Smith Point Beach
|Smith Point Beach is Suffolk County's largest oceanfront park. With a wide expanse of soft white sand, the somber yet beautiful Flight 800 Memorial Park and a new playground, it has a lot to offer.|
Located at the south end of William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, Smith Point county park and beach is found at the eastern end of Fire Island. Along with Robert Moses State Park, it's one of the few parts of Fire Island that is accessible by car. The parking lot here is vast, stretching from the edge of the Great South Bay to the oceanfront bath house. To complement the great beach, the county has installed a new playground.
The playground is found at the western end of the park. It's in a nice picnic area with tables and grills. There's no view of the ocean from here, but you sure can hear it. There is one large playset that is intended for kids of all ages. Low stairs make climbing up easy for smaller kids, and there are more challenging approaches for kids who would prefer to climb. The play surface is just about the softest sand this side of Bermuda.
There are two music sets here as well. We've seen these at quite a few playgrounds recently, and they never quite deliver the sound that they promise. Still, most kids are quite content to bang away on the plastic drums.
There's a new swingset here as well. Considering the capacity of Smith Point and it's popularity in the summer time, there aren't nearly enough swings. But the two toddler swings and four standard swings are in great shape, with coated chains and no-pinch handles for the little ones. And they're so new that there aren't even trenches under the swings, so they are ideal for kids just learning to make the transition to the big kid swings.
The playset is roughly divided into two sections, with one part meant for smaller children and one for the bigger ones. The small section features five slides, two straight red ones and three colorful ones with a bit of curve to them. The climbing platforms can be reached via wide stairs or some more challenging wire climbs. Built-in favorites like a steering wheel and spinners are found throughout.
The older area boasts more varied climbs and monkey bars, but the highlight is a trio of steep colorful slides. There are overhanging shades located throughout the playset, which can be vital on a hot summer day. The playground is situated right next to the Beach Hut, so there are bathrooms, showers and food right nearby. You're also near enough to the patio to hear the live music performed throughout the summer.
Of course, the highlight of a visit to Smith Point is the beach. There are lifeguards on duty every day during the summer until 5:30 p.m. If you've got small children, take note that the surf at Smith Point is often very rough. Unlike Robert Moses park, where there are often tidal pools, Smith Point is just sandy beach that gets pounded by the waves. One happy result is that you'll find the best sand on (or just off) Long Island. The downside is that shell collecting can be something of a bust and you'll really have to keep an eye on small children.
Smith Point park is also the home of the Flight 800 Memorial Park. This is a wonderful garden area that memorializes those killed in the 1997 crash just south of the area and celebrates the incredible recovery effort that was taken on by the people of Long Island. The flags represent the many nations who lost citizens in the crash, and their names are recorded on a marble wall.
The memorial is surrounded by beautiful gardens, with the many native plant species labeled. It's definitely not a spot for small children to run around in, but a brief walk through will satisfy a child's curiosity and present some learning opportunities.
Smith Point County Park is open every day, with parking fees ($12) charged during the summer season from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. In addition to being a great spot to spend the day, Smith Point is home to one of Suffolk County's largest and most popular campgrounds. You'll also find places to fish, surf, camp on the beach, and go off-roading.
Smith Point Beach County ParkOfficial Site: http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us
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