Another nearby state park, Valley Stream State Park, is also an ideal spot to bid farewell to summer. Its many amenities include children’s play areas, horseshoe, volleyball, basketball, bocce ball courts, ball fields, and nature trails; along with picnic areas. The Squirrel Nut and Hickory Nut nature trails give children the opportunity to explore the various habitats within the park. The park’s walking course, a half-mile loop with 15 stations, is a terrific outdoor exercise adventure with a focus on cardiovascular fitness, vitality and longevity for all ages.
Over in Merrick, the Norman J. Levy Overlook Park and Preserve, once a landfill, has been transformed into an environmental treasure. The unique park has a windmill that circulates water of two man made ponds at the top of the 150-foot hill that made up the landfill. The hill, planted with wildflowers, overlooks the bay and marshes and offers a spectacular view of the South Shore Estuary. Several miles of trails and a 500-foot fishing pier are a popular spot for bird watching.
“Hempstead Town has some of the finest beaches on Long Island,” said Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray. “In addition we are home to three nature preserves, (Levy Park, Lido Beach Passive Nature Preserve and the Oceanside Marine Nature Study Area). Those preserves are in harmony with nature and are the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll and view thriving plant and wildlife. As the summer winds down we encourage our residents to take full advantage of the majesty that our area offers.”
Oceanside’s Marine Nature Study Area is another fascinating place to explore the outdoors. The 52-acre preserve is devoted to environmental education and natural history. It’s another ideal place for bird watching, with a total of 216 bird species observed and recorded in the area to date.
Also, East Meadow is home to another hidden gem: the Horticultural Center and Demonstration Garden (on Merrick Avenue between Prospect Avenue and North Jerusalem Road). Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County maintains the farm, which serves to educate the community on the many ways to grow a garden without pesticides or fertilizers.