Jones Beach State Park, on a Long Island barrier island in the hamlet of Wantagh, preserves 6.5 miles of prime oceanfront property and a half mile of beach along the bay. Add to those a nature center, an Olympic-size swimming pool, concerts, a boardwalk, and easy access from the Long Island Rail Road, vacationers have a one-stop destination for summertime fun.
From New York City, visitors can reach Jones Beach Island via the Meadowbrook Parkway and the Wantagh Parkway. A wide pathway leads the way into the park for those who arrive on foot, skates, or bicycles. However they arrive at one of the most visited of all New York beaches, they will find an array of options for fun and relaxation. Swimming, fishing, hiking, boating, and soaking in the sun are just a few places to start.
Nature buffs, birders, and wildlife watchers flock to Jones Beach State Park. The exhibits at the park's Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center detail the marine habitats and the dune environment of Long Island in general and Jones Beach in particular. After stepping outside, visitors can explore the Discovery Bone Cove, see a shipwreck, and stroll through the butterfly garden. Interpretive programs, scheduled throughout the year, are another interesting way to explore this unique landscape. The nature center is open on the weekends all year, with extended hours in the summer.
The East Bathhouse also serves as a museum of sorts. Its photo display, "Castles in the Sand," depicts the history of state parks in the Long Island region. Visitors also will find the typical beach creature comforts, including showers, concession stands, a gift shop, more. Jones Beach is also home to beach volleyball courts, miniature golf, a marina, and miles of hiking trails.
Jones Beach State Park is open all year, although the swimming areas are closed in the stretch between Labor Day and the start of summer. It's free to visit, although a parking fee is collected during the high season.
In the summer, a full schedule of Jones Beach concerts and special events attracts the attention of locals, Manhattanites, and other visitors. Over Memorial Day weekend, the New York Air Show at Jones Beach brings planes, crowds, performers, and plenty of fun to the state park.
With 15,000 seats, the Nikon Jones Beach Theater brings top names of rock, pop, and country to the stage in one of the most scenic settings around. No matter who's on stage, the concert under the stars is sure to a memorable one.
Jones Beach concerts also take place at the Bay Stage, a general-admission venue adjacent to the main facility. Familiar names are on the schedule here, too, but the ticket prices are lower, and concerts take place when the main stage is dark. The Boardwalk Band Shell is another option for Jones Beach concerts. A series of free concerts, dance lesson, and comedy shows are on the calendar every June and July.
Another state park is located a few miles and barrier islands east of Jones Beach. Robert Moses State Park is another scenic place to enjoy swimming, surfing, and the beauty of the Long Island Sound. Other Long Island beaches, including Main Beach in East Hampton and Orchard Beach in Southampton, also provide access to the most traditional of summertime activities: time at the beach.