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Long Island: Fact Sheet

Published: Feb 27, 2014

General Description

Enjoy an island getaway just minutes from Manhattan!  Famous for white sand beaches and world-class wineries, Long Island also has quaint fishing villages, grand historic mansions, unique museums and fabulous shopping--from large malls and designer outlets to small seaside boutiques and roadside farmstands. Follow the North Fork Trail scenic byway to wineries, farm markets, antique shops and restaurants serving fresh local produce and seafood. For seaside glamour: The Hamptons, on the South Fork, were named the ultimate summer playground by Conde Nast Traveler.

COUNTIES

Nassau, Suffolk

MAJOR CITIES & TOWNS

Garden City, Greenport, The Hamptons, Huntington, Islip, Long Beach, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Washington, Riverhead.

CLIMATE

The diverse climate has four distinct seasons. Summers are comfortable and warm, with daytime temperatures averaging in the mid 70s to mid 80s (degrees F) and cooler evenings. The weather is moderately cool and sunny in springtime and autumn, when spectacular fall foliage attracts thousands of visitors. Cold, snowy winters create a wonderland of magnificent scenery in parks and villages.

3 SURPRISING, ETC

1.       Seal Watching in the winter - During the cooler months, Seals come to Long Island from min-November to May. A 3 mile (round trip) hike is available to view seals and learn about their habits, behavior, and population trends in Long Island, hikes coincide with low tide, when seals are most likely to be basking in the sun.

2.       300 year-old Sunken Forest on Fire Island is considered the "Jewel in the Crown" of Fire Island National Seashore, combining the Sunken Forest with a magnificent, wide open beach.  The enchanted 300-year old primeval holly forest, is the only one of its kind on the East Coast.

3.       The fabulous ‘Gold Coast' region depicted in F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" was inspired by Long Island. Oheka Castle served as Fitzgerald's muse for Gatsby's estate and still stands today as a historic hotel with 32 guestrooms and suites on the upper floors of the mansion, a popular wedding venue for socialites, celebrities, and dignitaries, and the backdrop for many photoshoots and Hollywood productions. Take a tour of the historic mansion and gardens.

SPORTS & OUTDOORS

Enjoy fishing, swimming, sailing and occasional movie-star sightings, as well as seaside bike trails and nature walks.

Beaches: Jones Beach & Fire Island are famous oceanside state parks, with miles of white-sand beach for swimming, surf fishing and bird watching.  Jones Beach has six miles of ocean beach and a nature center. Ferry from Sayville or Patchogue to Fire Island.

The Hamptons, on the South Fork, were named the ultimate summer playground by Conde Nast Traveler. East Hampton's Main Beach and Cooper's Beach at Southampton consistently make Dr. Beach's annual list of the Top 10 Beaches in America.

Fishing: Montauk Point boasts some of the world's best surf fishing.  Special events at Montauk Point State Park include fishing tournaments. Many deep-sea fishing charters and excursions set off from Long Island.

Golf: Long Island is a golfer's paradise. Golfing includes spectacular ocean views at Montauk Downs, one of America's top public courses.  Bethpage State Park features the challenging Black Course, two-time site of the US Open. Jones Beach has an 18-hole pitch and putt golf course.

Hockey: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a 16,000-seat arena in Uniondale is the home of the New York Islanders National Hockey League team.

Horseback Riding: Saddle-up for a ride on the beach at Deep Hollow, a 350-year-old working cattle ranch. Living history tours via horse-drawn wagons.

Horseracing: Belmont Park racetrack, in Elmont, hosts Thoroughbred racing and the famous Belmont Stakes.

Polo: World-class polo at Bethpage State Park, June through mid-October. Family-friendly setting and prices.

Nature Centers:

Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center (Riverhead). Named a Top 10 Aquarium for children by Parents magazine. Open year round: over 100 indoor and outdoor exhibits and interactive experiences.

Long Island Game Farm Wildlife & Children's Zoo (Manorville). Exotic to domestic animals include a giraffe, red kangaroos, kinkajous, cougars, peacocks, lemurs, monkeys, zebras, camels and alligators. Nature trails, petting zoo, pony rides.

Sweetbriar Nature Center, on 54 acres in Smithtown. Wildlife and hundreds of plant species. Hiking trails, butterfly house, gardens, birdwatching.

Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center (Jones Beach State Park). Birdwatching and other local wildlife viewing along scenic trails.

Scenic Byways: The North Fork Trail scenic byway runs past wineries, farmland and lighthouses, from Southold to Orient Point on the Atlantic Ocean.

State Parks: At Montauk Point State Park, one of Montauk's five state parks, visitors can fish, swim, hike the nature trails or simply relax and watch the seals on the rocks offshore.  Climb the lighthouse commissioned by George Washington in 1792, for a spectacular view. Park events include fishing tournaments.

ART, ARCHITECTURE & CULTURE

Heckscher Museum of Art (Huntington). Regional fine arts museum.

Jones Beach Theater (Jones Beach State Park). Presents top stars in performances and concerts overlooking the bay.

Old Westbury Gardens (Old Westbury). Formal gardens, ponds, and an historic mansion on a 200-acre Gold Coast estate. Events include concerts and family programs.

Parrish Art Museum (Water Mill). Works by artists from the 19th Century to the present, including Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, William Merritt Chase and Fairfield Porter.

Pollock-Krasner House (East Hampton). Guided tours of the country home and studio of Jackson Pollock, leader of the Abstract Expressionist movement.

Sands Point Preserve (Port Washington). 216-acre park with three historic mansions: Irish castle, French-style castle, and English country manor. Scenic nature trails.

Tilles Center for the Performing Arts (Brookville). Premier concert hall presents world-renowned artists in music, theater and dance such as Yo-Yo Ma, James Taylor and the New York Philharmonic.

HISTORY

African American Museum (Hempstead). History and culture of African Americans on Long Island. American Legacy magazine named it one of the Top 10 unique and less well-known black history museums in the US.

Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum (Cold Spring Harbor). Highlights Long Island's seafaring past; set in a picturesque village of galleries, boutiques and historic houses.

Cradle of Aviation Museum (Garden City). Exhibits on Long Island's 100 years of aviation heritage, from early bi-planes to a full-size lunar module; IMAX theater.

Montauk Point Lighthouse (Montauk). On the eastern tip of Long Island. Commissioned by George Washington in 1792. Local history museum at the lightkeeper's house.

Old Bethpage Village (Old Bethpage). Recreated 1800s farm village with restored homes, shops and farms. Costumed townspeople demonstrate skills like sheep shearing and churning butter. Battle reenactments, concerts, family programs.

Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Site (Oyster Bay). Historic 65-room mansion on 409-acre Gold Coast estate: arboretum, greenhouse and nature trails.

Sag Harbor Whaling Museum (Sag Harbor). Whaling history and artifacts in an 1845 whaler's mansion designed by prominent American architect, Minard LaFever.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (Oyster Bay). Home and "Summer White House" of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States.

FOOD & DRINK

This region is famous for culinary treasures like fine wines, Long Island duck and fresh local seafood and produce. More than 60 vineyards and 40 wineries along the North and South forks offer tours, tasting and special events like wine festivals and wine-pairing dinners. Chefs are inspired by fresh local seafood and produce; fine and casual dining often comes with breathtaking ocean and bay views.

The North Fork Trail scenic byway runs past vineyards, farmstands, and great farm-to-table and seafood restaurants from Southold to Orient Point.

Dave's Grill, a waterfront bistro on Montauk Harbor, offers views of the fishing boats from your table.

The 1896 Tweeds Restaurant & Buffalo Bar, in Riverhead, gets sizzling reviews for bison steaks, rated "excellent" by Zagat.

Vine University, offers an all-inclusive winemaking class and getaway on the North Fork. The curriculum includes meals, premium lodging, wine classes and wine-making equipment.

SHOPPING

Fantastic shopping options range from roadside farmstands selling fresh local produce to Americana Manhasset's "Miracle Mile" of posh designers. Find fashionable clothes, gifts and home furnishings at amazing discounts amid 165 shops at Tanger Outlets in Riverhead. Main Street shops, boutiques and galleries offer relaxed browsing in villages such as Cold Spring Harbor, Garden City, Greenport, The Hamptons, Hicksville, Port Jefferson, Port Washington and Stony Brook.

UNIQUE LODGING

Danford's Hotel & Marina in Port Jefferson is surrounded by boat docks and splendid water views.

Gurney's Resort Inn & Spa, nestled amid the dunes of Montauk, features spectacular ocean views and a seawater swimming pool.

Montauk Yacht Club. You don't need a yacht to stay there; it's a public resort that just feels like a private club.

Oheka Castle, the former country home of Otto Kahn and inspiration for The Great Gatsby, is now a luxury hotel where guests dine like royalty.

OTHER SELECTED ATTRACTIONS

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's Dolan DNA Learning Center (Cold Spring Harbor). Interactive genetics exhibits for all ages. Family friendly.

Discovery Wetlands Cruise (Stony Brook). 35-passenger pontoon boat cruise in an 88-acre wetlands preserve. Guided tour highlights ecology, geology and history.

Fire Island National Seashore (Ferry from Sayville or Patchogue). Barrier island with beaches, high dunes, ancient maritime forest, historic landmarks and diverse wildlife. Lighthouse.

Long Island Children's Museum (Garden City). Hands-on museum for kids and their families, housed in a former airplane hangar.

Long Island Museum Row (Garden City). Includes the Long Island Children's Museum, the Nassau County Firefighter's Museum, and the Cradle of Aviation Museum. All within a short distance of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Hamptons (Southampton, Westhampton, East Quogue, Bridgehampton and Montauk). Known as ‘Hollywood East' for all the celebrities who have built amazing homes there; The Hamptons draws posh summer crowds to its incredible beaches.

Splish Splash Water Park (Riverhead). Voted one of the Top 15 in the US by Budget Travel. 96 acres of fun, water-based activities for all ages and all swim levels.

MAJOR ANNUAL EVENTS

  • Winterfest /East End Vineyards, Jazz on the Vine (February/March) 
  • Huntington Tulip Festival (May)
  • Jones Beach Air Show (May)
  • Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park racetrack (June)
  • Bethpage Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration (July)
  • Sagamore Hill Independence Day Celebration (July)
  • Long Island International Film Expo (July)
  • Hampton Classic Horse Show (August-September)
  • Shinnecock Pow-Wow (August-September)
  • Hallockville Fall Festival & Craft Fair (September)
  • Montauk Surf Classic at Montauk Point State Park (September)
  • Long Island Fall Festival (October)
  • Oyster Bay Oyster Festival (October)
  • Port Jefferson Dickens Festival (November/December)

TRANSPORTATION

Land:

30 min-2 hour from NYC

9 hours from Niagara

7 hours from Montreal

Long Island Rail Road with service to 134 stations

Air: 

JFK International and LaGuardia Airport located in Queens accessible from Long Island Expressway (I-495) as well as Long Island Islip MacArthur Airport

FURTHER INFORMATION

For more ideas and information, visit iloveny.com or Long Island's regional website: www.discoverlongisland.com

CONTACT:          

Melanie Klausner
M. SILVER - A Division of Finn Partners 
(212)-754-6500, ext. 243 
Melanie.Klausner@finnpartners.com     

Eric Scheffel
Empire State Development
(518) 292-5274
escheffel@esd.ny.gov

Kristen Matejka
Long Island CVB & Sports Commission
Ph 631 951 3900 x.317
KMatejka@discoverlongisland.com

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