Heckscher State Park Playground
|The new playground at Heckscher State Park in East Islip is a great waterfront playspace that appeals to a wide range of kids.|
If you've been to Heckscher State Park in recent years and seen the sad state of the previous playground, you'll be thrilled to discover this major upgrade. There are two brand new, state-of-the-art playsets that will engage young children and challenge the older ones. The playground is located in parking field six, easy to pass if you're not looking for it so keep an eye out. There is a ton of parking available, and Heckscher follows the seasonal NYS parking fees from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends during the summer season.
The main playset has arms that snake out in different directions and end in different themes. Some have built-in games, another has a short slide and steps to accommodate small kids, and the one above ends in a firetruck. There are two benches and two big steering wheels that will keep kids truckin'.
Each of the arms come together in these covered pavilions, perfect for catching some shade. The wide platforms and ramps provide for easy handicapped access as well as hordes of running children when it gets crowded. The grooved surface helps prevent falls, useful if you've come from the nearby beach or pool.
Unlike many traditional playground layouts, the smaller set is actually the one geared towards the older kids. This secondary set is full of challenging climbs, and the whimsical rainbow-colored slides are enough to prompt any kid to take on the spiral ladder. The play surface for both sets is a nice soft composite, although between them there are remnants of the old playground's mulch footing.
Here is a closer look at the rainbow slides. There are no stairs or other easy access to the sliding platform. The only way to get up there is to climb -- a great reward for getting kids active and really engaging in the play equipment. If you've got younger kids who will be excited by the looks of these slides (and they are exciting, in addition to the colors they're steep and fast), be prepared to hoist them up yourself.
At the front end of the older kids set there are monkey bars and these sway pads for traversing the entrance. The fencing around the area is pretty makeshift, but it'll keep your kids from running out into the parking lot.
The swings, unfortunately, have not undergone the same upgrade as the rest of the playground. This set, and the toddler set nearby, still have bare chains and a scattered mulch surface. The number of swings is also somewhat limited; this playground can get very crowded in peak times when the swimming is open and the nearby picnic area is full of buses. However, if swings are your thing, there is another bank just across the road. You can follow the pedestrian path over towards parking lot one and there are two more sets of swings.
The bathhouse in the background above shows off one other key feature to the Heckscher State Park playgrounds -- ample public restrooms. There is another, very small playset just off the parking lot for the ballfields. This is more geared towards kids who are getting some play time while their parents play softball, but if you're looking for a quiet spot they're a pretty good midday bet. Anchored rockers and super short slides will only hold the attention of very young children. Older kids might find some interest in the next parking lot over from the playground, where windsurfing is very popular and can be fun to watch. Further along the roadway is an 'airport' for model planes.
Heckscher State Park
Official site: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=153
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