Thanks in part to an ideal location on the Long Island Sound, the community once called Musketa Cove that eventually became the City of Glen Cove was a haven for English colonists from the late 1600s onward, and before that hosted numerous Native American tribes. It was the city’s turn-of-the-century Gold Coast era, however, that would define the character of this opulent seaside playground, with multiple industrial tycoons building massive estates on Glen Cove’s majestic shoreline from the late 1800s through the 1920s.
Today, many of those Gold Coast estates are public property, freely enjoyed by all. From the rolling lawns and prime oceanfront of Morgan Memorial Park (once the grounds of the J.P. Morgan estate) to the wooded splendor of the Welwyn Preserve (the Harold Pratt estate) to the scenic trails and fascinating museum at Garvies Point, former home of the Garvie family, the Glen Cove of today is both in touch with its past and with its present and future. Few locations on Long Island offer such a rich combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage and manmade artistry.
“Glen Cove has such a rich history and has so much to offer to its residents and visitors,” says Lauren Wasserfall, chairperson of the Glen Cove 350 Anniversary Heritage Garden program, as part of the city’s 350th birthday celebration. “There’s the Holocaust Museum, Garvies Point, Webb Institute, Welwyn Preserve, the Glen Cove Mansion, our Garvies Point microbrewery and so much more. The downtown area has some really wonderful restaurants and places to shop, with the convenience of a large free municipal parking lot. If you’re looking to have a fun day on the North Shore of Long Island, then Glen Cove is the place to put on your list of ‘must dos.’”
Glen Cove is in the midst of celebrations (glencove350.com), honoring its formal founding in 1668 as Musketa Cove Plantation, adopting the word “Musketa,” meaning “place of rushes,” from the native Lenape language. Already an active port, in 1668 it became an independent hamlet led by five plantation owners, who’d purchased 2,000 acres from the Matinecock tribe. From 1680 onward, the community was run by the Town of Oyster Bay, until 1917, when it became a city. Along the way, in 1834, residents changed the name to Glen Cove, purportedly due to the negative association between “Musketa” and “mosquito,” and by 1850 the village was already a thriving resort destination for city dwellers.
Centuries later, Glen Cove remains an ideal spot for a getaway, whether you’re from out of state, or just a different exit on the parkway. Some recommended diversions include:
Today, you can retrace some of the city’s earliest roots at the Garvies Point Museum and Preserve (50 Barry Dr, 516-571-8010, garviespointmuseum.com), on the grounds of the former Garvie family estate, dating to the early 1800s. This captivating oasis is now a center for research on Long Island geology and Native American archaeology, set in a lush 62-acre waterfront preserve covered by forests, thickets and meadows, with some five miles of marked nature trails. The museum features multiple permanent and temporary exhibits (including a model archaeological dig) and conducts numerous educational programs for both kids and adults.
Another essential historic Glen Cove destination is the Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County (100 Crescent Beach Rd, Welwyn Preserve, 516-571-8040, hmtcli.org)—located within the Welwyn Preserve—offering multimedia exhibits, artifacts, archival footage and testimony from local Holocaust survivors. There is also a gallery that hosts temporary exhibits, and a timely gallery that connects the past to modern-day problems of intolerance, bullying and genocide. The center is also home to the Louis Posner Memorial Library, a lending repository of more than 7,000 relevant works, including memoirs, diaries, journals, maps, artwork, DVDs, CDs and artifacts.
You can also immerse yourself in the region’s rich history by paying a visit to the North Shore Historical Museum (140 Glen St, 516-801-1191, northshorehistoricalmuseum.org), housed in the city’s original 1907 Justices Courthouse, listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. The museum spans the history of the North Shore, particularly the Gold Coast, offering exhibitions, lectures and programs, including its latest exhibit: “The North Shore Worships: A Historical Overview With Local Cemeteries & Burial Grounds.”
THE ARTS SCENE
Glen Cove is also a place where old and new combine and morph into something entirely unique. One of the city’s most vibrant cultural offerings is the First City Project (149 Glen St, 516-759-1327, firstcityproject.com), located in the historic J.H. Coles Homestead, formerly home to one of the city’s five founding families, with parts of the home dating as far back as 1690. Inside you will find the walls of the once-neglected 9,000-square-foot house now covered with dazzling creations by more than 150 urban street artists from around the globe. In the future the organizers intend to host live events, mural projects, art classes, food events and more. It is currently open by appointment only.
It’s tough to admire all that incredible artwork at First City Project and not get inspired to create your own masterpiece. Or better yet, perhaps your little ones are feeling the artistic pull? Either way, spending some time at ClayNation (38 Forest Ave, Rear Building, 516-671-8788, claynationonline.com) is in order, where walk-in artists are always welcome. The studio offers paint-your-own pottery, mosaic crafting, canvas painting and glass fusion, with all materials included. There are art programs for kids, toddlers and adults, summer camps, paint-and-sip parties and more. Check their online calendar for special weekly events.
ON THE WATERFRONT
Don’t visit Glen Cove without taking some time to enjoy its stunning waterfront. One perennial favorite for aquatic fans is Pryibil Beach and Fishing Pier (East Beach Road), a typically quiet, rocky stretch of North Shore beach complete with public restrooms, a concession stand, lifeguards and a picnic area. Try your luck fishing in the Sound from the pier, or just kick back and relax. You’ll soon see why the locals keep returning.
Another Glen Cove waterfront staple is Morgan Memorial Park (Germaine Street), former grounds of the J.P. Morgan estate, featuring picturesque lawns and paths rolling downhill to the beach, where you can take in stunning views of the LI Sound from Hempstead Harbor to Connecticut. There are also BBQ/picnic areas on the great lawn, a playground and a boat launch. The park hosts popular outdoor concerts in summer and is a sledding haven in winter. Note: Parking in the main lot is restricted to local residents with a pass from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
While visiting the Holocaust Memorial (see above) set aside some extra time to tour its grounds: the Welwyn Preserve County Park (100 Crescent Beach Rd, 516-572-0200, nassaucountyny.gov/2927/Welwyn-Preserve), a 204-acre public park occupying the former estate of industrialist Harold I. Pratt. The preserve includes a butterfly garden, extensive mature woodland, a salt marsh and a tidal inlet, accessible by four nature trails. Keep an eye out for the more than 100 species of birds, and the variety of small mammals, reptiles and amphibians that call the preserve home.
And if all that gorgeous shoreline gets you in the mood to venture away from shore, check out Shore Thing Rentals (128 Shore Rd, Brewer’s Yacht Yard, 516-801-2201, shorethingrentals.net), where you can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, bikes and even fishing poles. They’re open daily from 10 am to sunset from late June through Labor Day, then open on weekends from April through June. So, if you’re visiting in winter, you’ll definitely need to plan to come back again to Glen Cove in the summer.
WHERE TO STAY
The Mansion At Glen Cove
200 Dosoris Ln, 877-782-9426, glencovemansion.com
WHERE TO DINE
5 School St, 516-656-0003, americancafe.org
75 Cedar Swamp Rd, 516-656-5656, cedarcreekli.com
40 School St, 516-671-2100, piccolabussolarestaurant.com/glen-cove
Meritage Wine Bar
90 School St., Glen Cove, 516–801-0055, meritagebar.com
274 Glen St, 516-674-9370, kpsearch.com/DF/rivieragrill/all.asp
18 Cottage Row, 516-671-2228, sweetmandarin18.com
Sopah Thai Kitchen
11 Cedar Swamp Rd, 516-945-3688, facebook.com/sophthaikitchen
Sid’s All American
80 Glen Cove Ave, 516-200-9071, sidsallamerican.com
The View Grill
111 Lattingtown Rd, 516-200-9603, viewgrill.com
167 Glen St, 516-656-5645, wildfigonline.com