Park and Chill This Spring

So long, winter. The time has come to ditch the couch and Netflix (and perhaps fake news?) and move life outside. Long Island parks offer the perfect setting for afternoon walks on a sunny day, picnics and a rare opportunity to stop and smell the roses.

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Belmont Lake State Park, North Babylon

image: glen f. via yelp

image: glen f. via yelp

Once home to August Belmont’s (yes, as in the Belmont Stakes) Nursery Stud Farm, this park has bucolic multi-use trails perfect for walking with your two-legged and four-legged best friends. Lakeside picnics are an intimate alternative to a dinner at a waterfront restaurant, and paddle boating is a more fun alternative to the treadmill. Go 

Planting Fields Arboretum, Oyster Bay

image: anthony g via yelp

image: anthony g. via yelp

Planting Fields Arboretum boasts natural and Gatsby-style charm. The 400-acre state park is home to Coe Hall Historic House Museum, which was home to insurance and railroad executive William Robertson Coe towards the end of America’s Gilded Age. Visitors can explore the Tudor revival mansion, which contains furnishings that once belonged to the Coe family, and then walk through the rolling lawns, formal gardens and hiking trails. Go 

Heckscher State Park, East Islip

image: sandy m. via yelp

image: sandy m. via yelp

This 1,657-acre park is situated on the shore of the Great South Bay, making it the place to go for wow-worthy views of the calm waters. Those who prefer to touch rather than simply look can sail board, kayak, canoe and swim. Animal lovers can expect to spot white-tailed deer and nearly 300 species of birds. Large open fields are perfect for a friendly game of soccer or lacrosse, and multi-use trails are popular amongst bikers and runners. Go 

Robert Moses State Park, Babylon

image: bridget shirvell

image: bridget shirvell

The City crowd tends to flock to Jones Beach, but Robert Moses has always been a favorite for Islanders—particularly those East of the Suffolk-Nassau line. Unlike rocky North Shore beaches and grass-filled state and county parks, Robert Moses gives visitors the opportunity to stick their toes in the sand. Views of the Robert Moses Bridge and Fire Island Lighthouse don’t hurt its case, either. Go 

Sunken Meadow State Park, Kings Park

image: by dougtone - http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/5852052441/, cc by-sa 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18326123

image: by dougtone – http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/5852052441/, cc by-sa 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18326123

Sunken Meadow begins where Heckscher ends. The boardwalk is made for strolling, biking and simply sitting and taking in gorgeous views of the Long Island Sound. Those who never back down from a challenge can take on Cardiac Hill, a five-kilometer course hailed as one of the nation’s most difficult cross country courses. Go

Bethpage State Park, Bethpage

image: yvonne albinowski

image: yvonne albinowski

Home to a world-class golf course that has twice hosted the U.S. Open, Bethpage State Park boasts tennis courts and picnic and recreational areas. It’s also the site of Long Island Pulse’s annual picnic and polo event, which takes place every September. Go

Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park, Great River

image: By pshutterbug - https://www.flickr.com/photos/pshan427/281751094, cc by 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44300076

image: By pshutterbug – https://www.flickr.com/photos/pshan427/281751094, cc by 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44300076

Westbrook, an English country style home, serves as the centerpiece for this state park that doubles as one of the South Shore’s last remaining estates. The home and arboretum once belonged to William Bayard Cutting. Guests can walk by ponds, grab lunch at the cafe overlooking the Connetquot River and explore an extensive plant collection that includes hollies, wildflowers and azaleas. Go 

beth ann clyde

beth ann clyde

Beth Ann Clyde is a social strategist of Long Island Pulse. Have a story idea or just want to say hello? Email bethann@lipulse.com or reach out on Twitter @BAClyde.