By Jordan Fuller
It’s easy to get wrapped up in visiting the five boroughs of New York City when you’re on a summer jaunt to the Big Apple, but to miss out on neighboring Nassau County on Long Island would be quite an oversight. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Long Island Sound and Queens, Nassau County is a lively and lovely destination, perfect for summertime fun and relaxation. Here are some of the highlights of summertime in Nassau County.
One of the primary attractions of Nassau County is the town of Old Bethpage and its Bethpage State Park. The town of Old Bethpage features a 209-acre Old Bethpage Village Restoration, a transportive experience that takes you back to the civil war era.
Complete with actors in period costumes and 51 historic buildings like inns, stores and churches all transported from their original sites on Long Island, the Old Bethpage Village Restoration gives you a taste of life before the hustle and bustle of modern life. Learn old-timey farming and crafting techniques at the living history museum, or throw back a stein of root beer at the Noon Inn bar. There are even newly opened Escape Rooms for those looking for a modern twist on the historic neighborhood.
One of the best weekends in Old Bethpage is Old Time Base Ball weekend, featuring games played with the rules and equipment used back in 1860.
Bethpage State Park is under 10 minutes away from Old Bethpage and features five stunning public golf courses, including the famed Bethpage Black, host of the 2019 PGA Championship and numerous other major professional championships. Perhaps the #1 photo opportunity in U.S. Golf is the sign at the first tee of Bethpage Black that warns golfers, “The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers.”
Golfers who don’t want to undertake the challenge of Bethpage Black will find a lot to love about the other four courses in Bethpage State Park. Nassau County in general is a haven for golf, with over 40 courses open to the public including three renowned 18 hole tracks at Eisenhower Park. There are even several 9-hole executive courses for visitors who are either just getting into golf or don’t have time to play a full 18. But Bethpage Black is so good, you should make time for a full 18. Just make sure you bring plenty of golf balls, the fescue there likes to swallow them up!
Sands Point Park and Preserve is a great place to spend a day outside in the summer, with numerous hiking trail options that take you down to the scenic Long Island Sound. There are woodland playgrounds, outdoor family yoga, and guided nature walks available. But the highlight of Sands Point is Falaise, a castle-like mansion that’s now a museum. Originally built on a 90-acre plat of land given to Henry Guggenheim as a wedding gift in 1923, Falaise looms impressively over the Long Island Sound. Replete with 16th- and 17th-century antiques, cobblestone walkways, steep heavy tile roofs and a round tower, it’s a peek into the rich history of the historic Gold Coast lifestyle that Long Island has long been famous for.
Sagamore Hill Historic Site
History buffs won’t want to miss Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, an official National Park of the US that was known as the “Second White House” during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. He lived in the house and reveled in the natural surrounding from 1885 until he died in 1919. House tours are offered daily, and there remains a great deal of natural beauty and a songbird sanctuary on the impressive property.
No trip to Nassau County would be complete without a day at the races. Home to Triple-Crown race The Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park hosts horse racing all summer long. Bring a family picnic or splurge on the fine dining offered at the site. Children will delight in the pony rides and petting zoo, and adults will enjoy the Longshots sports bar that simulcasts the horse races. Of course, there’s nothing like putting a few dollars down and cheering your horse to victory, so get there early and make a day of it!
Jordan Fuller is a golf enthusiast and owns golf publication www.golfinfluence.com. He also loves to travel around the globe to see different places and discover golf destinations such as Old Bethpage in Nassau County.