As Memorial Day Weekend is rapidly approaching, I’ll be packing our bags this week for a mini getaway to Fire Island (keeping my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates). Summertime is by far my favorite time of year here on Long Island because there’s so much to do and see so if you live in the area or you’re planning a trip to New York in the near future, you’ll definitely want to keep a few of my suggestions in mind.
1. Jones Beach: We live a mere ten minutes from Jones Beach which is a large state park that sits on a barrier island so it faces the ocean on one side and Zachs Bay on the other. There are so many nooks and crannies to Jones Beach: there is the main boardwalk and beach where most beach goers can be found plus several other additional beaches. There is the bay side where the outdoor ampi-theatre is (I’m seeing Dave Matthews and Gwen Stefani perform there later this summer), there’s a fishing pier, a Coast Guard station, and then there is the Teddy Roosevelt nature museum which is perfect for kids (the museum faces a beautiful boardwalk and expansive ocean views). Basically, there is something for everyone at Jones Beach!
Since Jones Beach can get pretty crowded, particularly on the weekends, we have an alternative beach we frequent which is just for the residents of our town. It’s called Point Lookout and it’s on the parallel barrier island to Jones Beach called Long Beach. I love the drive to both beaches because you cross over the bridges looking out onto the bay and the view is pretty spectacular. It just never gets old for me. The perfect way to end a day at the beach is by heading over to All American in Massapequa for cheeseburgers, fries and a shake. (Seriously the best burgers on Long Island.)
2. Fire Island: Fire Island is another barrier island that is located east of Jones Beach. The only way to get there is by the ferry (or if you have your own boat which is my husband’s dream). Fire Island is comprised of different towns but the one I’m most familiar with is Kismet where out friends own a summer house. The vibe on Fire Island is very laid back. There are no cars on the island so people get around on foot, bikes or golf carts. It’s a place where everyone knows everyone, no one locks their doors, kids have lemonade stands…basically the way we grew up years ago. There’s a general store, two restaurants and a pizza/ice cream place on the bay side which is the “happening” spot and the rest is residential. The minute you exit the ferry, you feel yourself automatically relax. Usually, there’s live music playing from the bar, there are people on the dock greeting friends and family who are arriving, there are kids on bikes, and the smell of the ocean and seafood. I’m just realizing, Jimmy Buffet should’ve written a song about Fire Island! There are a few small boutique hotels on Fire Island but I’d recommend renting a house for a week or a weekend for the privacy and the space.
3. The Planting Fields Aboretum: Located on the north shore in Oyster Bay, this is a state park that includes the arboretum and the Coe Hall Historic House Museum. The grounds are exquisite especially when everything blooms from May until September. My favorite time to go is late June when the roses are in full bloom! We usually pack a lunch and spend a few hours there. There’s trails, a fountain area, two greenhouses, and then the mansion. Every time we go, there’s always several brides having their photos taken which is a testament to its’ beauty. I also have taken many of my outfit photos here. Nearby, is Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt’s summer home which sits on top of a hill overlooking the Long Island Sound. You could easily make a day of it by visiting both and then heading to Rothman’s for a steak dinner.
4. Greenport: Greenport is located on the north fork of Long Island which is basically the less pretentious, more relaxed version of the Hamptons. It sits on the marina (over looking Shelter Island which you can get to by ferry)) where there is a waterfront park and a 1920’s carousel. There are a plethora of shops and restaurants plus a hotel on the main strip so it’s an ideal location for a mini weekend getaway. The north fork wineries are a short distance away so you could spend the day at the vineyards and then head to Noah’s for dinner followed by drinks and live music at Billy’s by the Bay.
5. Jamesport Vineyards: This is the only vineyard out on the north fork that we’ve visited but we had such a great experience there, I had to recommend it! It’s family friendly so we were able to bring the kids and the day we went, there was a live band so they danced under the tent and played badminton while we sipped wine and shared an appetizer. I definitely want to head back here this summer! I’ve also heard rave reviews about Martha Clara and Wolffer Estate.
6. Lavender by the Bay: Another gem out on the north fork, this family run lavender farm consists of seventeen acres of farmland plus a quaint shop where naturally, you can purchase all things lavender. The best time to go is in early June for the main French bloom. However, since they grow several different types of lavender, you can also visit the farm in late June for the first English bloom and late August/early September for the second English bloom.
7. Old Westbury Gardens: This estate is the former home of John Schaffer Phipps who was an heir to the U.S Steel fortune. He built this home for his British wife and designed it to resemble her family home in England. The grounds, mansion, and garden are impeccably maintained and manicured. You can pack a lunch and enjoy it in the designated picnic area, stroll the grounds and gardens and enjoy a guided mansion tour. In the summer, there are outdoor concerts on the main lawn. I’m hoping to pack a picnic dinner one night this summer and take in one of their concerts under the stars.
8. Vanderbilt Mansion: The former summer cottage of William Vanderbilt, this expansive estate, located in Centerport, consists of the mansion and a planetarium with its’ sweeping views of the Long Island Sound. We visited the estate for the first time back in March and we were so impressed, we became members on the spot! The day we visited was a bit chilly so I’m looking forward to heading back there this summer once everything has bloomed and we can enjoy a picnic lunch outdoors.
In addition to this list, I’d love to check out Bellport, which is a charming, coastal town on the south shore, head to a farm where we can pick our own strawberries and blueberries, check out a few beaches on the north shore, and head out to Montauk for the night just with the hubs. I’ll be sharing my summer adventures with you here on the blog and on instagram and snapchat (@taffetatulips) so stay tuned. And of course, please feel free to email me with any questions or recommendations! I hope your Monday is off to a great start!