Field Trip: Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center

Jones Beach Nature & Energy Center
150 Bay Pkwy, Wantagh, NY

This place is not accessible by public transportation from what I can tell — I even emailed them to ask and no reply. But we drove to Field 2 with our bikes in the trunk and biked down Bay Parkway, which was short but fun. The next time I want to ride from Cedar Creek Park to Captree State Park — a 19 mile route one way down Ocean Parkway.

From the Wantagh LIRR stop, it’s a 4-mile ride to Field 5, at the water tower, then another 4 miles west to the nature center.

Everyone knows Jones Beach, but I had never been to the nature center, which I was mostly interested in for the architecture. It’s a net-zero building that uses both solar and geothermal, and a lot of its guts are on the outside so you can see how the energy tech is working. It was designed by the Brooklyn-based nArchitects, who are also doing a building in Hudson River Park at Gansevoort. For that it was totally worth the trip.

The displays inside are pretty thin in terms of content, but it entertained us for a half hour, as did the plantings outside.

But the added bonus was the absolutely empty stretch of beach — likely because this is on the far western end of the barrier island (you are almost to Long Beach) and the walk to the edge of the water is pretty far. There’s also a small area at the nature center.

The beach is guarded till 6p through Sept. 11.


We headed back to Field 5 for the snack bar, which, as predicted, is decent but pricey. The gelato was excellent. Another option is to picnic on the porch of the nature center, which is covered with a pergola and has excellent views of the ocean.

I had no idea that there was a zipline and climbing course there, right at Field 5. WildPlay is open till Nov. 5 and looks great — it’s one of the bigger ropes courses I have every seen outside of Vermont.

And if you’ve never seen a concert at the Jones Beach Theater, add that on too. Make sure to tailgate.