Travel: Fire Island with Kids

Hi there, Renae again. We are still talking about our week in New York and where our random road trip took us….on a ferry boat to a place called Fire Island. Most people have never heard of Fire Island, so I’ll give you the lay of the land and give you all the best info and tips you need for your next trip! 

After the hubs shows were done in West Nyack, we found ourselves having 2 free days between the next road gig to do whatever we wanted. It’s not typical that we find ourselves with random time off, so this was exciting!  We just had to be at JFK airport so Steve could get to Chicago for his next gig and Garrett and I could catch our return flight home. But what we did with those 2 days was totally up to us!  It’s been a crazy summer and we were really looking for some relaxing downtime, so we packed up our suitcase and decided to do what real New Yorkers do in the summer to escape the Manhattan heat.

We headed to Fire Island and I’m now smitten with this magical place! Getting here is the tricky part. You can drive the national seashore, but the road ends once you arrive at the beginning of Fire Island. Thanks for that one Google Maps! In order to get on the island you have to catch a ferry in Bay Shore, NY. The ferry is your only option, as there are no cars allowed on the island. Even golf carts are a pretty rare site.

No vehicles on the island makes it so ideal for kids to have free reign when exploring. Some fun info about Fire Island is that each of it’s villages has a very different feel to it. Where we stayed, Ocean Beach, is known to cater to both families and the more social crowd.

The Pines and Cherry Grove are known to be popular with the LGBT community. The permanent population is less than 300 people and some of the communities are so small they call them hamlets. The ferry drops you off right in the center of town where the restaurants, the market, and shops are all located.

While there are a few hotel options here, the ones we saw, we quite small and minimal. And some were a shared bathroom situation. We lucked out and had a friend so generously open up their house to us which was next to the most adorable little white church.  If you have the option to rent a cottage, this is the way to go (check AirBNB or other similar sites!).

Since there aren’t any cars, there’s no need for streets so its basically a grid of sidewalks between all the cottages. Garrett got lots of wagon rides while I had plenty of wine.

And since the island is less than 600 feet wide in some places you can easily access both the bay and the ocean. But make sure to time it right! We found ourselves at a playground on the bay when the afternoon sun was glaring down.

The beaches can get packed, but everyone was super friendly and there is definitely a small community feel even though the island is flooded with visitors in the summer. Everyone just loads up their beach gear on a cart or wagon and heads to the beach to set up shop. People feel comfortable leaving their umbrellas out all day and coming back and forth. TIP: Our friends even take a small plastic pool to the beach to set up for the little ones to get wet, but still stay close. It’s a great idea if you’ve got smaller ones.

We pretty much just relaxed on the beach and strolled around the whole time. Ocean beach is filled with families walking around. It’s scooters galore and its so nice to feel like kids can just go out and explore. I imagine its a great place to bring older kids too because you feel comfortable giving them a little more independence. (I say this now, but ask me again when my son is a teenager.)

And you can even spot deer on the island. They’ve gotten used to co-habitating with all the summer visitors and they will come very close to you in search of food. One evening one came right up to hand when we stopped to admire it.

I don’t have many tips to share, because Fire Island is delightfully easy going. There is only 1 little market, so just make sure you get what you need for your little ones on the mainland before you hop on the ferry to avoid the higher price tag on the island. Other than that, you just have to get there to experience it. Hopefully my photos have enticed you enough to check it out.

I was so grateful the hubs tour route gave us a few days off and that Steve threw out the suggestion to go to Fire Island, because it was exactly what our family needed. I absolutely recommend you check it out if you get the chance. I know everyone raves about how great NYC is and it definitely is, but if your a family on vacation, Fire Island offers such a cool experience.

ON A SEPARATE, BUT MUCH NEEDED NOTE:

My family has been so blessed to be able to travel and share these experiences together. I feel guilty writing about it, knowing so many families are still struggling in Texas as a result of Hurricane Harvey. And while there are many causes to donate to, many people don’t know that diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies. I simply can’t imagine the heart break a mother must feel when they struggle to feed or diaper their child. Please consider checking out www.texasdiaperbank.com to make a donation. They have an Amazon wish list as well, so its easy for anyone anywhere to contribute.

Just a quick wrap up on TIPS for Fire Island with kids:

  • take the ferry to get there
  • rent a cottage
  • bring beach gear
  • bring a wagon to take little ones on walks (no cars) and to get your things to the beach
  • consider bringing a small plastic pool to the beach for little ones
  • bring your necessities with you from the mainland, as there’s only one market on Fire Island
  • bring a camera for the photo ops! 

Happy traveling, friends! Follow along with our traveling circus on Instagram!