Jones Beach State Park is named after Major Thomas Jones, who arrived in Long Island in 1692. He’s renowned for constructing the area’s first brick house and owning more than 5,000 acres of island land. Before passing in 1713, he inaugurated a whaling station adjacent to what is now Jones Beach New York. The park officially opened on August 4, 1929, under the Robert Moses administration (for whom Robert Moses Beach is named). It became apparent the beach would be a great success–after only a year, the park had welcomed almost 2 million people. Just two years later, causeways were built to accommodate major traffic. Today the park spans more than 2,400 acres.
Jones Beach is connected to Long Island by three distinct parkways, leading way to Cooper’s Beach, Southampton. Arriving by car, visitors are accommodated by six public parking areas adjacent to the boardwalk that accommodate up to 250,000 vehicles. Parking in the center lots is most hectic during weekends in the summer when crowds are thick. Though visitors are encouraged to ride bicycles to the park, riding within Jones Beach State Park isn’t permitted in the summer, but bike parking is free at the Wantagh Parkway bicycle path.
Swimming has always been the biggest draw. Several swimming options include East and West swimming pools (including both wading and diving pools), surf swimming along 6.5 miles of oceanfront beach, and a half-mile expanse of bay front swimming in Zachs Bay. These options create ideal conditions for almost any person at any age. On the west and east end of Jones Beach are two huge brick and sandstone bathhouses equipped with showers, restrooms, and change rooms. Based around surf swimming areas are designated surf fishing spots, fishing docks, and a boat basin to accommodate small boats with 76 free slips.
The boardwalk is the main pedestrian thoroughfare within Jones Beach New York and signifies just how lively and appealing the area is. A large number of concessions are located along the boardwalk offering light foods and cold drinks during the summer season with a few bigger kiosks open beyond peak season. There are also several gift and beach shops. Jones Beach State Park has so many other attractive qualities that make it a choice over other nearby New York beaches. These include shuffleboard, basketball, deck tennis courts, a mini golf, an 18- pitch and putt course, picnic areas, softball diamonds, and outdoor dancing. The park also offers sports programs for kids at various times and presents the Children’s Jubilee Festival annually. Each year there is also live music and various entertainment outdoors.
Fun beach days often turn into exciting waterfront evenings at the Nikon, a 15,000-seat amphitheater inside Jones Beach State Park facing Zachs Bay and across from the ocean. Established in 1952, the theater welcomes world renowned acts in the summer months. Jones Beach New York is also the annual host fo the New York Air Show during memorial Day weekend. A short trip to the west over two adjoining parkways is Point Lookout Town Park, Lido Beach, and Long Beach, New York.