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The North Fork has an abundance of public parks.

Beaches, athletic facilities, playgrounds, hiking trails — collectively there’s something for everyone at the parks in Southold and Riverhead towns.

But let’s imagine for a moment that we could take the best feature of each one to create a single megapark with all the amenities you would want in a community park. Think Central Park on the North Fork.

While this is all just one big fantasy, let it serve as your cheat sheet to the finest characteristics of each local park.

Our perfect North Fork park would feature …

Orient Beach State Park. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the entry road, kayak rental shack and playgrounds from Orient Beach State Park. 

There’s no driveway quite like the one at this majestic Orient Point gem, where they’ve posted a wildlife crossing sign — and they mean it. Look out to the east and watch the ferry leave for New London or to the west for a river view. While we’re at it, we’re also taking the kayak rental stand and the variety of playgrounds — appropriate for all ages — from here.

The sun sets over Jean Cochran Park in Peconic Thursday, (Credit: Kelly Zegers/northforker)

… the athletic fields from Jean Cochran and Tasker parks in Peconic. 

The pickleball courts here have become a real community favorite. But it’s also home to the North Fork Ospreys baseball club each summer and boasts tennis courts, a hockey rink and basketball courts. 

Inside the camera obscura. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the carousel, green space, camera obscura and ice rink from Mitchell Park. 

The pride of Greenport’s Front Street, this wonder of a public space would be the centerpiece of our dreamscape. Dock your boat and ride the carousel in the summer or take in 360-degree views of the harborfront and lace up your skates in the offseason. The lawn area is also a great spot for a family to take a break and watch the kids run around.

Hallock State Park in Riverhead. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the hiking trails from Hallock State Park Preserve.  

Some of our favorite hikes are the ones that lead to a beach, and this small network of trails does not disappoint.

The sun sets in Southold. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

… the sunsets from Kenney’s Beach in Southold. 

We always favor the sound side when it comes to watching the sun set, and this more tucked away location in Southold offers unique, forward-facing views as the sun seemingly drops straight into the water.

New Suffolk Beach. (Credit: Krysten Massa)

… the beach from New Suffolk. 

There’s one thing New Suffolk Beach has that no other public beach on the North Fork can brag about: It’s located in New Suffolk. Wonderful, tucked-away communities produce gorgeous beaches. The view of Robins Island is a bonus.

The historic Horton Point Lighthouse in Southold. (Credit: Tara Smith)

… the lighthouse and museum from Horton Point. 

This lighthouse’s land-based location makes it easily accessible. And what a gem it is. The grounds here are also a great spot for a picnic. 

A sea gull stands guard over the Peconic Riverfront in Riverhead. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

... the boardwalk from Peconic Riverfront Park in Riverhead. 

Dock along the river, have a sandwich on a bench and watch the ducks swim, or stroll your way to the Long Island Aquarium from this riverfront walking area.

The Greenport Skate Park. (Credit: Tara Smith)

… the skate park from Moore’s Lane in Greenport. 

While this is detached from the other public grounds in the village, we love that Greenport has made the space for the kids who prefer a skateboard deck over a lacrosse stick.

Wading River Beach. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

… the Relic beach-cleanup baskets from Wading River Beach. 

These plastic baskets, like the kind you’d find in a supermarket, are a simple way to make it convenient for beachgoers to keep the space clean.

Fishermen at Trumans Beach. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

… the bluefish from Truman’s Beach in East Marion. 

What a joy to watch the fishermen line up when the bluefish are biting here each fall.

The EPCAL bike path. (Credit: Tim Gannon)

… the bike path from the Enterprise Park in Calverton. 

At more than nine miles long, there is no place quite like this path, which that runs from Route 25 to River Road.

Indian Island County Golf Course. (Credit: Riverhead News-Review)

… the golf course at Indian Island County Park. 

It makes sense a whole lot of sense to us that a place for public recreation would also include the opportunity to play 18 holes.

Reflexions, Art In The Park. (Credit: File Photo)

… the art exhibits and performance space from Grangebel Park in Riverhead. 

The annual Reflextions Art in the Park exhibit makes late summer nights a great time to visit this downtown park. The small amphitheater is also a nice touch for public performances.  

Lobsterfest at the Wharf House at Founder’s Landing. (Credit: David Benthal)

… the Wharf House from Founder’s Landing in Southold. 

There are a few community centers at parks district spaces in Southold Town, but this one, used for private events, is our favorite. Check it out during Lobsterfest.

dog parks north fork epcal calverton
‘Isaac Park’ at EPCAL in Calverton. (Credit: Riverhead News-Review)

… the Isaac Dog Park from Veterans Park in Calverton. 

You have to remember man’s best friend when building out the perfect park and in this Town of Riverhead park they took care of our four-legged friends in the planning process.

Our parks wish list

We appreciate our many North Fork parks, but there are some amenities we would love to see somewhere. Here are a few ideas for new additions.

  • splash park
  • public pool and waterslide
  • clam shack and tiki bar
  • arboretum and sculpture garden
  • permanent event space for concerts and screenings