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Orient Point State Park

Orient Point State Park Out on the very tip of the North Fork, Orient Point State Park features a pair of playgrounds and a long rocky beach to play on.

Orient Point State Park
It's a long drive to Orient Point. Even for people who live out on the North Fork, getting through Greenport only means that you've got another ten miles to go. It is, however, a very scenic drive as you pass long stretches of beaches and estuaries on your way towards the ferry terminal. Once you've reached Orient Point, the drive from the front gate to the actual park is another two miles of winding road through the park's natural preserve. Once you're there, you'll find a lot to justify the trip. The main parking lot is large and paved, with well-marked spots that are located very close to the picnic area. The picnic area, in turn, is right next to the first playground. It's much more spread out than most playgrounds, with a lot of room to explore and play in the sand. The beach at Orient is little bit rocky, but the sand around the playground is silky smooth.

Orient Point State Park
The play surface under the large playsets (there are two) is actually a nice soft composite that blends in nicely with the sand. Not only are falls well-cushioned, we actually saw many kids jumping from the playset. The large fish bridge combines with a notched slide to provide some good climbs. They're both nicely designed -- the fish is perfect for the waterfront location and the climb inside looks like a fishbone. Kids are always climbing up on the slides, so the notched slide here gives them a chance to make their way up without blocking anyone who may be trying to come the other way.

Orient Point State Park
There's an old playset here that is styled like a pirate ship. It has certainly seen better days, but somehow the slightly decrepit look is natural for a pirate ship. There's not much there except the opportunity to climb up onto the deck to get an elevated view of the beach and slide back down, but it certainly was a popular spot during our visit. Sometimes, the imagination-inspiring play areas are better than the physically challenging ones. The ship is surrounded by anchored rockers and mini earth movers and is just behind the lifeguard protected swimming area of the beach.

Orient Point State Park
A short walk away from the first playground and picnic area is a second playground that is closer to the bathhouse. The public restrooms here are rather small and rustic, but they work. There is also a supply shop where they sell tee shirts and some food items. The second playset features the same composite on sand build with a pair of slides and chain link ladder climb. Neither of these sets are designed for older kids -- they're typical of what you would find in the two to five playground at larger parks. However, during our visit there were plenty of older kids who were managing to have fun on them despite the lack of any challenging climbs.

Orient Point State Park
There is a set of four toddler swings in this area. There's no shade at all, so the pusher and the swinger need to be prepared from some major sun exposure on these swings. The chains are bare but otherwise in good condition. There is a set of standard swings way back on the other side of the picnic areas, which makes it impossible to keep an eye on two groups of kids at different swinging levels at the same time. There is also a much newer tugboat playset that has some cover and a built-in sandbox. There are a number of sand tables in this area as well, although none of them had any sand inside during our visit. Again, much of the play surface is sandy so setting some aside must seem unnecessary to most kids.

Orient Point State Park
The main attraction at Orient Point, of course, is the beach. The bathing area where the lifeguards are posted is relatively small, but the beach goes on for miles. There are bike rentals available and many trails that wind their way along the coast here. In this summer of endless riptide warnings and tragedies, a gentle beach like Orient is a good choice, especially for small children. The beach itself is rocky, so water shoes are recommended.

Orient Point State Park
Even though this is LI4Kids dot com, we're happy to point out that there are some swings for adults at Orient Point as well.

Orient Point State Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset. New York State parking fees apply during the summer season, and the empire passport is honored. The playground is mostly built for younger visitors, but kids of all ages will find that there is fun to be had here. One note of caution: there is a lot of wood construction on benches, tables and the boardwalk here and that doesn't always fare so well on a waterfront location. One of our kids got a major splinter that ended our visit abruptly. One thing you don't want, after making the long journey out to Orient, is to have to leave early.

Orient Point State Park

Official Site: http://nysparks.state.ny.us/
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