I’ve known my whole life that the beach was my happy place. Growing up in Rockaway Beach, N.Y just one house from the boardwalk and ocean, my friends would call me (on the house phone) to see if there were waves, and I would stretch the long telephone wire onto the porch to check it out. The beach was all I knew growing up being kind of isolated on the peninsula, and I can count on one hand the number of family vacations we took.
When I got married and had kids we visited The Poconos, Disney World (lots of times), and went on various cruises. Of course we visited Caribbean Islands and beautiful beaches, but there was always somewhere else kind of tugging me in another direction. I discovered that I enjoyed strolling and hiking in wooded areas.
As we moved away from Disney trips, my daughter and I always made it a point to go on at least one hike per trip. We explored the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, a bamboo forest in Hawaii, rain forests in St. Lucia, Curacao, and recently in Martinique on our cruise in January. Booking a hiking excursion became as important as booking a beach excursion.
Somewhere along the way in our marriage, we moved to Long Island for better schools for our kids. Being a teacher, I still had my summers with Long Island beaches and our annual family vacation. Last year everything changed. I no longer spent my days at work and my nights planning and preparing for the next day. I no longer just planned and looked forward to my annual family vacation. I retired!
My life now revolves around dog sitting, planning vacations, and finding things to do near me. Summer was like it always was, but in the fall I started looking for things to do near me, and for the first time in a long time I enjoyed the season of fall. One of the places we discovered was the Bailey Arboretum.
Bailey Arboretum is located on the North Shore of Long Island in Lattingtown, N.Y. There’s 42 acres of trails and gardens and you can visit throughout the year for free. They do have events such as Family Day and Popcorn and Pajamas. My husband and I enjoyed getting lost along the leaf littered trails and enjoying all the beauty fall had to offer here on Long Island. We visited many leaf littered wooded areas on Long Island and for the very first time in a long time, I was able to take a deep breath and enjoy the beauty of the fall season.
Turns out spring is even nicer than the fall walking through these wooded areas. I wrote about the beauty of The Muttontown Preserve and Planting Fields Arboretum previously, and how great it is to find things to do near me, and the awesomeness of spring green. Emerald green is the dominant color.
I never really noticed much about spring except the blooming flowers and trees that popped like the magnolia and cherry blossom. Spring in recent years was a countdown to summer and my summer vacation.
Visiting the Bailey Arboretum in the spring looks far more beautiful to me than it did in the fall. It radiated renewal and hope. Turtles and frogs were soaking up the sun in the pond and birds were singing their songs throughout the acres of trails and gardens.
There is a section called Turtle Island. When we went in the fall we did not see any turtles, and this time I made a joke about there being no turtles on Turtle Island. And then, exactly as they advertise, two turtles were basking in the sun on a log. They have chairs are set up for you to sit and rest and enjoy the island.
A wonderful section at the Arboretum is the Children’s Garden. We felt like kids walking the grounds where you can climb, make your mark with chalk, swing, playhouse, or just rest. My daughter instantly became childlike as she played with the chalk. Shortly after we left this section a band of cheering kids entered and were playing and having a great time just as the garden was intended to be used for.
The arboretum sits on the former estate of Frank and Marie Louise Bailey. That was news to me until we stumbled on a house on the grounds which we inferred was part of the original estate. It was the Bailey’s summer home purchased in 1911. Frank Bailey was a self taught horticulturalist and left his mark on the 40 plus acres in Locust Valley, NY. The property was donated to Nassau County in 1968 and has been under the care of the Friends of Bailey Arboretum since 2006. The estate and grounds can be rented for special occasions.
So if you don’t know, an arboretum is a botanical garden devoted to trees. As you walk the paths and trails, especially this time of year, the trees are simply breathtaking. The grass is emerald green and there’s not a falling leaf in sight.
Bailey Arboretum is a great find close to home. I highly recommend it to people of all ages to stroll, explore, or just to sit in relax among nature.