About 45 minutes east of Manhattan, lies the suburbs of Long Island. Easily accessible from New York City by train, Long Island is a great addition to your New York City trip. It can either be done for just the day, or you can spend the night anywhere along the shores of this amazing island. Measuring 118 miles in length, Long Island is the largest and longest island in the continental United States, as well as the most populated island among any US state or territory! We proudly call this island home, so we’re so excited to give you a little glimpse of the ‘island life’ 😉 & really, what better way to get advice than from actual locals?
Food and Drinks
As you probably have guessed by now, we’re pretty big foodies and when we travel we try and eat as many local staples as we can. Long Island really is no exception and we have quite a few local favorites of our own.
- Bagels – It may sound a little nuts, but Long Islanders are pretty obsessed when it comes to bagels and our bagels are seriously NO JOKE. Almost any kind of bagel or topping you want can easily be found at any of the thousands of bagel shops across the island. Tie dye bagels, anyone?
- Pizza – New York City is said to have some of the best pizza in the country and Long Island is definitely included in that. Many people say our pizza is so good because of our water and some pizza places in the country even have New York water shipped to them so they can replicate our pizza! Nothing compares to the real thing of course, so admittedly we’re kind of spoiled when it comes to pizza because when we get pizza when we travel, we’re usually pretty disappointed!
- Egg Sandwiches – these are the essential breakfast sandwich for any Long Islander. Stuffed between 2 pieces of roll, eggs are ordered either with bacon and cheese or ham and cheese. This is served warm and the cheese is super melty and awesome. We love these sandwiches and they are available at most any deli or bagel shop on the island.
- Ralph’s Italian Ices – If you do not yet know about the wonder that is Ralph’s Italian Ices, we suggest you order one as soon as you can! This delicious summertime treat comes in a vast array of both ‘water ices’ and ‘creme ices’ ranging from more well-known flavors like ‘Chocolate’, ‘Raspberry’ & ‘Cherry’ to more obscure ones like ‘Mai Tai’ & ‘Blue Hawaii’. No matter what flavor you order, it will surely not disappoint and is a great way to beat the summer heat and humidity! (Ralph’s is a family-owned business and they are generally only open in the Spring, Summer and the early weeks of Fall).
- Wine – Lining the twin forks of Long Island’s ‘East End’, you can find some amazing wineries! Admittedly being the wine snob I am, having tasted wine from all over the world, I find Long Island wine to be among some of the best!
- Zippy Coolers – these thirst quenchers are the staple drink of the barrier island, Fire Island. The mystery of these drinks is what’s in them. I’ve been ordering Zippy Coolers since I became of legal drinking age and to this day, whenever I ask a bartender what’s in it, they won’t tell me! They taste a bit like seltzer and cranberry juice and are absolutely delicious. It’s a bit hard to find these on the mainland without knowing what’s in them, but if you go to Fire Island, everyone is walking around with these rose-colored beverages! We suggest you try 🙂
So now that you’ve stuffed your faces with delicious Long Island food, are you ready to learn about some of the landmarks that put Long Island on the map?
- The Big Duck – Located in Flanders, this is a basically just a gift shop inside of a giant duck but it has been a Long Island icon since it’s erection in 1931 and it is even on ‘The National Register of Historic Places.’ An interesting fact about this duck is that its eyes are made from Model T Ford tail lights. Even if you aren’t really into gift shops, this is a fun place to come and take a few pictures to show your friends back home!
- Jones Beach Pencil – Erected in 1930, this 231 foot tower at the iconic Jones Beach is actually a working water tower still to this day! It pumps over 300,000 gallons of fresh water to all facilities within the park and is easily one of the most recognizable structures on Long Island.
- Fire Island Lighthouse – This black & white structure on Fire Island is used as a navigation tool for boaters in the Great South Bay. It is lit by 2 bulbs rotating counter-clockwise, which flash every 7.5 seconds and can be seen from up to 24 miles away! The lighthouse has some incredible history, so for all you history buffs who wish to learn more about it, here is some interesting reading material on how it came to be: http://www.fireislandlighthouse.com.
- Montauk Lighthouse – This beautiful lighthouse on the tip of the South Fork on Montauk Point was erected in 1796. It was the first lighthouse ever constructed in New York State and the 4th oldest active lighthouse. The tower consists of 137 steps and in contrast to its Fire Island counterpart, its light flashes every 5 seconds and can be seen from a distance of 19 miles.
Things To Do
So now that we’ve gotten landmarks out of the way (yes, us Long Islanders really like our lighthouses!), I’m going to tell you what some of the best things to do are on the island!
- Winery Hopping / Wine Tours – The ‘East End’ is home to numerous wineries, mostly along route 48 and route 25! This is a great way to make a day hopping around from winery to winery. Some wineries have live music and you can sit on the lawn, bring cheese and have a picnic! The wineries usually offer flights of about 4-6 wines to taste, as well as having bottles to purchase of whatever wine was your favorite! It’s easy to winery hop by car but there are also tour companies that can book an outing if you have a large group. (We did this for my friend’s bachelorette party and it was a lot of fun!)
- Beaches – Long Island has a lot of beaches, both along its South Shore on the Atlantic Ocean and its North Shore on the Long Island Sound. Both shores are great for beaching but the dynamics are a bit different from shore to shore. South Shore beaches have smoother sand and bigger waves; North Shore has more rocky sand and smaller waves. A popular spot for surfing is South Shore’s Long Beach (easily accessible by train!). One gripe certain people have about the Long Island beaches is that they are not free (like most of the beaches in the country). Some beaches require non-residents to pay a higher fee than residents, so please make sure you have proper ID and check the costs online for what the beach will charge you and make sure you have cash. They may charge to get onto the beaches, however the beaches on Long Island are extremely beautiful and very clean!
- Fire Island – Fire Island is a barrier island off the coast of Long Island. Long Island is referred to as the ‘mainland’ when one is on Fire Island. No cars are allowed on Fire Island so one must get there via ferry (the most common option) OR by parking your car at Robert Moses and then walking over to Kismet (where the lighthouse is). The ferry rides are about 20 minutes, depending on where you’re going and leave from various points on the island. Fire Island is a popular spot for going to the beach and partying and there are no roads, just basically cement paths, lined with adorable-looking bungalows. Some of the homeowners will rent their homes out to people during the summer, so it’s a great way to stay on the island if you’re looking for something different instead of a hotel type setting. Fire Island is great because it’s like being on vacation without really being on vacation … staycation? Sold. Sam and I try to make it a point of coming here at least once a summer and our favorite spot to get lobsters is a place called Houser’s in Ocean Beach. Fire Island is really a summer destination although there are year-round residents, you want to come in the summer, as ferry service is limited at other times of the year.
- Greenport – Greenport is a very cute neighborhood on the ‘East End’ and is also a good addition to any winery trip. The best place to go here is Claudio’s. They have delicious seafood and are right on the water. Greenport also has a lot of other restaurants, as well as an old jail (it currently does not house prisoners but they do have people dressed up as inmates to get some photos) and really cute family-owned shops, as well as remnants of older times such as the village blacksmith and the old schoolhouse. In late September, there is a Maritime festival here, where big ships pull into the harbor, bands play, people walk around on the streets and it’s just a lot of fun. Another popular thing here is the Greenport Brewery – try their beer, it’s delicious!
- Apple & Pumpkin Picking – Apple & Pumpkin picking are very popular activities in the Fall months on Long Island. The ‘East End’ is home to many amazing apple orchards and pumpkin patches. These are great places to come with kids, but also there are plenty of adults that come alone as well. The U-Pick orchards allow you to go into the fields and pick your own apples off the trees or if you don’t feel like doing that, there are apples for sale at the fruit stands that are plentiful in the area. The fun thing about these patches and orchards is that usually they have cider, candy apples, corn and some even have music playing. Our favorite places to pick apples are Harbes Farm & Lewin’s Farm and for pumpkin picking we like May’s Farm. There are also other kinds of fruits to pick, like berries and peaches, starting in the summer and ending in the fall months! (The fruits available to pick are dependent upon season).
- Camping – Camping is a fun thing to do on Long Island and Long Island is not without its fair share of campgrounds. We recently went to a campground this summer called ‘Indian Island County Park’ in Riverhead, where we had an absolute blast! Also near to this campground is a beach, a cider house and a vodka distillery. ‘Indian Island’ is only one of the many campgrounds found on the island, so if you are interested in this awesome activity, check out suffolkcountyny.gov for some great camping spots in Suffolk County and nassaucountyny.gov for some great camping spots in Nassau County.
- Fishing – There are many places to fish on Long Island, and being that we are an island, we have some of the best seafood! Fishing on Long Island can either be done independently either on one’s own personal boat, on beaches such as Democrat Point or Sore Thumb or off docks, and there are many charter boats that leave from various points on the island to take out people out. Freeport is a popular spot running these charter boats (such as The captain Lou) and usually there is one trip in the morning (8a – 12m) and one trip in the afternoon (1p – 5p). Fish must be a certain size to be able to take them home. If they don’t meet the size requirements, they must get thrown back into the water.
- Shopping – It’s so easy to ‘shop til you drop’, as Long Island is home to some incredible malls and outlets. 2 of the most popular malls on Long Island are Roosevelt Field Mall and Smithhaven Mall, as well outlets such as Tanger Deer Park and Tanger Riverhead.
- Parks – Visit many of Long Island Parks, including Caumsett, Sands Point, Norman Levy Park & Preserve, Massapequa Preserve, Argyle Park, Planting Fields Arboretum and many more… the list really is endless!
- Nautical Mile – Nautical Mile is a street in Freeport on the water that consists of many bars and restaurants, as well mini-golf and ice cream shops. It’s a fun place to come, mostly during the summer, to walk around and get some drinks and food and a popular place for young people to come at night to party. Many of the establishments here have live music as well. The cool thing is if you own a boat, you can pull right up to the docks at the bars and restaurants and not have to worry about driving and trying to find a parking spot!
This is only just a handful of things to do on Long Island, but these are not the only things we like to do. We love living here because there is such a range of unique and interesting things that really appeal to everyone, and the people are great.
We suggest coming to Long Island the next time you are headed out this way. Please hit us up if you do and we’d be happy to send you any additional recommendations that are not on this list.
Thank you for visiting. We will be heading to the EBC trek in 5 days so will not have new blogs until we come back but please follow us for exciting new blogs upon our return!