Local leaders share their favorite Gold Coast treasures
Long Island is an extraordinary place—surrounded by beaches, lined with gardens, dotted with Gold Coast mansions—and brimming with hidden treasures. Regardless of how long someone’s lived here, they’re always discovering new attractions. To uncover some special spots, Gold Coast Magazine reached out to community officials in the know, who shared their favorites.
1 Sands Point Preserve, Sands Point
“Nassau County’s Gold Coast is filled with wonderful hidden gems that all residents and visitors should experience. One example is Sands Point Preserve, which sits on 216 acres, and is home to three great treasures: Castle Gould, Hempstead House and Falaise, all of which exude a time of great opulence when magnificent estates were built on Long Island’s North Shore.
“Castle Gould was the first of four mansions built here, designed by architect Augustus N. Allen in 1902, modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle. Completed in 1904, this impressive 100,000-square-foot limestone building was intended to be the main residence on the estate, but when Katherine [Clemmons] decided that it did not suit her, [husband and railroad heir] Howard [Gould] proceeded to build Hempstead House, which became the home to Daniel and Florence Guggenheim in 1917.
“Inside this Gold Coast mansion one will see the magnificent vaulted ceilings, walnut paneled library, stained-glass windows and oak organ. The house once included an aviary, the sunken Palm Court was once filled with rare orchids and a gold leaf ceiling in the billiard room. Falaise, built by Captain Harry Frank Guggenheim and his wife Caroline Morton, was completed in 1924. The architecture is French eclectic and the design is based on a 13th-century Norman manor house. Distinctive features of the mansion include an enclosed cobblestone courtyard, thickly mortared brick walls, a steeply pitched roof of heavy tile and a tower.”
—Ed Mangano, Nassau County Executive
2 Hempstead Harbor Trail, Port Washington
“My hidden gem in North Hempstead is the beautiful Hempstead Harbor Trail at North Hempstead Beach Park. Walking the trail is the perfect way to get away from it all. Surrounded by the water, the wildlife and nature’s beauty, you feel as if you’ve been transported to a pristine hiking trail in Maine. The trail is just minutes away and there’s always plenty of free parking. This year’s planned extension of the trail will add an additional one-third of a mile and I am very excited about that project!”
—Judi Bosworth, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor
3 Zicana, Westbury
“Located in the industrial area of New Cassel, this hidden gem is just that. Zicana Gallery specializes in creating various pieces ranging from gemstone surfaces, home decor, jewelry and even clothing, all made with rare stones and gems.
“I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Zicana owner Francesco Marasco back in 2011 when he first opened the gallery. It is breathtaking from the moment you walk through the door. Zicana is an extraordinarily rare and sophisticated high-end luxury gallery in an ordinary community. It is a place that once you visit it, you will definitely be telling someone else about it to see for themselves.”
—Viviana Russell, Councilwoman
4 Clark Botanic Garden, Albertson
“This hidden gem of North Hempstead is a 12-acre living museum and educational facility. What better time to discover this hidden treasure of the Town of North Hempstead than in the spring/summer when this garden’s beauty is on full display.
“Collections at the garden include native spring wildflowers, conifers, roses, perennials, daylilies, wetland plants, rock garden plants, herbs, butterfly plants, medicinal plants and more than a dozen collections of particular plant families. Clark Botanic Garden is a serene, tranquil hidden oasis that has recently undergone many improvements this year. You should take the time to come and explore.”
—Peter Zuckerman, Councilman
5 Mells Karon (a fabric store), Roslyn, and Wearhouse (a clothing store), Great Neck
—Anna Kaplan, Councilwoman
6 The greenspace, Thomaston
“The greenspace on Colonial Road (just west of the intersection of East Shore Road) in Thomaston is really a beautiful wooded little ‘pocket’ jewel hidden away from sight. It is a perfect quiet spot for reading a book, having a summer picnic or having a fun time with your dog.”
—Lee Seeman, Councilwoman
7 Sands-Willets House Museum, Port Washington
“My secret spot on the North Shore is the Sands-Willets House Museum located at 336 Port Washington Boulevard in Port Washington. The home is a museum run by the Cow Neck Historical Society, a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving the history of the Port Washington (Cow Neck) Peninsula.
“The home was originally constructed in 1735, and is one of the few prerevolutionary buildings still standing on Long Island. The museum allows visitors to step back in time to explore the roots of our community and celebrate Long Island’s revolutionary past. The museum also hosts various events and exhibitions throughout the year. Visit the Cow Neck Historical Society’s website at www.cowneck.org for more information on tour times and events.”
—Dina De Giorgio, Councilwoman
8 Huntington Village, Lloyd Harbor; Burton’s Bookstore and Kontokosta Winery, Greenport; Route 48
Some of my favorite Long Island spots include, “A day in Huntington Village with a trip to Book Revue and a bike ride to Lloyd Harbor,
“Burton’s Bookstore in Greenport: It’s a great independent bookstore that is stocked with copies of the Global War on Morris, which is one of the reasons I visit so much,
“Kontokosta Winery (photo above) in Greenport: It has an incredible view of the Long Island Sound and after a few glasses of wine, helps me forget what’s going on in Washington,
—Steve Israel, Congressman
9 Many spots throughout Great Neck, Port Washington, Roslyn and Oyster Bay
- Sagamore Hill Historic Site at 12 Sagamore Hill Road in Cove Neck, Oyster Bay, was home of the 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, from 1885 until his death in 1919. Advanced reservations to tour Theodore Roosevelt’s home can be booked through www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777. There’s a fee for the Theodore Roosevelt Home and tours, but entry and parking at the grounds are free, and include the historic farm and orchard as well as the nature trail to the beach on Cold Spring Harbor.
- Firefighters’ Park on Grace Avenue and Bond Street in the Village of Great Neck Plaza is a lovely park to stroll through during the day, has picnic tables for eating lunch outdoors and a children’s play area with a water spray, and offers free weekly summer concerts on Tuesday nights from 8 to 9:30 p.m. from mid-June through August.
- The Village Green on Middle Neck Road in the Village of Great Neck offers free summer concerts in July provided by the Rotary Club of Great Neck and outdoor family movies provided by the Great Neck Park District.
- Take in the beautiful view of Manhasset Bay or fish from the pier at the Town of North Hempstead Dock at 347 Main Street in Port Washington. The adjacent Sunset Park offers free summer concerts.
- Gerry Park and Roslyn Pond is a beautiful 16-acre green space in the middle of the Village of Roslyn, off Main Street and Papermill Road.
- Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park on West End Avenue in the Town of Oyster Bay is a small, slightly rocky beach that holds fairs in summer and has a pier, beach, tennis court, basketball court, picnic tables, a bike/skating path running along the length of the beach and park, a ball field, picnic area, tennis/handball courts, barbecue areas and a children’s playground. It’s a great place to stroll around during the day or watch the sunset at dusk. There’s a parking fee during the day, but if you come at 7 p.m. there’s no fee.
- Planting Fields Arboretum, an arboretum and state park, is comprised of 409 acres of greenhouses, rolling lawns, formal gardens, woodland paths and outstanding plant collections at 1395 Planting Fields Road in Oyster Bay.
- Gold Coast Arts Center, 113 Middle Neck Road, in Great Neck Plaza has free exhibits, but also offers arts cinema movie series, International Film Festival events and classes for children and adults for a fee.
- Landmark on Main Street at 232 Main Street in Port Washington has a theater that offers shows and concerts mostly for a fee, but some events are free.
—Jean Celender, Village of Great Neck Plaza Mayor