Several days ago I happened to see a video about handicapped accessibility of the Marine Environmental Center at Cedar Beach, in Mt. Sinai. It appeared to be easily accessible so I wanted to find out more about it and the beach itself. I enlisted my “better half” and off we went. Cedar Beach is on the North Shore of Long Island, facing Connecticut, a beautiful location with gorgeous views.
Being a cloudy day with a bit of drizzle, we found ourselves in a rather empty, paved parking lot (check the website for parking fees). There are four handicapped (van)- accessible spots at the far end ( closer to the Environmental Center ) and three spaces near "Sunsets At The Beach" (the restaurant/café). We parked near the Nature Center and porta-sans ( 2 ) - (not handicapped-accessible). A wide concrete path (about 1 ½ tenths of a mile) led us to the Center. If you cannot do this walk it is possible to be driven to the Center and dropped off. (To drive there, stay on the road after entering the park, go past the beach parking area to the stop sign at the driveway with a sign for the Center. Turn right to the Center itself.) Three wooden steps (or a ramp) lead to a small lip at the single door entrance.
The Center is a welcoming and accessible venue. The rooms all have smooth floors and places to sit. It is a kid-friendly science center with much information. We found fish tanks containing creatures from surrounding waters, a mini-beach display, and video monitors offering information about the area, in an easy to understand format. A lovely young woman was available to answer questions. As we exited the building at the back (another small lip), we found a beautiful vista of Long Island Sound. A gazebo with accessible picnic tables beckon one to bring lunch or a snack and relax in shade. On the opposite side we found a touch tank. Horseshoe crabs and other living things from the surrounding waters are here for one to visit “up close and personal.” Around the side of the building are multi-stall restrooms with handicapped stalls, but no baby-changing facilities.
It is possible to get down to the beach from here. We found three wooden steps as well as a narrow wooden ramp (covered with sand when we were here). We also found a bench in the sand that had quite a bit of sand around it, making it difficult to sit and even more difficult to get up.
Next, we took a walk along the wide, 700 foot boardwalk that made us feel as though we were in the beach dunes. Informational signs along the way provide information about the things we were seeing. We found two sitting areas along the way – one with four benches and the other with five. This was a lovely place for us to stop and take in the beauty of where we were. It was hard to leave. We were told that the Environmental Center has two “beach wheelchairs” available to anyone needing them. Just stop at the center and ask. We also noticed a beach wheelchair at the Main Beach, near the lifeguard building. If you want to reserve one of these chairs, call (631) 451 – 6130.
Even though it was not a beach day we went to check out the Main Beach. The lifeguard stand is near “Sunsets at the Beach,” the restaurant/café. A ramp on either side of the deck gets you to the dining area and full-height bar. Tables and chairs are under cover and have plenty of space between them for easy navigation. On a clear day I’m sure you can see Connecticut. One of the servers told me that sunsets are magnificent! Multi-stall restrooms, with large handicapped stalls and baby changing facilities are located on the side of the building. Table service is available, as well as a walk-up, window. This main area is where we saw a beach wheelchair and mobi -mat ( allowing wheelchairs and strollers to get closer to the water), extending from the parking lot down the beach. As we looked across the parking lot we saw a playground (for children ages 5 – 12). There are benches at the back of the sand, very close to the parking lot. We sat down and imagined that we saw Connecticut through the haze. At the same time we took note of the typical, rocky, north shore beach. If you come, be sure to bring water shoes to be able to walk over the rocks.
Our last stop was the fishing pier at the end of the road. We found four handicapped spaces, a porta-san (not handicapped accessible) and a wooden ramp to the wooden pier. There are no seats here, so if you want to sit, bring your own. As we drove out of the park we talked about when we would be able to return.
As always we at Destination:Accessible urge you to check a venue’s website, www.brookhavenny.gov, to “know before you go.”