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by Colleen Shaffer; Additional Reporting by Ashley Mackin

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Summer fun in the parks, Rockland, Westchester, Fairfield

By land (hayride, anyone?) or by sea (canoeing time!), local parks provide an array of family options this season.

family picnicking in a park; family picnic; summerkayak on the water; two kayaks; lake; summer

   As the days get warmer and longer, our parks are gearing up for an entire season of family friendly events and outdoor activities. Whether you want to enjoy an afternoon of miniature golf, attend a concert under the stars, or simply have an old-fashioned picnic or some s'mores, the area's green spaces have plenty to offer. If you prefer to cool off around the water, choices include fishing, boating (from pedal boats and rowboats to canoes and speedboats), scuba diving...even just chilling out by a misting waterfall. Here's what's happening at select parks around Rockland and Westchester Counties, NY, and Fairfield County, CT.



children on a playground; jungle gym


Rockland County, NY


Bear Mountain Park

845-786-2731; www.nysparks.state.ny.us/parks

Bear Mountain Park has it all when it comes to summer family fun. There's a large play field, shaded picnic groves, a dock on the Hudson for mooring small craft, lake and river fishing access, an outdoor swimming pool, a zoo, trailside museum, hiking, biking and a merry-go-round. The Perkins Memorial Tower at the top of Bear Mountain offers spectacular views. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day. Zoo and Trailside Museums: $1 donation. Pool: $2, $1 child. Pool opens June 19: weekends and holidays 10am-6:30pm, weekdays 10am-5:30pm. Parking $8. On Saturday, June 19th the park hosts the Summer Solstice Celebration from 11am-3pm.


High Tor State Park

415 South Mountain Road, New City
845-634-8074; www.nysparks.state.ny.us/parks

High Tor State Park features picnic areas, swimming and hiking, and magnificent views of the Hudson River. The Long Path passes through the park just before the trail heads inland to the Catskills. The pool is open in late June. Call for hours and fees.


Memorial Park


845-358-4973; www.nyack.org

Enjoy musical performances held along the Hudson River during the Mostly Music Concert series. Tuesdays, July 29-August 17. 7:30pm. FREE.  



Rockland Lake State Park

Hook Mountain, off Route 9W
845-268-3020; www.nysparks.state.ny.us/parks 

Take advantage of two Olympic-sized swimming pools and two kiddie pools, picnic tables and grills, a cartop boat launch, and boat rentals. There are also hiking trails, the Nature Center, tennis courts, golf courses, and Rockland Lake fishing. Swimming from late May to Labor Day. Boating from April through November. The Nature Center is open from late June to August 22.


Tallman Mountain State Park

Route 9W, Orangetown
845-359-0544; www.nysparks.state.ny.us/parks 

Operating as a day use area, Tallman Mountain State Park has a marsh that is part of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, as well as a swimming pool with showers, running track, tennis courts, playfield, hiking, picnic areas, and a walking trail. Call for hours and fees.



Westchester County, NY


Bronx River Parkway
Bicycle Sundays

White Plains to Yonkers
914-995-4050; www.westchestergov.com/parks

For the 36th year in a row, the Bronx River Parkway will be closed to cars from the County Center south to Scarsdale Road in Yonkers, a round-trip of 13.1 miles, for Bicycle Sundays. Joggers, walkers, strollers, skaters, bikes and scooters are welcome to join the auto-free fun. Visitors can choose from many points of entry and exit along the parkway. Sundays,10am-2pm; June 6, 13, 20, 27 and September 12, 19, 26. FREE. Parking available at the County Center for $4. County Center: 198 Central Avenue, White Plains.


Katonah Memorial Park

98 North Street, Bedford
914-232-8017; www.katonahny.com

S'mores making kits will be available for sale at the park's retro S'mores Night. All proceeds benefit the refurbishment of the Katonah Shelter. Thursday 6:30pm-8pm, June 24.


Manor Park


914-834-4309; www.villageoflarchmont.org

For generations, kids have loved climbing the rocks overlooking the Long Island Sound at this picturesque park. Walking paths, scenic views, sailboats, marine life, flowers and trees have made Manor Park the subject of countless paintings, sketches and photographs. Although privately owned, the 13-acre parcel of land is open to the public from dawn to dusk.


Muscoot Farm

51 Route 100, Katonah
914-864-7286; www.muscootfarm.org

Hop on a tractor-pulled hay wagon, ride beyond the farm complex to hay fields and the pond, and get a different perspective of the farm. Sundays through October. No reservations required. $2 per person. Hayrides will not go out in wet or misting weather.


Playland Park

Playland Parkway, Rye
914-813-7010; www.ryeplayland.org

Playland will offer FREE musical concerts featuring Milt Gerver's Big Band Orchestra on select Fridays throughout the summer from 7pm-10:30pm. The park will also put on FREE fireworks displays July 2, 4 and 5, and every Wednesday and Friday night, July through September 3. Fireworks begin at 9:15pm. Parking Tuesday-Friday $5, weekends $7, holidays $10.


Rainbeau Ridge

49 David's Way, Bedford Hills
914-234-2197; www.rainbeauridge.com

On Wednesday mornings, kids entering grades K-3 can interact with animals, do art and cooking projects, and work in their own garden. On Thursday mornings, 3- and 4-year-olds mingle with farm animals and participate in themed activities that incorporate stories into the nature program. Both eight-week programs begin the week of June 29. Call for fees and information.


Trailside Nature Museum

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Routes 35 and 121 South, Cross River

914-864-7319; www.trailsidemuseum.org

Learn about the hundreds of butterflies at the reservation during the Butterflies for Beginners program, which also includes an outdoor walk. Saturday 1pm, June 5. $2 donation suggested. Or explore the local streams with dip-netting during the Stream Study for Children. Water shoes recommended. Saturday 1pm, June 12. $2 donation suggested.



Fairfield County, CT


Redding Park and Recreation


203-938-2551; www.townofreddingct.org

Concerts on the Green will feature jazz, folk, and rock and roll. Bring the family, blankets, and a picnic dinner. Sundays 6pm-8pm, June 13-August 29. FREE. 


Brookfield Park

100 Pocono Road, Brookfield
203-775-7310; www.brookfield.org

Enjoy music from rock to folk with Concerts in the Park at the bandstand. Bring a chair or blanket and picnic in the park. Fridays 6:30pm-8pm, June 25-August 27. FREE. As summer winds down, don't forget about Summerfest: water balloon and egg tosses, sand castle building competition, ice cream and watermelon eating contest. Friday 12pm-4pm, July 30. FREE, but you need to show your beach pass or pay the daily guest fee to enter the park for the day. Town Park Beach, Candlewood Lake Road, Brookfield.


Dickenson Park 

Town Hall South, 3 Main Street, Newtown

203-270-4340; www.newtown-ct.gov

Bring a picnic and blanket and relax with family and friends at the park's Summer Concerts. Thursday, July 8, The Big Beat; Thursday, July 22, Shaun Taylor: Wandering Roots; Thursday, July 29, Marybeth Sippin and the Goldrush Band; Thursday, August 12, John Voket and Brendan Walsh; Thursday, August 19, Erika Vaughn Midnight Rodeo; Thursday, August 26, Newtown All-Stars Arrangement by John Voket. 6:30pm-8:30pm. FREE.





young boys sitting on a dock; children; bayRockland County, NY

Nyack Beach State Park

689 North Broadway, Upper Nyack

845-268-3020; www.nyparks.state.ny.us

Running along the river shore, this park is a water lover's haven in the summer. Families can picnic on the beach and try their luck fishing.


Rockland Lake State Park


845-268-3020; www.nyparks.state.ny.us

At this large green space, families can rent a boat for some leisurely paddling on the lake.



Westchester County, NY


Beczak Environmental Education Center

35 Alexander Street, Yonkers

914-377-1900; www.beczak.org

The center sits on the banks of the Hudson River and hosts exhibits and programs that aim to encourage responsible stewardship of the river. Their summer schedule features a variety of activities.


Croton Point Park

Croton on Hudson

941-862-5290; www.parks.westchestergov.com

Boaters with sailboards, canoes, or cartop carried boats can access the Hudson River from 8am to dusk daily through October. The park is also the home of Hudson River Recreation, which offers kayaking tours for beginning and skilled paddlers. The tours launch every Saturday and Sunday from 9am-noon and 1pm-4pm. $89 per person. Call for reservations:


George's Island


914-737-7530; www.parks.westchestergov.com

The ramps at this park provide access to the Hudson River for boats up to 21 feet long. Open through October, from 8am-dusk daily.


Glen Island Park

New Rochelle

914-813-6720; www.parks.westchestergov.com

The park provides ramps for boats up to 21 feet long to access Long Island Sound. Daily 8am-dusk, through October. $4 for Park Pass holders.


Harbor Island Park

Boston Post Road and Mamaroneck Avenue, Mamaroneck


The 44-acre park boasts a 700-foot long beach on the Long Island Sound. Fishing is available with a permit. Boat rentals are available at the top of the harbor; call 914-381-1924 for information.


Mountain Lakes Park

North Salem

914-864-7317; www.westchestergov.com/parks

This is one of dozens of parks available to families living in northern Westchester, offering many waterside activities including fishing (with license) and canoeing.


Playland Park

Playland Parkway, Rye

914-813-7010; www.ryeplayland.org

The park offers pedal boat rentals and lake cruises on the Long Island Sound, plus self-launching access to the Sound with top-carried boats and kayaks daily through September. Boat rentals open until dusk. $5 deposit, $9 per hour for two-person boat, $11 per hour for four-person boat. The lake cruises last approximately 10-15 minutes and cost $4.


Rockefeller State Park Preserve


914-631-1470; www.nysparks.state.ny.us/parks 

Freshwater fishing is available along the Pocantico River with a Preserve fishing permit from the park office and a NYS fishing license.


Wampus Pond

Route 128, Armonk

914-273-3230; www.westchestergov.com/parks

Wampus Pond provides rowboats on weekends and holidays from 8am-5pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Privately owned boats are not allowed.


Ward Pound Ridge

Routes 35 and 121 South, Cross River

914-864-7317; www.westchestergov.com/parks

This is one of dozens of parks available to families living in northern Westchester, offering many waterside activities including fishing (with license) and canoeing.



Fairfield County, CT


Candlewood Lake

New Milford, New Fairfield, Sherman and Brookfield

860-354-6928; www.candlewoodlake.org

This lake located just north of Danbury spans four neighboring

cities and fishing, boating, and diving is available. Fishing and boating licenses required. 


Captain's Cove Seaport

Exit 26 off I-95, Bridgeport

203-335-1433; www.captainscoveseaport.com

Situated in historic Black Rock Harbor, the seaport is home to charter fishing boats, dive boats, and harbor cruises. The boardwalk offers craft shops, restaurants, Sunday afternoon band concerts, and special events.


Indian Well

Exit 14 off Route 8, Shelton

203-735-4311; www.ct.gov

The scenic waterfalls and splash pool give this park its name. Visitors can fish along the Housatonic River. Residents: weekdays $10, weekends/holidays $14. Nonresidents: weekdays $14, weekends/holidays $20. $8 after 4pm.


Lake Mohegan

Tahmore Road, off the Merritt Parkway at Exit 15, Northeast Fairfield

203-256-3010; www.ct.gov

This destination offers wonderful fishing. Admission charge from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Residents: weekdays $8 adult, $4 children; weekends/holidays $10 adult, $6 children. Nonresidents: weekdays $15 adult, $8 children; weekends/holidays $18 adult, $12 children. Children under 3 years FREE. Parking is free.


Sherwood Island State Park

Exit 18 off I-95, Westport

202-226-6983; www.ct.gov

On the shores of Long Island Sound, this destination includes 234 acres of beach, wetlands, and woodlands. Visitors can participate in surf and shore fishing. Residents: weekdays $14, weekends/holidays $20. Nonresidents: weekdays $20, weekends/holidays $30. $10 after 4pm. 


Squantz Pond

New Fairfield

203-797-4165; www.ct.gov

This quaint locale offers year-round recreation with its steep, wooded slopes, and cool blue pond, and great opportunities for boating, fishing, and scuba diving.


For info on how to obtain permits and licenses in New York state, visit www.dec.ny.gov.


Find more parks and water fun in the New York metro area:

New York City: Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens

Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Long Island

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Nassau cont.


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