Gardiner County Park
|Gardiner County Park in Bay Shore offers a lot of open space, a small playground, a long nature trail and a pet-friendly park.|
Gardiner County Park is located just east of the intersection of Montauk Highway and the Robert Moses Causeway. The parking is a large dirt lot with easy access to the playground area. The playground itself is a single set that combines a low stairway with some more challenging wire climbs. There is a double kiddie slide as well as a corkscrew and a large bumpy slide. The whole playset is exposed to full sun, and there are no built-in pavilions. The play surface is a thin wood mulch.
The swings at Gardiner are simple as well, with two standard and two toddler swings on a single set. The swings are in good condition, although the landing area, like the jungle gym, is just a thin layer of wood mulch and dirt. The play area is surrounded by benches and picnic tables, including a very large covered area with tables and grills. Near the entrance from the parking area is a park house where you will find the public restrooms.
There are a pair of anchored rockers near the picnic tables. The big attraction at Gardiner County Park is the open space and the pet-friendly policy. There is a lot of room to roam, and if you'd like to take your dog for a run in the park with the kids, this is a great spot to do it. Of course, this also means keeping an eye out for the... integrity of your child's shoes.
The other prime reason for a trip to Gardiner is the long nature trail that leads down to the water. This is a long trail, and smaller children who are not up for a lot of walking would probably be better off skipping the trail. During our visit, there had been some recent rain and parts of the trail were very wet and muddy. Absent the standing water, the trail is hard enough to push a stroller through fairly easily. As you make your way towards the water, there are a lot of opportunities to see native animals in their habitat along the path. Even on hot days, the natural canopy provides plenty of shade.
The trail ends at the shore of the Great South Bay. This isn't really a spot to go swimming -- it's not much of a beach and there are no facilities once you get down there. But it's perfectly fine for getting your feet wet and gives you a great view of the bridges over the Causeway. A trail that winds its way along the beach can be more fun to explore if your kids are interested in spotting the many birds that make their home here.
Gardiner County Park is open seven days a week from sunrise to sunset. It's a good spot to visit if you're looking for something of an adventure (the trail) or if Fido needs some playground time as much as the kids.
Gardiner County ParkOfficial Site: http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us
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