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Sunken Meadow State Park is a hidden gem on Long Island. The state of New York began purchasing land in 1928, and the park was officially established in 1952, though at the time, there were no roads, paths, or any form of access. That came later a few years later, in the late 1950s. Today, Sunken Meadow State Park is a popular picnicking spot for many Long Island residents, who enjoy watching the boats sail by on the Long Island Sound. It, however, tends to be overlooked by tourists in favor of beach parks that look out on the mighty Atlantic Ocean.
The closest town is Smithtown, about eight miles to the southeast. Smithtown is one of the older towns on Long Island, established in 1665. The local lore says that the town founder was granted this parcel of land by a local Native American tribe provided that he could ride around it in one day on a bull. There is a large, anatomically-correct statue of a bull in the downtown to commemorate this event. Search for an RV in Suffolk County, NY, and start planning the perfect New York RV camping trip.
Sunken Meadow State Park borders three miles of sandy beaches. Across Long Island Sound, CT is visible. The water is relatively calm, with small waves. As a result, accessing the open water of the Sound is easier than the Atlantic side of the island. Many people enjoy sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, and kayaking on the sound. Beach-goers engage in games of volleyball, frisbee, and horseshoe toss, and on a hot summer day, suntanning or swimming. A boardwalk runs parallel to the beach, stretching for almost a mile.
The beach is a popular reason for heading to Sunken Meadow State Park. But it makes up only a small fraction of the park. There are over 1,200 acres to explore. Six miles of trails wind and weave over sand dunes and through deep woods consisting of tall hardwoods. Hikers should keep an eye out; horses are permitted on the trails. Trail etiquette indicates hikers should yield to horseback riders. The terrain is often described as challenging due to steep hills. This park is also popular for trail-running and cross-country running, and one hill on the route is nicknamed “Cardiac Hill.” It’s considered one of the most challenging courses in the United States.
When you are looking for more hiking fun, the Long Island Greenbelt Trail runs around 31 miles. This trail connects Sunken Meadow State Park to Heckscher State Park. Along the way, there are several offshoot trails that meander into other state and city parks.
In contrast with many other day-use parks, Sunken Meadow State Parks remains open to visitors overnight, provided that they obtain a star-gazing permit. This allows people to enjoy the night views. The reflections of the Connecticut towns’ lights sparkle on the surface, competing with the night sky’s stars.
Although RV camping at Sunken Meadow State Park isn’t possible because it is designated a day-use park, there are several other options on Long Island. The Battle Row Campground in Old Bethpage, NY may be a good candidate. It has 64 RV sites with partial (water and electric) hookups, and there are restrooms with hot showers, too. This campground is open year-round.
You could also RV camp at Mastic Beach. The Smith Point County Park Campground claims to be Suffolk County’s largest beachfront campground. Known for its white sands, the popular campground has full and partial hookups, and most sites have waterfront views.
Although the Big Apple (aka New York City) is a must-see destination for many visitors, don’t overlook the small towns scattered along the rest of the Long Island. Traveling from town to town is a snap in a rental motorhome. Many are historic, dating back to the founding of the United States. George Washington himself authorized the construction of Montauk Point Lighthouse, out past Montauk, and it’s one of the oldest in the area. There are several other lighthouses along the shores of Long Island and Connecticut, too. The Fire Island Lighthouse also is a popular spot, known for its sheer, raw beauty that photographers enjoy.
Stroll through the Old Westbury Gardens, which was built in the early 1900s, in Old Westbury, NY, and imagine what it was like to observe genteel men and ladies sashaying over these same paths. The Vanderbilt Museum, which was built in 1923, was created to share the founder’s love of the natural world with the public. The massive collection contains over 30,000 objects. It also houses a planetarium and an observatory, which has been updated to use modern technologies.
Rent an RV and easily travel into the dazzling, high-octane New York City or step into the past in one of the many historic towns. Find your RV camping adventure on Long Island today and enjoy the scenery with family and friends.