Children across Long Island will be wrapping up the school year this week, and many will have half days and days off. Make the most out of their time off and kick-start your summer with an outing to one of the Island’s best child-friendly beaches. These are the beaches that have something to keep everyone occupied, including playgrounds and picnic areas. They are also convenient, and some offer changing facilities or are close to restaurants or beach huts to grab food when the kids get hungry. Be sure to check out our checklist for packing your beach bag before you go, and don’t forget that sunscreen! Here is a sampling of some of the best beaches in Nassau County and Suffolk County for kids:
Hither Hills State Park
Hither Hills State Park in Montauk has a beach, picnic areas with barbecues, and a beachside campground for families to enjoy for an afternoon trip after school lets out. Hither Hills will also be hosting its 2014 Sand Castle Contest on Thursday, June 26 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., but if your kids are still in school, you can partake in this contest any Thursday until August 28. There are prizes in several categories, so you never know if you might win that week. Your little athletic ones can also enjoy a game of catch on the softball field, or a bit of volleyball on the beach’s volleyball courts. In case you run out of sunscreen or forget the snacks, there is a general store on premises with food, toys, and beach essentials.
Sunken Meadow State Park
After school, take the kids to Sunken Meadow’s 3/4 mile-long boardwalk, where they can run, bike, and rollerblade while looking at the calm waves of the Long Island Sound. Sunken Meadow, located in Kings Park, is an ideal location for a family picnic on a half day, and is in fact one of the largest picnic parks on the island. The beach also has a playground and fishing for some run-around or one-to-one time.
If your kids are off of school one day this week, get them up early and pack the fishing rods and bait to teach the kids how to fish off of the nearby fishing pier at this Mount Sinai beach, or let the kids loose on the playground located right on the beach. If the sun becomes too much for the little ones, take them on a stroll down the paved walkway through the woods to the nature center, which is free for visitors and offers touch tanks and other hands-on exhibits.
This week, families can get a head start on swimming and sunbathing at Jones Beach before the summer rush fully sets in. At Jones Beach, families can park at Field 6, which has the shortest walk from a parking field to the water. Parents can pack kites to fly, or just bring the kids to the playground, which is lighted so they can play into the evening. Field 6 fills up quickly on the weekends, so be sure to arrive early to get a parking spot. For families with small children, head to Zach’s Bay for calmer waters that are still watched over by lifeguards.
Nickerson Beach Park
Are your kids not necessarily “beach people,” but they like to go out and enjoy the sun? Nickerson Beach in Lido Beach is one of the largest beaches for families to enjoy, with 155 acres of recreational land, and a half-mile-long beachfront, and it also includes a “Fun Zone” with a playground, basketball courts, and a skate park with seven ramps of varying difficulty. There are also two soccer fields, a baseball field, and six beach volleyball courts.
Charles E. Ransom Beach
Pack up your buckets and shovels and make some sand castles on Charles E. Ransom Beach in Bayville. This beach overlooks the Long Island Sound, and the short waves make it a great choice for parents with small children. If the kids are tired of the water, they can enjoy the nearby playground. Make sure you keep the sand at the beach and take advantage of the outdoor showers before you go.