Floyd Bennett Field (North)
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:3159 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn, NY
Hours:Visitor center: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: Visitor Contact Station; Visitor Contact Station parking lot; near Park Nursery (adjacent to Archery Range)
Water/Snacks: Concessions in Visitor Contact Station and Aviator Sports and Events Center

USGS Brooklyn

Part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, Floyd Bennett Field was New York City’s first municipal airport; now it is home to the first and only public campground in the city.

Hangars 7 & 8 at Floyd Bennett Field.
Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/Jim Henderson

Floyd Bennett Field is named for a Brooklyn-born aviator whose dubious claims to fame include faking what would have been the first flight to the North Pole, and failing to win the Orteig Prize for the first successful nonstop flight from France to the United States (the honor went to Charles Lindbergh). Despite this ignominy, a Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport is near his birthplace in Queensbury, New York, and a Navy destroyer, the USS Bennett, was named in his honor. Go figure. Or, as the sign says when you exit Brooklyn: “fuhggedaboudit.”

In any case, the site is rich with aviation history and offers interesting trails. The best way to experience this is by exploring the north section to discover abandoned airplane hangars and vacant runways that stretch into the horizon. Many of the buildings are considered among the finest examples of aviation architecture from the early days of commercial air travel, and they now constitute a district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After entering the park, turn right and walk along Hangar Row Historic District, a stretch of abandoned airplane hangars that will make you long for the golden age of flight. When you reach the end, turn around and retrace your steps northwest along the paved road approximately 0.4 mile to the bottom of the abandoned runway. Turn right, walking northeast up the runway for about another 0.4 mile, to reach the entrance to a network of hiking trails that lead into the North Forty Natural Area, which is designated by a sign. In 1986, this area was developed with shrubs and a man-made pond to attract robins, northern cardinals, mockingbirds, and more. If everyone’s feeling up for it, walk the loop trail (less than 1 mile; see map).

Remember: To turn your day trip into an overnight, consider camping here.

Plan B:

Try the south side of Floyd Bennett Field (Trip 39) for a hike with views of Jamaica Bay and Manhattan. If you are driving, nearby Marine Park (Trip 40) offers the opportunity to experience a rare and fragile ecosystem that is in the process of being restored.

Where to Eat Nearby:

No restaurants or shops are within walking distance. Concessions are available at the Aviator Sports and Events Center and the Visitor Contact Station, but so it’s best to bring your own food and beverages.


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