Robert Moses State Park
|Robert Moses State Park is one of Long Island's premier beach destinations with a brand new playground and its signature lighthouse.|
The approach to Robert Moses State Park along the Causeway of the same name is one of the more scenic drives on Long Island. Two high bridges cross the Great South Bay (with a stopover at Captree State Park) and provide great water views of the north shore of Fire Island. The main bathing beach is located at field five, where there is ample parking.
There is a brand new playground at Robert Moses, and it is very similar to the setups at Jones Beach and Heckscher Park. It's a very colorful, state-of-the-art play space with lots of areas to explore. The close proximity to both the parking lot and the bath house (with its bathrooms and snack stand) are an extra bonus.
The back end of the playset features a replica of the three colorful slides that are sized down for smaller children. While not a completely separate area, the smaller play areas are concentrated in one spot with lots of space. Just to the back end of this area is a fire truck that is very popular with young ones. The truck faces inwards towards the big slides and rock wall, so siblings can see each other play.
This is a big playset with lots of places to explore. The whole area is fenced in with one long path that leads in and out, making it very easy to let kids explore without worrying that they'll wander off. There are places to get onto the playset that are challenging, such as the rock wall, as well as simple stairs and ramps for those who can't climb their way on. There are built-in games all over the set, although it must be said that many of them are missing parts.
The play surface at the Robert Moses State Park playground is a very soft composite. It is surrounded by powdery beach sand, and there are many benches surrounding the set for parents to take a break. For those hot and sunny beach days, there are many shaded areas on (and beneath!) the playset, as well as a gazebo.
Of course, the main attraction at Robert Moses is the beach. One of the great things about the huge parking lot here is that there are multiple access points to get onto the beach. Most people try to park close to the bath house, but if you'd rather avoid the heavy traffic you can park way out on the edges and still find a close trail onto the beach and boardwalk.
The beach at Robert Moses State Park is the best on Long Island for shell hunters. This is due largely to a phenomenon that makes it a great spot for little kids as well: the long and flat shoreline is a haven for tidal pools, where small children can frolic in the sand and water without worrying too much about waves or depth.
There is a long nature trail that leads visitors out to the lighthouse. The emphasis is on long -- children should be prepared for a lot of walking if a visit to the lighthouse is in your plans. The start of the trail can be found at the eastern end of parking field five. The whole trail is on a boardwalk, which makes the walk with a stroller a breeze. There are frequent spots to stop and sit, but very little in the way of shade.
Don't be surprised when out on the trail if you find that you're the ones being watched. This is a great trail to see a wide variety of wildlife, and there are helpful signs along the way that identify the kinds of birds and other animals that you're likely to see.
The end of the long trail culminates at the lighthouse and visitor's center. There is a steep set of stairs to get up to the lighthouse, so this should be the end of the line for strollers (there's plenty of stroller parking space here). A large anchor at the foot of steps is a nice picture spot for kids who made the long trek.
Inside the visitor's center, there are many artifacts and photographs of the lighthouse's history. A small gift shop features books, posters and other small momentos that you wouldn't mind carrying back. There is also a pair of vending machines for cold drinks and restrooms to prepare for the long return journey.
Robert Moses State Park is open seven days a week, year-round. There is a daily parking fee during the summer season, and Empire Passes are honored. The lighthouse is part of the Fire Island National Seashore, and is also open every day and is free to visit. In addition to the beach and playground, there is also a pitch and putt golf course, surfing and surf fishing.
Robert Moses State ParrkOfficial Park Site: nysparks.state.ny.us
Lighthouse Web Site: www.fireislandlighthouse.com
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