One feature that makes Long Island a wonderful place to raise a family is an abundance of parks and playgrounds. They are, of course, great places for little ones to get valuable exercise (and have fun), but are also ideal places for parents to chat while their kids play.
We’ve scouted the best playgrounds across the Island—in Nassau, Suffolk and on the East End—where you’ll find plenty of space for you and your little ones to enjoy. For more playground inspiration, check our guide to day trips to Long Island's top parks.
Cedar Creek Park — Seaford
If you live south of the Long Island Expressway, this could be the best playground for you. Voted most popular on Long Island for good reason, the playground has four play areas and is fenced off to contain wanderers. It features clubhouses, a sandbox with diggers, hang glider, and plenty of slides. If your kids are older, grab some roller skates and enjoy the outdoor rink or visit the nearby aerodrome for remote-controlled airplane viewing.
Christopher Morley Park — Roslyn
A Nassau County park, Christopher Morley features tennis courts, three pools, an ice rink and a big playground structure. The swimming pool requires an additional fee. Just outside of the pool complex is the playground area. Play sets are designed for different age groups and much of the play area is covered by trees, providing shade from the sun. Two swing sets are located in the play area, one for toddlers and another for older children. The surface area of park is made of tiles that provide cushion for falls. In the summer, a spray area is available, as well as a children’s swimming pool. Also on location is a cabin where namesake Christopher Morley did his writing. Tours are available. A small, seasonal farmer’s market sells produce on Wednesdays.
Eisenhower Park — East Meadow
On 930 acres in central Nassau, Eisenhower Park is the "Central Park" of Long Island. Its abundance of recreational activities and three playgrounds even includes a sprinkler pool for hot summer days. In 2016 the main playground of this county facility was renovated to include a climbing apparatus, slides, swings, and more. There are separate play areas for big kids and toddlers, iincluding child-size picnic tables, and an inclusive playground. The Let All the Children Play playground is a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to disabled children and is wheelchair accessible.The playgrounds are surrounded by athletic fields, full-court basketball, batting cages, a swim facility, a fitness trail with 20 stations, three 18-hole golf courses and even a mini-golf course. Reserved and non-reserved picnic areas are available. The park houses the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre, which hosts concerts, events, and movies all summer.
Magnolia Park — Long Beach
Surf, sand, a boardwalk, and an updated playground make Magnolia Park a popular destination. After superstorm Sandy damaged the park, the community came together to rebuild the playground and surrounding areas.The playground has a beach theme and features a large play structure in the shape of a ship with lookout areas on the bow and stern, and a spiral slide. Next to the play structure are spinners attached to the soft ground surface that are popular with kids. Also popular are the spring ride-ons, clubhouse, and spring seesaws. On the opposite end of the playground are swings, including one full support swing. The playground is fully fenced and there are three pergolas with seating to offer shade. Of course, the beach is right there, and the boardwalk makes for a fun-filled day trip. Take a few minutes to admire the artwork and murals that surround the park and that give it a community feel.
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park — Oyster Bay
With three playgrounds and three swing sets, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park, a Town of Oyster Bay facility, seems to offer something for everyone. On each playground, sets of ladders or stairs make for an easy climb onto the equipment. The park is fenced in, which makes for a safer play environment and gives kids more freedom to roam. There is also an entrance to the beach area within the park. History is all around the park: The Roosevelt Memorial Rocks describe many of the places and events that were part of President Teddy Roosevelt’s life. Along with the spacious play area, visitors should take advantage of the handball courts and paths designated for skaters and bikers.
Wantagh Park offers an abundance of slides and rides. Photo by hilarystone via Instagram.
Wantagh Park — Wantagh
With more than 111 acres of outdoor recreation, Wantagh Park might offer something for every member of the family. The park is huge—even the playgrounds and swing areas are sizeable. Wantagh Park has more than 18 swings, including toddler swings and standard swings, and the playgrounds are differentiated by age. There is also an abundance of slides. In the summer, cool off at the spray park after working up a sweat on the playgrounds.
Corey Beach Park offers a playground experience on the shore of Great South Bay.
Corey Creek Park — Blue Point
With a beachfront location, a giant sandbox, and a playground area with equipment featuring sea designs and shell-like architecture, this is an ideal spring and summer destination for families. Corey Creek Park at Corey Beach features other fun attractions, including a wire climb and a rock climbing wall. There are ladders and stairs on which children can climb. It also has a comfy cabin for visitors to enjoy the park and find shelter from the sun; there are additional sun-blocking screens with benches throughout the park.
Diamond in the Pines park is easily missed from the highway, but worth the detour. Photo by sdestefan0 via Instagram.
Diamond in the Pines — Coram
Located on Route 112 just north of Route 83, this park and playground can easily be missed, but both are worth a visit. Hidden behind the pine trees is a fairly new playground structure, basketball courts, softball and football fields, and covered picnic areas that can be rented. The playground is large and built on a safety surface. There are plenty of slides that anchor the ends of the play structure, and for bigger kids who love climbing there are climbing walls that vary by height. Incorporated into the structure are games and musical elements that kids can play. Restrooms are conveniently located next to the playground area and the large parking lot (free) is also close by.
Heckscher Park — Huntington
There are three playgrounds within Heckscher Park that include jungle gyms, slides, swing sets, and a sandbox. The soft surface playgrounds are enclosed by gated fences. Covered picnic tables are nearby and restrooms are a short distance away. There's also a paved trail that families can walk, checking out the park's wildlife before jumping on the swings.
Separate play structures at Heckscher State Park accommodate kids of all ages. Photo courtesy of New York State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.
Heckscher State Park — East Islip
Don't mistake this expansive state park for Heckscher Park in Huntington. Located along Great South Bay, this park features four playground areas for kids of all ages. Park at Field 6 for the playground closest to the water and picnic areas. There are separate play structures for little and big kids. Big kids will like the tall slides, climbing wall, and spiral ladder. Fields 1 and 4 have playgrounds on soft safety surfaces with plenty of slides, climbing apparatuses, and swings. Restrooms are an easy walk from the playgrounds, as are the picnic areas. The smallest playground is at Field 3 and is designated for parties renting the pavilion next to it.
Heritage Park — Mount Sinai
Heritage Park offers two separate playgrounds. There's a smaller playground for children up to age 5, with climbing apparatuses, and a larger one with a rock wall and plenty of slides. The play areas are on mulch chips and there are scattered benches and tables for parents. Nearby is a small picnic area and an ice cream and snack shop open on weekends during the season. Note: Two slides were under repair this spring, but the group expected to have them reopened soon. Organizers are also planning to "refresh" the playground surface.
While smaller than other parks, Heritage is one of only a handful of parks in its area to offer ball fields and a walking/jogging/bike trail around the park. Some parents complain about the lack of shade on the playground equipment, but many others find the benefits outweigh that issue. On the grounds, the Heritage Center offers classes and events, hosts festivals and movie nights, and is available to rent for private parties. Included in the community gardens and landscaping is a small waterfall.
The mountain climb area at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park sits on the shore of Long Island's largest lake. Photo by the author.
Lake Ronkonkoma County Park — Lake Ronkonkoma
Farther out east is Lake Ronkonkoma Park, which combines a great playground with a scenic shoreline setting. The playground includes a huge play structure for kids ages 5-12 and a smaller play structure for the 5-and-younger crowd. Most kids are drawn to the large play structure, with its multiple slides, mountains, monkey bars, and ladders. A separate fenced area with swings includes two swings for children with disabilities. Just outside of the playground, overlooking the lake, is a large picnic area with charcoal grills. The playground—and most other recreational activities—are handicapped-accessible.
Northport Village Park — Northport
Small in size but large in popularity, this park is located on the water in the middle of the quaint village of Northport. The playground sits on a field that is great for picnicking. A great meet-up spot, children here can be seen at all times in this fenced-in playground while parents can enjoy the beauty of the sandy park and a nice spring or summer breeze. A local ice cream shop is within a short walk, and the bakery across the road makes for a nice snack break.
Pirate-themed Phelps Lane Park offers an enhanced visitor experience. Photo courtesy of Town of Babylon Parks and Recreation.
Phelps Lane Park — North Babylon
Phelps Lane Park has undergone updates that have greatly improved the visitor experience. The new playground has a pirate-ship theme and the structure is approved for children with autism. Safety features include fencing, an open play space with clear sight lines, and soft surface cover. Swing sets are close by and accommodate both toddlers and bigger kids. The park also features two covered picnic areas, junior softball fields, tennis and basketball courts, football and soccer fields, and a swimming facility. Visitors even can access the park’s Wi-Fi if needed.
Red Creek Park — Hampton Bays
Red Creek Park has two playgrounds with two unique play sets. One of the play sets is designed for older kids and the other for smaller children. The five slides—designed for kids of different ages—are the real attraction. Most of the area offers shade, and restrooms are located near the play area. Red Creek also features a skate park, volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts, and two spacious playgrounds.
Top photo: Bright colors and entertaining slides highlight Heritage Park playground in Mount Sinai. Photo courtesy of Heritage Center.
This article was originally posted in April 2014 and was updated in April 2017.