Hankering for Some Grass?

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Or sand, or water, or woods…In my opinion, one of the best ways to enjoy nature “next door” is with an Empire Passport.

For an annual fee of $65 per passenger vehicle, you have unlimited day access to 130 New York State Parks (20 of which are on Long Island) and most New York State Department of Environmental Conservation facilities.

Especially in this day of “staycations,” the Empire Pass is even more practical. It allows a family or a car full of friends, unlimited access to beaches and parks for one low price. This year my family and I enjoyed Jones Beach (Atlantic Ocean and boardwalk) including the Jones Beach fishing pier, Robert Moses (Field 5 borders Fire Island), Captree Boat Basin (charter or pier fishing anyone?), Planting Fields Arboretum (Great lawn and main greenhouse), Caumsett (truly a trip back in time), Bayard Cutting Arboretum (free summer Sunday afternoon concerts), Connetquot River (the real LI and fish hatchery), Montauk Point (The End), Wildwood (Wooded areas to LI Sound), Nissequogue River (hike or kayak from river to LI Sound), Sunken Meadow (LI Sound swim, great picnic area) and Orient Point (The North End).

We are a week into autumn, but I’m far from ready to hibernate. The weather is still fine, and the leaves are starting to change making what’s familiar, new again. From the last two posts, you know I love the city, but sometimes it’s great to just to kick back and enjoy the fruits of what Mother Earth gave us. Picnic, BBQ, swim, hike or just chill in the outdoors. To paraphrase ? Man does not live by city visits alone… fresh air, varied landscape, even solitude calm the savage beast.

So leave your backyard and see the abundant beauty that Long Island has to offer. Right now, you have free access to many parks as most have stopped collecting fees for the season. Please share your experiences and reviews of these and our other fine New York State Parks.

Where can I get the Empire Passport next spring?
Empire Passports can be purchased online or at the West Bath House at Jones Beach on Ocean Parkway. The calendar year is April 1 through March 31 of the following year. I purchase mine annually in early May before I attend the Memorial Day BFCU New York Air Show at Jones Beach.

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