15 Best Things to Do in Hempstead, NY

Hempstead, NY
Joe Trentacosti / shutterstock.com

Situated in Nassau County, Hempstead is a quaint village home to around 58,734 locals per the 2021 census.

It is one of the villages that make up the Town of Hempstead and the most densely populated and populous village in New York.

Home to several places of interest, including historical museums and beautiful parks, it is only less than an hour away from major cities like Brooklyn and Queens.

This makes Hempstead a good choice for a weekend getaway.

Sounds enticing?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Hempstead, New York:

See the Exhibits at the African American Museum of Nassau County

Located along Franklin Street, the African American Museum of Nassau County is committed to showcasing the works of local African American artists.

Also called African American Museum and Center for Applied Art, it is one of the few African American museums in New York City, housed in a 6,000-square-foot facility.

At the museum, visitors can get a deeper insight into the role of African Americans in the history of Long Island while discovering African American artists.

Visit the African American Museum of Nassau County and learn more about African American culture through their artworks and other programs.

Aside from its exhibitions, the museum also holds events and special programs during Black History Month, Kwanzaa, and commemorations of important figures like Martin Luther King Jr.

Admire the Greenery at the Hofstra University Arboretum

The Hofstra University Arboretum is part of the Hofstra University campus and is home to more than 12,000 evergreen and deciduous trees representing 625 plant species, including native and exotic trees.

In addition to the arboretum itself, the establishment also has a bird sanctuary occupying two acres of land that serves as an educational prototype for New York.

As one of the 430 arboreta in the country, you can find numerous plants, flowers, and trees around the Hofstra University Arboretum.

You can take a leisurely walk around the arboretum, visit the pond and winding boardwalk, or rest on the benches and admire the scenery.

At the bird sanctuary, find bird-attracting plants and study gardens for hummingbirds and songbirds.

Taste Delicious Colombian Dishes at Mi Tierrita Restaurant

Want to try a different cuisine?

Head to Mi Tierrita Restaurant, located in the heart of Hempstead.

This casual Colombian restaurant is popular in Long Island for its authentic cuisine and generous servings, making it a must-try when visiting the area.

In addition, their dishes hail from different regions of Colombia, letting you explore the region through its food without having to travel all the way there!

At Mi Tierrita Restaurant, savor a heaping plate of arroz con pollo, chicharron con arepa, carne asada, or corn cake served with grated cheese.

If you want seafood-based dishes, go for the red snapper, grilled salmon, or salmon a la parrilla.

Mi Tierrita Restaurant has branches in other parts of New York, including Patchogue and Brentwood.

Find Solace at St. Paul Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Take a break from your busy schedule and stop by St. Paul Greek Orthodox Cathedral, located along Cathedral Avenue.

Also known as the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul, this place of worship is near several places of interest, including Hempstead Golf & Country Club and the African American Museum of Nassau County.

The congregation was established in 1945 and moved to a bigger location from Greenwich Street to Cathedral Avenue to accommodate the increasing population of Greek Orthodox Christians on Long Island.

Visit St. Paul Greek Orthodox Cathedral, stop for a prayer, and take in the solemn atmosphere.

As you wander around the church and admire the intricate Byzantine mosaic art and the paintings that adorn its interiors.

Do note that since you’ll be visiting a place of worship, certain dress codes may apply.

Enjoy Peruvian Cuisine at El Ajicito

Craving ceviche, camarones, and tacu tacu?

Satisfy your cravings at El Ajicito, a Peruvian restaurant conveniently located in the village center.

The restaurant offers a warm and inviting atmosphere with great serving and friendly service.

In addition to its Peruvian dishes, El Ajicito serves delicious cocktails, perfect as a nightcap after a busy day of exploring.

At the restaurant, try appetizers like ocopa or calamares, or go for their best-selling ceviche.

For the main dish, have a plate of tacu tacu a lo mancho, a dish made of rice and beans in seafood sauce served with seafood like mussels, calamari, and shrimp.

Other meal options include Peruvian-style pasta, fried rice, chicken-based dishes, and meat-based dishes.

Check Out the Exhibitions at the Hofstra University Museum of Art

Art junkies and enthusiasts must visit the Hofstra University Museum of Art, located within Hofstra University.

The museum has two locations, the Emily Lowe Gallery and the David Filderman Gallery, which are within walking distance from each other.

Collectively, the galleries have more than 5,200 artworks and cultural artifacts dating from 1500 BC to the 21st century.

Discover cultural objects and works of art from around the globe through the Hofstra University Museum of Art’s permanent and rotating exhibitions.

Aside from artworks at the museum, you can also find an outdoor sculpture collection around the campus.

Play a Few Rounds of Golf at Hempstead Golf & Country Club

Hempstead Golf & Country Club takes pride in being one of the best golf courses on Long Island.

The golf club features an 18-hole golf course, driving range, swimming pool, tennis court, bowling alley, basketball court, fitness center, and dining area.

Given the multitude of playing courts in the golf club, Hempstead Golf & Country Club is a paradise for sports enthusiasts.

Play golf, take a dip or a few laps in the swimming pool, or play a couple of rounds of basketball, tennis, or bowling.

After sweating it out on the courts, rest and replenish with a delicious meal at the club’s dining facility.

Hang Out at Brierley Park

Spend the afternoon at Brierley Park, a small community park perfect for everyone in the family.

With its strategic location near Clinton Street and Hempstead’s residential area, it is a popular hangout for residents who want to take a break.

The facilities at Brierley Park include a children’s playground, basketball court, indoor gym, and weight room.

Bring the kids to the park and watch them play at the courts or interact with the children at the playground.

However, note that the park has little to no seating areas, so bring plenty of water to keep hydrated and wear sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s heat.

Get Your Skates on at Kennedy Skate Park

Kennedy Skate Park, located within the bigger Kennedy Memorial Park, is a haven for beginner and avid skaters.

This skate park is open to the general public, so you don’t need to pay an extra fee or register to enjoy its amenities.

The park is all-concrete and is relatively challenging, with smooth curves and edges perfect for jumping, grinding, and sliding.

Brush up on your skating skills or show them off at Kennedy Skate Park and get a chance to meet and impress the locals.

You can also check out the other facilities at Kennedy Memorial Park.

Grab a Meal at Pollos Mario Steak House & Seafood

If you’re looking for the best steakhouse in Hempstead, look no further than Pollos Mario Steak House & Seafood.

From breakfast to dinner, the laid-back restaurant offers meat, chicken, and seafood-based dishes with a Latin American twist.

Start with appetizers like empanadas and buffalo wings, then order a chicken cutlet or creamy seafood platter.

At Pollos Mario Steak House & Seafood, go for steak dishes like their grilled Mexican-style skirt steak or sirloin steak with a Mexican-style sauce.

End your meal with a sweet treat by ordering a tres leches flan or brownie ice cream.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy Different Outdoor Activities at Hempstead Lake State Park

The waters of Hempstead Lake State Park
Joe Trentacosti / Shutterstock.com

If you have a free day and want to explore places outside the village of Hempstead, visit Hempstead Lake State Park.

Located in West Hempstead, the state park has 737 acres of recreational facilities, including picnic tables, pavilions, tennis courts, playing fields, a playground, and more.

Anglers can enjoy fishing at three freshwater ponds stocked with trout, largemouth bass, carp, sunfish, and chain pickerel, depending on the season.

Hempstead Lake State Park also has trails for walking, hiking, horseback riding, and biking that take you around lush greenery.

At Hempstead Lake, go kayaking, canoeing, boating, or fishing, and enjoy the relaxing views from the water.

Visiting in winter?

You can enjoy ice fishing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling.

Visit Long Island Children's Museum

Children playing at Long Island Children's Museum backyard space
LIWriter, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Long Island Children’s Museum is a non-profit learning space that combines the fun environment of a playground with learning taught in a classroom.

The museum in Garden City has interactive exhibits, a 140-seat theater, three studio workshops, and other art spaces where your children can satisfy their curiosity.

If you have children with you, treat them to an exciting day out and let them have their memorable aha! moments as they check out the exhibits.

One of the highlights of Long Island Children's Museum is the two-story climbing sculpture with ribbon-like ramps that encourages independence, problem-solving, and cooperation.

Other exhibits at the museum include Sound Showers, a room filled with different percussion instruments; Tool Box, where they can learn measurement and creative thinking; and Pattern Studio where they can learn about symmetry.

Shop for Fresh Produce at Rockville Centre Farmers Market

Get a chance to shop for fresh and organic fruits and vegetables at Rockville Centre Farmers Market, located 15 minutes from Hempstead.

The Long Island Growers Market runs the farmers market and encourages buyers to support local businesses while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This is also a great way for small and medium-sized businesses to gain traction and have their brands known in the market.

At Rockville Centre Farmers Market, shop for fruits and vegetables, smoked meats, freshly caught seafood, and other food items.

You can also find ready-to-eat food like fruit pies, artisan bread, homemade peanut butter, homemade mozzarella cheese, and other baked goods.

The farmers market also sells non-food products such as hanging baskets, soaps, artisanal scented candles, and homemade salve.

Spend the Day at Eisenhower Park

A golfer at Eisenhower Park
Patrick Tuohy / Shutterstock.com

Located in East Meadow, Eisenhower Park is one of the largest parks in the state, boasting 930 acres of land area.

The park takes pride in housing some of the best facilities in Nassau County, with its range of athletic parks and courts suiting everyone in the family.

Eisenhower Park offers three 18-hole golf courses, batting cages, softball fields, baseball fields, soccer fields, a tennis court, and a swimming pool.

The grounds of Eisenhower Park
Terry Ballard from Merrick, New York, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With all these facilities, you’re sure to have a blast playing or watching a friendly match between locals.

There’s also a lakeside theater that hosts concerts and movie screenings in the summer.

Aside from its playing courts, the park also houses several historic sites, including a memorial for the Nassau County victims of the September 11 attacks.

Take a Day Trip to Valley Stream State Park

Trail sign at Valley Stream State Park
DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Valley Stream State Park is one of the three state parks in the Town of Hempstead, located in Valley Stream.

The park opened in 1928 and offers nature trails, picnic tables, pavilions, horseshoe pits, bocce ball courts, volleyball courts, basketball courts, and playgrounds.

Located 15 minutes from Hempstead, Valley Stream State Park offers a relaxing break from the hectic city environment.

Trail at Valley Stream State Park
DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If sporting activities aren’t your cup of tea, explore the walking course, a half-mile loop where you can focus on stretching and strengthening exercises to help improve your overall fitness.

Meanwhile, children can discover various plants and animals in the park through the Squirrel Nut and Hickory Nut nature trails.

In addition to its day-use facilities, Valley Stream State Park holds children’s shows and environmental education programs throughout the year.

A booth at Valley Stream State Park
DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Located within the Town of Hempstead, Hempstead Village offers a relaxed yet fun lifestyle.

You can find amazing parks, museums, golf clubs, and homegrown restaurants that are worth checking out.

If you are looking for day trip ideas, consider these 15 best things to do in Hempstead, New York.

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