Bring out your inner Gatsby and explore the beauty of the Gold Coast this summer at one of these preserves or parks. Home to wealthy Americans at the turn of the 20th century, this area of the North Shore now offers tours of the old mansions, as well as beautiful grounds that are open to the public for walking, hiking and birdwatching.
Here’s a list of places where you can find both nature and Long Island history:
Old Westbury Gardens
71 Old Westbury Rd., Old Westbury, NY
516-333-0048 • www.oldwestburygardens.org
Two hundred acres of gardens, woodlands and ponds await at the grounds of Westbury Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can wander around and enjoy the nature, or participate in a variety of educational workshops, family programs, horticultural demonstrations or gardening classes that occur throughout the summer. The gardens are open to the public Wednesday through Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $12 for the house and the gardens, with special discounts offered for senior citizens, children and students. Members and children under the age of 6 are free.
Planting Fields Arboretum
1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay, NY
516-922-9200 • www.plantingfields.org
Donated to New York State by William Robertson Coe in 1948, Coe Hall and the surrounding property was intended to be used as a horticultural school. Now, its 409 acres are open to visitors every day of the year—excluding Christmas—to look throughout the grounds at the lawns, hiking trails and pop-up exhibits that are featured in the greenhouses. It will also be home to the fourth annual Golf Classic, as well as free outdoor concerts, a Great Gatsby tour and Theater in the Park. During the summer season, admission is$8 per car.
Caumsett State Park Historic Preserve
25 Lloyd Harbor Rd., Lloyd Harbor, NY
518-474-0456 • www.parks.ny.gov/admission/default.aspx
Located on a peninsula in Huntington, this park was once owned by Marshall Field III and had a facility for every sport except for golf. Today it offers hiking, jogging and bridle paths, fishing, bird watching and scuba diving by permit. It will also host classes for wilderness survival and plant identification, as well as a guided hike during which the leader will discuss the ways in which Long Island nature has been affected. The park is open seven days a week, year round, from sunrise to sunset. The park can be accessed by purchasing an Empire Pass, which allows you to enter most state parks, or by paying the $8 entrance fee. Other activities and permits may have additional costs.
25A west of Jericho-Oyster Bay Rd., Muttontown Lane, East Norwich, NY
516-571-8500 • www.nassaucountyny.gov/2839/Muttontown-Preserve
There’s no shortage of land to discover in Nassau County’s largest preserve, totaling at 550 acres. Visitors can walk through the marked trails to watch the birds and other wildlife or admire the flowers. The park is open year round and entrance to the preserve is free, although there may be a cost to enter one of the mansions on the grounds that are open for tours.
Sands Point Preserve
127 Middle Neck Rd., Sands Point, NY
516-571-7901 • www.sandspointpreserveconservancy.org
Formerly known as the Guggenheim Estate, this Nassau County owned park was once the inspiration for the “East Egg” of The Great Gatsby. Currently, its 200 acres offer hiking trails, beaches, lawns, gardens and a pond for visitors to explore. Hempstead House, one of the four mansions on the property, is open to tours for the public. Admission to the preserve is $10 per car or $4 for walk-ins. Entrance is free for members. The preserve is open every day of the year, excluding Christmas and New Years Day. During the summer, it is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.