The area where British troops camped following the Battle of Long Island during the American Revolutionary War is today one of the most popular cultural meccas on Long Island.
Downtown Huntington offers a bounty of top-notch restaurants, shops, galleries, specialty stores and entertainment venues. Located in northwestern Suffolk County, this waterfront community is home to pristine harbors, marinas, beaches and parks. Originally an agriculture and shipping hub, it was transformed into a popular tourist destination once the Long Island Rail Road arrived in 1867.
“It’s a little microcosm of Manhattan,” says Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. “Whether you are going on a date or bringing your family for a day trip or to dinner, Huntington has a vibrant downtown area … Get to a live concert, a play, or a museum.”
Here’s some of the many things to do in Huntington on your next visit.
For your entertainment
Whether you’re looking for laughs or live music, The Paramount (370 New York Ave., 631-673-7300, paramountny.com) has something for everyone. Recently ranked fifth top club venue worldwide, this two-level hotspot has been a fixture on the Huntington scene since opening its doors six years ago. Each year, the theater hosts an average of 200 events, including big-name acts from across genres — just about everyone from Elvis Costello to Fetty Wap has played here — and even regularly hosts boxing. On Feb. 17, comedian Jim Breuer begins the first performance of his new monthly residency. This month’s line-up also features shock rocker Marilyn Manson, funk royalty George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic and comic Kevin James.
If you’d rather be the one on stage, Finley’s (43 Green St., Huntington, 631-351-3440, finleyshuntington.com) can help make that happen. Every Wednesday night is NOOM — North Shore Original Open Mic — where songwriters, artists and musicians sing, perform and play live music. The tavern has dozens of craft beers on tap and bottled. And on Sundays, New Orleans-style Storyville American Table, which operates a restaurant during the day in the space where Finley’s has its bar and nightclub, offers an all-you-can-eat brunch at $34.95pp.
A cultural journey
Art aficionados can take joy in the endless variety of tours, lectures, discussion groups and workshops offered at The Heckscher Museum of Art (2 Prime Ave., 631-351-3250, heckscher.org). On view through March 11, is the exhibition From Frankenthaler to Warhol: Art of the ’60s and ’70s, from the color field, minimalist, pop and photorealist work featuring works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Helen Frankenthaler, Audrey Flack and others. And on Feb. 9, join author and music historian Tom Ryan as he explores the musical landscape in his lecture How Music Changed History: ’60s & ’70s.
For those who prefer the media arts, Cinema Arts Centre (cinemaartscentre.org, 423 Park Ave., 631-423-7611), LI’s biggest art-house movie theater, presents 300 special events annually, including live theater and music concerts, stand-up comedy, community-driven events, and trivia nights. That’s in addition to more than 400 films including international, documentaries, independent and new releases. For example, on Feb. 10, it will feature the 1987 Jon Cryer classic Dudes. For Black History Month, the theater hosts Gospel music and Huntington resident Deacon Leon Jamison on Feb. 23, among other events and screenings. Hardcore cinemaphiles can enjoy late-night dining at The Sky Room Cafe.
The Book Revue (313 New York Ave., 631-271-1442; bookrevue.com) is the perfect spot for some literary enlightenment. On Feb. 13, author Bruno Ribeiro will share his illustrated fairytale for adults in verse form: The Book of All Lovers, a tale of adventure
and chivalry. And, on Feb. 14, Billy Lamont will be signing copies of his new poetry book, Words Ripped from a Soul Still Bleeding. The poems all have different messages to share, including hope, inspiration and social reform. The Book Revue has been around since 1977 and is the largest independent bookstore on LI selling new, used and discounted books.
Walk through history
Want to gawk at the Gilded Age grandeur of the Gold Coast? Take a guided tour of Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate (135 West Gate Dr., 631-659-1400, oheka.com). Stroll through the lush gardens and opulent halls of this historic chateau that is the second largest private home in America. It was originally the summer home of the affluent Kahn family until its sale in 1934. After changing hands and later falling into disrepair, owner Gary Melius bought it in 1984, invested more than $30 million to restore it, and turned it into a hotel, restaurant and catering hall. The $50 guided tours by appointment only are followed by a two-course lunch at the Oheka Bar & Restaurant. Visitors may opt
for the regular $25 tour that ends with cookies and tea in the formal dining room or grand ballroom. Showcasing its rich history, the estate is often used as a location shoot for TV and film productions. It was portrayed as Xanadu in Citizen Kane, served as the set of Taylor Swift’s music video for “Blank Space” and was the set of a shoot for the film Fifty Shades Freed.
Those who prefer literary history can head over to The Walt Whitman Birthplace (246 Old Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington Station, 631-427-5240 x113, waltwhitman.org), which is a great place to learn about America’s greatest poet. The home is a designated New York State Historic Site and is listed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places. Some programs for children 5 and up include Make A Dreamcatcher, followed by Victorian Tea Party, where children learn dining manners, social skills and self-esteem. Poetry readers are also regularly on the agenda, with local poets encouraged to participate.
Specialty stores galore
If you need a spiritual reading or just some funky henna design on your hand or head, stop off at Henna Happiness (6 East Carver St., 631-935-2714, hennahappiness.com), a boutique offering mystical items, crystals, stones and lots more. Store owner Trudy Pellegrino, a professional henna artist and specialist in Jyotish, a form of astrology rooted in India, can do a reading that may help you restore balance and healing in your life.
For those who adore vintage kitsch and collectibles and even antiques, stop in at Rosie’s Vintage (101 Woodbury Ave., 631-549-9100, rosiesvintagestore.com), a vintage/antique multi-dealer store that specializes in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s stuff. The store has something for almost everyone from young vintage lovers starting out to the mid-century generation who are looking to reminisce. With multiple dealers participating, inventory changes daily and includes furniture and decor, man-cave and kitchen decor, vintage clothing and accessories, industrial, vinyl records and one-of-a kind items.
Step into Kilwins Huntington (293 Main St., 631-271-4200, kilwins.org), and you will become a kid again. Everything in the chocolate shop known for its signature chocolate dipped caramel apples and specialty ice cream is all homemade and features fun names like Superman — a fruity vanilla rainbow — and Kilwins Mud (vanilla ice cream with caramel and chocolate chip), popular with the kids, and best sellers Sea Salt Caramel and Toasted Coconut. They also have chocolate-covered popcorn, brittle, Rice Krispies, marshmallows.
“Anything that doesn’t move we will dip into chocolate,” laughs co-owner Susan Hirschfeld, who opened the shop with her son, Jake, five years ago.
IMC Restaurant and Bar (279 Main St., 631-824-6222, imcrestaurant.com), is where serious foodies flock. This modern steakhouse owned by Brooklyn-based Imperial Meats features mouth-watering entrees that include their signature duck platter, caviar plate, Chilean sea bass and locally sourced oysters. Their Japanese Wagyu tomahawk ribeye steak is one of their most popular entrees. All their meats are hormone, steroid and antibiotic free. Straight from the mixologist, patrons can enjoy their Blood Orange Martini, Black Coconut Mojito or The Barrel (High West double rye, amaretto, house-infused black cherry cognac with a hint of smoky Islay scotch, a splash of bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice) served on the rocks.
“The drink,” says manager Vincent Alessi, “is big with guys.”
Bringing some flavor to the village is Babalu NY, (286 New York Ave., 631-683-4666, babaluny.com), The Cuban Mediterranean bistro specializing in small plates was launched only 10 months ago by former pro boxer Alan Gotay. The Cubano sandwich — Serrano ham, slow-roasted pulled pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, homemade mustard and spicy mustard on ciabatta — was just rated one of the top sandwiches on LI.
“We wanted to bring Cuban style food into Huntington,” says manager Maggie Senia.
Other specialties include empanadas and pasteles, a family style recipe made of green plantains and tropical pumpkin seed wrapped in green banana leaves and filled with either chicken, meat or vegetables.
Enjoy some eggs and bacon or chicken and waffles, where breakfast is served all day. The Shed (54 New St., 631-385-7433, intheshed.com) is another newcomer to the village. Lunch and dinner entrees are also available and full bar with specialty cocktails.
Where to dine
Black & Blue Seafood Chophouse
65 Wall St., 631-385-9255, blackandbluehuntington.com
Prime: An American Kitchen and Bar
117 North New York Ave., 631-385-1515, restaurantprime.com
Honu Kitchens and Cocktails
363 New York Ave., 631-421-6900, honukitchen.com
15 Wall St., 631-549-0055, jonathansristorante.com
TOA Asian Fusion
369 New York Ave., 631-673-7377; toaasianfusion.com
Besito Mexican Restaurant
402 New York Ave. 631-549-0100, besitomexican.com
Hikudo Asian Bistro & Sushi
329 Main St., 631-421-4729, hikudo.com
Spice Village Grill
281 Main St., 631-271-9700, spicevillagegrill.com
House of India
256 Main St., 631-271-0059, houseofindiany.com
Where to stay
Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate
135 W. Gate Dr., Huntington, 631-659-1400, oheka.com