Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in North Hempstead, NY

  • Published 2022/12/08

North Hempstead is a town within Nassau County on Long Island in New York.

It can be found in the western part of Long Island.

Europeans were the first settlers in the area who arrived around 1643.

The town of the then Hempstead split off in 1784, hence the creation of North Hempstead.

North Hempstead started to become prosperous on its own after the opening of the Long Island Rail Road.

The town has since then grown into an urban area composed of 31 villages.

As of the 2020 census, the population in North Hempstead has reached 237,639.

Aside from being a popular residential area, this town is also dotted with tourist attractions.

North Hempstead also offers attractions that you can enjoy without breaking the bank.

Here are the free things to do in North Hempstead, New York.

Wander around Clark Botanic Gardens

Trail lined with flora at Clark Botanic Gardens

Paul Pecora /

Clark Botanic Gardens is a 12-acre garden on I. U. Willets Road, Albertson.

It was founded in 1969.

You’ll feel refreshed and closer to nature as you explore its labeled gardens, streams, and ponds.

Clark Botanic Gardens is filled with towering and lush trees that will make you feel like you’re in a natural paradise.

This oasis also provides botanical education for all ages.

You can also check out or buy plants at Clark Botanic Gardens’ plant sale every Spring.

This place also features walking paths and party rooms perfect for special occasions.

Explore Cedarmere

Exterior of Cedarmere

Antony-22, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cedarmere is one of the oldest houses in Roslyn.

It was the former home of 19th-century poet and newspaper editor William Cullen Bryant.

He was also an attorney and civic leader.

Situated on Bryant Avenue, Cedarmere is surrounded by trees that also serve as home to various birds.

The garden of Cedarmere

Bellbird190, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was also included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The Friends of Cedarmere, Inc. now manages the historic site.

Metal bench overlooking a pond at Cedarmere

Bellbird190, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pay Homage to Polish Heritage at Polish American Museum

The Polish American Museum is on Belleview Avenue, Port Washington.

It was founded on Jan. 20, 1977, and is now home to folk art, historical artifacts, paintings, costumes, and other important documents about Polish heritage in the United States.

The museum was built to keep the Polish heritage alive.

Residents in the community donated almost every item you’ll see inside.

You can also see historical army uniforms, the Curie diorama, old photographs, Polish medals and weapons, and more.

The Polish American Museum also hosts and sponsors important events like art expositions, lectures, recitals, and film viewing.

Check Out Van Nostrand-Starkins House

Exterior of the Van Nostrand-Starkins House

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Van Nostrand-Starkins House is another historical house located on Main Street, Roslyn.

It was built in 1680 and was restored in 1977.

The earliest recorded occupants of this humble house were William Van Nostrand and his wife, Sarah.

nh Van Nostrand Starkins House2 1

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Van Nostrand-Starkins House is a popular tourist attraction due to its interesting architectural significance.

A visit to this house will make you feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1680s.

You may also want to check out some decorative art and old furniture inside Van Nostrand-Starkins House.

See the Saddle Rock Grist Mill

Exterior of Saddle Rock Grist Mill

Deirdrelmt, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saddle Rock Grist Mill is a historic grist mill in Saddle Rock.

This two-and-a-half-story gambrel-roofed building was constructed in the early 1700s.

Saddle Rock Grist Mill is a highly significant structure since it is one of the few standing tidal mills in the world.

This grist mill was used in grinding corn and wheat grown by local farmers.

Louise Udall Skidmore Eldridge first gave this property to the Nassau Historical Society and was later passed on to Nassau County.

Saddle Rock Grist Mill also used to be a museum where children could see how the grist mill works.

Take Some Snaps of Thomas Dodge Homestead

Facade of the Thomas Dodge Homestead

Michael J. Francese, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Thomas Dodge Homestead is located on Harbor Road, Port Washington.

It was established in 1721, with some renovations done in 1750 and 1903.

This L-shaped house is built mostly from a timber frame with cedar wood shingles.

Thomas Dodge Homestead was also included on the National Register of Historic Places list in 1986.

This picture-perfect historical structure hosts a free Spring Fling event once a year with live music, some refreshments, talks with the house’s beekeeper, and an antique sale.

Learn about Seafaring at the American Merchant Marine Museum

The American Merchant Marine Museum can be found at the United States Merchant Marine Academy on Steamboat Road, Kings Point.

It features exhibitions on American merchant marine.

The American Merchant Marine Museum aims to educate people on the country’s notable contribution to maritime services.

Inside, you’ll see displays of artifacts and artwork representing the seafaring profession.

Among the important things you’ll find inside the American Merchant Marine Museum are ship models in different shapes and sizes and nautical artifacts.

Visit the Manhasset Valley Park

The waters of Manhasset Valley Park

Jim.henderson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Manhasset Valley Park is a public park on Maple Street, Manhasset.

It is beautifully situated in the valley that separates the Great Neck and Cow Neck Peninsulas.

Manhasset Valley Park is the perfect place for a quick afternoon walk.

Its stream-side walking paths will lead you into the most peaceful and relaxing parts of the whole area.

You can also bring your little ones and let them enjoy the park’s playground.

Manhasset Valley Park also has an athletic and little league field.

You can also spend your time here playing in its softball fields and lacrosse.

Let Your Kids Play at Ridder’s Pond Park

Daytime view of Ridder’s Pond Park

AITFFan1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ridder’s Pond Park is situated on Meadowfarm Road, Manhasset Hills.

It offers an amazing view of the Ridder’s pond and is also home to fun and exciting playgrounds.

Your kids will have the best times of their lives in Ridder’s Pond Park’s swings, slides, and wheelchair-friendly orbit.

The playground’s floor is also covered with rubber for safety purposes.

Aside from that, Ridder’s Pond Park also has walking paths and fishing areas perfect for passing the time while your kids play.

There are also several benches within the park.

See Guitar Memorabilia at American Guitar Museum

Exterior of the American Guitar Museum

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The American Guitar Museum is a little Victorian home-turned-museum on New Hyde Park Road, New Hyde Park.

If you’re a music lover, you’ll find this place exciting.

It houses various guitars and photographs of famous musicians.

You’ll also find some old magazines related to guitar and music.

The American Guitar Museum also has a repair shop, so you can bring your guitar here and have it fixed by the museum’s owner.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go for a Quick Tour at East Meadow Farm

A tractor at East Meadow Farm

Bonnachoven, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

East Meadow Farm is nestled on Merrick Avenue, East Meadow.

It can be reached via a 23-minute drive from North Hempstead.

You can take a free tour of this farm which grows organic fruits and vegetables.

East Meadow Farm also serves as a habitat for a variety of plants.

This is just a small farm, but its atmosphere and especially its staff will make you feel at ease and at home.

East Meadow Farm is a great starting point if you are considering introducing gardening or farming to your little ones.

It has a bunch of demonstration gardens for vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

Don’t miss the butterfly garden and mini arboretum.

Get Lost in the Bird and Butterfly Meadows at Uplands Farm Sanctuary

The Uplands Farm Sanctuary is a 97-acre natural area on Lawrence Hill Road, Cold Spring Harbor.

You can reach this beautiful site via a 26-minute drive from North Hempstead.

Take your time exploring its 2.5-mile trail that meanders from bird and butterfly meadows.

This trail will also lead you through enchanting forests and a white pine-shaded ravine.

The Uplands Farm Sanctuary was established in honor of the late Jane Nichols, who was the owner of Uplands Farm and a long-time resident of the area.

She willingly gave three parcels of the preserve to The Nature Conservancy’s Long Island Chapter during the late 1970s.

The sanctuary acquired additional parcels after her death in 1981, hence the present Uplands Farm Sanctuary.

Practice Nature Photography at Queens Farm

A barn at Queens Farm

Alan Tan Photography /

Queens Farm is located on Little Neck Parkway, Queens, which is just 15 minutes away from North Hempstead.

Open all year round, this 47-acre farm offers site tours, educational trips for students, and volunteer farmer days.

Queens Farm is also a good spot to practice your nature photography skills; remember though that staged photography and shoots are not allowed.

Adriance house at Queens Farm

Maffilms13, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Aside from plants, fruits, and vegetable produce, Queens Farm is also home to some animals.

Directions on where you can see goats, alpacas, hens, sheep, and others are posted on the farm.

Play Sports at Senator Speno Memorial Park

The Senator Speno Memorial Park is located on East Meadow Avenue, East Meadow.

You can reach this destination through a 23-minute drive from North Hempstead.

Senator Speno Memorial Park is the best place to play sports with friends and families.

Feel free to enjoy its basketball and handball court.

Senator Speno Memorial Park also has a tennis court, vita course, shuffleboard table, and multi-purpose fields.

It is not just adults who are bound to have a great time in this park; your children will also have a memorable time in its playgrounds.

You can also visit this place if you want to relax amid nature.

You can walk or work out in Senator Speno Memorial Park’s open field or bring food and enjoy a picnic with your loved ones.

Spot Amazing Wildlife at Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve

A goat at Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve

Arnett Murry /

Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve is situated on Merrick Road, Merrick.

It is only 27 minutes from North Hempstead.

This 52-acre facility, which opened on Oct. 22, 2000, is dedicated to the late New York State Sen. Norman J. Levy.

Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve can be easily recognized through its windmill symbol.

While you’re here, make sure to visit its highest point, which measures up to 155 feet up.

A windmill at Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve

Joe Trentacosti /

From there, you’ll enjoy amazing views of the New York City skyline, Jones Beach Tower, and other coastal treasures.

It also has a fishing pier into Merrick Bay measuring 500 feet.

Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve is dotted with numerous tree species like red cedar, black locust, white birch, and more.

You’ll also be welcomed by foxes, birds, turtles, and other exciting wildlife as you explore Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve further.

Dwarf goats at Norman J. Levy Park & Preserve

Joe Trentacosti /

Final Thoughts

North Hempstead exudes a charm that makes every tourist want to come for more.

Each destination and attraction is truly a delight.

You’ll also never run out of things to do and visit in this town with multiple villages and hamlets.

Who says you need to break the back to experience the best things in life?

If you want to take a break from all the hustle and bustle of everyday life without spending a penny, try all these free things to do in North Hempstead, New York.

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