Many people think Long Island is simply the suburbs of New York City, but it’s actually a fascinating destination on its own, offering a variety of experiences for every traveler.
And with so many of Long Island’s sites easily accessible via train or car, this is a destination not to be missed. Glamorous history, spectacular food and drinks, luxurious accommodations, phenomenal scenic landscapes—Long Island has it all.
Here are our picks for Long Island’s must-see attractions, from Gold Coast mansions to vineyards in the North Fork.
Jennifer Arnow/Fodor’sWhere: Sands Point and Old Westbury, New York
For a peek inside the glitzy and extravagant world that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, The Great Gatsby, make your way to the Gold Coast of Long Island, the easternmost section of the North Shore.
Sands Point Preserve is home to three luxurious mansions: Castle Gould, Hempstead House, and Falaise. Built by railroad magnate Jay Gould’s son before being sold to the Guggenheim family in 1917, the estate is now a nonprofit preserve open to the public year-round.
Take advantage of all the grounds have to offer: hiking trails, a barn and stables, an outdoor classroom, a rose garden, and access to a mile-long beach. It also hosts family programs, making this an experience the kids can enjoy too.
A stroll through the breathtaking scenery of the Old Westbury Gardens will have you daydreaming about the region’s fabled past. The English manor-style mansion built by John Shaffer Phipps in 1906 is still fully furnished with turn-of-the-century pieces and original artwork.
The magnificent grounds contain 90 acres of tranquil beauty, consisting of walled gardens, a lake, fountains, a thatched-roof cottage, and numerous picturesque plants and flowers. Old Westbury Gardens also hosts classic car shows, concerts, and horticulture workshops.
Jennifer Arnow/Fodor’s TravelWhere: Huntington, New York
If your Gold Coast tour has you yearning for Gatsby-style mansion luxury, OHEKA Castle will fit the bill. Currently a full-service hotel, OHEKA was once owned by financier Otto Hermann Kahn and has had a tumultuous history.
It served as a New York sanitation workers’ retreat and a military academy before being abandoned and falling into disrepair.
Purchased by Gary Melius in 1984, the mansion is still being painstakingly restored to its former glory as it hosts weddings and other private events. However, you don’t have to be a guest to get a taste of this grand estate. The hotel has a bar and restaurant offering exceptional cuisine and cocktails. Tours of the mansion and grounds are open to the public as well.
Established over a century ago in Port Washington, Louie’s Oyster Bar and Grille is a Long Island institution. The dining room, decorated in rich wood and exposed brick, elevates the feel of this unpretentious spot, but it’s the outdoor deck that is the star, with panoramic views of the New York City skyline.
You can’t go wrong with classic seafood fare like the creamy New England clam chowder or the namesake fresh oysters, but creative daily specials like the spicy lobster tacos give the menu contemporary and eclectic options.
The key lime pie, an original recipe from 1905, and the decadent “Holey Moley” hot fudge sundae will make you glad you saved room for dessert.
Ardent history buffs will love Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, home to President Theodore Roosevelt for thirty-four years until his death in 1919. The grounds include a museum focusing on Roosevelt’s life, a visitor’s center, apple orchards, and the Sagamore Hill House itself.
After closing for a three-year renovation, the house will open to the public July 12th. Only structural and restorative renovations were made; the layout and decor are still the same as when the twenty-sixth president walked the halls, animal heads and all.
Guided tours will be intimate, up to fifteen people at a time, and will start every half hour. With the knowledgeable and passionate park rangers at the tours’ helm, this is the best way to get an insider’s glance into the life of Teddy Roosevelt.
With more than 50 wineries operating in theNorth Fork, wine lovers can’t miss this charming and low-key wine region. Start your tasting tour at Bedell Cellars, a family-owned winery established in 1980 that prides itself on its sustainable farming techniques. Taste a flight of five wines in its tasting room, elegantly styled in modern decor and contemporary art, or head outside to the picnic tables and enjoy a glass near the beautiful vineyards.
Next up, head to Shinn Estate Vineyards. Husband-and-wife team Barbara Shinn and David Page run this vineyard and bed and breakfast, adhering to biodynamic principles. The result yields wines with great complexity. Sip a glass of these acclaimed wines while relaxing in the rustic tasting room and outdoor space.
Martha Clara Vineyards, named for the matriarch of Entenmann’s bakery fame, is next. Wine tasting isn’t the only activity available at this family-friendly spot; the vineyard regularly hosts public events, live music, farm animals, and even horse carriage rides around the estate.