Day Trip to Jones Beach State Park from New York City
[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 8/11/2009 - www.Littleviews.com ]
>> Visit New York City and discover the magic and convenience of nearby ocean beach destinations and stunning state parks. Jones Beach State Park, located on a Long Island coastal barrier island, is especially inviting as it features activities for all ages and enough facilities to support them.
Jones Beach State Park manages 6.5 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach, with approximately two miles of boardwalk fronting its main swimming areas. Around the perimeter of the park, coastal areas are designated for swimming, surfing, fishing, and boating.
The park contains stunning 1930's Art Deco buildings, all large enough to serve your dressing-room, eating, beach supply, beach clothing, beach equipment rental, and shelter needs. The West Bathhouse also contains huge pools for adults and children who may find the surf too challenging, or who simply like to swim. The surrounding landscape art and signs complement the overall Art Deco theme.
Before my first real "get wet" visit, my husband and I had trouble figuring out where to go in the park and what to expect. We briefly visited by car once before and were confused by signs along the Ocean Parkway (which runs through the center of Jones Beach State Park). We didn't, for example, know what the word "Field" meant, but now know that in Long Island, a "field" is a parking lot. You may see Field 6 mentioned in Jones Beach articles as being very popular. This lot is conveniently located next to the beach by the East Bathhouse. Unfortunately, it is the smallest lot and fills quickly.
Approaching the Central Mall
We parked in Field 4, one of two lots near the Central Mall. If the beach is busy, expect a long walk in the lot. Consider shading yourself with an umbrella because the pavement and the sun can combine into a very hot atmosphere. At the southeast end of Field 4 is a tunnel that's topped with a sculpture of a large shark. Walk through it to the park's main promenade. The park's famous water tower will be to your back.
When you emerge from the cool tunnel, you enter a long stretch of garden.
A portion of the garden commemorates seven New York State Park Department employees who lost their lives on 9/11 (9/11/2001), when the World Trade Center in Manhattan was bombed.
At the entrance to the Central Mall is a 90-foot ship's-mast flying marine signal flags that read "Jones Beach State Park" and "Keep Your Park Neat," followed by the current year.
For souvenirs, take pictures of all the park's signs. The one pictured here announces that you are at the Central Mall and it points to the East and the West Bathhouses.
The Central Mall and two bathhouses are commanded by large, Art Deco buildings, each area having a slightly different purpose. All building areas provide beach gear rentals and sales, clothing stores, snack shops, rest and changing rooms, picnic tables, and places to relax in the shade.
In this hot, sunny area, the State Park Department encourages you to rent an umbrella. Good idea!
From the Central Mall to the West Bathhouse
Jones Beach has very loose rules about eating on the beach. Some beaches, such as those on nearby Fire Island, are extremely restrictive. All beaches, however, insist that you clean up after yourself, with Jones Beach supplying a multitude of garbage cans. Those black specks you see in the photo above are garbage cans. (Pictured is a closed portion of the beach, but the cans are placed everywhere people roam.)
Walking from the Central Mall to the West Bathhouse, you see the Jones Beach Bandshell, plus a game area that includes a volleyball court, a shuffle board area, miniature golf, a paddle tennis area, and the Saturn Playground.
The Saturn Playground, which is near the West Bathhouse, contains three kid's gyms, perfect for toddlers and children who require more activity than digging in the sand.
The West Bathhouse
Approaching the West Bathhouse from the Central Mall is a thrill because the building is beautifully imposing!
At the top of the West Bathhouse's steps is Friendly's, a huge ice cream parlor. Buy its crisp, cheese-covered, cottage fries, or creamy ice cream served in souvenir baseball hats.
In the picture above, the main swimming pool is deep greenish-blue, and the kid's pool further back is light blue. Just want to watch? Rest on any of the lounges that surround the pools.
From the Central Mall to the East Bathhouse
Between the Central Mall and the East Bathhouse is a short-range, putt golf course. Northeast of the course is the famous Nikon - Jones Beach Amphitheater.
The East Bathhouse is as imposing as its western sibling, however, its use is different. As you approach the building, you are greeted by a sign announcing the Jones Beach State Park Museum, exhibiting "Castles in the Sand - a Retrospective." Here you'll learn how, in the 1930s, the New York state parks located in Long Beach were created and see pictures of Jones Beach during its early years.
The East Bathhouse also features a long, two-level porch where you can relax in the shade. The lower level supplies lounges, and the upper level, chairs.
Outdoor showers are available along the boardwalk. The one pictured above is by the East Bathhouse.
From the East Bathhouse to Zach's Bay
Behind the East Bathhouse is a tunnel that leads to the Nikon - Jones Beach Amphitheater, Zach's Bay, and a children's play area.
Pictured above is the entrance to Zach's Bay, a tide-sensitive, stillwater inlet. Unlike the ocean beach, the sand surrounding Zach's Bay is damp and the area smells slightly damp, too. The bay's ample facilities provide everything that you could need, including rest rooms, beach rentals, and a snack shop.
Across from the beach is the famous Nikon - Jones Beach Amphitheater, which features big-name events. Check www.Jonesbeach.com to see a complete list of all events. Access amphitheater parking through Field 5, but if you want a space in that lot, arrive very early!.
Traffic to all of the New York State Parks along Ocean Parkway and the parkways leading to it become jammed on hot weekends and during special events. Try to arrive very early to avoid frustration, or pack plenty of snacks and relax in your car as it crawls along. You will eventually arrive at your destination, so chill.
Fees change from year to year, as do special discounts. Always check with the park for exact amounts, including seniors' rates. A short list of this year's fees are: Pool - adults $3, kids $1. Paddle Tennis and Shuffleboard - $2 per equipment. Mini Golf - $5 per 18 holes. Pitch Put Green - $7 green's fee, $2 club rental, plus small deposits.
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article and photos by Karen Little. First published on 8/11/2009. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.