Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Islip, NY

  • Published 2022/11/22

Located on the south shore of Long Island, the town of Islip is in Suffolk County, New York, and is the 4th most populous town in the state.

As of 2010, the town had a population of 335,543, including the hamlets, villages, and other community residents under its jurisdiction.

Named after a village of the same name in England, the town began in 1664 when Matthias Nicoll relocated to the area from Islip, Northamptonshire, England.

The Nicolls owned most of the east end of the town, which spans more than 100 square miles.

The town had its first local post office in 1802, and they named the place after the Nicolls’ hometown in England.

Although many of the town’s old-world architectural-style homes have been razed, most of the Queen Anne Revival-style homes still exist.

Because of its location on the Great South Bay, the town has drawn thousands of tourists yearly for different water activities and lots of interesting historical sites.

Moreover, many of these activities are free.

Check out the free things to do in Islip, New York!

Enjoy Sightseeing at East Islip Marina Park

Aerial view of East Islip Marina Park

Audley C Bullock /

Swimming is one of the popular activities in Islip.

Although many of its beaches require fees, East Islip Marina Park doesn’t, except in summer months for non-residents.

The park features a small beach where you can enjoy the water with amazing views of Fire Island and its breathtaking sunset.

Kids can also enjoy the lovely playground with plenty of space for exploration.

There are friendly deer around the park, and some may even get near you, so be sure to bring them a treat.

The park also has baseball fields, a boat launch, and docks, as well as a restaurant & grill with great music.

Parking is free at East Islip Marina Park on Bayview Avenue.

Take a Scenic Stroll around South Shore Nature Center

For stunning views of woodlands, freshwater wetlands, and salt marsh on the banks of Great South Bay, head out to South Shore Nature Center.

The raised boardwalks over marshlands are marked for lovely strolls while getting in tune with nature.

You’ll see some deer, turtles, and other wildlife around the nature center, which add to the relaxing ambiance that nature offers.

Established in 1977, it also features an art gallery and a gift shop, all open to the public.

Inside the facility are exhibits and collections of mounted and live animals, although there’s a fee if you enter.

Otherwise, the nature walks are great for those who want to take relaxing strolls in East Islip.

South Shore Nature Center is a 200-acre nature sanctuary, which Decker and Betty Orr donated, along with other property owners nearby.

Located on Bayview Avenue, the nature center hosts education and summer programs for kids.

Let the Kids Play at Beaver Dam Park – Islip Owls

If you’re traveling with kids, they can enjoy playing on a lovely afternoon at Beaver Dam Park – Islip Owls.

The park has a nice, well-maintained playground with swings for the babies and older kids with a safe, green space for running and playing around.

It also features a baseball field and a basketball court where you can see other locals playing a friendly game.

It’s also an excellent venue for morning walks with benches to sit and relax.

Older kids can have a great time playing at the jungle gym.

Beaver Dam Park – Islip Owls is on Beech Street, connecting two residential neighborhoods.

Tour the Manor House at Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

Manor house at Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

Michael Rega /

Built in the late 1800s, the Manor House, owned by William Bayard Cutting, is a Tudor-style English country house with 60 rooms.

Cutting, a businessman and philanthropist, and his family gifted the entire property to Long Island as a place where people can relax, appreciate nature, and give importance to informal planting.

There is no admission fee to enter the house, which features imported fireplaces, large oak furniture, and Louis Comfort Tiffany stained-glass windows.

The 19,000-square-foot summer home of the Cuttings shows sweeping views of the Connetquot River with beautiful grounds open to the public.

The grounds of Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

Joe Trentacosti /

The architect Charles Haight designed the mansion on the Westbrook property, now known as Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park.

The park, in 1973, was added to the National Register of Historic Places_._

One of the mansion’s family rooms appeared on the show The Gilded Age, streaming on HBO Max.

You can find the Manor House on Montauk Highway, Great River, New York.

Trail lined with plants at Bayard Cutting Arboretum State Park

Joe Trentacosti /

See the Marine Artifacts at Seatuck Environmental Association

Long Island has long been abundant in wildlife and natural ecosystems, protected and preserved by Seatuck Environmental Association.

The facility displays marine-related artifacts you can check out while exploring the grounds.

The organization also hosts marine-centered activities and unique events, including the annual Eco-Carnival, its version of Earth Day.

Founded in 1989 by Charles D. Webster and his team, Seatuck Environmental Association connects with individuals who share the same passion for preserving wildlife and the ecosystem.

You can find it on South Bay Avenue, Islip.

Attend an Event at the Common Ground at Rotary Park

After the tragic events of 9/11 , community volunteers organized a group to produce a reflective garden called The Common Ground at Rotary Park.

The park features beautiful gardens, personalized walkway stones, memorial benches, a pavilion, and a labyrinth.

Located in Sayville, New York, the younger trees at the park are dedicated to the lives lost in the 9/11 attack.

The park holds regular events free for everyone who wants to find comfort and relaxation while connecting with the community.

It holds live music performances, family activities, gardening, and labyrinth walk for those who want to meditate and find emotional healing.

Get closer to nature, yourself, and the community at the Common Ground at Rotary Park, on Gillette Avenue.

Browse the Vintage Race Car Collection at the Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia

Long Island has a rich history in racing, which Marty Himes preserves at the Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia.

The small museum has a fantastic collection of automobiles, ranging from stock cars to photographs.

Himes, also a racer, preserves vintage race cars, helmets, driving suits, model racers, tickets, helmets, and many other racing memorabilia.

In 1975, while Himes was still an active race car driver, he built this little museum right on his property in Bay Shore to preserve Long Island’s motorsports heritage.

The Himes Museum of Motor Racing Nostalgia is on Oneill Avenue.

Walk Your Dogs around Gardiner County Park

View of the bay from Gardiner County Park

Joe Trentacosti /

If you have pet dogs with you, they can also have their time of life at Gardiner County Park in Bay Shore.

The 231-acre park is a popular destination for visitors bringing their dogs with them, as it has a straight path to the bay.

You can walk your dogs on a leash down there while taking advantage of the park’s natural gift.

An american bully dog at Gardiner County Park

rSnapshotPhotos /

Enjoy bird-watching and nature-tripping with your dogs around the park, and let them play in the fenced areas.

There’s also an agility course for the dogs, which can be an excellent activity for your fur babies at the park.

Gardiner County Park is on Montauk Highway.

A dog without a leash at Gardiner County Park

rSnapshotPhotos /

Watch a Friendly Game at SUSA Orlin & Cohen Sports Complex

On a fine afternoon, you can head out to SUSA Orlin & Cohen Sports Complex to watch some friendly sports games by local athletes.

The four artificial turf fields are well-kept and LED-lighted, enough for athletes and spectators to enjoy the game at night.

You’ll see local kids and older ones practicing at any of the complex’s turf fields.

There are also portable toilets that everyone can use, so you don’t have to go elsewhere when nature calls.

The complex is also accessible to some hotels, which are all across the street.

SUSA Orlin & Cohen Sports Complex is on Carleton Avenue in Central Islip.

Hike the Trails and Boardwalks at the Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge

The Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge supports different species of migratory birds, waterfowl, waterbirds, red foxes, and white-tailed deer.

The refuge, though, isn’t open to the public.

The scenic trails and boardwalks are perfect for hikes and strolls.

It is, however, open to biological research, environmental education, and other select activities with special permits.

While hiking on the outskirts of the refuge, you’ll also get a good glimpse of Champlin Creek, a fish, and wildlife habitat.

The Peters family donated the 209-acre property on St. Marks Lane in 1968.

The Seatuck National Wildlife Refuge is a part of the Long Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

It’s also managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which leads the maintenance, restoration, and protection of wildlife and the ecosystem.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

If you get past the borders of Islip, you’ll also find fantastic tourist attractions that don’t require you to spend a dime.

These spots are great for sightseeing, scenic hikes, and learning local history while staying in touch with nature and wildlife.

Step into the Past at the Town of Babylon History Museum at Old Town Hall

Signage of the Town of Babylon History Museum

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learning local history is never easier at the Town of Babylon History Museum at Old Town Hall.

At the museum, you’ll see artifacts and historical handouts that speak of the past and the town’s old jail cells on the museum’s lower levels.

You’ll also find a fantastic train display at the museum, located at the Town of Babylon Old Town Hall, built in 1857.

Entrance doors of the Town of Babylon History Museum

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s worth noting that the Old Town Hall was listed on theNational Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Self-guided tours are free at the Town of Babylon History Museum.

The museum is on West Main Street, Babylon, New York, only 14 minutes from Islip.

See the Wildlife at Kings Park Unique Area

On Bruce Lane, Kings Park, New York, sits Kings Park Unique Area, a 69-acre green space open for wildlife viewing, bowhunting, and hiking.

Try to spot eastern cottontails, white-tailed deer, turkeys, red squirrels, flying squirrels, box turtles, red-eyed vireos, hairy woodpeckers, and eastern wood peewees.

Established in 1966, the park serves as a greenway for nearby residential areas.

It’s also great for hiking with marked yellow and blue trails and bowhunting for those who have permits.

Kings Park Unique Area is a 23-minute drive from Islip.

Go Picnicking at Lake Ronkonkoma County Park

For a family day out, Lake Ronkonkoma County Park offers an excellent spot for picnicking and other recreational activities.

The shaded picnic areas have grills for barbecue while enjoying the views of the water.

Kids can play at the playground area, and there are also designated spots for fishing, boating, or kayaking.

There are sports fields and opportunities to see birds around and by the water.

Lake Ronkonkoma County Park is in Brookhaven on Lake Shore Road, Lake Ronkonkoma, New York, 24 minutes from Islip.

Check Out the World War II Memorial Tree Marker

Located in Lake Ronkonkoma, the World War II Memorial Tree Marker honors U.S. Navy David Girardet and all the other WWII veterans.

Commodore Bunny Gubner planted the historical landmark in 1945 to honor the war heroes living in Lake Ronkonkoma.

The marker was erected in 2013 by the Lake Ronkonkoma Heritage Association.

It doesn’t take five minutes to see this historical landmark at the intersection of Portion Road and Hawkins Avenue.

The World War II Memorial Tree Marker is only a 22-minute drive from Islip.

Commune with Nature at Sweet Briar Nature Center

Home to beautiful gardens, wetlands, woodlands, and different kinds of wildlife, Sweet Briar Nature Center is a perfect spot to get closer to nature.

Explore the grounds and experience the unique wildlife and nature’s gift.

Established in 1986, the 54-acre nature preserve also rehabilitates injured animals and puts them back in the wild if possible.

It also holds events and programs centered on preserving the ecosystem and wildlife.

Special wildlife tours, such as the butterfly garden and birds of prey, are for a minimal fee.

However, the grounds and entrance to the facility are free, which are great for scenic walks and engaging with nature.

Sweet Briar Nature Center is in Smithtown, New York, 30 minutes from Islip.

Final Thoughts

The town of Islip is known for its association with the Great South Bay, which attracts many locals and tourists to spend some time at its unique destinations.

This is why the town has become a go-to spot for people who want to escape the big city’s hustle and bustle.

Have fun with the free things to do in Islip, New York!

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