner of Dragon Gate Martial Arts Academy in Oakdale. Shihan Mike will share his physical fitness expertise with families as he leads a two-mile, beginner-level, cardio walk through beautiful Connetquot River State Park Preserve. Strollers are welcome for this walk. After the walk, families can travel back in time and see the land as the early colonists did, observe wildlife, take photographs, learn about the environment and the history of the property. In addition, there is a self-guided audio tour of the preserve available through the use of a cell phone, which will guide families through the area. Call 631-667-6710 for reservations.

Family Adventures: Baywalk
Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center
Jones Beach
1:303pm
All ages
$4 per person
Pack the kids’ water shoes to explore  the bay at Jones Beach to discover all the different kinds of animals that call the bay their home. Call 516-780-3295 for reservations.

Friday, May 4

Evening Horseshoe Crab Walk
Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center
Jones Beach
6:308pm
All ages
$4, children under 3 free
As the sun sets on Jones Beach, families can search for  horseshoe crabs on the beach. Observe these unique creatures as they come ashore to lay their eggs in the sand. Water shoes and flashlights recommended! Call 516-780-3295 beginning April 20th for reservations.

Full Moon Hike
West Meadow Beach
West Meadow Rd, Stony Brook
8–9:30pm
All ages
Town of Brookhaven residents free, nonresidents $1
Families will enjoy a rare opportunity for an evening hike down Trustees Road at night. Participants will learn about nocturnal animals that live at West Meadow Beach by searching for clues and solving riddles. If the skies are clear there will be a discussion about moon lore and children will use a spotting scope to examine the moon's mares and craters. Meet at the covered pavilion next to playground. Call 631-751-7863 for reservations. Program will not be conducted in inclement weather.

Saturday, May 5

Nature Walks at Peconic Family Fun Day Adventures
South Fork Natural History Museum
377 Bridgehampton–Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton
10:30am and 11:30am
Ages 5–10
Free
On May 5th, the Nature Walks at South Fork Natural History Museum are part of Peconic Family Fun Day taking place across the street at the Children’s Museum of the East End. Join in on easy-paced nature walks along the museum's field trails to explore all of the spring treasures the month of May brings, including blossoms, birds, butterflies, turtles, frogs, and a variety of plant and animal life. CMEE event runs from 10am to 12pm and features educational games, fish print craft, arts & crafts stations, a seed-planting station, and more. Children will have fun while learning about local bays, agriculture, sustainability and environmental stewardship. Free admission to CMEE is also included during the event. Standard admission fees of $7 per adult and $5 for children ages 3–12 will apply to gain access into South Fork Natural History Museum after walk. For more information call 631-765-6450 ext 206.

Family Horseshoe Crab Walk
West Meadow Beach
West Meadow Rd, Stony Brook
6:30–8pm
All ages
Town of Brookhaven residents free, nonresidents $1
Visit beautiful West Meadow Beach to learn all about the fascinating horseshoe crab that nest at West Meadow Beach each spring, Meet at the covered pavilion next to playground. Call 631-751-7863 for reservations. Program will not be conducted in inclement weather.

Sunday, May 6

Horseshoe Crab Walk
Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center
Jones Beach
1:30–3:00pm
All ages
$4, children under 3 free
Join the folks at Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center for an exploration into the lives of the fascinating horseshoe crab. Water shoes recommended. Call 516-780-3295 for reservations beginning April 22nd.

Wonderful Wetlands Walk
Sweetbriar Nature Center
62 Eckernkamp Dr., Smithtown
1–3pm
All ages
Members and scouts $5, nonmembers $6
Come meet some of the geese, ducks, turtles, and frogs who are all returning home from their winter trips or waking up from their long winter naps. Take a walk along the Nissequogue River to learn about this special natural place and the creatures that call it their home. Call 631-439-0812 for more information.

Saturday, May 12

International Migratory Bird Day: Bird Walk
West Meadow Beach
West Meadow Rd., Stony Brook
10am–2pm
Ages 512
Town of Brookhaven residents free, nonresidents $1
West Meadow Beach is a stopover destination for many species of migratory birds. Come learn about the journeys of our fine-feathered friends during this fun-filled, educational, family event. A family bird walk, crafts and games await! Call 631-751-7863 for reservations. Program will not be conducted in inclement weather.

Saturday, May 19

Become a Junior Beach Ranger!
West Meadow Beach
West Meadow Rd., Stony Brook
10am or 1pm
Ages 9–12
Town of Brookhaven residents free, nonresidents $1
The Junior Park Ranger Program meets monthly all year long so participants can discover West Meadow Beach in all seasons. Junior Rangers will hike, explore, solve nature mysteries, identify the plants and animals of West Meadow’s varied habitats, and assist with species monitoring programs. Rangers earn a patch at the completion of each season. Meet at the covered pavilion next to the playground. Call 631-751-7863 for reservations. Program will not be conducted in inclement weather.

Sunday, May 20

Family Adventures: Spring Nature Quest
Caleb Smith State Park Preserve (North Side)
581 West Jericho Turnpike, Smithtown
1:30–3pm
All ages
Adults $4, children $3, children under 3 free
The folks at Caleb Smith State Park have plotted a new scavenger hunt course families to follow, unguided, at their own pace.  Families will be supplied with a clear, detailed map of the course, a “seeker’s” list, clipboard and pencil and will have about an hour and a half  to hunt for the fascinating and humorous objects on the list.  At the end of the program,  check in to get hints on where to find anything you may have missed! Call 631-265 -1054 for reservations beginning May 6th.

Salt Marsh Exploration: For Adults and Children
South Fork Natural History Museum
377 Bridgehampton–Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton
1pm
Ages 5 and up
Adults $7, children ages 3–12 $5, ages 2 and under free
Explore the sublime beauty of local salt marshes with museum's naturalist. A short hike will take kids past fields, through a forest, and into a tidal marsh. Children will learn why the marsh is so important to the waters that surround it and they will learn what animals depend on it. Fee for walk covers admission to museum for the day. Call 631-537-9735 for reservations.