The WaterFront Center, Oyster Bay
1 West End Avenue
Oyster Bay, New York 11771
You can head here for a lovely—free—day at the beach or for one of the many sailing or kayaking programs available through The WaterFront Center, a non-profit organization whose goal is to help more people enjoy beautiful Oyster Bay. Parking is free in the large parking lot just past the center’s headquarters.
YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE:
* The beach. This is not a swimming beach since no lifeguards are on duty. However, your little ones can frolic in the water and use their nets to fish for various marine life that makes its home here. As one little boy aptly proclaimed at low tide, “Look! It’s minnow city!”
* Boating. If you own an inflatable boat or a little row boat this is a great place for your kids to use it.
* The fact that the Long Island Railroad tracks are just behind the beach parking lot. They can actually see a double-decker pass by without even getting out of the water!
YOU WILL LOVE:
* The view from the beach. Sailboats dot pretty Oyster Bay. The Nantuckett, an old lighthouse ship, is docked at a pier to your right and adds to the nautical charm of the place.
* The numerous family sailing and kayaking programs available through the WaterFront Center. These include:
* Kayak rentals. Available 7 days a week from 8:30 am to 5 pm June through early October.
* Parent/Chld intro to sailing class for children 8 and up.
* Sailboat rentals. If you are a competent sailor, you can rent a sailboat for the day and set sail with the whole family. If you don’t have sailing certification, you can also rent a boat staffed by a licensed captain for a day.
* Public marine education sails on board the Christeen, the oldest oyster sloop in America and a National Historic Landmark. You and your kids will help raise the main sail; steer the boat; dredge for marine life and learn all the creatures that live on the bottom of the bay. Some Saturdays. (See website for dates). 10 a.m. to Noon, $20 per person.
* Harbor sails on board the Christeen. A 3-hour sail around lovely Oyster Bay and Cold Spring Harbor shows you wildlife, landmarks and magnificent homes.
FREE FAMILY EVENTS:
* Bay Day. This is an annual June festival featuring an “Anything the Floats Race;” a multi-fleet sailboat Regatta; harbor tours aboard the Christeen; touch tanks with local marine life and many other events and attractions.
* Kayak Test Drives. Adults and children accompanied by parent/guardian are able to try out various sizes and models of kayaks provided by Eastern Mountain Sports. Held the second Saturday of every month, June-September. Noon to 4 p.m.
* Community nights. Check the website for dates of special summer evenings featuring free kayaking, sailing and other activities. You can sail on a small keelboat with an experienced sailor or paddle your own kayak. No prior experience is necessary but you do need to know how to swim. Time: 6 pm to dusk.
DIRECTIONS to the WaterFront Center.
By car: Long Island Expressway to Exit 41N or Northern State Parkway to Exit 35N. Travel north on Route 106 towards Oyster Bay for 5.3 miles. Turn left on Audrey Ave., go 0.5 miles. Turn right over the train tracks onto Shore Ave. Turn left on West End Ave., go 0.2 miles until you see the WaterFront Center on your left. Free parking is available in the lot just past the Center.
By train: Long Island railroad to Oyster Bay. Turn right after you get off the train and walk through the parking lot to short Ave. Turn right onto Shore Ave. There will be a public beach in front of you. That is the Theodore Roosevelt beach (described below). Turn left on West End Ave., go 0.2 miles until you see the WaterFront Center on your left. The beach is just ahead of you, on the right.
THINGS TO DO NEARBY:
Theodore Roosevelt Beach. This public beach is a 3 minute walk east of the WaterFront Center. There is a food concession; public restrooms; outdoor showers and a nice playground. You can fish with the kids just a bit east of the bathing beach. Chances are high that they will actually catch something! If you prefer to head here directly, non-residents can park for the day for $10.
Sample the great Italian ices at Bonanza’s. There’s always a cluster of customers at this takeout-only, corner hot dog shack, which is a short walk from the WaterFront Center. Sure, they sell hotdogs but most people come here for the Italian ices. Our 6-year-old highly recommends Chocolate Oreo while our older son is partial to the Pina Colada flavor. 25 Shore Ave., Oyster Bay.
Waterfront dining. There are three places we go to again and again.
1. The Bridge Marine Clam Bar. You’ll sit right by the water and watch oyster boats bring in their catch of the day. If your kids don’t eat seafood, they can choose hotdogs hamburgers or chicken fingers instead. (The chicken fingers are so good that you’ll often see adults ordering them too!) 40 Ludlam Ave, Bayville NY 11709.
KID-FRIENDLY BONUS: There are lots of kids’ beach toys—big trucks and diggers—that your kids can play with on the tiny sand beach directly below your table while you wait for your food to arrive.
2. Wall’s Wharf in Bayville. You can’t beat the peaceful, seaside ambience here. There is an outdoor deck as well as some tables set up on a platform placed directly on the beach. (On busy evenings we’ve even seen the waiters set up tables directly on the sand!) The view is of the Long Island Sound. Dinner here will snag you a fabulous view of the sunset. The Greek-speaking men who frequently—and successfully—surf cast here add to the feeling that you are somewhere far, far away from New York City. The bread is delicious, the drinks are good, the food is just so-so but with a view and ambience like this, who cares? 18 Greenwich Ave., Bayville, NY.
3. Sunset Grill at The Crescent Beach Club. We skip this elegant catering hall’s indoor restaurant (Pine Island Grill) in favor of the casual, less expensive grilled fare and salads served on the multi-level, sound-side outdoor decks. www.thecrescentclub.com. 333 Bayville Ave., Bayville NY.
Shopping. You are just a few miles away from Miracle Mile, Manhasset’s version of Rodeo Drive.
Sagamore Hill, the summer home of Theodore Roosevelt. Called “The Summer White House” this National Historic Site was the center of the country’s affairs during the summers from 1902 to 1909. Open 7 days a week from 10 am to 4 pm, except Thanksgiving, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. There is a fee for a tour of the house but a visit to the grounds is free. See www.nps.gov/sahi/ for details. 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771.