By Fanchette Grunblatt
“Where can nature be found in Huntington?” you may ask. But the better question might be, “Where is there not nature in Huntington?”
For those in need of a long excursion to satisfy tree-hugging urges, the treasure sought may be locally available. Here is a photo guide to some of the best nature destinations in Huntington that are just waiting to be discovered.
Hobart Beach Park
1 Birmingham Drive,
Hobart Beach Park on Eaton’s Neck is perhaps one of Long Island’s best kept secrets.
It offers a unique, breathtaking panorama view of both Huntington and Northport bays, visible on all parameters with lavish houses visible in the distance. Hobart is perfect for a picnic with the family as tables are available, suited with stunning views. Swing sets and a basketball court can be found at this destination as well.
To get there, travel through the Village of Asharoken, which itself is located on an isthmus. The drive is tranquil and aesthetically appealing.
Asharoken Beach Park (25 Asharoken Ave.) is also great for an especially secluded experience without traveling in too deep to the village.
101 Browns Road,
Another of the infamous Gold Coast mansions is Condre Hall.
These residencies came about in an era long past, but are often revisited in films such as “The Great Gatsby.” Although of similar origin to the Vanderbilt Museum, the wonders of Coindre Hall are entirely unique to itself.
The building is beautiful with Tudor-style architecture reminiscent of a medieval castle. The two turrets on the structure add a sense of formality to the estate, but don’t be scared off by the appearance of formidable prestige. Instead discover the elegant grounds that serve as a dog park. Behind the stunning mansion is a wonderland for dog owners, or anyone who enjoys canine company.
There are many trails in the woods on the outskirts of the open field that are worth exploring. The most common route of exploration is a large hill, which dogs of all breeds are welcome to frolic down with their owners. The trek up is less full of frolic and more of sweat and tears. The trail leads to a small pond. Past the water where frogs and dogs coexist, continue on for another view of the Long Island Sound. Don’t be surprised to see a fluffy pal jump into the water of this scenic view to catch a tennis ball.
Should the thirst for nature not be quenched, continue along to West Neck Beach, although dogs are not permitted there.
Northport Village Park
West End of Main Street,
Northport, originally named Cow Harbor, is known to host old-fashioned band concerts in the park by the docks. Northport Village Park offers guests the chance to experience the best of both worlds.
Have the experience of being on the water near a variety of boats at the dock, as well as being in luscious greenery surrounded by trees as park-goers.
It’s also a dog-friendly location, making it a perfect place for pups to meet and greet alongside their owners.
There is also an exciting, recently-revamped playground for children that sports large slides and more impressive swing sets.
The various gazebos sprinkling the vista are difficult not to explore. One within the park is intriguingly designed large and circular with a con cave roof. The gazebo along the docks is square, producing a sense of closure after walking to the end of the long boardwalk
After exploring the park, be sure to visit the quaint village just steps away. Northport is packed with fashionable boutiques, stores with treasures from other cultures and restaurants with outdoor courtyards. It’s a great place to spend a summer morning, afternoon or night out.
Caumsett State Park
25 Lloyd Harbor Road,
Once a rich man’s playground, now is a playground to whomever can pay the $8 daily admission fee. Caumsett State park is loaded with hidden adventure.
Walking through Caumsett can produce intervals of sunshine, as well as boughs of time blanketed in the shade by the gigantic trees above. Punctuating the natural landscapes are various buildings that look like they are from an entirely different century. While on the 3-mile loop, encounter many visual attractions such as the walled garden by the parking lot.
In the center of the 3-mile loop, is the mansion of Caumsett with a breathtaking view of water behind it. This is an opportunity to rest and experience a moment in the midst of the tranquil beauty of the scene.
Not far from the mansion, is another landmark classic to those whom are familiar with the grounds, a giant green circular tree. For those disinterested in what the beaten path has to offer, there is no end to the wonders that await them.
One such sight off the beaten path can be found by following these instructions: In-between the giant green tree and the mansion of Caumsett there are two paths headed toward the direction of the giant tree off the main road. Take the path on the left (though both roughly get to the intended destination) and stay on this path for 15 minutes. A path to the right that looks as though it is going uphill can be followed to arrive at a ledge overlooking the water at a steep incline.
180 Little Neck Road,
One of the few remaining Gold Coast mansions, the Vanderbilt Mansion was built in 1910. It was originally referred to as “The Eagles Nest,” but today Vanderbilt Mansion stands as both a museum and planetarium. With an admission fee paid, the spacious grounds of the mansion are available to roam. Here explore the Spanish-Revival-style architecture with features such as water fountains, a bridge and classical statues and pillars. Then take a rest on one of the generous hills behind the mansion. They’re perfect for taking in a most impressive view of the Long Island Sound.
On Wednesday and Friday nights, indulge in outdoors, romance, and theatre all at once as a reoccurring performance of “Romeo and Juliette” starts at 7 p.m. This delight will only run through the first half of summer.
164 Main St.,
Heckscher Park is located in downtown Huntington, and it’s simply perfect art and animal lovers alike.
Within the park is the Heckscher Museum of Art, one of the focal points for culture, education and social activity in Huntington. Surrounding the museum are modern art sculptures near a stone-covered Gazebo.
Across the way, is large stage known to have free performances for three months in what’s been dubbed the “The Summer of Love.” This is an experience exclusive to the summer time, so don’t sleep on the opportunity for free live entertainment in this mesmerizing venue.
Heckscher can be characterized as a cultural wellspring, but that isn’t all that it has on offer. The playground here is sizable, and during the evening hours it’s guaranteed to be filled with children and parents. There is also a baseball field and tennis courts for those who enjoy sports. It’s also not uncommon to see a jogger making the rounds along the pound, which is no surprise as the view is truly an inspiring one. The pond reflects the beautiful trees whose height is almost matched by the water springs within.
Animal wildlife is also prevalent, lively and fascinating. In one stroll through the park you are likely to see large swans deep in the middle of the water, flexing their impressive wings, while fuzzy baby ducks are following their mothers into the pond for an evening swim. Turtles also can emerge from the water seemingly out-of-nowhere, waiving hello with a stretch of their long claws