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  • montauk lighthouse winter - Photo by Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission montauk lighthouse winter - Photo by Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau and Sports Commission

    Montauk Point Lighthouse

Spotlight: Long Island

Long Island, New York City’s neighbor to the east, has long served as a popular vacation spot for visitors looking to trade in the hustle and bustle of the city for the island’s small-town charm and miles of stunningly scenic sandy ocean beaches.

Why You’ll Love It

Long Island boasts nationally acclaimed white-sand beaches, world-class wineries, and fabulous shopping for every taste and budget. Tour historic lighthouses, whaling museums, and the Gold Coast mansions that inspired The Great Gatsby. Visitors love exploring the aquarium and playing in one of the best-rated water parks in the country.

Jump to: Three Things You Can't Miss | Family Fun | LGBT Fun | Spend a Day | Spend a Weekend | Spend a Week | Where to Stay | Where to Eat | Fun Facts | Getting There

Three Things You Can't Miss
 

Jones Beach1. Beaches: From rocking out at the open-air concerts at Jones Beach to playing in the surf on the ritzy beaches of the Hamptons (including Coopers Beach, consistently on Dr. Beach’s Top 10), to sunbathing at the LGBT haven of Fire Island, Long Island has a beach for every traveler.

2. The North Fork: Dotted with charming towns and cozy inns, the North Fork is a down-to-earth alternative to the star-studded party scene in the Hamptons. With more than 60 wineries and miles of farmland, the North Fork is one of the country’s most exciting wine and culinary regions. 

3. Montauk Point Lighthouse: Montauk Point Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in the state, having been completed in 1792. Construction was authorized by George Washington himself. After being sufficiently wowed by the incredible views from the top, check out the museum on the property.

Family Fun
 

Harbes Family Farm: The Harbes family of farms offers an incredible array of activities for kids of all ages during the summer and fall seasons. From apple- and pumpkin-picking, to an epic corn maze (that turns spooky around Halloween time!), pony rides, hayrides, and more, there’s plenty of barnyard fun to be had. Seasonal Attraction: open Mother’s Day Weekend through Halloween (certain attractions are open in November depending on weather, check the farm’s Facebook page for more information).

Long Island AquariumLong Island Aquarium: With more than 100 exhibits and interactive experiences, including one of the largest all-living coral reef displays in the Western Hemisphere, it should come as no surprise that the Long Island Aquarium was named one of the Top 10 aquariums for children in the US by Parents Magazine. Intrepid adventurers will love the pirate snorkel adventure and shark dive (not for the faint of heart!), and don’t leave without a sea lion selfie (kisses not guaranteed).

Splish Splash: Voted one of the best water parks in the country by the Travel Channel, Splish Splash is a hit with anyone who loves to—you guessed it—splish and splash. With rides and attractions ranging from the tiny tyke-friendly Octopus Pool, to the Mammoth River slide with family-size rafts, and slides that satisfy a need for speed, Splish Splash has something everyone will love. Seasonal Attraction: open Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

LGBT Fun
 

Fire Island Lighthouse - Photo by NYS ESDFire Island: With their exciting nightlife and stunning natural beauty, the Pines and Cherry Grove sections of Fire Island have been LGBT hot spots for decades. Don’t miss the historic Fire Island Lighthouse, which makes for the perfect backdrop for that all-important #vacationgram. This car-free island is only accessible by ferry, so bring your walking shoes and/or rent a bike.

Long Beach: Home of the annual Long Island Pride (aka Pride on the Beach) celebration, Long Beach features more than three miles of sandy white beachfront perfect for swimming, adventures on the water (surfing lessons, anyone?), playing beach volleyball, or just being a beach bum—pro-tip: chair and umbrella rentals are offered all along the beach by Beach Comfort. Best of all, if you’re short on time, it’s less than an hour away from NYC’s Penn Station by train and totally walkable from the station.

Spend a Day: The Gold Coast

Enjoy a morning full of Gatsby-era glamour as you explore Long Island’s mansion-studded Gold Coast. Built just in time for the roaring twenties, you might recognize the French chateau-style OHEKA Castle from Taylor Swift’s music video for “Blank Space,”OHEKA Castle among other Hollywood cameos. Cap off your hour-long guided tour with a two-course lunch served in the castle’s opulent restaurant.

Continue onto Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park and tour historic Coe Hall, a Tudor Revival-style estate. Enjoy a walk through the 400-acre park, featuring a number of elegant gardens and greenhouses.

If the weather is nice and you’re feeling sporty, take to the water at the Waterfront Center, a sailing school and rental outfitter, where families with kids as young as five can take a group sailing lesson or paddle away on a double kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Paddle rentals are only available Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day.

Have dinner at cozy Osteria Leana, where you can indulge in Italian specialties made from locally sourced ingredients. End your day with a show at the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, which hosts a summer-long series of waterfront concerts featuring today’s top acts (past performers have included Kesha, Kendrick Lamar, and Rascal Flatts), or the Paramount Theater, a premier indoor concert venue that hosts major shows year-round.

Spend a Weekend: The East End

Saturday

Spend your morning at Harbes Family Farm, where you'll find plenty of family fun and delicious treats to fuel your day. If you're visiting during the summer, head over to Lavender by the Bay to find picturesque fields of lavender and a shop full of lavender-scented everything. Lavender is typically in full bloom June to September, so check the farm’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date info.Pindar Vineyards

Enjoy a farm-to-table brunch at Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck, a quaint Instagram-worthy cafe in one of Long Island’s most charming hamlets. Part of the slow food movement, Love Lane Kitchen incorporates fresh local ingredients into mouthwatering specials such as lobster quesadillas and stuffed french toast.    

Join one of several organized wine tours, or plot your own route. Visit Bedell Cellars for a merlot fit for a president (their wine was served at President Obama's inauguration), Jamesport Vineyards for a rosé to make you think you're in France, Sparkling Pointe for all things bubbly, Osprey's Dominion where you can taste great wine and dominate at a variety of lawn games, and Pindar Vineyards for that sunflower field photo you've been dying to capture. Future wine aficionados are welcome at most wineries where they can start developing their palates over a glass of verjus (non-alcoholic juice that comes from pressed grapes).

After indulging in your share of wine, head over to Greenport, a seaside paradise with a charming, walkable downtown and an exciting dining scene. After an obligatory ride on the town's historic carousel, have dinner at Noah's, a New American eatery with a fresh take on even fresher, locally sourced ingredients.

Sunday

Start your day at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum to learn about the history and importance of whaling in the area. Seasonal Attraction: open May through October.

Montauk Lighthouse winter - Photo by Long Island CVBHead out to explore Montauk Point Lighthouse (Hours change depending on seasonality and weather, so check the website beforehand). Then grab a quick lunch with a view at neighboring George’s Lighthouse Cafe. Spend the afternoon spotting humpbacks and shearwaters on a five-hour whale-watching boat tour with Viking Fleet (July–Mid-September; advanced reservations recommended).

The boat returns you back just in time for dinner at Gosman's Dock, a dining and entertainment complex where you’ll find breathtaking views of Montauk Harbor as well as a seafood restaurant, cafe, clam bar, fish market, ice cream shop, and even free concerts on the weekends. (May–Mid-October) If you’re traveling outside of peak season, check out South Edison, a popular downtown seafood restaurant open year-round.

Spend a Week

Monday

Get ready for an aerospace-inspired adventure and celebrate Long Island’s rich aviation history at the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Exhibits include more than 75 air and spacecraft, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and a dome theater featuring the highest quality film in the world. Explore a different side of Long Island’s history at Oheka Castle, the estate-turned-luxury-hotel that inspired the lavish mansion at the center of The Great Gatsby, and the equally stunning Old Westbury Gardens.Old Westbury Gardens - Photo by NYS ESD

Tuesday

New York State counts several Presidents among its native sons and this region is full of presidential history. Have a bully good time at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the home of #26, Teddy Roosevelt, which was used as his “Summer White House” while in office, located in the lovely town of Oyster Bay. Marvel at the beauty of Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park and take a kayak, paddleboard, or sailboat ride at the Waterfront Center while in town.

Wednesday

Stroll the boardwalk and take in the beautiful white-sand beach at Jones Beach State Park, one of the most popular beaches in the New York metro area. You can also fish or play a game of beachside mini golf, shuffleboard, or basketball. Visitors with disabilities can even borrow a WaterWheels floating beach wheelchair. Jones Beach is also home to Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater, a premier concert venue featuring top acts in an open-air amphitheater. Head over to Stony Brook Village Center, a commercial district built to look like a traditional New England village with white clapboard buildings. While there, be sure to check out Brew Cheese for its Tuba Cheese (aged in the subways of New York City), Chocolate Works (where you can sample signature truffles or make your own chocolate), and enjoy a leisurely afternoon tea service at Robinson’s Tea Room (the fourth best place for high tea in the US per Travel & Leisure).

Thursday

If you want to rub shoulders with the rich and famous, the picturesque beaches of the posh Hamptons are the place to be. Coopers Beach in Southampton and Main Beach in East Hampton have received top honors from the experts at Dr. Beach, making them some of the best places for a beach trip in the U.S. Best of all, you don’t have to own a multi-million dollar home to enjoy the beach—both are Main Beachaccessible by purchasing a day pass onsite. Southampton Village offers a fabulous dining and shopping scene in a walkable downtown area. The Hamptons are also a hot spot for art, boasting numerous galleries, the world-class Parrish Art Museum, and the Pollock-Krasner House, former home of the famed artist Jackson Pollock.

Friday

Say hello to some of New York’s wettest residents at the Long Island Aquarium. You won’t want to miss the 120,000-gallon shark tank and penguin encounter meet-and-greets. Little ones will love the stingray feeding station (they don’t actually sting, but you might get splashed) and butterfly garden. Shop ‘til you drop at the Tanger Outlet Center in Riverhead, where you’ll find more than 165 manufacturers and designer outlets. Whether you’re into huge slides, wave pools, kiddie pools, or lazy rivers, head over to Splish Splash to find 96 acres of waterpark fun.

Saturday

If you’re traveling in summer or fall, stop by Harbes Family Farm—really three farms where you’ll find a farmstand selling fresh produce, U-pick apples and pumpkins, an epic corn maze, a wine barn, and more. The area’s rich soil makes for reds, whites, and rosés, so sample them all in Long Island Wine Country. If you’re not coming with your own designated driver, organized tours and shuttles make it super simple to go winery-hopping. Make a stop between tastings for a cone at the Magic Fountain, an old-timey ice cream shop that serves up thoroughly modern flavors. Chocoholics will want to make a very important pit stop at the North Fork Chocolate Company, where you can buy handcraftedTanger outlets artisanal chocolates and enjoy gourmet desserts. Stroll through some of the area’s charming small towns, where you’ll find unique shops and stellar farm-to-table restaurants. Greenport, in particular, is worth a visit. Ride the town’s 100-year-old carousel, visit the East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation to learn about Long Island’s maritime heritage, and take a cruise tour to the Peconic Star Bug lighthouse. Nearby Lavender by the Bay grows beautiful lavender fields each summer and offers a gift shop for that perfect vacation souvenir.

Sunday

Have a whale of a day exploring Montauk and going on a whale-watching cruise adventure. Visit the famous (and older than 200 years!) Montauk Point Lighthouse, affectionately nicknamed “the end of the world” due to its location on the easternmost tip of Long Island. Climb to the top of the tower for stunning 360-degree views. Explore downtown’s bustling restaurants and pubs, many offering live music during the summer. Take a dip in the ocean at Hither Hills State Park, where you can even spend a night camping under the stars. If you’re in town between July and September, take a whale-watching cruise with Viking Fleet, which boasted a 100% whale-spotting success rate for their 2018 expeditions. If you're coming in winter, try a seal-watching walk in Montauk Point State Park.

Hotels and Stays

Budget

Long Island Marriott, Uniondale: 615 recently renovated rooms close to Nassau county attractions like Oheka Castle and Cradle of Aviation. 

Colonial Shores Resort, Hampton Bays: Family-friendly bungalows and suites in a waterfront resort setting. A nice pool, fire pits, BBQs, and more complete the quintessential island vacation experience without breaking the bank.

Silver Sands Motel & Beach Cottages, Greenport: A vintage motel with a retro ‘60s feel. Visitors rave about the picturesque beachfront location and private cottages.

Cabins at Wildwood State Park, Wading River: Brand-new fully equipped 1- and 2-bedroom cabins on state park land make for a thoroughly modern camping experience.

Mid-Range

Garden City Hotel, Garden City: A landmark of style, the hotel offers beautifully decorated rooms with designer amenities along with an indoor pool, full-service spa, and David Burke restaurant.  

Hyatt Place East End & Resort Marina, Riverhead: Extra roomy rooms provide families with plenty of space to stretch out. Enjoy a delicious free hot buffet breakfast daily and splash around in the hotel’s indoor and outdoor pools.

Breakers at Montauk: Recently upgraded family-friendly bungalows with an unbeatable location—the beach is just across the street and Main Street is an easy walk away.

Luxury

Oheka Castle, Huntington: Ever wished you could stay in a real-life castle? Experience Gatsby glamour with a night in a luxurious castle room or suite!

Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, Montauk: Luxurious beachfront resort with a saltwater pool and seawater spa complete with a Roman spa.

Topping Rose House, Bridgehampton: Hamptons boutique haven offering full-service luxury with amenities including a spa and health club, a house restaurant by Jean-Georges, and a fleet of Lexus vehicles for guests to borrow.

Where to Eat

$

Little Vincent's Pizza, Huntington: No-frills pizza joint known for crunchy crusts, well-seasoned tomato sauce, and unique cold-cheese pizza.

La Fondita, Amagansett: Best Mexican food in the Hamptons.

Candy Kitchen, Bridgehampton: In business for 90 years, this adorable family-owned eatery offers classic diner favorites done right. Cash only.

John's Drive-In, Montauk: Quick-serve burgers and homemade ice cream with an old-timey vintage vibe.

$$

Osteria Leana, Oyster Bay: Italian specialties made from locally sourced ingredients.

Robinson’s Tea Room, Stony Brook: A classic British afternoon tea service with unlimited tea and delectable scones, finger sandwiches, and desserts.

Love Lane Kitchen, Mattituck: Farm-to-table eats in an adorable setting. Slow Food Movement Snail of Approval recipient.

Noah's, Greenport: A modern take on New American cuisine featuring the freshest local ingredients.

$$$

Red Salt Room by David Burke, Garden City: David Burke’s partnership with the Garden City Hotel has turned into one of the most coveted reservations on Long Island. Seasonally inspired menus feature the chef’s signature whimsical approach along with steakhouse and brunch staples.

Jean-Georges at Topping Rose House, Bridgehampton: Elegant eatery celebrating the best of Long Island’s bounty with farm-to-table cuisine featuring ingredients sourced from the property’s own one-acre farm and local fishermen and farmers.  

Fun Facts

Long Island is the youngest and fastest growing wine region in New York and is the state’s premier region for vinifera wine production.

The 15,000-ton armored cruiser U.S.S. San Diego, the only major United States Navy warship lost by the United States during World War I, lies in a watery grave about 10 miles off Fire Island.

The Culper Ring, "America's First Spy Ring", was established and operated in Setauket, not far from Stony Brook.

Getting to Long Island

By Train: Take the LIRR from Penn Station in New York City. Check the LIRR getaways page for special deals that include admissions to major attractions and guided day tours.

By Car:
From New York City: under 1 hour
From Philadelphia: 2 hours, 15 minutes
From Albany: 2 hours, 45 minutes
From Boston: 4 hours, 15 minutes
From Washington, DC: 5 hours, 15 minutes

By Air:
Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) is located in Islip.
John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK): 30 minutes
LaGuardia Airport (LGA): 30 minutes

By Bus: Service from New York City to the Hamptons, North Fork, and Montauk is available on Hampton Jitney and Hampton Luxury Liner coaches.

By Sea: If you’re going to Fire Island, the only way to get there is by ferry service from Bay Shore (served by the LIRR) as no cars are allowed. Ferries to Shelter Island leave from Greenport and North Haven. Ferry lines also connect the island to Bridgeport and New London, Connecticut.

Visit Discover Long Island for more information.