Long Island is home to two cities, 13 towns, nearly 100 villages and dozens of hamlets stretching from Manhasset to Montauk, offering abundant quaint downtown shopping destinations across Nassau and Suffolk counties.
These local Main Street strips serve a veritable smorgasbord of stores to peruse, from small mom-and-pop shops and boutiques, to franchises, and national chains, not to mention the many restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.
What follows is a guide to some of Long Island’s most popular and well-known downtowns, along with some of their top highlights, to find that perfect gift this holiday season.
With a rich history as a resort town purchased from the Sumpwam Indians in 1670, the Village of Babylon features a quaint and bustling downtown that runs along Main Street and Deer Park Avenue, full of shops, restaurants, and the picturesque Argyle Lake. There’s also a wide-ranging base of boutique shops and mom-and-pop stores that consistently attract strolling shoppers. Spas, hair salons, ice cream shops, a candy store, a toy shop, coffee shops and other independent stores make Babylon a perfect walking community.
A shoppers’ paradise, the Village of East Hampton’s downtown caters to the glitterati who reside on the East End as well as the tourists who come to dine, shop, beach, and celebrity watch. Home to a ton of high-end boutiques and retail stores along its picturesque Main Street, this downtown is a tribute to beachfront luxury, featuring shops like Tiffany & Co., Gucci, a Missoni Home Store, Ralph Lauren, and Cole Haan.
Garden City’s downtown is a walkable conglomeration of upscale restaurants, bars, spas, salons, and boutiques dotting Franklin Avenue. Seventh Street is also lined with charming boutiques that can rival the likes of any East End store.
Great Neck Plaza is a robust downtown district that offers a haven for shoppers, while maintaining its unique historic architectural facade. There are a number of unique specialty stores, ranging from Muddworks, a paint-your-own-pottery shop, to Taeree’s Unique Shop, offering beautiful handcrafted jewelry, accessories, and handbags.
Situated on the deep, protected harbor on the Long Island Sound, this old whaling port boasts a thriving downtown rife with waterfront restaurants, hotels, museums and galleries, and an abundant variety of boutiques. You just can’t visit Greenport without stopping at Mitchell Park and taking a ride on the antique carousel.
Downtown Huntington is Long Island’s Manhattan. This 36-square-block cosmopolitan downtown area is bustling with boutique stores and restaurants along New York Avenue and Main Street. This cultural hub caters to Huntington’s artsy crowd with such popular destinations as renowned music venue The Paramount, the Hecksher Museum of Art, and the Cinema Arts Centre, a theater devoted to debuting independent films.
This extraordinary village also boasts two other “downtown” areas: Jericho Turnpike and Old Country Road, both lined with even more restaurants, shops and businesses worth visiting, day or night.
This shopping and dining destination, which stretches along Main Street, is right out of a Norman Rockwell illustration, with old-fashioned storefronts, antique stores, an ice cream parlor and restaurants that decorate the walkable landscape ending in waterfront Cow Harbor Park. Heartichoke is one of the many quirky gift shops that can be found while strolling down Main Street.
This trendy village teems with a vast array of restaurants and pubs, shops and boutiques, and live music venues along Montauk Highway, making it one of the most popular downtowns along the island’s South Shore.
The downtown area of this charming harbor town is replete with rich history, cultural heritage, and a storybook-like village. One of two ports with access to Connecticut, this is a maritime mecca, with restaurants, bars, entertainment, and educational and social activities to spare. There’s a bounty of fine shops in the village that literally offer something for everyone.
Downtown Riverhead has undergone a tremendous revitalization in recent years. This quaint downtown is now full of historical treasures and beautiful riverfront scenery, commerce, dining, and leisure attractions. Close to the shopping hotspot that is Tanger Outlets, Riverhead has become a premier destination, especially along its Main Street. This is an extremely kid-friendly downtown, with the Long Island Aquarium attracting families from all over. This increasingly walkable shopping hub is home to dozens of recently opened shops, including clothing boutiques and jewelry stores.
The village is a retail and entertainment haven, with more than 400 shops, scores of dining options for foodies looking to explore, an abundant night life and bar scene, a generous assortment of parks and public spaces, and a palpable commitment to education and the arts. And while Rockville Centre has long been renowned as a great place to live, it’s also a fine spot to visit.
Westbury’s location, walkability, and arts and culture offerings are the foundation of a downtown that attracts visitors of all ages. Stroll the downtown and check out the charming features that are the ark of its revitalization, such as new vintage streetlights, road signs, and flower baskets. Enjoy the clean look of the new facades on buildings. Shop. Eat. Listen to the great music!
-Zack Terana, Patrick Kelton, Brendan Manley, and Ruth Bashinsky
For more guides about things to do on Long Island, visit longislandpress.com/category/everything-long-island.