Inexpensive Nassau County Staycations
While there’s no definite proof that the notion of staycations (or the less-used term nearcation) originated around the time of the 2007 recession, it’s become a popular way of getting much-needed R&R. The added bonus is that it’s minus the stress of driving far distances or getting caught up in the gulag that is modern-day air travel while saving money on gas, which has been currently trending upwards in price after falling below $3 a gallon earlier this year. For the sake of simplicity, we boiled it down to the parameters of going, eating and treating. In other words, visiting a pretty nifty destination or indulging in an equally intriguing activity, dining at a highly recommended eatery in whatever location we’re featuring and finally, capping it all off with something tasty because what’s a vacation without dessert.
See how a neglected and trash-filled sump was transformed into a flourishing nine-acre community nature preserve at the Garden City Bird Sanctuary, opposite 181 Tanners Pond Road.
If you’re hankering to indulge your inner carnivore, Polo Steakhouse at 45 Seventh St. is a classic American steakhouse in the heart of Garden City, serving 28-day dry-aged USDA prime grade steaks, chops and fresh seafood. If you shy away from this kind of fare, the Polo Lounge hosts an impressive Sunday brunch and also has Afternoon Tea on Saturdays at 2 p.m. And if you want to give your culinary excursion even more of a vacation-ish vibe, book a spa treatment and stay the night at this historic Garden City mainstay.
Treat: 16 Handles
Ignore that it’s a franchise and revel in the various frozen yogurt options you can indulge in at 3 Nassau Blvd. Since you’re charged by the weight, it’s easy to rack up a pretty hefty bill, particularly if you go in a group. But it winds up being so worth it once you start to sample the myriad exotic flavors that include Nutella, strawberry kiwi, white chocolate macadamia, red velvet and pineapple express.
For a day out of the house, hop over to this facility located at 310 Michael Drive in Syosset. The first trampoline park in New York, Bounce! boasts jumping, training, working out and playing popular sports on massive courts of interconnected trampolines.
Eat: Village Heroes
The Syosset-Jericho area has countless restaurants, but sometimes all one needs to be happy is an epic sandwich. The completely unpretentious eatery sits at 80 Jericho Tpke. and offers overstuffed sandwiches, including the exceptionally mouth-watering chicken Parmesan.
Treat: Cardinali Bakery
Forgo the neon flash of self-serve frozen not ice cream in favor of old-country flavor at this mainstay located at 14 Cold Spring Road in Syosset. Take your pick of bread, pastries, cookies, cakes and the truly decadent Italian gelato at this venerable Syosset sweet spot.
Go: Island Rock
Head over to 60 Skyline Drive in Plainview, where a state-of-the-art indoor rock climbing facility awaits you. Island Rock boasts a unique, seamless climbing surface that is the closest thing to real rock you can find without bringing a mountain indoors.
Despite only opening in 2013, it’s become a Plainview favorite and is located at 430 Woodbury Road. This gastropub mixes upscale ideals with hearty pub fare. The fun atmosphere and lengthy craft beer menu makes Morrison’s a satisfying food experience.
Self-serve frozen yogurt might be the current craze, but for a cold treat there’s no beating this one and only standby. This king of ice cream has two Plainview locations, 130 Manetto Hill Road and 785 Old Country Road, so the classic sundae is never that far away.
Long Island’s largest amusement park sits at 245 NY-110 in Farmingdale. The family-friendly venue has rides and games for all ages. Take a seat on Turbulence, Long Island’s first spinning roller coaster, which only has a 44-inch height requirement.
Eat: HUSH Bistro
If you are looking for the perfect low-key restaurant with fabulous food, then run, don’t walk over to HUSH Bistro, located on 291 Main St. Owned by chef Marc Bynum, a winner on Food Network’s Chopped, the Modern American restaurant delivers an innovative earth-to-table menu with emphasis on local and organic flavors enhanced by traditional and new cooking techniques. Try something new like a watermelon and feta salad, duck leg confit with sweet grits, blueberry demi-glace and pickled vegetables or grilled cheese with white cheddar, fontina, Gouda, short rib and pickled red onion with a side of fresh fries.
Treat: A Taste of Long Island
There’s plenty to satiate your sweet tooth with when you venture over to 211 Main St., where a bakery, microbrewery, specialty market and farmers market featuring locally made products make up Taste of Long Island. Have something sweet like a tiramisu or blue velvet cake ball at the bakery or bring home a local jar of honey. Discover a new favorite dessert that you’ve never heard of like Honey Harvest Beer Infused Salted Caramel Blondies, and if you are not one to have a sweet tooth, try a mug of freshly brewed beer that’s made in the kitchen by award-winning brewers.
So how big can this area possibly be if you decide to get back to nature? Try a 423-acre parcel of land that comprises the largest single acquisition by Nassau County of New York City watershed property. The preserve is divided into three sections bounded by major roadways. The southern section, from Merrick Road to Sunrise Highway, contains the most diverse and ecologically valuable lands. Freshwater swamps, marsh, stream, lake and sandy-bog areas provide habitat for many rare and endangered Long Island plants, including orchids, carnivorous sundews and bladderworts. The longest hiking trail in Nassau County, the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, begins at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue and continues through the length of the preserve, ending at Cold Spring Harbor.
Situated at 5600 Merrick Road, the kitchen is always open for brunch, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks. Here, you’ll get the feel of Europe to Massapequa thanks to tapas-style dining and an impressive wine selection.
Perennially featured by Long Island Weekly as one of the Island’s best ice cream shops, it’s no wonder considering that THE eating and meeting spot of Massapequa serves up some of the best homemade candies, pies and ice cream with enough flavor choices to keep you coming back for more.
This entertainment institution has been around for more than a quarter-century and during that time, legions of homegrown comics have graced its stage, including Kevin James, Jim Breuer, Adam Ferrara, Bobby Collins and many more. It’s the perfect local venue to enjoy a night of laughs and fun without going all the way to Manhattan.
Family-owned and operated since 1965, this eatery has garnered quite a reputation for serving up great Italian fare. Yes this is the Umberto’s of New Hyde Park, only conveniently located in Wantagh.
Treat: Dortoni Bakery
Located at 3264 Hempstead Tpke., this classic Italian bakery offers up the best in cookies, cakes and other sweet treats, and claims a number of famous fans including Danny Aiello and designer Donna Karan.
Located at 127 Middle Neck Road, Sands Point Preserve features historic mansions, Hempstead House, Castle Gould, Mille Fleurs and Falaise, as well as 216 acres of woods, grounds and hiking trails that lead to the beach.
Try an organic burger, with interesting selections such as wild boar or elk, at this popular new restaurant located at 42 Main St.
Treat: Douglas & James
Dessert at family-owned Douglas & James Sweet Treats on the Wharf at 405 Main St. for some delicious ice cream flavors like salted caramel crunch.
On Monday nights during the summer, grab your lawn chair and cozy up to the sounds of music. The first concert in the series is on July 13, when Marc Berger and RIDE play at 7:30 p.m.
Eat: Toku Modern Asian
Enjoy a mouthwatering Asian-fusion menu while rubbing shoulders with the Gold Coast elite at 2014 Northern Blvd. in the glamorous Americana Manhasset.
Treat: Buttercooky Bakery
Top off your evening with a delicious cannoli and a frothing cup of cappuccino. Located at 140 Plandome Road, this yummy destination is the tasty stop on your staycation.
Housed on the former Frick Estate at 1 Museum Drive, this 145-acre property in Roslyn Harbor has a formal garden, walking paths, a sculpture park and exhibits.
This Mediterranean eatery at 1043 Northern Blvd. in Roslyn offers healthy, fresh and delicious food in an airy atmosphere with unbeatable service.
For creamy homemade ice cream and decadent hot fudge in an old-fashioned ice cream parlor setting, Hildebrandt’s at 84 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park is a destination.
For a unique adventure in Great Neck, visit the Merchant Marine Academy located at 300 Steamboat Road, which educates future Merchant Marine officers who will serve America’s marine transportation and defense needs in war and peace. Visitors can explore the academy grounds, museum and Navy Exchange or sign up for a tour.
A fun place with a cool, modern feel, try Elaine’s Asian Bistro & Grill at 8 Bond Street for sushi and other Pan-Asian eats.
Located at 1 Great Neck Road, Caffebene is more than your average coffee house. Choose from an array of sweet treats, including the caramel cinnamon misugaru frappe, espresso macchiato, cream cheese and blueberry Liege waffle and fresh gelato.
Go: Mr. Cheapo CDs
This local stronghold has thousands of records, CDs and DVDs ready to satisfy any movie buff or music maniac. Have something to sell or trade? Cheapos pays cash or store credit to would-be sellers/barterers at 134 Jericho Tpke., Mineola.
This Portuguese mainstay at 144 Jericho Tpke. in Mineola features hearty meals and sweet desserts. Whether it’s their tasty porterhouse or signature chicken, Bairrada has something for all palates.
Treat: Sweet to Lick Bakery
A vegan bakery with sweets and treats, Sweet to Lick offers breakfast pastries, cookies, sultry teas and specialty cakes for any occasion at 78 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park.
New Hyde Park
The park offers an outdoor pool complex with a family pool, including diving boards, children’s wading pool and snack bar, plus eight lighted tennis courts, two lighted platform tennis courts and a children’s playground at 1601 Marcus Ave. in New Hyde Park.
Eat: The Greek Place
This eatery at 2144 Jericho Tpke. in New Hyde Park combines Greek cuisine with popular international foods, creating gyro tacos, gyro burritos, German gyros, Italian gyros and gyro poppers.
Treat: SweeTart Bakery Cafe
The SweeTart Bakery Cafe at 1200 Jericho Tpke. in New Hyde Park opened in August 2013. The bakery offers pastries, cakes, bread, coffee, specialty coffees, Greek desserts and their famous spinach pie baked to perfection. Popular treats include their homemade cheese danish and cheesecake.
The farm museum dates back to 1697 and occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland, which encompasses a 47-acre parcel that is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. Located at 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy. in Floral Park, it includes historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard and herb garden. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
This eatery at 190 Jericho Tpke. in Floral Park serves up a wide variety of Irish-American fare, such as pot roast, shepherd’s pie, cheeseburgers, fish and chips and so much more. Bonus: kids eat free from the kids’ menu every Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Treat: Twisted Frozen Yogurt
Specializing in frozen yogurt and other desserts, some of the popular fro-yo flavors here include peanut butter, taro and cookies ’n cream, among plenty of others. Located at 175 Tulip Ave., Twisted is self-serve and pay-by-the-ounce.