long beach boardwalk

Things to Do on Long Island, New York

Long Island, New York, is a vibrant playground for both adults and children, offering an endless array of activities that cater to every interest and age group. From the serene beaches that stretch along its shores to the rich tapestry of historical landmarks and lush gardens, Long Island is a destination that promises adventure, relaxation, and discovery. Whether you’re planning a family outing, a solo expedition, or a day with friends, you’ll find that the island’s diverse attractions—including state parks, museums, and historic estates—provide a unique blend of educational and recreational experiences. This guide introduces you to the top spots across Long Island that showcase its natural beauty, cultural heritage, and recreational offerings, ensuring that your visit is filled with memorable moments.

1. Jones Beach State Park

Renowned for its expansive 6.5-mile stretch of pristine white sands along the Atlantic, Jones Beach State Park is a 2,400-acre maritime haven on Long Island’s south shore, attracting around 6 million visitors annually. The park’s design, reminiscent of an ocean liner, offers a plethora of activities: ocean swimming, boardwalk ambling, fishing, dining at various eateries, engaging in sports like miniature golf and basketball, and enjoying performances at the Northwell Health Theatre. Educational programs at the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center offer insights into marine conservation. The park strictly prohibits pet presence and feeding or abandoning animals, ensuring a clean and safe environment for all visitors. With its close proximity to NYC, Jones Beach serves as a refreshing escape, offering a blend of leisure and learning through its diverse programs, including the Bethpage Air Show and July 4th Fireworks Spectacular. The creation of this coastal gem is credited to Robert Moses in the 1920s, transforming barrier islands into a unified recreational area connected by Ocean Parkway. Today, Jones Beach facilitates easy access to its beaches, recreational fishing, and a variety of water sports, ensuring a memorable experience for every visitor.

2. Long Beach Boardwalk

The Long Beach Boardwalk, rebuilt after Superstorm Sandy, is an ideal place for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, complemented by dining spots and opportunities for surfing lessons. The boardwalk’s free summer concert series adds to its appeal​​.

This scenic and vibrant destination draws visitors for its stunning Atlantic Ocean views, recreational activities, and community events. Known as the “City by the Sea,” the boardwalk extends 2.2 miles along the coast of Long Beach, offering an ideal setting for biking, jogging, and rollerblading. This boardwalk is not just about the beach; it’s a gateway to fine dining, lively bars, and a plethora of activities. It’s conveniently located 45 minutes from Midtown Manhattan, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists seeking a beachside escape.

Visitors can enjoy the boardwalk’s proximity to downtown Long Beach, where recreational facilities, restaurants, and hotels are within walking distance, many directly on the boardwalk itself. The area is renowned for hosting family-friendly events, movie nights on the beach, and even surfing lessons, marking it as a top summertime retreat on the island.

The Long Beach Boardwalk encapsulates the essence of coastal living with its blend of leisure and adventure, set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re looking for an active day out or a tranquil stroll with breathtaking views, the boardwalk offers a diverse array of experiences to suit every visitor​​.

3. The Cradle of Aviation Museum

This museum is a haven for aviation enthusiasts, showcasing Long Island’s rich aviation history with exhibits ranging from biplanes to a lunar landing module. The IMAX Dome theater offers immersive experiences, making it a fascinating visit for all ages​​.

Visitors can explore the rich history of aviation and space exploration through a variety of exhibits and interactive displays. The museum features planetarium shows, including “Cities of the Future” and “Ocean Odyssey,” offering immersive experiences into the cosmos and beyond. Educational programs, such as the Junior Jet Club and The Arcade Age Exhibit, cater to all ages, promoting learning and engagement with aviation and space science. For more details on activities, shows, and exhibits, please visit their website at Cradle of Aviation Museum.

4. Coe Hall and the Planting Fields

The former estate of Mai Rogers Coe and William Robertson Coe, Coe Hall is a testament to 1920s elegance. The surrounding Planting Fields feature stunning gardens and greenhouses, offering a peaceful retreat and hosting events like the Arbor Day festival and summer concerts​​.

5. Fire Island

A car-free oasis, Fire Island boasts miles of beaches, charming villages, and the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse. It’s a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle, with opportunities for overnight stays in beach houses or campgrounds​​.

Fire Island is located off the south shore of Long Island, NY, and is known for its pristine beaches, vibrant nightlife, and protected natural areas. Visitors can explore the Sunken Forest, a rare maritime forest, enjoy the Fire Island Lighthouse, and visit the communities of Ocean Beach and Cherry Grove. The island’s car-free environment encourages biking and walking, offering a peaceful escape with stunning ocean views. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, wildlife watching, or simply relaxing on the beach, Fire Island has something for everyone.

6. Oheka Castle

Oheka Castle on Long Island, NY, is a magnificent historic mansion that offers a glimpse into the opulence of the Gilded Age. As the second-largest private residence ever built in America, it features beautifully manicured gardens, luxurious rooms, and is a popular venue for weddings and events. The castle provides guided tours, allowing visitors to explore its grand architecture and learn about its rich history. With its elegant setting and panoramic views of the estate, Oheka Castle stands as a testament to early 20th-century craftsmanship and luxury.

7. Sands Point Preserve

Sands Point Preserve on Long Island, NY, offers a captivating glimpse into the grandeur of the Gold Coast era with its sprawling 216-acre park. This preserve features historical mansions, including the Hempstead House and Falaise, with scenic views of the Long Island Sound. Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and exploring the beautifully maintained gardens. Sands Point Preserve provides a perfect mix of natural beauty and historical significance, making it a must-visit for those interested in architecture, history, or simply enjoying a day in nature.

8. Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium

The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, nestled on Long Island’s North Shore in Centerport, New York, is a portal to the past and the cosmos. This expansive estate was once the residence of William K. Vanderbilt II, heir to the Vanderbilt fortune. Today, it serves as a museum showcasing the Vanderbilt family’s collections, including maritime artifacts, fine art, and a range of historical objects. The planetarium, a highlight of the estate, offers visitors a chance to embark on astronomical journeys through its advanced sky shows. The estate’s grounds, with meticulously landscaped gardens and stunning views of the Long Island Sound, make for a serene retreat. Educational programs and events are regularly held, catering to both children and adults, ensuring that every visit is both informative and enjoyable.

9. Montauk Point Lighthouse

The Montauk Point Lighthouse, located on Long Island, NY, stands as New York State’s oldest lighthouse and a significant historical landmark. Erected in 1796, it has guided countless ships through the treacherous waters off Montauk Point. Today, visitors can explore the lighthouse museum, climb to the top for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, and learn about its storied history. The surrounding area, with its natural beauty, offers hiking trails and spots for picnicking, making it a popular destination for both history enthusiasts and nature lovers.

10. Old Westbury Gardens

This former country estate showcases an extraordinary example of a bygone era with its magnificent country house, English antiques, and over 70 acres of beautiful gardens. It’s a place where history and natural beauty intersect​​.

These destinations offer just a glimpse into the diverse experiences available on Long Island. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or just looking for a relaxing day at the beach, Long Island has something special for everyone.

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