Long Island is only miles away from New York City, but you’ll notice a drastic contrast in scenery and activities as you cross over the city border. Long Island is well known for miles of oceans, unique villages, world-renowned wine country, shopping, and more.
Before Long Island was settled by Europeans in the 17th century it was home to 13 Native American tribes. You’ll notice this history easily by looking at a map of Long Island or reading each of the town names as you drive along Long Island’s many highways and parkways. Some names that might be familiar to you include Montauk, Massapequa, Setauket, and more.
Getting from New York City to Long Island is easy, and there’s no shortage of options. Keep in mind that the west end of Long Island begins just as you cross the New York City limits and extends 118 miles from tip to tip, so it’s important to understand WHERE on Long Island you’re planning on traveling to. Depending on the time of day or time of year (summertime out east!), it can take hours to go only a few miles.
Long Island is accessible by car, taxi, the LIRR (Long Island Railroad), and more, and linked to New York City by major roadways, bridges, and tunnels.
Long Island is officially made up of two counties: Nassau and Suffolk, and both have plenty to do. There are contrasts from one county to the other, whether you’re on the North Shore or South Shore, so do your research before planning your trip to Long Island.
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Best Beaches on Long Island
Jones Beach is one of THEE spots for anyone growing up in or around Long Island during the summer. Located only 20 miles from New York City, Jones Beach Park is visited by local Long Island residents and landlocked visitors from the 5 boroughs. Created by infamous master builder Robert Moses in 1920s, Jones Beach Park is made up of over 6.5 miles of beautiful white-sand beaches facing the Atlantic Ocean. Over 6 million people visit Jones Beach each year. Jones Beach is a great family-friendly beach option this summer.
Connecting almost all of the South Shore of Long Island and New York City via the Long Island Railroad, Long Beach is one of the best beaches on Long Island. With its famed boardwalk, Long Beach boasts over 3 miles of gorgeous white sand. And if you’re looking for a local vibe, Long Beach is your best bet. Just steps for the boardwalk, and leading you back to the Long Island Railroad station, you’ll find local restaurants, bars, and local shops.
Main Beach, East Hampton
Home to some of the most exclusive residents on Long Island, Main Beach is as secluded as beaches come. With no boardwalk like you’ll find in Long Beach, Main Beach is less crowded, but that’s what adds to its charm.
Robert Moses State Park
Attracting over 4 million visitors each year, Robert Moses State Park is a great family-friendly beach option. Broken down into 4 sections (Fields 2, 3, 4, and 5), Robert Moses State Park has options for all.
As a barrier island south of mainland Long Island, and part of Robert Moses State Park, Fire Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions for residents and visitors each year. Because you can only visit Fire Island by ferry, getting there is part of the adventure. Fire Island is over 32 miles long, and boasts historic tales of colonial-era pirates, shipwrecks, and rumrunning during Prohibition. There are no cars allowed on Fire Island, so if you’re not walking, you can rent bikes, private boats, water taxis, and golf carts. Fire Island has many different beaches, but some of the most popular include Ocean Beach – known for its downtown village vibe with restaurants, bars, and shops. While all of Fire Island is LGBT-friendly, you won’t find another community on Long Island quite as boastful as Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines.
Best Things to Do on Long Island
Wine and Dine
Long Island is home to some of the best wineries in the country. There are so many wineries on Long Island, and you can enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the beautiful landscape. Many of these wineries are open for tastings and tours, which is a great way to get to know the wineries better. These tours will give you an inside look at how the wine is made and how it’s put together. You’ll learn about all the different types of grapes, how they’re grown, and what makes each type unique.
The food scene on Long Island is just as impressive as the wine scene. There are many amazing places to eat and drink on the island. Some of the best restaurants and bars are located in Huntington, while others are based in Long Beach, and one of the most popular places to dine is by taking a trip to Sag Harbor. All of these places offer fantastic food and a great atmosphere. If you want to go out for dinner at night, plenty of restaurants are open late.
Kids and Family Fun
The Long Island Children’s Museum is great for kids to learn and play. There are so many different programs that kids can enjoy. If you have small children, head over to the Long Island Aquarium. Here, they can learn about different sea creatures and get a chance to touch some of them. There are also plenty of other exhibits that will keep the kids entertained. The Smithsonian Museum in Nassau is an excellent option if you have older children. There are many interactive exhibits for the kids here and a Science Center where they can learn about space and science in general.
Golfing and Outdoor Activities on Long Island
Long Island is a great place to golf. There are so many fantastic courses that offer something for every level of player. If you’re a beginner, you’ll find an 18-hole course that doesn’t require you to hit the ball over water or deal with crazy wind conditions. If you want to improve, there are courses that will challenge you and build your skills. Any way you slice it, Long Island has something for everyone looking to get out and enjoy the outdoors.
If there is one thing that fits the whole “outdoors” theme of Long Island, it is outdoor water sports like kayaking, surfing, and canoeing. The island is home to some beautiful waterways, so why not take advantage of them? There are plenty of places on Long Island where you can rent kayaks or canoes and head out on the water for fun in the sun. You can also enjoy other outdoor activities like hiking, bird watching, and fishing. For those who want to get away from it all and enjoy nature, several state parks on the island have lots of trails and activities to keep you busy.
Long Island Farms and Orchards
In the Northeast, it’s hard to find a place where you can walk through an apple orchard in the summer without getting a little bit dirty. The farms of Long Island provide the same experience with their crops. Whether you’re looking for the perfect way to see some fall colors or want to try some delicious apples, there are plenty of farms around Long Island. If you decide to go on a tour, check out some of these farms so you can learn about the history and culture of this area.
Experiencing nature firsthand is something that everyone should do once in their life. If you’re looking for a more modern farm, take the Long Island Railroad to Greenport and walk down to The Long Island Greenport Farm Museum. Several orchards are also open to the public. You can check out the orchards and make your apple pies. If you’re looking for a more adventurous way to see some of the orchards, make sure to go on a hayride with some of these farms to enjoy the experience.
Arts and Culture Around Long Island
Long Island is a place that you can visit for many different reasons. If you’re interested in art, there are plenty of museums and galleries to see. There is also one of the largest art collections in the world, the Museum of Modern Art. Not only is it home to some fantastic pieces, but it also hosts events like free Friday night concerts. These can be very fun and interesting to watch. Not only is Long Island an amazing place for art lovers, but it’s also an excellent place for history buffs as well. You can visit museums like the New York Historical Society Museum or learn about famous figures like Thomas Edison through exhibits at The Henry Ford.
Artists and musicians flock to Long Island for the summer. There are plenty of places for you to listen to live music and see some amazing art. Merrick’s Waterfront, Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, and Hofstra University’s Nassau Coliseum are some of the most popular spots. Long Island is also a great place to visit for sports fans. While technically Queens is part of Long Island, Queens is part of New York City. The Mets play their home games at Citi Field in Flushing Meadows Park (Queens), while the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. If you’re staying in Manhattan, both are accessible via the NYC subway system. These are great places to go if you’re into watching professional sports and are easily accessible if you’re traveling from Long Island, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx, or Manhattan.
Shopping Your Way Around Long Island
The shopping scene on Long Island is incredible. There are so many amazing shops with so much to offer. Shopping is one of the most fun things to do on Long Island, and there’s no shortage of options. Whether you’re looking for something unique or just want to shop local, the shops here have everything you need. With so many shopping areas, it’s easy to find something you like right where you live.
From clothing stores like Ann Taylor Loft, Banana Republic, and J Crew to shoe stores like Alfred Sung and Steve Madden, to name a few worth checking out. Another thing you’ll find on Long Island is excellent malls like Westbury Galleria Center, Roosevelt Field, The Miracle Mile, and more. If you want even more shopping opportunities, Manhattan’s 5th Avenue is a short trip away from Long Island on the Long Island Railroad.
Long Island: a Unique History
The history of Long Island is a long, exciting tale full of adventure and excitement. The first inhabitants of the island were the Lenape Indians. They were a group of Native Americans that inhabited the island until the early 1700s. The Lenape Indians were a very peaceful group and did not have contact with any other groups in their day. The Dutch later colonized the island in 1615 and founded a settlement called New Amsterdam. In 1625, the English took control of New Amsterdam and renamed it New York City.
From then on, Long Island was settled by many different European groups until 1776, when it became part of the United States. Today, Long Island is a beautiful place with many diverse ecosystems and attractions. The island is home to more than 6 million people and is an excellent place for nature lovers, history buffs, and adventure seekers.
Yearly/Annual Long Island Events
• St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Montauk, March
• Hamptons Restaurant Week, March
• Long Island Marathon: Festival of Races, May
• Bethpage Federal Credit Union New York Air Show at JonesBeach, Memorial Day weekend
• Belmont Stakes, June
• Long Island International Film Expo, July
• Mattituck Strawberry Festival, July
• Scope Hamptons Art Fair, July
• Riverhead Blues Festival, July
• Hampton Classic Horse Show, August
• Medieval Festival at Sands Point, September
• Hamptons International Film Festival, October
• Annual Oyster Bay Oyster Fest, October
• Long Island Restaurant Week, November
• Charles Dickens Festival, December