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Wildwood State Park

Wildwood State Park Wildwood State Park in Wading River features a hidden gem of a playground to go along with its glittering jewel of a beach.

Wildwood State Park
The playground at Wildwood State Park is home to two playsets, two banks of swings and a lot of sand. Wildwood is a popular camping site during the summer, and the playground is closest to the camping area. If you're driving in for the day, it's on the opposite side of the parking lot from the beach entrance. The parking lot is large and paved, with well-marked spots. Whether you start your visit at the playground or finish up here after a day at the beach, the large public restroom adjacent to the playground will be a welcome sight.

Wildwood State Park
The larger of the two playsets features this large triple slide in rainbow colors. The approach to the high platform is via a simple bridge or two sets of monkey bars. One short climbing wall that leads to the lower platform is the only climb on the playground. In addition to the steep slides, there is a pair of shorter slides on the lower platform. The play surface under the set is a soft composite that is mostly covered with sand. The rest of the area is full of sand as well, giving the whole playground a beachy feel.

Wildwood State Park
The smaller of the two playsets has a very cool tree house theme. The pavilions are marked by green roofs with leafy patterns that are enclosed with rustic-looking windowed walls. The tunnel, slides and climbs are all a dark brown color, completing the look. The slides are pretty much the main attraction here (a short standard slide and a longer bumpy slide) but kids will have a ball pretending to be in a tree house.

Wildwood State Park
There are two banks of swings, one toddler and one standard. The chains are bare but both sets are in good shape. They are, however, in full sun, which can get very hot on a midsummer day. There are a pair of anchored rockers just beyond the toddler swings.

Wildwood State Park
A very popular attraction, especially for little boys, are these mini-backhoes. The two handles control the digging depth and the whole piece swivels around for lots of sand-moving action. Expect to referee some turn-taking on these, especially during the crowded summer season.

Wildwood State Park
One very nice feature at Wildwood are these covered benches that can be found around the playground. They provide a welcome respite from the midday sun and are a nice spot to take a snack break. Of course, there are also many picnic tables nearby if you've packed a lunch for the day.

Wildwood State Park
The main attraction at Wildwood State Park is the beach. If you're packing for a few hours in the sun, be aware that like many north shore beaches Wildwood requires a steep decent from the parking lot to the beach. The path down is paved and has a wood deck pedestrian walkway, so it isn't treacherous or anything. But If you're carrying a lot of stuff it can feel like a long haul. More importantly, after you've exhausted yourself and your kids, you'll have to climb back up to get to your car. If you're inclined to pack lightly you're in luck -- there is a snack bar on the beach that sells food, drinks and iced cream as well as some beach essentials like towels, umbrellas and sunscreen. There are also large public restrooms just beyond the snack counter.

Wildwood State Park
The beach itself can be a beautiful spot. During our visit, the calm blue water that seems to fade into the sky was reminiscent of beaches on the Caribbean. You do, however, have to contend with that other north shore beach issue -- the rocks. The millions of tiny (and not-so tiny) stones that cover the beach here can be particularly unforgiving on small feet, which is why water shoes or sandals are essential. A blanket spread on the sand away from the water is comfortable enough, but you have no choice but to cross the rocks to get into the water (which is quite rocky in itself). The small or nonexistent waves are perfect for small children, and a very popular rock formation creates a tidal pool when the tide comes in. There are lifeguards on duty during the day, and we spotted a number of fish swimming very close to shore during our visit.

Wildwood State Park is open every day, 24 hours during the camping season. New York State Park parking fees apply during the summer months, and Empire Passports are honored. The drive into Wildwood takes you past some of the large farms in Wading River that feature pick-your-own peaches, tomatoes, apples and pumpkins, depending on the season. The Grumman Memorial Park featuring an F-14A and A-6E are also nearby.

Wildwood State Park

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