Sunken Meadow State Park
|Sunken Meadow State Park in Northport is the home of a large beach on the Long Island Sound, as well as three golf courses, many picnic areas and three playgrounds.|
The playgrounds at Sunken Meadow State Park can be found near the beach at the northern end of the park as well as near the picnic areas close to the entrance. The beach playground features two playsets, one that is pretty new (above) and a second one that is starting to show its age. The newer one is perfect for small children, with a small corkscrew slide and a short curved slide. The sandy play surface maintains the atmosphere from the nearby beach, and the ground-level tunnel usually has a layer of sand inside. The bright colors give the set a festive feel, even if it's a little on the small side.
The older set near the beach is starting to show its age, with some faded colors and cloudy windows. The play surface here is a wood mulch, although it's mostly decomposed. This playset is also geared towards smaller children, with short curved and corkscrew slides. Access to both playsets off the main lot is pretty simple, as the lot is very large and paved, with well-marked spots. The big advantage to this play area is its proximity to the bathhouse, with its large public restrooms and snack bar. The area is surrounded by grass, but there is a lot of... evidence of the goose population.
There is a swingset behind this play area, but the number of swings is limited. There are two toddler swings and four standard swings. Again, the surface is a dilapidated wood mulch. This play area is a welcome diversion from the beach (albeit with limited shade), but the better playset is located in the picnic areas near parking field four.
Here you'll find a very new and fun playset pair. The larger playset is intended for older kids, with steep slides and a number of climbing walls. This is also adjacent to the very large parking field four, which is made for the picnic areas. There are literally hundreds of picnic tables here, as well as a well-maintained basketball court. Public restrooms are available, but it's a bit of a walk from the playground.
You see these speaker systems at most new playgrounds, and they never work. But this one is worth mentioning because it actually does work! You can hear someone talking loud and clear from across the playground.
The smaller child set features three short slides and two climbing walls that are not too steep for little feet. There is also a built-in steering wheel that is connected to a spinner that sends balls cascading through a large bubble. This was a big hit during our visit.
The play surface at the picnic play area is a soft composite that is in very good shape. The slides feature a nice funnel at the bottom, preventing those dreaded puddles that often form at the bottom of slides. There are no swings in this play area, but there are some at the opposite end of the picnic area.
This is a nice swing set, with six standard swings and two toddler swings. It is, however, remote. You have to walk all the way from field four to the main entrance road, easily half a mile. That's a long way to go to get to some swings. If you're setting up for a day at the picnic area, there is a drop-off area nearby. But it's marked with no parking signs everywhere, so it's not a place where you can get out and stroll to the swings. The proximity to the main entrance also means that it's a bit loud with traffic noise.
You'll also find this small playset near the swings. It's definitely a small child affair, with two short slides and a ramp to get onto the platform. There are some limited climbs (a spiral ladder and standard ladder) and a built-in game with cute pictures that we couldn't quite figure out (was it tic-tac-toe? a matching game?).
Sunken Meadow State Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset, and State Park parking fees apply during the summer season from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekdays and until 6:00 p.m. on the weekends. The beach is a nice spot for young children as there are no waves on the sound. The playgrounds by themselves are probably not worth the trip to Sunken Meadow, but combined with a day on the beach or a picnic they're a fine diversion.
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