Every year, more than 60 million visitors choose New York City for their travels, and with good reason. There are so many incredible things to see and do. However, visitors to the Big Apple often overlook its next-door neighbor, Long Island. The Island is a destination in itself but also makes for a great excursion for a day or two out of the city during your New York vacation.
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Fun Things To See and Do in Long Island, New York
Different ways to travel Long Island
Whether you’re looking for a reprieve from the city or just want to take in additional experiences, Long Island is just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Your biggest quandary will be how to get there. The short answer is it’ll depend on where you’re planning to visit, if you’re just crossing the bridge and exploring nearby landmarks and attractions, you can easily get around with subways and other forms of public transportation. If you’re looking to go further out on the Island, you can ride the Long Island Railroad, along with buses (there are numerous routes). Even if you want to hit Jones Beach, you can take a combination of train and bus.
That all being said, to get to the beaches and see attractions further out on the Island, your best bet is a car. Driving is the easiest way and it gives you much more flexibility.
Tip: If you’re not used to expressway driving, you definitely want to avoid rush hours because it’s easy to get lost, miss a turn, or be involved in a car accident in Long Island if you don’t have experience on the major roadways in this area.
If you don’t want to drive and the cost isn’t an issue, you can also take a cab, rideshare service, or schedule a trip with a luxury bus company.
Gems found on Long Island
Long Island has something for everyone. From fascinating history to relaxing days on the beach to trekking your way through wine country, you’ll never be at a loss of options in ways to fill your days visiting.
Long Island has no shortage of lovely beaches to explore. Whether you’re looking for a typical beach experience with a boardwalk, looking for water sports, or interested in finding a stretch of sand rich with birding and other nature, you can find it all since you’ve got the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound both surrounding Long Island. Here are just a few of your great beach options.
- Robert Moses State Park
- Jones Beach
- Montauk Point State Park
- Coopers Beach
- Ocean Beach (on Fire Island accessible by ferry)
- Long Beach
- Main Beach
Each beach has its own flavor, be sure to research what you’re hoping to accomplish before choosing which beaches to visit.
If you’re seeking to entrench yourself in history at landmarks and museums, here are some good options.
- George Washington’s Spy Trail. Most people don’t know Long Island was a hub of spy activity during the Revolutionary War. Learn all about this fascinating time in Early American history.
- Sagamore Hill. If you’re interested in presidential history, be sure to check out the “Summer Whitehouse” of President Theodore Roosevelt. While in the area, you can also visit Youngs Memorial Cemetery and visit the grave of the 26th president.
- Heckscher Museum of Art. This museum’s collection showcases European and American art, spanning a history of over 500 years.
- Cradle of Aviation Museum. Love aviation history? If so, put this museum on your must-see list.
Other options you might want to add to your itinerary is the luxurious Old Westbury Gardens (1906), Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium (including the mansion itself), or check out one of the other landmarks highlighting the gilded age.
Other places to visit
New York is known for its wines, and you’ll find no shortage of vineyards on Long Island. Other places you might want to put on your list include the Freeport Nautical Mile, Long Island Aquarium, Tanger Outlets, Long Island Game Farm, or one of the numerous parks or lighthouses. Many free concerts are often found across the Island as well, especially during the warmer months.
One thing about Long Island, from just over the city’s border out to the Hamptons, there is plenty to explore at either end and in between.
Apps to help you find the best eats
One of the best parts about traveling is an opportunity to explore local cuisine. You can always Google “best restaurants” but that takes a lot of work digging through individual websites. You can simplify your search through various apps to help you find exactly what you want. Here are some good options to check out.
- NYC Health Ratings. Officials in the Big Apple officially rate eateries, ranging from A to C. You definitely want to aim for “A” ratings, and this app can help Android users find them (iOS in development).
- Grade Pending. An app that also finds you restaurant ratings, along with cuisine type and neighborhood. Currently iOS only.
- Blackboard Eats. This app is useful in any city you’re traveling in and helps you to find food types, along with good deals, in the area. You select an option, capture your passcode, and get the deal. Passcodes are good for 48 hours. Available for both Android and iOS.
- ILoveNY. Whether you’re looking for food or other things related to New York, this official New York tourism app will help you find it in New York City and beyond. Available for both Android and iOS.
Apps can be an incredibly useful tool for traveling. Check out these other apps for transportation, tickets, shopping and pretty much any other important item you might want to know that might prove helpful during your Long Island visit.
Visiting Long Island is a wonderful opportunity. Being prepared ahead of time can go a long way towards helping you to make the most of your visit and enable you to tick as many boxes off your vacation bucket list during your time there.