Parks, Gardens & Natural Sites

Parks, Gardens and National Sites on Long Island's North Shore along the Long Island Heritage Trail.

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium

Nassau/Suffolk border at Rtes. 25A & 108. Environmental education center and demonstration hatchery. Open daily year-round, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Two buildings with tanks and aquariums, eight outdoor tanks. Largest collection of native freshwater fish, turtles and amphibians in the state. Fee. (516-692-6768)

After almost a hundred years as a trout hatchery, the Cold Spring Fish Hatchery and Aquarium now operates as a non-profit education center.

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Oheka Castle Historic Hotel

Oheka Castle Historic Hotel

This magnificent Gold Coast Mansion, resting majestically on the highest point of Long Island, emanates the elegant refinement of a chateaux in France coupled with world-class service and a rich history that is distinctly American. OHEKA has been celebrating the art of entertaining since 1919, when financier and patron of the arts, Otto Hermann Kahn, commissioned celebrated architects, Delano and Aldrich, to design his palatial country residence to accommodate Kahn’s fondness to host lavish parties.

Today, OHEKA is recognized as one of the most prestigious wedding and event venues and Historic Hotels of the World.  The Castle boasts 32 luxurious guestrooms and suites situated on the upper floors of the estate, where guests can sleep like royalty-.  Golf privileges for hotel guests on a private members only course originally designed by renowned golf architect Seth Raynor and later redesigned by Robert Trent Jones: Historic Mansion Tours of the Estate and Gardens; and the newly opened OHEKA Bar & Restaurant offering patrons a unique culinary experience with beautiful views of the manicured Formal Gardens, designed by prominent landscape architects, The Olmsted Brothers.

OHEKA CASTLE is listed on the coveted National Register of Historic Places and is devoted to establishing an experience where guests can appreciate historic architecture, wine and dine in European ambiance, relax in a guestroom, stroll the Formal Gardens, or celebrate lavishly as Otto Kahn once did during the decadent era of the Roaring Twenties.  631- 659-1400

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Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium

Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium

The spectacular Spanish-Revival mansion and museum of William K. Vanderbilt II in Centerport, New York, is one of the few remaining estates on the legendary North Shore of Long Island. The mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a time machine to a rare and privilged way of life along Long Island’s Gold Coast, once held the largest concentration of wealth and power in the United States.

Now the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, the 43-acre estate is a popular historic, cultural and scientific destination for regional visitors. The newly renovated, state-of-the-art Planetarium–with an advanced Konica Minolta projection system, full-dome video ad surround-sound offers visitors a thrilled immersive experience that takes them to the outer reaches of the Solar System.

The Vanderbilt includes a Marine Museum, wild-animal habitats and dioramas, and galleries with collections galleries of natural-history specimens and ethnographic aritfacts from Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.   631-854-5579

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Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center

Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center

Located in the heart of The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s 88-acre wetlands preserve is the Erwin J. Ernst Marine Conservation Center (EMCC).  Named after Dr. Erwin J. Ernst, the Center has been an important part of WMHO for more than 50 years.

Throughout his career, Dr. Ernst worked to preserve marine life and the environment. His passion was contagious as he taught thousands of students at Southampton College, the New York Aquarium, Ward Melville High School and on-site at WMHO’s Wetlands Preserve.  In fact, many of Ernie’s students changed their career path and went on to careers in marine biology and environmental science.

Dr. Ernst’s intensive six-week summer course began at the Marine Conservations Center in 1965 at West Meadow Creek. At the same time, the Town of Brookhaven was making plans to carve out a marina in the wetlands.  Dr. Ernst convinced Mr. Melville to save the wetlands from being developed and Mr. Melville began to purchase parcels of land from individuals.  He then designated the entire 88-acres as a Wetlands Preserve.  Mr. Melville subsequently deeded the preserve to WMHO.    It continues to be one of the most pristine wetlands on Long Island and in fact on the Eastern Seaboard.

The Marine Conservation Center houses two classrooms, a learning lab, microscopes, touch tank and video conferencing equipment.  The on-site program allows students to explore the salt marsh ecosystem and learn the importance of salt marshes and food web interactions.  The hands-on program enables students to identify plants, animals, shells, rocks and marsh grasses.

Realizing how important it is for students all across the country to learn about a salt marsh, WMHO developed a distance learning program “Electronic Explorations – The Salt Marsh Ecosystem.”  Wearing a specially equipped pair of eyeglasses the naturalist teaches right from the water’s edge. Now, students from all over the United States, who may never have the opportunity to see a salt marsh, can explore the plants and animals native to a salt marsh, see live specimens, and converse with the naturalist in real time.  WMHO won an International Award for this unique program.

Avalon Park & Preserve

Avalon Park & Preserve

Located across the street from the Stony Brook Grist Mill, Avalon Park & Preserve is a privately owned nature preserve with the mission of maintaining a beautiful landscape in which visitors can enjoy nature. The park and preserve are open daily from dusk to dawn and is free to visitors.

Consisting of over 70 acres of hiking paths, fields and forest, Avalon Park & Preserve invites visitors to tour five distinct natural habitats populated entirely by native flora. Trail maps for the area are available in the kiosk at the park entrance on Harbor Road and also contain more information on the park. You can also visit the Avalon Park & Preserve website for more information and details.

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Discovery Cruise

Discovery Cruise

Across Dock Road from the Three Village Inn, The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s pontoon boat “Discovery” departs from the Stony Brook Yacht Club marina. The 27-passenger vessel cruises through the organization’s 88-acre wetlands preserve for a 1 1/2 hour tour. A naturalist from the Stony Brook University Marine Sciences Center is onboard to describe the wildlife and flora you’ll see.

2015 Cruise Brochure

Cruises are scheduled according to the tide table from May through October.  Get a taste of what the cruise is like by watching this award-winning story from MyLITV!

To schedule a cruise or for additional information, call 631-751-2244.  Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, so reservations made over the weekend will most likely be confirmed on Monday.

Please note: that the Discovery can not accommodate wheelchairs or walkers. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Old Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Road. The Gardens’ 160 acres include the Walled Perennial Garden, the Boxwood Gardens, the formal Rose Garden, Cottage Garden and demonstration gardens, as well as sweeping lawns, over 100 species of trees, rolling fields and wildlife. The Westbury House mansion, virtually unchanged from the time of the Phipps residence, still contains the family’s collection, furnishings and fine arts.

Open April-October, Wed.-Mon., 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and for special events in November and December. Guided tours are available. Fee. 516-333-0048

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Nissequogue River State Park

Nissequogue River State Park

The former estate of a psychiatric center, the Park ‘s terrain suits bicycles and horses as well as it does shoes and feet, and everyone can trek for hours without encountering another human.  The Park also has a soccer field, a canoe and kayak launch, fishing, bird watching, interpretive signs, guided tours and group tours by reservation.  St. Johnland Road, Kings Park. 153-acres/National Audubon Society Important Bird Area/hiking, fishing and canoeing. (631) 269-4927

Gov. Alfred E. Smith Sunken Meadow State Park

Gov. Alfred E. Smith Sunken Meadow State Park

Located on Long Island Sound, the Park has a wide range of topography that sustains a variety of flora and fauna. The three miles of beach meets tall, glacier-formed bluffs at the west end of the shoreline. A man-made dam separates the park’s brackish creek and marshes from the tidal flats. South of the flats are acres of undeveloped and heavily-wooded rolling hills. Rte. 25A, Kings Park. 1,266-acres with golf, boardwalk and L.I. Sound beach. (631) 269-4333

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

Caleb Smith State Park Preserve

Nestled in the heart of Smithtown, Caleb State Park Preserve is only one of two nature preserves on Long Island. Much of the Preserve’s 543 acres are undeveloped, allowing visitors to explore its many different habitats including freshwater wetlands, ponds, streams, fields and upland woods. Jericho Turnpike/Route 25, Smithtown. 543 acres/nature walks, hiking, fly fishing. (631) 265-1054

Caumsett State Historic Park

Caumsett State Historic Park

Lloyd Neck. 1,500 acres with bridle path, salt water fishing, hiking, cross country skiing. 631-423-1770

Originally purchased in 1921 by Marshall Field III, it became one of the largest estates of the Gold Coast Mansions.  The estate was  purchased by the State of NY in 1961 and designated a state park.

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Sands Point Preserve

Sands Point Preserve

An early 1900s estate with two castles, six hiking trails, changing natural history exhibits, and a Wedgwood collection. Open Feb.-Sept., Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Fee. Falaise, the former home of Harry Guggenheim, is open for tours from May-October, Wed.-Sun. Fee. (516) 571-7900

Welwyn Nature Preserve

Welwyn Nature Preserve

A sprawling 204-acre preserve located at Crescent Beach and New Woods Roads, Welwyn is the former estate of Harold Irving Pratt, heir to an oil fortune. The densely wooded preserve has four marked nature trails that provide access to a magnificent wooded stream valley, fresh water ponds and swamps, a coastal salt marsh, and a stretch of Long Island Sound shoreline. More than 100 species of birds and a variety of small native mammals, reptiles and amphibians inhabit the preserve’s grounds. The preserve also plays host to the Holocaust Memorial & Educational Center, which offers exhibits and other educational programs. 531-572-0200

Cresent Beach Rd. Over 200 acres of nature trails.
Open daily, 9:30-4:30 p.m.

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