They might be too young for the playground, but Long Island babies (and their caregivers) can still enjoy our great parks.
Of course, not all parks are created equal, especially when it comes to taking your baby out for fresh air. Some parks are aesthetically beautiful, but the trails are rocky and covered in sand, making pushing a stroller nearly impossible. Others are smoothly paved, but have nothing for you and your little one to look at. From Nassau to Suffolk, here are our picks for Long Island walks with the best terrain and intriguing scenery—perfect for a day out with baby.
Check out these FREE attractions across Long Island for even more fun activities to do with your baby, or find more ways to meet new parents who, like yourself, might be eager to socialize.
If you are looking to cool off after your walk, why not visit a nearby spray park?
Christopher Morley Park — Roslyn
Christopher Morley Park is home to a pool, ice rink (in winter), picnic area, playground, dog run, and of course, a paved walking trail. The paved trail is about a mile long, surrounded by trees and some drool-worthy houses. The path is peaceful and wide enough to fit two strollers. The trail is FREE, but if you're feeling a bit sweaty after your walk the pool charges $5 for a Nassau County child; $7 for a resident adult with a county-issued Leisure Pass, and $11/$16 for nonresidents.
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Follow the trail at Eisenhower Park to a playground perfect for cruisers and crawlers.
Eisenhower Park — East Meadow
While it might be less scenic than other parks, Eisenhower makes up for it with an excellent playground space for crawlers. The paved trail itself is just over two miles, meandering through different parts of the park. It's best to park at Field 2, near the playground, to start the trail at the beginning. The trail has some fun sights to take in, including a mini-golf station, track, and small lake. It's also perfect for people-watching. The playground, however, is the highlight of this walk. It has a section made just for crawling babies, with small tunnels and structures with interactive play pieces that are easy to grab for a sitting or standing baby. The park is FREE for Nassau County residents. There is a $10 parking fee for nonresidents on weekends, but parking is FREE on weekdays.
Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve — Merrick
Levy Preserve is truly one of Nassau County's hidden gems. Surrounded by lush greenery and waterways, it's easy to forget you're just south of Merrick Road. There is a main circular trail, which leads to a pier overlooking Merrick Bay. For those stroller-wielders looking for a real workout, there is a winding, uphill path leading to the top of the former landfill, where there is a small pond, windmill, and on a clear day a fantastic view of the New York City skyline. One of the best parts of the walk is right when you arrive: a barn full of goats. While you can't feed them, you and baby certainly can admire them up close. Come on a day when the goats are wandering the preserve, mowing the grass. Just beware, they can start a traffic jam on the path. Admission to Levy Park & Preserve is FREE.
Valley Stream State Park — Valley Stream
Situated just south of the Southern State Parkway, Valley Stream State Park is a great walk for those in western Nassau. The park features picnic areas, a playground, and a paved trail. The trail is lined with trees and shrubs and follows a small stream leading to Valley Stream Pond. The pond is an excellent place to spot waterfowl. Just make sure baby doesn't get too close: Those geese can get feisty. Admission is FREE for vehicles with an Empire Passport, otherwise there is an $8 parking fee.
Wantagh Park — Wantagh
Wantagh Park is an ideal walk for those who love the smell of the ocean. The paved path starts off at the bottom of the park, passing the playground and dog run before reaching the waterfront. A popular fishing spot, there are plenty of sights for you and baby to take in, including a clear view of Jones Beach from the pier. On your stroll you likely will spot fisherman, seagulls, boats, and even crabs. On the way back to your car, you might see a ballgame or two. Be sure to park by the playground to get the most out of your approximately two-mile walk. Wantagh Park is FREE for Nassau County residents. There is a $10 parking fee for nonresidents.
Argyle Park — Babylon
Argyle Park is a circular pathway just off Montauk Highway in Babylon. The walk surrounds picturesque Argyle Lake, where waterfowl such as geese and swans take up residence. Argyle is also dog friendly, so be prepared to see plenty of pooches. While it is short, at about a half-mile, it is a circle, so it's perfect for doing laps. While there is a small playground, there is no bathroom. However, there are plenty of restaurants and shops lining the street where you can stop in for a quick diaper change or maybe even lunch. Argyle Park is FREE.
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Lush greenery surrounds parts of the trail at Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River.
Bayard Cutting Arboretum — Great River
An especially lovely walk in the springtime, Bayard Cutting is a state park with impeccably manicured grounds nestled along the Connetquot River. The park is a wonderful mix of garden estate and pinetum. Stay along the main trail for the easiest walk with baby. Keep an eye out up above for ospreys and their nests. The estate mansion also offers guided tours on certain days for an additional fee. Admission is FREE for those with an Empire Pass, $8 per vehicle for those without one. Bayard Cutting is closed on Mondays.
Belmont Lake State Park — North Babylon
Belmont is full of large trees, shading most of the paths throughout the park. There are a few trail options. You can stick to circling around the lake, where you can find swans, frogs, rowboats, and fishermen. You can also travel through the wooded path, which is wide and smooth enough for a stroller. Belmont is dog friendly, so you can bring Fido along with baby. As with any wooded area, stay on the path and check for ticks before you leave. As a state park, Belmont is FREE for Empire Pass holders, otherwise, parking is $8 per vehicle.
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An old water mill sits near the walking trail at Frank Melville Memorial Park in Setauket.
Frank Melville Memorial Park — Setauket
This is such a peaceful walk you will forget you're on Long Island. Like Argyle, this is a small circular walk surrounding a pond. It is lined with historic houses and an old water mill. Three times around the main pond is 1.2 miles, but you can enter the unpaved path covered in wood chips and then the preserve. There you will find another small pond and a garden. The path can get bumpy, but overall it's a relatively smooth walk. There is no bathroom on site. Leashed dogs are welcome, so you and baby might see a pup or two. Frank Melville Memorial Park is FREE.
Enjoy a stroll at Brookhaven Town's Ecology Site; it's a great way to introduce baby to new animals. Photo courtesy of the site.
Town of Brookhaven Ecology Site and Animal Preserve — Holtsville
A hidden gem in Suffolk County, this Holtsville site is home to a one-mile walking trail, playground, pool (extra fee applies), and the wildlife and ecology center. The trail is completely paved, and while there isn't anything too exciting to look at the real star is its small zoo. The zoo features goats, which baby can pet and feed, as well as llamas, foxes, birds of prey, and even a black bear. It's an intimate way to introduce baby to new animals. There is also a small greenhouse in the main building, which houses the bathrooms. Another highlight is a series of newly installed fitness stations, including a small, covered, outdoor gym. Holtsville Park is FREE for those with a Town of Brookhaven resident pass. Nonresidents pay a $5 parking fee, which includes access to the trail, playground, and zoo.
Photos are by the author except where noted.