Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary – Past Rye Playland’s Kiddyland, the Gondola Wheel and the Dragon Coaster lies a peaceful retreat on the Long Island Sound. If you drive through the Playland parking lot past all the big attractions to the very end you will discover the Edith Read Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary is a 179-acre county park recognized by the National Audubon Society as an important bird area by virtue of its location along a major migratory flyway. There is a small nature center with a well-stocked bird watching area and exhibits about the sanctuary’s flora, fauna and ecosystem. Behind the center is a short network of trails that travel through the woods and along the sanctuary’s 85-acre pond. There is also a half-mile section of shore accessible by a short path across from the nature center. Playland Parkway, Rye. friendsofr
Marshlands Conservancy – Also located in Rye, the Marshlands Conservancy on Long Island Sound is a 150-acre sanctuary that is home to a diverse mix of ecosystems. Like Edith Read, Marshlands hosts both a visitor’s center with wildlife exhibits and 3 miles of trails that traverse the conservancy’s diverse habitats.
During a recent trip here, my family hiked along a trail that led us through varying terrain, from woodland to meadow, from dunes to marshes and shoreline. The kids spotted many fungi and earthworm castings and learned to identify poison ivy – whose berries, we gleaned, are an essential food source for native birds. The highlight, of course, was the beach at the trail’s end where the kids waded, dug and explored. 220 Boston Post Road, Rye. marshlands
Five Islands Park – At 15 acres, Five Islands is a gem of a park situated on the Long Island Sound in New Rochelle. The main island is Oakwood and is connected to Big and Little Harrison islands by a pedestrian footbridge. While not a nature preserve like the two above, Five Islands is a perfect spot for a day of outdoor family fun. The park is ideal for nature walks along a series of paths to the shore and also has lovely picnic areas with barbecue pits and a large playground. Off LeFevre Lane, New Rochelle. newrochelleny.com.
– Gina Vercesi, Kids Unplugged, kidsunplug