When asked, many people would answer that Central Park is the largest park in New York City. However, Pelham Bay Park, exceeding 2,700 acres, is nearly three times the size of the Manhattan landmark. The largest park in the city also is one of most popular places to spend time at New York beaches.
In the summer, visitors flock to the beach in Pelham Bay Park by the tens of thousands. But don't worry, with 115 acres and more than a mile of shoreline, there's plenty of room to stretch out to enjoy the sand and surf. With the addition of wheelchair-accessible walkways, everyone has access to a sun-filled day at the beach.
The only public beach in the Bronx, Orchard Beach New York hugs the shore of Long Island Sound. Created in the 1930s by urban planner Robert Moses, the park includes thirteen sections of beach and a promenade. Over in Suffolk County, another beach shares a similar legacy. Robert Moses State Park, nestled up next to the Fire Island National Seashore, is one of the favorite places to hit the beach on the tip of Long Island.
Back in the Bronx, the beach in Pelham Bay Park earned the nicked "Riviera of New York." Orchard Beach New York is popular place for swimming, fishing, soaking in the summer, and taking scenic walks. Visitors also enjoy access to a central pavilion filled with shops and restaurants, as well as playgrounds and places to play basketball, handball, and volleyball.
Special events take place throughout the year, including guided kayak excursions, exercise classes, conservation events, and interpretive programs. The Orchard Beach Nature Center sponsors many of these happenings. As the starting point for walking tour, the nature center also features exhibits, trail maps, and a staff well versed in all that the park has to offer. In total, there are fourteen nature centers in the city park system spread throughout the boroughs, including the Van Cortlandt Nature Center and Crotona Park in the Bronx.
As with the other city beaches like Coney Island Beach and Manhattan Beach, Orchard Beach is staffed with lifeguards between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It's free to visit the Orchard Beach New York, but a small parking fee is collected. Even though swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty, the park is open all year. In the winter, it's a quiet place to stroll and admire the scenery.
Along with enjoying the beach in Pelham Bay Park, visitors can discover a wide range of activities to suit all kinds of interests. Miles and miles of trails attract hikers, bicyclers, and horseback riders.
Visitors can connect with history when they embark on a tour of the Bartow-Pell Mansion, which has been open as a museum as 1946. The historic house, completed in 1842, gardens, and carriage house are an example of a country estate that once filled the scenic acres of the parkland. The tree-lined Bronx Victory Column & Memorial Grove stands in honor of the servicemen who gave their lives.
The park is one of the best places to watch for wildlife, especially osprey. The ecosystem supports many plants as well. Just south of the Orchard Beach Pavillion, visitors can stroll through the meadow, which is favored by butterflies and bayberry shrubs.
No matter what activity is included in the plans, visitors will have the chance to enjoy nature the midst of one of New York City's largest urban parks.