Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Nassau County, NY

  • Published 2023/05/14

If you’re looking for a holiday destination to enjoy with the family, New York’s Nassau County just might be the perfect location for you.

Nestled in Long Island’s western area, Nassau County presents an affluent residential community and hosts numerous historic attractions, family entertainment venues, and beautiful nature locations.

The suburban county is bordered by New York City on its west and Suffolk County on its east, the county also has the second-highest population in the state, with the town of Mineola as its county seat.

It’s composed of two cities, namely Glen Cove and Long Beach, and three towns, the largest of which is Hempstead, along with 64 incorporated villages and over 60 unincorporated hamlets.

This side of New York State definitely has plenty of exciting places to visit from shopping and dining spots, sports venues, kiddie attractions, and a whole lot more.

Check out the best things to do in Nassau County, New York.

Enjoy Outdoor Recreation at Eisenhower Park

Golf at Eisenhower Park

Patrick Tuohy /

Right along Merrick and Stewart Avenues in East Meadow, Eisenhower Park is among metropolitan New York’s largest public spaces.

The park spans more than 900 acres and offers plenty of full-range athletic and recreational activities for the whole family.

It includes the Nassau County Aquatic Center, one of the country’s premier indoor pool facilities featuring a 50-meter swimming pool equipped with diving towers, springboards, and platforms.

Built for the 1998 Goodwill Games, the center also hosts swimming competitions and swimming lessons for kids from toddlers to teens; park visitors can get a Leisure Pass and pay a minimal fee to use the facility.

For other sports activities, you can enjoy playing tennis, pickleball, or basketball on the courts, or play ball, cricket, or football on the athletic fields.

Golf players at Eisenhower Park

Patrick Tuohy /

Northwell Health Ice Center, Long Island’s foremost NHL-sized indoor and outdoor skating rinks is also located here.

Jog or go for a walk around the Fitness Trail, or enjoy your exercise routine at the fitness stations along the trail. Likewise, if you want something laidback, you can play at the bocci court or test your wits for a game of chess or checkers at the tables.

Want to play golf? The park has three well-maintained 18-hole golf courses; likewise, if you want some fun golf games, head out to the 18-hole Miniature Golf Course with enjoyable landscapes and challenging holes.

The park also has three playground facilities for your kids to enjoy hours of fun play; otherwise, watch scheduled outdoor events like concerts and movies at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre.

In case you get hungry, The Carltun restaurant located inside Eisenhower Park offers delicious food and drinks to satisfy your appetite.

The grounds of Eisenhower Park

Terry Ballard from Merrick, New York, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take the Kids to Long Island Children’s Museum

Nunley's carousel at Long Island Children's Museum

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Kids of all ages will enjoy discovering and learning new things at Long Island Children’s Museum.

This kiddie attraction on Davis Avenue, Garden City welcomes young visitors from Tuesday to Sunday.

With 14 interactive exhibits, art spaces, learning activities, and a live theater venue, kids will have hours of fun learning experience.

Let their imagination run wild at the Mo Willems Exhibit featuring activities from the author’s books; they’ll meet Knuffle Bunny, Elephant, Piggie, and of course The Pigeon.

Step inside the world of bubbles and form different bubble shapes, sizes, and patterns, likewise, little tots can discover taps and claps, and dance to the beat of percussion instruments at Sound Showers.

Interior of Nunley's carousel at Long Island Children's Museum

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Toddlers can also enjoy with small townspeople and go around TotSpot town, or have some fun indoor beach play at Sandy Island.

Let them build simple machines with common tools at the Tool Box exhibit; otherwise, they can practice their problem-solving skills to repair stuff at the Broken? Fix it! exhibit.

They’ll learn how animals eat at Feasts for Beasts, design with KEVA planks, explore the different devices at the Communication Station, and work with colorful 2-D and 3-D patterns at Pattern Studio.

Long Island Children’s Museum also lets your kids have active fun and adventure at Climb-It@LICM; don’t forget to take them for a ride at Nunley’s Carousel, the iconic carousel that’s more than a century old.

Horse sculptures of Nunley's carousel

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Discover Aerospace History at the Cradle of Aviation

Exterior of the Cradle of Aviation

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Journey into the aerospace realm as you tour the Cradle of Aviation.

Open from Tuesday to Sunday, this amazing attraction is located on Garden City’s Charles Lindbergh Boulevard.

Step inside the Donald Everett Axinn Air & Space Museum Hall and view the galleries featuring 75 aircraft and spacecraft on display.

Tour around with volunteer docents, discover the 100-year history of aerospace and aviation, and enjoy more than 30 hands-on exhibits and short films, too.

Visit the Drone Zone on special days like International Drone Day, Summer Celebration, or National Aviation Day and try the simulators or fly the 360° sensor-controlled Scoot drone.

Interior of the Cradle of Aviation

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Drop by the Mars Exploration exhibit where you’ll get to learn about the mission of Mars 2020 through interactive AR and then try driving the Mars Rovers after.

Likewise, you’ll also enjoy the Arcade Age Exhibit which features classic video arcades and console games, along with the history of arcade games and its technological developments.

View the Pan Am Museum Foundation Exhibit to learn about the legendary airline, then see the exhibits showcasing the extraordinary B-314 Flying Boats, the Boeing 314 aircraft, and Boeing 314 fleet that all served during World War II.

In addition, you can also enjoy the shows at the state-of-the-art JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium and get your unique aviation-themed gifts and souvenirs at the Cradle of Aviation Museum Store.

Aircraft displayed in the Cradle of Aviation

quiggyt4 /

Visit the Nassau County Firefighters Museum

Exterior of the Nassau County Firefighters Museum

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Located along Garden City’s Museum Row,Nassau County Firefighters Museum is another attraction your kids will enjoy.

Frank Pendl, one of Nassau County’s fire service instructors at the academy started collecting memorabilia that were displayed in the Fire Academy lobby; through the help of Andy Stienmuller and a group of firefighters led by Angelo Catalano, the museum was eventually founded.

Today, you can browse the exhibits to see how fire service equipment, apparatus, and gear evolved throughout the decades.

Take a peek at horse-drawn fire engines, the Silsby steamer model, and get to climb aboard and drive a Mack fire engine built in 1934.

Vehicles in the Nassau County Firefighters Museum

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

You’ll learn also get to see how firemen work on the scene from the sounding alarm to receiving an emergency call and finally putting out the flames on the scene.

See the collection of vintage fire apparatus from the 1830s up to the present including ladder trucks, hand-pulled carts, tankers, and pumpers; all the trucks on display were once used by different departments across Nassau.

Drop by the gift shop and find a variety of toys, firefighter-themed items, clothing, and gear.

Nassau County Firefighters Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, on holidays that fall on Mondays, and during the school break season.

Firefighter sculptures in Nassau County Firefighters Museum

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Wander Around the Old Westbury Gardens

Mansion at Old Westbury Gardens

Joe Trentacosti /

Have a glimpse of the Victorian era when you visit the Old Westbury Gardens.

Located on New York’s Old Westbury Road, the 200-acre property was the former residence of John S. Phipps and his family for over 50 years.

The grandiose Charles II-style mansion was built in 1906 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

Go on a self-guided tour or join a 45-minute guided tour of the Westbury House and gardens led by a volunteer docent; guided tours are available every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Tour inside the furnished rooms and browse through the fine antique pieces; you’ll see Phipps’s impressive art and antique collections and distinct architectural style during that period.

A pond at Old Westbury Gardens

Joe Trentacosti /

You can also go for a Behind the Scenes Tour at the Service Wing to see how the butlers, housemaids, and servers prepared and served the family along with their guests in the early 20th century.

You’ll also enjoy strolling the lovely formal gardens and landscaped grounds, including some scenic woodlands, ponds, and lakes.

If you want to relax, you can grab some sandwiches, wraps, baked goodies, salads, and beverages served at Café in the Woods.

The Old Westbury Gardens also host yearly events like the Annual Garden Days held on the first weekend of June, Garden Days celebrating the joys of gardening, and Midsummer celebrations, along with the Music for a Sunday Afternoon concert series, and much more.

A trail at Old Westbury Gardens

Dariusz Gryczka /

Step Back in Time at the Old Bethpage Village Restoration

A house at Old Bethpage Village Restoration

Michael Rega /

Another historic site you can visit on a weekend is the Old Bethpage Village Restoration.

Right on Round Swamp Road in Old Bethpage, this 209-acre recreated Village presents visitors with an experience of the typical mid-19th century rural farm villages in Long Island.

In 1963, the village featuring Dutch and English roots was built when the 165-acre Powell farm property was acquired by Nassau County; it now includes 51 historic buildings that came from different areas in Long Island.

A person, and a goat at Old Bethpage Village Restoration

SkunkChunk /

Visit the 1857 Manetto Hill Methodist Church, the first structure to be moved in the Village, then see the 1730 Schenck House, recognized as one of the last Dutch farmhouses in the country.

Likewise, you’ll also see the 1829 Benjamin House which was built by Congregational minister and pastor William F. Benjamin, and view the old furnishings and objects that reflect his life as a farmer and minister.

You can also catch several annual celebrations held at the village like the 170-year-old Long Island Fair, A Haunted Long Island 1880 Halloween, and Candlelight Evenings during the holidays, along with family-friendly events and various exhibits.

Sheep at Old Bethpage Village Restoration

SkunkChunk /

Tour the Historic Estates of Sands Point Park and Preserve

Hempstead house at Sands Point Park and Preserve

littlenySTOCK /

Be amazed at the impressive structures, stunning landscapes, and scenic nature locations at Sands Point Park and Preserve.

The 127-acre Guggenheim Estate located at Sands Point’s Middle Neck Road was acquired by Nassau County in 1971 after Harry Guggenheim passed away the same year.

Today, visitors can view the grand Castle Gould and Hempstead House, the Great Lawn, and Hempstead House Garden, including the Forest, and Pond areas, the Woodland Playground, and the Dog Run.

The Tudor-style Hempstead House castle served as the summer house for the family where they hosted various social functions and events; it’s one of the four mansions in the estate including the Mille Fleur, Castle Gould, and Falaise.

Because of its magnificent architecture, the mansion also served as a popular film location for movies like Malcolm X, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Great Expectations among others.

Castle Gould is a 100,000-square-foot limestone structure built by Howard Gould for his wife Katherine Clemmons and was the first of the mansions built on the estate; it currently accommodates the Great Hall, Visitor Center, and the 7,000-square-foot sound stage called The Black Box.

Drop by the beautiful Falaise, one of Long Island’s few remaining intact historic houses, and observe the fine architectural details along with the antique furnishings, sculptures, and art pieces dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Visit the pool behind the house, the spectacular Great Lawn known as the green centerpiece of the Preserve, and the lovely Rose Garden with over a thousand red rose bushes.

Likewise, you can take a nature walk along Sands Point Park and Preserve’s diverse surroundings and habitats, or go birdwatching to see dozens of bird species roam around the area.

Spend a Day at Nickerson Beach Park

Nickerson Beach Park located on Lido Beach, is one of the relaxing beach areas you can visit on a hot day.

The 121-acre park facility lies on the south shores of Long Island and is open to the public from April to November; visitors also need to secure a leisure pass to use the park amenities.

Wade and swim in the cool Atlantic Ocean waters along the half-mile beachfront area or you can also take a dip at the park’s swimming pools.

There are also fishing areas where you can get a fresh catch.

You can also camp in your RV and enjoy sports activities at the courts and ball fields; likewise, kids can have fun at the skate park and Fun Zone.

The park also includes the Nickerson Pitch and Putt which is open from May to October.

You don’t have to leave your furry family members because you can take them to the Nickerson Beach dog park area.

Place Your Wager at Aqueduct Racetrack

Exterior of Aqueduct Racetrack

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Feeling lucky? You can try placing your bets and watch the live races at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Popularly known as The Big A, this 200-plus acre racing venue is right on Jamaica’s Rockaway Boulevard in South Ozone Park.

Over the years it has gone through several renovations and upgrades to give viewers a great experience and improve the quality of races held at the track.

The venue has also been the site of some momentous events including the Secretariat’s triple crown victory.

You can visit the racetrack for free even if you’re not planning to bet on a race.

Horse-racing at Aqueduct Racetrack

Cheryl Ann Quigley /

Dine in at Equestris and enjoy sumptuous buffet specials while watching the action on the sightlines.

Watch the horses at the paddock from the first-floor facility as they’re being saddled before the race.

If you want something to take home from your visit, you can order photos of your favorite racehorses from their official photographer, Adam Coglianese, which includes the winner’s circle, finish line moments, and trophy presentation.

You can also catch replays of the NYRA races at the video library collection located at the Race Replay Centers.

Enjoy the horse racing action at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Horses at Aqueduct Racetrack

Cheryl Ann Quigley /

Explore the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Summer white house at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

littlenySTOCK /

One of the most-visited historic attractions in Nassau, the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site offers visitors an opportunity to dig into history and enjoy nature at the same time.

This 83-acre area located on Oyster Bay’s Sagamore Hill Road features lush forests and vast meadows, along with salt marshes and beach areas that are home to various wildlife.

Even if you’re not a history buff, taking a guided tour of American President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Summer White House” will surely fascinate you; you can buy tickets and reserve a slot at the website.

Enjoy a free visit to the Sagamore Hill grounds and get to meet a real-life ranger, likewise, you can pack your lunch and have a relaxing outdoor picnic on the grounds.

Signage of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Felix Lipov /

Stroll the nature trails and head out to see the scenic views of Eel Creek and Cold Spring Harbor’s beach area; likewise, you’ll see a variety of dragonflies and damselfly species at Heron Pond and Woodpile Pond.

Go birdwatching and see some Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Winter Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and Great Crested Flycatchers on the east side of the park.

Visit the Old Orchard Museum & Visitor Center from Thursday to Sunday to purchase souvenir items, books, and educational resources about Theodore Roosevelt and his home in Sagamore Hill.

Have a relaxing tour of the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.

A building at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Felix Lipov /

Enjoy the Summer Days at Long Beach Boardwalk and Beach Park

People at Long Beach Boardwalk and Beach Park

James Andrews1 /

Go beach bumming with the family and head out to Long Beach Boardwalk and Beach Park.

Long Beach has been hailed as the Riviera of the East since the construction of the Boardwalk in 1907.

Today, visitors enjoy plenty of beachside activities, lines of dining spots, and the hippest hotels in this famous surfing town.

The 4-mile white sand beach area is also among Long Island’s most popular summer family destinations.

Wooden benches at Long Beach Boardwalk and Beach Park


The beach is open to the public daily but is closed for swimming when there’s no lifeguard available; you can also get your virtual passes through the mobile app or get one at the Magnolia Gazebo.

Enjoy the beach sand on your feet, play sand volleyball, go for a swim, or ride the waves on a surfboard.

You can also catch scheduled free concerts and an array of food choices with food trucks and concessions along the beachside, boardwalk, and Riverside Boulevard Food Court.

You’ll easily find the Long Beach Boardwalk and Beach Park right on West Chester Street.

Sunset over Long Beach Boardwalk and Beach Park

Scott Heaney /

Shop and Dine at Americana Manhasset

Signage of Americana Manhasset

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Experience luxury shopping at its best at Americana Manhasset.

Visit their location at Northern Boulevard in Manhasset and indulge yourself in a shopping spree with over 60 international high-quality brands to choose from.

As many call it the Rodeo Drive of the East Coast, you’ll find the finest items from Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, and Christian Dior, to Tiffany & Co., Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and many more.

If you like a quick brunch or snack, you can grab a cup of coffee or espresso, and some sandwiches, paninis, and salads at Cipollini Pronto Caffe.

A sculpture at Americana Manhasset

Leonard Zhukovsky /

If you crave something Italian, you’ll enjoy savory dishes at Cipollini Trattoria & Bar with an array of eclectic Northern Italian cuisine on the menu.

Toku Modern Asian Restaurant offers you a delectable mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Thai flavors to tickle your palate.

Have a great shopping and dining experience at Americana Manhasset.

Admire the Sites and Exhibits at Planting Fields

A mansion at Planting Fields

Jaclyn Vernace /

Located on Oyster Bay,Planting Fields is a 400-plus acre estate featuring several historic structures, magnificent garden landscapes, and impressive art and plant collections.

The area was appropriately named for its rich fertile land that the early Matinecock People and later the Dutch and English settlers had discovered.

The huge property was acquired by English immigrant Robertson Coe who became a prominent marine insurance company chairman.

The property today is among Long Island’s few remaining original estates with its buildings still intact including the Tudor Revival style, Coe Hall mansion.

Tour with a docent and view classic antique furnishings and art pieces inside the manor like Robert Winthrop Chanler’s The Buffalo Mural, iron works by Samuel Yellin, and Elsie de Wolfe’s detailed interior decoration, among others.

A water fountain at Planting Fields

Joe Trentacosti /

Step outside and be amazed at the intricate horticulture attractions built by the Olmsted Brothers Firm.

You’ll enjoy the sight and smell of abundant blooms and plants as you wander around the greenhouses, formal gardens, lawns, and woodlands.

You can also catch annual cultural events held at the estate such as the Camellia Festival held in February, April Arbor Day, and Home for the Holidays during December, along with various exhibits, lectures, concerts, and events for the family.

Planting Fields was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

A trail at Planting Fields

Joe Trentacosti /

Enjoy Outdoor Sports Activities at Wantagh Park

A trail at Wantagh Park

Audley C Bullock /

Bring the family toWantagh Park for some outdoor activities.

The 111-acre park lies southeast of Nassau County right on Wantagh’s King Road just south of Merrick Road.

Play tennis at any of the five courts, shoot hoops on thebasketball court, or play ball at the baseball and softball fields.

The park also features a one-mile path and another two-mile Fitness Trail for biking walking or jogging; you can also use the fitness stations along the Fitness Trail if you want to do your exercise routines.

Let little ones have their own fun time at the playground while you cook some barbecue in the sheltered areas; also, if you’re setting up at the reserved picnic areas, you would need to secure a Leisure Pass.

Park visitors can also enjoy playing at the 18-hole miniature golf course, which opens for a season.

Fish for some fresh catch at the pier or launch your boat to explore the waters in the area.

Of course, your furry best friend will also have fun running and playing around at the Dog Run.

Wantagh Park also has horseshoe courts and game areas for chess and checkers if you want some more relaxed activities.

Get Immersed in Art and Nature at the Nassau County Museum of Art

Exterior of Nassau County Museum of Art

Jon Bilous /

Enjoy an artistic experience and relaxing nature views at the Nassau County Museum of Art on New York’s Roslyn Harbor.

Most of the areas at the property were once owned by the New York Evening Post editor William Cullen Bryant who also built his residence near the Museum and a Gothic Revival-style guesthouse on the Upland Farm.

The Bryant home eventually became the residence of the Claytons until the 1960s and the estate was acquired by Nassau County in 1969 to formally establish the Nassau County Museum of Fine Art.

Join a docent-led tour to see the gallery exhibits or sign up for the Children’s and Family Programs, for a perfect bonding activity.

Interior of Nassau County Museum of Art

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

You can choose from other museum activities such as the Spring Sculpture Stroll, Eye and Mind: The Shin Collection, Mansion Tours, Director’s Seminar, and Family Gallery Tours.

Head outdoors and see over 40 sculpture pieces created by 30 talented sculptors, all dotted around the 145-acre William Cullen Bryant Preserve.

Wander around the beautiful arboretum and trails to enjoy the sights of lush landscapes lined with oaks, maple trees, and hickory, to name a few; you’ll surely spot some wildlife roaming around like foxes, chipmunks, rabbits, and deer, along with birds like hawks and great horned owls.

Among the highlights of the Nassau County Museum of Art is the Fricks’ Formal Garden so be sure not to miss it.

A sculpture in Nassau County Museum of Art

Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Final Thoughts

Nassau County hosts plenty of worthwhile attractions like museums, nature preserves, specialized exhibit areas, and so much more.

If you’re looking for meaningful experiences you can enjoy with the family, this New York destination should be on your bucket list.

Whether it’s a fun day at the beach, an outdoor adventure, or something to spur your imagination, the county offers you these and so much more.

So plan your trip and get to enjoy the best things to do in Nassau County, New York.

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