With pristine beaches, picturesque communities, great dining, a fascinating history, and tons of opportunities for outdoor fun, Fire Island is the quintessential island getaway. It’s an ideal place for families to enjoy themselves in an atypically quiet environment, since cars are not allowed. Thanks to its accessibility, Fire Island is great for day trips, weekend outings, and longer stays.
In this article, we’ll elaborate on the best activities to enjoy as a family on Fire Island!
Fire Island Lighthouse
Few landmarks represent the early-origins of a coastal community better than a lighthouse. The current Fire Island Lighthouse was completed in 1858 to serve as a beacon to mariners.
The Fire Island Lighthouse is open year-round and is worth visiting in any season. Walk up the 182 steps and take in the breathtaking views. On clear days, you can even see the NYC skyline.
In order to access the lighthouse, take a ferry ride from Bay Shore to Kismet, then walk or take a water taxi to the lighthouse. Otherwise, you can drive to Robert Moses State Park, Parking Field #5 (parking fee in season). Park on the east end of the parking lot and follow the boardwalk about ¾-mile to the lighthouse.
East of the lighthouse is located the quaint, family friendly community of Kismet, which is accessible by ferry from Bay Shore.. Kismet is a great place to enjoy a beach day and grab a meal at one of the local eateries, good nearby addresses would include Kismet Inn and Le Dock.
Kismet is also home to a beautifully kept 100-slip commercial marina, but still offers a quiet, laid-back ambiance. The beaches in Kismet also tend to be less packed compared beaches and communities further East.
Fire Island’s Ocean Beach is the unofficial capital of the half-mile-wide by 32-mile-long barrier beach, and is great for families. You’ll find varied dining options, great shops and home-spun galleries. Ocean Beach combines the allure of a resort with a casual atmosphere and the safety of a bygone era.
Warm ocean currents make the water inviting as early as mid-May and well into October. The beach is radio and alcohol-free, and there are a number of conveniently situated bathrooms near the ocean beach.
The Sunken Forest at Sailors Haven
The Sunken Forest, located at Sailors Haven, is a 40-acre forest that appears to be “sunken” compared to the tall surrounding dunes. You can either join a ranger-guided tour, or walk through the one-of-a-kind Sunken Forest.
After exploring the forest, you can enjoy some fishing in the Great South Bay, swim at the lifeguarded beach in the summer, check out the National Park Service Visitor Center’s fish tanks, get a passport stamp, and pick up a souvenir at the gift shop.
There is also a snack bar, picnic tables and grills, and a 45-slip public marina with electricity, water and a free boat pump-out station complete with restrooms and showers.
Camping is the stereotypical, wholesome family activity, and Fire Island has great camping! Fire Island’s Watch Hill tent campground is open seasonally and has 26 sand dune sites, where you can sleep under the stars behind the dunes. Watch Hill is located on the western edge of the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, directly across the Great South Bay from Patchogue, Long Island. It is accessible by Watch Hill Ferry, private boat, and foot only.
Campsites at the Watch Hill Family Tent Campground are available for a fee. An online reservation system is available through LoveFins.com.
There are also overnight boat slips with water and electricity. For extreme camping try the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness, which is available year round by special permit.
Fire Island has countless family-friendly restaurants that offer something for everyone, and provide the perfect seaside atmosphere, completing any excursion to Fire Island. Keep in mind that some Fire Island businesses listed below are open seasonally, so be sure to call ahead if you plan on going out to enjoy a meal in the off-season.
The most popular Fire Island restaurants for families would include:
- CJ’s Restaurant and Bar
- Rachel’s Bakery and Restaurant
- Hideaway Restaurant
- Island Mermaid
- Schooner Inn
- Town Pizza
- The Landing at Ocean Beach
It’s not the best idea to bring your own bikes to Fire Island since most ferries require you to ship them separately on a freight ferry. Renting bikes is the way to go, and you can find rentals available at Ocean Bay Park at the Schooner Inn, as well as at the hardware store in Ocean Beach.
There are currently no specially designated bicycle routes within Fire Island National Seashore, and bike riding is not permitted on Robert Moses State Park roadways. However, you may ride your bike on established routes designated for off-road motor vehicle travel.
Note that bicycles are not permitted in the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area, on boardwalks or other pedestrian walks at National Park Service properties, and may not be ridden around park marinas.
Biking is ideal within Fire Island Communities, just be sure to check biking restrictions within Fire Island communities beforehand.
Luxury Fire Island Homes | We Are Local!
Luxury Fire Island Homes, formerly known as Fire Island Homes, is a full service real estate agency located in Fire Island, NY. We offer rental, sale, investment and property management (coming soon) services. Laura and Brian Smith, Fire Island residents, ran Fire Island Homes for over 20 years. They merged with Sydney and Susan McCoy, owners of The Real McCoy Team – Your Home Sold Guaranteed, a residential real estate team located in Long Island, NY. The Smith and McCoy family have combined forces – resulting in the largest real estate brokerage in Fire Island. With thousands of buyers in their databases, 60 years of combined real estate experience in Long Island and Fire Island, innovative marketing approaches, and value-driven ideals, Luxury Fire Island Homes is your one-stop shop for all your real estate needs.