Welcome to Pick-a-Park, created by the Long Island Nature Collaborative for Kids, a national demonstration project of The Early Years Institute to reconnect children and nature. Designed especially for young families, preschool programs and elementary schools, this inventory includes about 700 parks and preserves run by every level of government – village, town, city, county, state and federal, as well as several not-for-profit organizations.
How to Use Pick-a-Park
Start your search by typing in a zip code and radius. Click "Advanced Search" to find parks sorted by zip code, stroller and handicap accessibility, and the availability of rest rooms, playgrounds and refreshments.
In "Advanced Search" you can also type the name of a park you would like to use and you will find the location, links to directions and to the website of the park (if it has one), along with photographs and 20 different features of the park, such as parking, fees, picnic tables, special plant species, animals or birds, and whether dogs are allowed.
How Pick-a-Park Was Created
LINCK interviewed parents of preschoolers as well as staff in early childhood programs across Long Island to find out what might encourage them to bring their children to the park. The biggest concern was whether there were bathrooms, followed closely by wide pathways for strollers, availability of refreshments, and a playground. The parents and teachers told us that an on-line tool that allows them to search all Long Island parks for these features would be very useful.
This inventory was created over a four-year period, with the help of staff, interns and the diverse partners of LINCK – outdoor educators, environmentalists, child care providers, science teachers, pediatricians, and representatives from land trusts, museums and libraries. We are grateful to the Rauch Foundation, Hagedorn Foundation, William E. and Maude S. Pritchard Trust and New York Community Bank for their support in the development of Pick-a-Park. We invite you to help us update this site by sending us updated photographs and edits to our park descriptions.
Why Pick-a-Park Was Created
...because parks and open space:
- Provide the richest learning experiences for children that stimulate all the senses and their nature sense of curiosity, crucial for the development of the whole child, regardless of age or ability. Playing outdoors improves all areas of a child’s development, including physical, intellectual and social skills – especially when the activity is directed by the child, not the adults.
- Strengthen families. Nature offers ways for busy two-earner or single parent families to spend time together – to stop and smell the roses – without technology. They are perfect for intergenerational activities.
- Improve the health of children and families. The rise in obesity and allergies are directly related to lack of time spent outside. Research has shown how much outdoor activities help calm children with ADHD and autism. Being outside is soothing for all ages.
- Revitalize communities. By bringing together different segments of the community to beautify our neighborhoods and provide places of recreation and relaxation.
- Create future stewards of the environment. Connecting children to nature is the best way to create lifelong advocates for land conservation and environmental protection. Children will not save what they do not love.
What to Bring When You Go to a Park
When you visit a park, it’s always a good idea to come prepared. Here are a few suggestions to make your park visit safer and more fun:
- Kite or Frisbee
- Items to use in a treasure hunt
- Water toys (for the beach and pool)
- A bike, skateboard or scooter (remember helmets!)
- Art materials (sketch book, crayons, watercolors)
- Magnifying glass
- Binoculars and a bird identification book
- A change of clothes or a blanket to cover the car seat so that you
feel comfortable letting the kids get dirty, wet or muddy
- Sunscreen and hat
- Appropriate footwear
- Extra socks, covered shoes and long pants for trails and deep exploration
- Water and snacks
Active vs. Passive Park
Parks can be divided into two categories: active and passive. Active parks usually have more amenities and activities. There may be staff on-site, scheduled activities, concessions, ball fields and playgrounds. Passive parks usually have trees and grass and maybe some benches. These are perfect places to have picnics, play kickball or tag. Passive parks provide the greatest opportunity to explore and imagine.
Outdoor Nature Explore Classrooms
LINCK has been helping parks and preserves, as well as schools, child care programs and libraries, open outdoor classrooms. These all nature play spaces are very special and are located in four public spaces on Long Island: Bailey Arboretum,Lattington; Long Island Children’s Museum, Uniondale; Middle Country Public Library, Centereach; and Suffolk County Farm and Education Center, Yaphank.
Learn more about outdoor classrooms by clicking here.
Please Help Us Keep the Inventory Up-to-Date!
Do you know of a recent renovation? A new trail? A different parking fee? Is there a park that’s not on the list? We need to know. We would love to have your help in keeping the inventory current. If you see something that’s no longer accurate, or have photographs we can post, please let us know by sending a message to email@example.com.