New Hyde Park is one of Long Island’s oldest communities, dating back to an 800-acre land grant given in 1683 to Thomas Dongan, royal colonial governor of New York, who built a mansion overlooking “Dongan’s Farm” on what is now Lakeville Road.
Sold to provincial secretary George Clarke in 1715, the estate was then dubbed Hyde Park in honor of Clarke’s wife, Anne Hyde. Clarke eventually sold the land in 1783 and by the early 19th century, the region was a hub for cattle farming, until the mid-1800s, when ranch competitors out West began to overtake the market. When it opened its first post office in 1871 the area became known as New Hyde Park, to avoid confusion with Hyde Park further north in Dutchess County.
These days, New Hyde Park is primarily a commuter town, because of its close proximity and relatively short commute to Manhattan, with more than 75 percent of its land used for single-family residences. When residents and visitors alike are looking for some quality fun and food in the immediate area, sure-fire hotspots include:
Six-string enthusiasts are absolutely obligated to make a pitstop at the American Guitar Museum (1810 New Hyde Park Rd., 516-488-5000, americanguitarmuseum.com), which is absolutely packed with vintage, rare and noteworthy axes on display, including one of the largest known collections of D’Angelico guitars, plus vintage pick-making tools donated by D’Andrea and blueprint reproductions of Andrés Segovia’s legendary 1937 Hermann Hauser. The museum is also home to a repair shop run by master luthier Chris “Guitar Doctor” Ambadjes, as well as a studio for guitar lessons. Be sure to bow down before the wall devoted to Les Paul and his iconic instruments.
Researchers say there’s a strong link between musical ability and math skills, so when you’re done checking out guitars, head over to the Goudreau Museum of Mathematics in Art and Science (Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Rd., Room 202, 516-747-0777, mathmuseum.org), founded by engineer and mathematics teacher Bernard Goudreau. The museum helps visitors “gain an understanding of mathematical principles through the practical application of modeling and geometric simulation,” according to its website. Activities and features include: building a math model; games and puzzles; exhibits demonstrating the use of math in the arts and sciences; specialized programs and workshops; a mathematics resource library; and a museum store stocked with games, puzzles, books and more.
Or, if calculating the best angle to sink that game-changing putt is more your speed, you’ll love spending some time at Romeo & Juliet Miniature Golf (377 Denton Ave., 516-739-0167, springrockgolf.com), located in the Spring Rock Golf Center. There are two 18-hole mini-golf courses to choose from (one is named “Romeo,” and the other is “Juliet”), with a variety of challenging features. The Golf Center also offers a driving range, golf lessons, an indoor simulator, a repair shop and a café. The driving range is 250 yards deep and offers 100 covered teeing booths, as well as a practice putting green and sand trap.
You can also spend some quality time rolling a ball, rather than hitting one, at New Hyde Park’s local bowling alley, Herrill Lanes (465 Herricks Rd., 516-741-8022, herrilllanes.com). The family-run bowling mecca features 36 synthetic lanes, computer scoring, a full-service pro shop, coffee shop and the Chatterbox Lounge, offering drink specials nightly. There’s also Rock-N-Bowl with cosmic lighting every Saturday evening, set to music from the 1960s to the present.
Finally, after working up a sweat on the driving range and/or at the lanes, cool off on the shimmering ice at Iceland (3345 Hillside Ave., 516-746-1100, icelandlongisland.com), one of Nassau County’s top destinations for figure skating, hockey and pretty much anything that happens on a frozen surface. There are public sessions offered several days per week, as well as skating school, house hockey leagues, open “pickup” hockey, clinics and more. Check out their special “puck shoot” events, where you can alleviate all that commuter stress by teeing off against real goalies, and don’t even need to apologize.
WHERE TO DINE
633 Jericho Tpke., 516-437-7698, originalumbertos.com
Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
265-21 Union Tpke., 718-347-7136, luigisnewhydepark.com
Inn at New Hyde Park
214 Jericho Tpke., 516-354-7797, innatnhp.com
1902 Jericho Tpke., 516-354-2858, chefwangny.com
26511 Union Tpke., 718-347-4846, tavern18.com