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New York City Parks Guide: Things to Do at Robert Moses State Park


Alina Prikhodko

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New York State Parks are among the most picturesque in the United States. From imposing mountains to sandy beaches, there's no place like New York City for spectacular nature. There are 180 parks in the state, each of which deserves a separate article. Over the next few months, we'll be introducing you to some of them regularly.

We have already talked about an amazing place for adventure and relaxation near Niagara Falls - Niagara Falls State Parkand stunning Ithaca park with 12 waterfalls - Robert H. Treman State Park.

Long Island's South Shore boasts a variety of beaches, but if you're looking for the most remote shore, check out Robert Moses State Park with an 8-kilometer stretch of picturesque ocean coastline.

Located just 90 minutes by car from Midtown, this Fire Island gem offers four Fields, or beaches, to choose from, each with its own character, crowd and different amenities. Two of them are radio-free, so you can give yourself real relief from intrusive social networks and messages from work.

Photo: Trentacosti

The main attraction of Robert Moses State Park is certainly the 8 kilometers of white, fine sand beaches that stretch east from Fire Island Bay.

The spacious park offers a wide range of entertainment for everyone. It has some of the best fishing in the Northeast, and there is a large campground, marina, swimming and surfing beach, tennis courts and picnic area. Here, among other things, there is a nature center that is open all year round. In winter, for example, you can go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and hike with a ranger to admire the beautiful views of the surrounding area.

Features of the park

Visitors can swim and boogie board at any of four lifeguarded beaches. Field 2, 3 and 4 beaches offer scenic picnic areas. Surfing and surf fishing are popular activities that many beachgoers enjoy. Each has shops, first aid stations, public toilets and private outdoor showers.

On the Beach Field 2 open from early April to mid November Pitch & Putt golf course. There is an extensive volleyball court, which can host a maximum of 21 games at a time. Field 2 is located east of Democrat Point, a favorite spot for surfers and fishermen. The beach has access to both the Atlantic Ocean and Fire Island Bay. On it you will only find an ice cream man wandering along the shore, so we advise you to stock up on food in advance.

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Beach Field 3, founded in 1908 in honor of master builder Robert Moses, it is the oldest recreation area in the park. It is located closest to the iconic water tower, which provides a beautiful backdrop to the picnic area. Here, visitors can take advantage of a spacious gazebo, as well as an underground tunnel connecting Field 3 to the day-use boat pool, which can accommodate up to 80 boats.

Fishing enthusiasts head first to Field 3 to fish or crab from the long piers located in front of the park office. It is open 7 days a week and sells a variety of permits, allowing visitors to get the most out of their beach holiday, including Empire Passports, fishing, surfing and stargazing permits.

On the Beach Field 4 There are volleyball courts and bicycle rentals. Picnic and grill areas are scattered throughout the area. Snacks and drinks can be purchased at the store at Field 4, but if you choose another beach, it's best to bring your own picnic food.


Beach Field 5 – this is the gate of Fire Island. A beautiful nature trail leads from the east parking lot to Fire Island Lighthouse, so visitors can explore the nearby towns of Kismet and Saltair on foot. This is an ideal place for a family holiday. Field 5 is the easternmost section of the beach, located closest to the legendary Fire Island Lighthouse, built in 1858.

A long boardwalk from this area will lead you to the lighthouse, where you can climb 182 steps to the very top. In the summer, every tourist enjoys viewing the beautiful dunes and meeting wild animals (rabbits or deer) on the boardwalk nature trail leading to the lighthouse. Field 5 features, among other things, a large, colorful play area with many slides and climbing walls.

All beaches are accessible to disabled people using wheelchairs, which can be obtained free of charge at any of the first aid stations. During the summer season, Field 2, Field 3 and Field 5 beaches have mats to make access to the beach easier. During peak summer days, parking here costs $10 per car. After Labor Day the price drops to $8.

History of the park

The park was founded in 1908 and was originally called Fire Island State Park. It became the first state park on Long Island. New York State settled on Fire Island back in 1892, when cholera forced Gov. Roswell P. Flower to rush to purchase the Surf Hotel to quarantine immigrants who contracted the disease on transatlantic ships. The measure caused panic as commercial orders for fish caught in the Great South Bay were cancelled. In addition, residents of nearby areas began to worry about their own health and well-being.

An organized protest by fishermen and residents of Islip and Babylon took place at the Surf Hotel pier to prevent the day-long vessel Cephus from disembarking with quarantined passengers. Governor Flower eventually called in armed regiments to ensure the safe arrival of the men and women on board.

The Surf Hotel was once one of Fire Island's grandest hotel establishments, but it never recovered from the cholera incident that made headlines in the world's tabloids. The state did not have the talent to manage hotels, and over time, part of the dilapidated structure was washed out to sea, and other parts of the sprawling complex were auctioned off and taken away on barges.

After such a tumultuous start, the state turned its Fire Island property into parkland. In 1924, Robert Moses, who was then appointed commissioner of the Long Island park system, changed the boundaries of the park area. He included additional lands that resulted from westward intertidal drift and formed the profile of Robert Moses State Park as we know it today.

Until 1964, access to Fire Island State Park was by ferry from Babylon, New York. That same year, construction of a dam was completed that provided vehicular access. Both the park and the dam were named after Commissioner Moses. This is the same Robert Moses who wanted to build a highway through the center of Fire Island, but received strong rebuff from the organized residents of Fire Island. Therefore, the road ends abruptly after the eastern line of the park and goes no further.

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