15 Free Things to Do in Oyster Bay, NY

Free Things to Do in Oyster Bay, NY

Experiencing all the beautiful simplicity Oyster Bay, New York has to offer doesn't have to cost a dime.

Whether you're an avid history buff, a nature enthusiast, or even just someone looking to explore, the treasure trove of free activities in this lovely corner of Long Island is sure to make you fall in love with its charm.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Aleah Dunlap, Michelle Bland, Kenneth Kidd, Elva Terrill, Brandon English, Sergio Cox and Janelle Justice.

Immerse in Nature at Planting Fields Arboretum

The grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
Joe Trentacosti / Shutterstock.com

I've just come back from another lovely day at the Planting Fields Arboretum, a magical 409-acre estate tucked away in my neighborhood.

This green oasis is more than a park; it's a living, breathing history lesson complete with a Tudor Revival mansion and a vibrant collection of gardens and greenhouses.

Today's tour was led by some of the sweetest docents.

They were not only knowledgeable but also brilliant with my kids, turning the whole visit into a fun and interactive learning experience.

The mansion, an original Tudor Revival wonder, is truly a sight to behold.

It's not every day you get to see a masterpiece like this one, let alone walk inside it.

The detail in every corner, from the woodwork to the wallpaper, is just stunning. I swear the mansion has a way of transporting you back in time with each step you take.

But the real magic lies outside the mansion.

Main house at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
Jaclyn Vernace / Shutterstock.com

The beautifully kept grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum are a nature lover's paradise.

Each season brings a fresh burst of color with a diverse collection of plants and flowers that never fails to brighten my day.

My kids especially love the playhouse and the secret garden.

There's nothing quite like watching them lose themselves in their own little world of exploration and discovery.

And if you're lucky, you might even catch a summer concert here.

Today, we stumbled upon a performance by a band called Peat Moss & The Fertilizers.

Their music added a whole new dimension to the environment, making our time in the park even more memorable.

Vibrant blossoming tree at Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

Soak in Eel Creek's Tranquil Beauty

Eel Creek has always been my sanctuary.

As a place of tranquility and natural beauty, it has a special place in my heart.

The well-maintained trail, which is not too tasking even for the little ones, beckons me almost daily for a stroll.

The creek, with its mesmerizing beauty, winds its way through the lush, verdant landscape until it meets the sandy beach.

The gentle lapping of the waves against the shore is a symphony that never fails to soothe my weary soul.

The beach itself is a sight to behold, especially when the golden hues of the setting sun dance upon the waves.

No wonder this place has been a favorite among families, especially during summer.

But the real magic happens during high tide.

The transformation of the marshland into a scenic water body is nothing short of breathtaking.

It's a sight that never fails to amaze me.

What fascinates me even more about Eel Creek is its rich historic essence.

The Theodore Roosevelt home, nestled within this natural haven, is a testament to the rich history of the area.

A tour around the house, now turned museum, takes me back in time, into the life of one of America's revered presidents.

Unleash the Train Enthusiast in You at Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Display Yard & Turntable

Exterior of the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum
Antony-22, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's something absolutely magical about spending a day at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Display Yard & Turntable.

Living just a stone's throw away, I find myself frequently pulled towards this hub of local history and vintage charm.

The minute I step onto the display yard, I'm transported back in time.

The museum boasts an impressive collection of vintage train cars, each one with its own tale to tell.

The DE30AC simulator, in particular, is a crowd favorite and a personal love of mine.

Maneuvering it gives me a thrill I could only describe as the closest one can get to time travel.

But it's not just the trains that make Oyster Bay Railroad Museum Display Yard & Turntable special.

The volunteers here are the heart and soul of the place.

Their passion for their work is palpable, and it's impossible not to catch their enthusiasm as they guide you through the exhibits.

For folks like me who are intrigued by transit history, one of the highlights of the museum is the M1 and M7 simulators.

It's an incredible experience to be able to sit in the driver's seat of these iconic trains, albeit virtually.

Just a short walk from the museum is the Oyster Bay station.

For a rail fan like me, it's the perfect place to end the day, watching trains come and go against the picturesque backdrop of the bay.

Collect Shells at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park Beach

There’s a certain magic about the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park Beach.

It isn't just a beach to me; it's an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

I've found myself countless times being drawn in by its tranquility and the gentle lull of the peaceful water.

The beach is filled with oyster shells, which my kids love to collect.

And if you're into sports, there's a wide array of options to choose from.

There's a tennis court where I often enjoy a game with friends, a baseball field where my kids play on weekends, and a soccer field where our local team competes.

One of my favorite things about the beach is the big parking lot.

You don't have to stress about finding a spot, which is a huge perk if you ask me.

Also, the restrooms are always clean, making it easier for families to enjoy a full day out.

But perhaps the most enchanting part of the beach is this lone tree.

There's something incredibly calming about it, especially during sunset.

I still remember this one cloudy day when I found myself under that tree.

As the sun began to set, the sky transformed into a breathtaking spectacle of colors that I will never forget.

Explore Local History at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

House at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

I remember the first time I walked through the grand entrance of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the former home of Theodore Roosevelt.

The exterior alone is enough to take your breath away, but the real treasure lies within.

This place is more than just a house; it's a time capsule filled with rich history and a treasure trove of antiques from around the globe.

As I stepped inside, I could immediately sense the adventurous spirit of Theodore Roosevelt.

The tour guide was fantastic, painting a vivid picture of Roosevelt’s life and his passion for living life to its fullest.

They really went into details, from the quirky inkwell made from an animal's foot to the stories of Roosevelt defying expectations of a short-lived childhood.

The tour was an immersive experience, it was almost like stepping into Roosevelt’s shoes.

Welcome sign of the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

But the house is just part of the story.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site also boasts an impressive 83 acres of land.

It comes with beautiful nature trails that lead to a stunning beach, perfect for a peaceful walk or a family picnic.

There were ample signs around the property, each one a tale of the Roosevelt family’s life and times.

The property's visitor center is a mine of information.

It has a wealth of exhibits that illustrate the fascinating story of Roosevelt and his family.

History board at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com

Walk along the Shore of Stehli Beach

The first thing you notice when you step onto Stehli Beach is the tranquillity; the kind that washes over you and instantly makes you forget the hustle and bustle of daily life.

I have spent countless summer days here, basking in the peace and quiet that is so rare in this area.

It's a town beach exclusively for residents, which means you don't need to worry about large crowds spoiling the serenity.

Just a few steps in and you're greeted by expansive water views that seem to stretch out into infinity.

The shimmering blue waters seem to merge with the clear sky on the horizon, creating a picturesque panorama that looks straight out of a postcard.

Oh, and the sunsets here are mesmerizing, to say the least!

However, I am not sure about swimming here, although I have seen some adventurous souls taking a dip now and then.

For those who enjoy the thrill of finding hidden treasures, Stehli Beach offers a lot to collect.

From interesting shells to unique pieces of driftwood, there's always something new to discover.

I personally have a collection of beach treasures that I have found over the years.

If you have kids, they'll love it here too.

The tide is calm, making it perfect for them to play and splash around in the water without worry.

Plus, there are public bathrooms provided, so there is no need to stress over basic necessities.

A day at the beach can work up quite the appetite, but there's no need to worry.

Close by, you'll find a golf park and a few restaurants, perfect for grabbing a bite after your day in the sun.

For non-residents, the beach opens to everyone at 4 pm.

So, even if you're not a local, you still get to experience this slice of paradise.

Go Birding at Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center

A water fountain at Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ever stumbled upon a hidden gem in your town that's so serene it feels like a personal retreat?

That's what the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center is for me.

Tucked away in the heart of Oyster Bay, New York, this Audubon sanctuary is a haven for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts alike.

I've always found the fall season the best time to visit.

The trees burst with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges, painting a picturesque backdrop to the chirping birds.

Although the sanctuary is fairly small, it never fails to offer a tranquil escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.

There's a lovely fountain, a favorite amongst the feathered visitors, and benches for us human folks to sit back and observe or dive into a good book.

Signage of Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center is also a fantastic place to explore with the family.

The kids can learn about the various species of birds, and the bird feeding areas offer plenty of photo opportunities.

Be sure to check their online schedule for seasonal hikes and events.

Parking isn't an issue as there is plenty of space near the nearby cemetery, which also happens to be the final resting place of Theodore Roosevelt himself.

Please bear in mind it may not be the most accessible place for those with mobility issues, but the staff are working hard to improve this.

The sanctuary recently underwent a major renovation and let me tell you, it's even more impressive now.

It is anticipated to reopen in spring or summer 2019. If you're in the area, this hidden sanctuary is a must-visit.

A birdhouse at Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center
Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hike through the Captivating Nature Trail

Every day after work, I lace up my hiking boots and embark on a journey along my favorite path - the Nature Trail.

It is a cherished escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a place where I can find peace and tranquility in the heart of nature.

Embarking on the trail, it isn't long before I'm surrounded by the whispering trees and the scents of the forest.

The trail isn't long, but it's steeper than you might initially believe.

It's not the most handicap-friendly path I've encountered, but there's always a log or a patch of grass where I can take a breather when needed.

The climb is absolutely worth it, just for the views alone.

Further along the trail, there's a wonderful stretch that leads down to Cold Spring Harbor.

A serene shoreline that doubles as a protected bird sanctuary, it's the perfect spot to capture stunning photographs or simply sit back and relax.

This section of the trail is a loop, leading to a new boardwalk and ultimately to the Family beach of Theodore Roosevelt.

The trail splits near the beginning, offering a choice between a long and steep section or a much less steep option speckled with benches.

As an avid bird watcher, I usually opt for the less steep path and make good use of the benches.

Resting my camera on the top railing of the boardwalk, I've captured some truly breathtaking bird photos.

The trail also offers a path from Sagamore Hill to Eel Creek, where I love to immerse myself in reading and learning about Theodore Roosevelt.

It adds a whole new dimension to the experience, making me feel more connected to the history of the area.

There's something truly special about the Nature Trail.

Whether it's the tranquility, the wildlife, or the beauty of nature, it always leaves me feeling refreshed and recharged.

I count myself lucky to have such a treasure at my doorstep.

Practice Photography at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park

Marker of Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park
Idoysterbay, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

My weekend mornings always start with a visit to my favorite spot, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park.

This bayside haven, located in Oyster Bay, is the ideal place for me to kick-start my day.

Whether it's training for my next triathlon or simply taking a leisurely stroll, I find this park provides the perfect setting.

In case you’re wondering, the park is quite spacious, offering a myriad of activities.

Last August, I participated in a triathlon race organized by Event Power, which was a fantastic experience.

The park's trail that runs along the shoreline is a runner's paradise.

The beautiful water views only make it more breathtaking.

But it's not all about athletics.

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park is equally appealing to those seeking tranquility.

I love the beautiful waterfront.

You can walk up to the water without worrying about getting sand in your shoes, as the front is not that sandy.

The serenity of the place always manages to clear my mind and bring about a certain peace.

And then there’s the food.

After a good run or walk, nothing beats grabbing a bite to eat from the food court building.

They have a variety of quick snacks and cool drinks to pick from – just what you need after an active morning.

Aside from all these, the park also has sports courts and playgrounds, which are well maintained.

I have spent countless hours here, playing tennis with friends or just watching the boats in the harbor.

Soak in the Tranquillity of Red Cote Preserve

I've spent countless hours wandering the mowed paths of Red Cote Preserve, a cozy little haven tucked away in our community.

It's such a delight to be just a stone's throw away from home, yet feel like you have escaped to a completely different world.

One of the things I absolutely love about the Preserve is its simplicity.

It's not fussy or complicated but rather a serene, beautiful space where you can simply be.

The main trail winds its way through a naturally growing field, letting you breathe in the air and take in the sounds of rustling grasses.

As you move towards the northwest section, the trail delves deeper into an inviting woodland setting.

I must mention, though, that this area is known to have ticks, so be sure to keep an eye out!

There's a certain charm to these woods that leaves me captivated every time.

I can't help but marvel at the wildlife the Red Cote Preserve hosts.

I’ve had my fair share of encounters with curious deer and have spent hours bird-watching, admiring the variety of species that have made this place their home.

The Preserve, spread over 30 acres, provides ample space for these creatures to thrive.

However, I do wish there were some conveniences like bathroom facilities.

But that's a small price to pay for the tranquility and natural beauty offered by Red Cote Preserve.

Whether you're looking for some solitude, need a breath of fresh air, or simply want to spend some time with nature, this preserve is a treasure trove waiting to be explored.

Just remember to bring your own water and snacks, and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Enjoy the tranquillity it offers the same way I do.

Build Sand Castles at Beekman Beach

Sunny day at Beekman Beach
John Penney / Shutterstock.com

Every so often, people ask me why I adore where I live. And my response would usually be, 'You have to visit my favorite spot, Beekman Beach, to understand.' 

Beekman Beach is more than just a beach for me.

It’s a hidden gem where I escape from the hustle and bustle of life to relax and rejuvenate.

A walk along the beach is an absolute delight, with the sound of the waves washing ashore, the cool breeze, and the soft sand beneath my bare feet.

And if swimming is your thing, you can dive in but always remember there are no lifeguards on duty.

It’s a swim-at-your-own-risk kind of beach, but the waters are very clean.

If you need a break from swimming, you can take a leisure walk, do some paddling, go boating, or even fishing.

There's always the opportunity to join in on the annual beach cleanup, too.

Just remember to make sure you are a resident of the town to use these facilities!

Canoes at Beekman Beach
John Penney / Shutterstock.com

I love that it’s not overly crowded. It’s peaceful, the way a beach should be. The beach is strewn with shells, and if you are lucky, you can spot swans and other shore birds.

There is even a freshwater estuary where these birds feed on small fish. Recently, the beach and surrounding area have been updated, making it an even more beautiful spot to visit.

One of my favorite updates is the beautiful flag pole area.

It’s got these big benches that are perfect for sitting, unwinding, and viewing the Bay.

It's tranquil and gives you a sense of peace you can't find elsewhere.

The beach has a swing set that is a hit among kids and adults alike. If you have kids, they will absolutely love it.

But be careful, though, the path might have some sharp shells. My daughter once got a cut when she was barefoot.

The beach also has handicapped parking spaces, making it accessible to everyone. The bathrooms are conveniently located on the western Waterfront next to building J.

Everything considered, visiting Beekman Beach is always a day well spent. It's a peaceful and serene escape right in the heart of Oyster Bay.

Catch the Sunset at Stehli Town Beach

I've been to many places, but Stehli Town Beach holds a charm that keeps me coming back time and again.

It's my secret haven when I need a tranquil escape from the rush of everyday life.

The beach is not your usual sandy shoreline, but its rocky terrain makes it perfect for quick meditations and walking adventures.

One of my favorite pastimes here, especially in winter, is taking my dog for a walk.

The serene environment presents a different kind of beauty.

As the cold breeze whips across the water, the reflection of the pale winter sun casts a surreal glow on the beach.

Please remember, though, if you decide to bring your pet, to pick up after them.

It's our responsibility to keep this local gem clean and welcoming for everyone.

The beach is also a spectacular spot to watch the sunset.

The way the dwindling sunlight interacts with the waves, painting the sky with hues of orange and purple, is a sight to behold.

It's as if the beach is putting on a private show for those lucky enough to witness it.

Stehli Town Beach genuinely is a local secret of Bayville.

It's not only a place, but it's also an experience that's deeply woven into the fabric of my life.

Spot Sea Creatures at Centre Island Beach

Daytime view of Centre Island Beach
Jaclyn Vernace / Shutterstock.com

Every now and then, I find myself craving for some peace and tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

That's when I pack my beach bag and head off to my favorite spot, Centre Island Beach.

The serene, picturesque view of the Long Island sound and the refreshing breeze are simply irresistible.

Unlike other popular beaches, Centre Island Beach is blissfully quiet.

It's the perfect spot for beachcombing or to cast a line for a bit of fishing.

The beach is relatively clean, and it's not uncommon to spot small marine life like crabs scuttling around near the shoreline.

I remember this one time we had a bit of a commotion when we thought we saw a stingray, but it turned out to be just a harmless horseshoe crab!

The beach is also a great place for picnics.

However, it's worth noting that the parking and restroom facilities are located on the Oyster Bay side.

The underpass tunnel provides a safe way to cross from the parking lot to the beach.

Break a Sweat at Tiffany Creek Preserve

When I need some peace and quiet, I often find myself heading to the Tiffany Creek Preserve.

The place has a sort of rustic charm, with a crumbling asphalt driveway that leads you through the main entrance off Sandy Hill Road.

As you traverse to the end, a large circular parking area awaits, serving as the starting point for the blue and green trails that fan out from each end of the lot.

The beauty of this side of the preserve is its simplicity - a few rolling hills here and there, but mostly flat.

Tiffany Creek Preserve is perfect for a casual hike or a quiet walk where you can soak in the serenity of nature.

Now, if you're up for a bit more adventure, cross over to the other side.

After crossing the intersection of Sany Hill and Berry Hill Roads, you'll find the second parcel, adjacent to Sagamore Farms.

This side is quite a sight, pretty as a picture, but it's a bit hilly.

For the more adventurous spirits, there are numerous unmarked trails to explore.

On a cold winter day, my partner and I strapped on our snowshoes and set out to leave our footprints on every trail.

It's a bit of a challenge, especially for beginners, as some trails are not clearly marked.

But don't worry, getting lost is really not an option here, and that's part of the fun.

However, do remember that there are no bathrooms available, and pets, especially dogs, are not allowed.

It's all about preserving the serenity and protecting the wildlife that calls this place home.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Unleash Curiosity at Cold Spring Harbor's Whaling Museum & Education Center

Signage of Cold Spring Harbor's Whaling Museum
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

If you're looking for an unforgettable family day out, Cold Spring Harbor's Whaling Museum & Education Center is the place to be.

I've been visiting this local history gem since I was a child, and it never fails to amaze me.

This local history facility is home to a fully equipped whaling boat, scrimshaw samples, artifacts, and dioramas that truly bring this place to life.

One of my favorite aspects, though has to be the Harry Potter-style treasure hunt, which adds a layer of fun and interactivity to the experience.

As you walk in, they hand over a map that guides you through the museum to find objects, which my kids absolutely love.

Cold Spring Harbor's Whaling Museum & Education Center may be small in size, but it is jam-packed with interesting objects and well laid out to maximize the experience.

Whether you're a history buff or simply have a curious mind, this place is sure to captivate you with its in-depth exhibits.

The displays are easy to read and understand, and there's even an interactive learning section designed especially for young teens.

One thing that sets this museum apart is its focus on the lives of whalers.

It's incredibly informative and offers a fascinating look at America's whaling history. But it's not just about the past.

The museum also addresses contemporary issues like ship speed reductions to reduce whale strikes on the US East Coast. With each visit, I find myself learning something new.

Final Thoughts

Oyster Bay, New York is a charming little treasure trove of natural beauty and historical significance.

From exploring Theodore Roosevelt's legacy at Sagamore Hill to wandering the serene trails of Planting Fields Arboretum, there's never a dull moment here.

Most of these amazing experiences won't cost you a dime.

It's hard not to feel lucky to live in such a vibrant, diverse place that's full of surprises at every turn.

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.