One of the perks of living on Long Island is the abundance of parks and playgrounds for the entire family to enjoy. Many go beyond swings and slides to offer everything from spray areas so kids can cool off during the hot summer months to picnic areas where everyone can grab a bite and relax. Here are 10 of my family’s favorite locations around LI.
Merrick and Stewart avenues, East Meadow
Eisenhower Park is 930 acres of beautiful space in Nassau County—it’s actually bigger than Central Park! There are three playground areas: the largest (which includes a sprinkler pool) is located on the Hempstead Turnpike side of the park near Parking Field No. 2; a second is on the Merrick Road side by Parking Field No. 1A, and a third is by the Park Boulevard side toward Hempstead Turnpike, near Parking Field No. 4. The main playground by Hempstead Turnpike has been completely renovated and offers climbing apparatuses, slides, swings, fitness equipment, and more. Families can also reserve picnic areas, take swimming lessons in an Olympic-sized pool, enjoy an 18-hole round of mini golf, and enjoy live music and outdoor movies at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre.
Cedar Creek Park
Merrick Road east of Wantagh Avenue, Seaford
Cedar Creek was voted “Best Playground in Long Island" by the Long Island Press for good reason. This park has multiple playgrounds for both younger and older kids. Even better: The main playground is fenced in, so parents don’t have to worry about their little ones wandering off. The playground has rings, zigzagging monkey bars, hang glider, and a seesaw. There’s also a roller rink and a six-mile path connecting Cedar Creek to Jones Beach.
Nickerson Beach Park
80 Lido Boulevard, Lido Beach
What’s better than a playground right next to the beach? Situated on 155 acres, Nickerson Beach is home to a campground, fun zone, ball fields, beach volleyball courts, cabanas, and lockers. The Fun Zone includes a playground with a climber, spiral slide, and puzzles, as well as a skate park and basketball courts. There’s also the Pitch and Putt, which is nine holes of mini golf. Visitors can swim in one of the two swimming pools, along with small kiddie pools, for an additional fee. There are unreserved and reserved (for a fee) picnic areas that include barbecue equipment.
Prime Avenue and Route 25A, Huntington
Considered by many to be the “Central Park” of Huntington, Hecksher Park is located on 18 acres of parkland, where there are three playgrounds featuring jungle gyms, slides, swing sets, and a sandbox. The soft-surface playgrounds are enclosed by gated fences. There are also shaded picnic tables nearby and a 1/3-mile jogging path loop. The Heckscher Museum of Art has great art education programs for kids of all ages, so feel free to stop in before or after the playground visit.
Diamond in the Pines
Route 112, Coram, NY
This park’s freestanding climbing walls can accommodate small and big climbers, and the whole set has different stations with built-in games and other activities, such as music boards, steering wheels, and tic-tac-toe. The play surface is a soft composite, and among the coolest features are the red stepping blocks raised from the blue ground that allow kids to pretend to cross water by jumping from block to block. There are also ample slides for all age groups.
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park
West End Ave, Oyster Bay
Kids can play and learn a bit about history at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park. There are three playgrounds, each with soft flooring. The park is also home to three swing sets. And it’s all fenced in, so parents can relax a bit while the kids play. History is all around the park, too, as The Roosevelt Memorial Rocks describe many of the places and monumental events that were part of Teddy Roosevelt’s life.
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Northport Village Park
Main Street, Northport
You simply cannot beat the view at Northport Village Park, located on the water in the heart of Northport. The play structure has been recently renovated and is fenced in. In addition, there is a field for picnicking on a blanket, along with benches and tables. There are also chess tables and a band shell, which occasionally hosts live music and special events.
Searingtown Road, Roslyn
There are more than 10 play areas inside Christopher Morley, with each designed for different age groups. Two swing sets are located in the play area—one for little kids and one for older children—and most of the playground is covered in soft tiles. In summertime, a spray area is available. At the basin, visitors can race model boats. For an added bonus, there is a small farmer’s market that sells produce and other treats on Wednesdays.
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1 King Road, Wantagh
Wantagh Park truly has it all: a playground equipped with swings, slides, a maze, and a two-mile jogging course, family picnic area, and a sheltered picnic area (private permit needed). During those hot summer months, kids can cool off from all that running and climbing at the interactive pool for kids 5-12 and the slide pool.
Amagansett Youth Park
216 Abraham's Path, East Hampton
In addition to a super cool playground, Amagansett Youth Park features a clubhouse with an indoor play area for young children, along with toddler arts activities and youth chess. The park also has tennis and basketball courts, a track, a skateboarding rink, and a roller skating rink.
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Main photo: Tina Burke Photography