Camp Hero State Park. This state park has a long and storied history as a U.S. military facility. Its 415 acres of diverse landscape includes heavily wooded areas and a long expanse of beachfront leading past bluffs to a stunning back view of the lighthouse. (Don't forget your camera.) Abandoned military buildings make for fun exploration as you walk miles of trails, including barracks with painted-on windows and a gymnasium disguised as a church to fool enemies. The centerpiece is an old radar tower, around which has been talk of conspiracy theorists and paranormal activity. Camp Hero Rd., Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/668–3781; Parking $8.

Hither Hills State Park. This 1,755-acre park, with rolling moors and forests of pitch pine and scrub oak, encompasses a campground, picnic areas, a playground, general store, miles of ocean beach, and hiking and bicycling trails. An unusual natural phenomenon in the park is known as the Walking Dunes, so named because strong northwest winds cause the 80-foot dunes to travel 3 or more feet per year. The ¾-mile loop through cranberry bogs, beaches, and pine forests submerged in sand is not too far for little feet to travel, and most people find the natural lore of the area fascinating. Pick up the descriptive brochure, which includes trail maps, at the park office or the chamber of commerce before you set out. 164 Old Montauk Hwy., Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/668–2554; Parking $10 daily (late May–early Sept.). Daily dawn–dusk.

Montauk Downs State Park. An 18-hole Robert Trent Jones-designed championship-length golf course is the main draw here. The park also has a driving range, six well-maintained Har-Tru tennis courts, a locker room, showers, a pro shop, a snack bar, a restaurant, a children's pool, and a large, sparkling recreational pool surrounded by comfortable lounge chairs. 50 S. Fairview Ave., Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/668–5000; Park free; pool $5; tennis $22 per hour; golf fees vary. Daily dawn–dusk.

Montauk Point State Park. About 6 miles east of the village, the 724 acres of rocky shoreline, grassy dunes, and bayberry-covered moors surrounding Montauk's lighthouse have been so well protected that you might feel as if you're standing at an undiscovered frontier of pounding surf and pristine land. Frequently, a wild riptide (this is not a swimming beach) sets up perfect conditions for exciting surf casting. This is one of the best spots in Montauk to try your luck at catching the "big one." A fishing permit isn't necessary. Other activities include hiking (trail maps are available at the information booth), bird-watching, and beachcombing. 2000 Montauk Hwy, Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/668–3781;

Guided Seal Walks. Depending on the tide and weather, during certain weekends from early December to late April naturalists lead two- to three-hour walks in Montauk Point State Park. Hikers are guided to the haul-out sites along the north beach to observe seals and winter birds, and to learn about marine geology. 2000 Montauk Hwy., Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/668–3781; 631/668–2554; $4, plus $8 parking fee (April only). Dec.–early Apr.; call for details.

Shadmoor State Park. With 99 acres of steep bluffs, sand beach, rare plants, and hiking trails, this beauty of a park is a quiet place to walk, think, and take in the view. Parking is at the entrance, just east of Montauk center on Montauk Highway (look for the sign). 900 Montauk Hwy., Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/668–3781; Free. Daily dawn–dusk.

Montauk County Park. Miles of hiking and horseback-riding trails vein this 1,126-acre park. At the close of the war in Cuba, Teddy Roosevelt and his band of Roughriders and 28,000 soldiers came to this site for a long season of rest and recovery after their ordeal. Activities at the park include fishing, outer-beach camping (self-contained trailers only), picnicking, and bird-watching. Tour the Historic Third House, which originated as a home for early East Hampton Town cattle drivers and later served as the headquarters of an important camp during the Spanish-American war, when it was utilized by Theodore Roosevelt and the Rough Riders. Off Montauk Hwy., Montauk, New York, 11954. 631/852–7878; Free. Park daily dawn–dusk; museum May–Oct., daily 10–5.