Your next trip is just a car, train, boat or bike ride away
Summer is a time for sunshine, ice cream and, most importantly, opportunities for a respite from the daily grind of jobs, school and responsibilities—at least for a little while. Getting away doesn’t have to mean far away—it could take mere minutes or, at most, an hour or two to transport you to a place that makes you feel like you’re on vacation. These destinations on and around Long Island will provide a memorable escape minus the packing, passport and airport hassles.
If you’re in need of an island vacation, Fire Island (www.fireisland.com) will transport you to the tropics for the day, or even overnight, via three ferry terminals in Bay Shore, Sayville and Patchogue, which each go to different sections of this beachy isle, including the gay-friendly and fun Cherry Grove, the more relaxing Fire Island Pines and the magnificent beach, boardwalk and forest of Sailors Haven.
Select a destination to satisfy your entertainment needs. Beaches, picnics and water-based activities make for a relaxing family break. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, Ocean Bay Park is known for the nightlife, and during the day, Flynn’s is the place to go for an indoor/outdoor bar with great music, drinks and food, and Cherry’s on the Bay in Cherry Grove offers a great time with friends and a lot of food options, including a “late night” menu, as well as weekly drag shows.
Nestled along Long Island’s North Shore, this vibrant town is filled with shops, restaurants, art and music enhanced by spectacular views of Manhasset Bay. If you crave an off-shore adventure, Lady Liberty Cruises (www.ladylibertycruises.com) offers the public four-hour boat trips on specific dates throughout the summer that leave from Port Washington’s Town Dock and travel to New York Harbor, sharing views of the Gold Coast, Millionaires Row of Kings Point and Sands Point, the Statue of Liberty and Freedom Tower. With a buffet-style dinner, three-hour open bar, music and dancing while sailing past the Manhattan skyline, this cruise provides a magical night under the stars and the lights of the city.
One of the borough’s hottest attractions is the High Line (www.thehighline.org), a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan. A walkway with lush gardens, thought-provoking sculptures and artistically painted buildings escorts visitors past benches, foot baths and vendors of food, drink and art, and extends from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, offering ample places to enter and exit for stops at Chelsea Market, an iconic urban food market; Chelsea Piers, a recreational center on the Hudson River; or Hudson River Park, all fun locations for the whole family.
In addition to classics like Coney Island, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and trendy Bushwick, just a walk, bike ride or drive over the Brooklyn Bridge reveals the historic borough that visitors can explore all day long and still find new and exciting things to do. Described by The New York Times as “the Woodstock of eating,” the Brooklyn Flea Food Market, Smorgasburg (www.smorgasburg.com), is open every weekend from April to November and offers a festival of food and drink for foodies looking for their next unique bite. With vendors selling everything from Ramen Burgers and Parish Po’ Boys to Wowfulls, which are Hong Kong
egg waffles paired with ice cream and sweet toppings, the day will be filled with great food and drink along the East River—rain or shine.
Combine your trip to Manhattan or Brooklyn with an excursion to the relaxing oasis called Governors Island (www.govisland.com), a tiny isle in the middle of New York Harbor accessible by ferry from either borough from May 28 to September 25 with free rides on Saturdays and Sundays until noon. Offering an incredible view of the Statue of Liberty, miles of car-free biking—with the option of bringing your own or renting—art exhibitions, picnic sites and grilling stations, a play area at Hammock Grove with ballfields, a mini golf course and treehouse, teaching garden and two food courts with ample space for picnicking, Governors Island provides everything you’d want on a summer day.
Rather not leave Long Island for your adventure? Plenty of fun, and even notable, places are reachable by car—all the way out to the end. Located at the eastern tip, Montauk (www.onmontauk.com) is famous for its historic lighthouse, an interesting landmark that’s steeped in history. Visitors can walk up the narrow, winding stairs to the top and look out onto the gorgeous grounds and the Atlantic Ocean. Six beautiful state parks in the area provide wonderful hiking, fishing, camping, bird-watching and swimming at the beaches. To make it really seem like vacation, on the way to or from your destination, stop at a vineyard for a few hours to taste some local wine.
Although we hope for sunny days and cloudless blue skies all summer long, it’s bound to rain every once in a while. Riverhead is perfect for rainy days, offering shopping at the Tanger Outlets, as well as the Long Island Aquarium (www.longislandaquarium.com) along the scenic Peconic River that features indoor and outdoor exhibits with alligators, fish, turtles, creatures of the night, otters, penguins, seals, bugs, birds and butterflies. Interactive experiences include animal encounters, a touch tank, a shark dive and snorkeling in Shark Reef Lagoon with the opportunity to interact with animals in the bird exhibition, where free-flying fowl land on visitors, especially the ones with cups of seeds. Or take a selfie with a sea lion, hang out with a penguin, snorkel with stingrays and train with seals.
Every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day, The Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay (www.thewaterfrontcenter.org) reminds visitors of days on the lake at summer camp or their fondest boating vacation as they rent kayaks (single or double) and paddle boards by the hour for either a relaxing paddle or an intense physical workout. Sunset kayak tours, classes and private lessons are also available, as is the option to rent boats for the day or the season.