Brendan Manley

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Brendan Manley is an award-winning journalist, screenwriter and content development/marketing professional. He has extensive experience in newspaper and magazine publishing, as well as digital media, covering topics including arts and entertainment, sports, lifestyle, news, technology, travel and history. He is an ongoing contributor to Military History, Hotel News Now.com and HOTELS magazine, as well as the Long Island Press, where he formerly served as Managing Editor and Lifestyle section head. He is currently developing several of his original scripts for Hollywood, and consults on various film and scripted TV projects for studios, producers and financiers. Brendan is based in upstate New York's southern Adirondacks region.

Northport: From Cows To Ships To Kerouac

A trip back in time, trolley tracks from the now defunct Northport Traction Company serve as a reminder of yesteryear. Pictured are existing rail lines across from Cow Harbor Park along Main Street in Northport Village. Photo by Jennifer Uihlein

With the vast bustle of Huntington village to its west and the suburban sprawl of Smithtown to the east, the Village of Northport has long offered a lower-key, more insular vibe than some of its larger neighbors on the North Shore waterfront.

Even now, it’s easy to see why legendary beat poet Jack Kerouac made Northport his home from 1958 to 1964. It’s a timeless, understated place that’s somewhat difficult to get to, and even harder to leave.

English colonists acquired the land that is now Northport from the Matinecock Indians in 1656, essentially transforming the area into a massive cattle pasture, earning it the original name Great Cow Harbour. That all changed in the 1830s, when shipbuilding became its prime industry, and by 1837 the village was renamed Northport. The village’s shipbuilding boom lasted for roughly 50 years, until the end of the 19th century, when steel-hulled boats began replacing the wooden vessels produced in the village. But fortunately, some of the character of that era still endures.

“Northport has one of the finest harbors on Long Island and has been the port in the storm for sailors for many years,” said Northport Deputy Mayor Tom Kehoe. “Today we still have reasonably priced transit docking that attracts boaters from New York City, Connecticut and elsewhere. Our Village Board has also worked to remove impediments to our local businesses; we realized that a thriving local business district was an attraction to tourists and a positive anchor to our community. We now have 20-plus restaurants with permits for outdoor seating, and that has changed our village. Additionally, the opening of the Engeman Theater has also helped to make us a destination.”

Today, when you spend time walking the village streets, taking note of the old trolley rails on Main Street and perhaps grabbing a quiet drink at one of Northport’s unassuming pubs, you can almost hear the sounds of the shipwrights working, and of Kerouac’s typewriter. Soak it in. Some essential Northport diversions include:

THE SALT LIFE

Start your Northport excursion at the heart of the village: Northport Village Park (1 Bayview Ave.), a treasured stretch of green grass and shade trees running along the harborfront, occupying much of the area where the Victorian shipyards once stood. These days there are two playgrounds, a gazebo, basketball court and dock, as well as free parking, and in fair weather the park hosts events ranging from live concerts to farmer’s markets and craft fairs. This is where both residents and visitors alike come to relax and enjoy the village’s quaint charm.

While taking in all the seaside splendor, you may feel the spirits of Northport’s long-gone mariners, inspiring you to leave land behind entirely. Should that occur, nearby Kismet Cruising (Northport Harbor, 631-897-4517, kismetcruising.com) can scratch your oceanic itch, offering a range of cruise options — including afternoon, sunset, dinner and local history cruises — guided by veteran captain Brian Baldauf on his 42-foot sailboat. Baldauf is a fountain of local information, so count on a lively waterborne chat.

ARTISTIC LEANINGS

It doesn’t take long to see how Northport’s sweeping scenery and small-village allure make for the ideal artist’s hideaway, most famously for Kerouac, but also producing homegrown talents like Edie Falco, Patti LuPone, Chris Messina, rapper Aesop Rock and members of the band Wheatus. For anyone with literary longings, taking a deeper dive into that heritage requires a mandatory stop at Kerouac’s favorite Northport watering hole, Gunther’s Tap Room (84 Main St., 631-754-4156, guntherstaproom.com), newly reopened in 2018 after the historic pub was ravaged by a 2017 fire. It’s the quintessential Northport watering hole, steeped in lore right down to its men’s room, where Kerouac would infamously sneak off to sip whiskey he’d hidden in a valise. We recommend you purchase yours from the bartender, instead.

Also on Main Street is another vital strand of Northport’s creative DNA, The John W. Engeman Theater (250 Main St., 631-261-2900, engemantheater.com), occupying the old Northport Theater, first opened in 1932 and reopened in its current form in 2007. Today it is named in honor of Army Chief Warrant Officer Four John William Engeman, brother of co-owner Patti O’Neill, who was killed in Iraq on May 14, 2006. It’s now a year-round professional theater, casting actors from the Broadway talent pool, and features stadium seating, deluxe lighting and sound, The Green Room Piano Bar and Lounge, and even in-seat beverage service. Current and upcoming performances include The Buddy Holly Story, Seussical The Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide To Love and Murder and Madagascar – A Musical Adventure.

And for fans of the visual arts, be sure to also add a stop at LaMantia Gallery (127 Main St., 631-754-8414, lamantiagallery.com) to your Northport itinerary, even if you can’t really afford to take home one of the expertly curated works there on display. For some 30 years owner James LaMantia has been bringing a worldly, metropolitan aesthetic to Northport’s art marketplace through his esteemed gallery, which hosts more than 10 exhibitions annually, featuring the work of internationally known artists, masterworks and creations by promising new artists. A conversation with LaMantia or one of the gallery’s other art experts is sure to be enlightening.

EMBRACING THE PAST

Although Northport has retained a healthy dose of its bygone flavor, the village has also changed substantially over the centuries, which is why a visit to the Northport Historical Society (215 Main St., 631-757-9859, northporthistorical.org) is another highly recommended excursion. Housed in a former Carnegie Library chartered in 1914, the Society maintains a museum with various exhibits on Northport’s past, as well as a well-stocked shop offering eclectic oddities, silver, china, jewelry, linens, ephemera and books. There’s also a research library and a photo collection with more than 4,000 images, many of which have been digitized and catalogued.

AGRARIAN ROOTS

We know, it’s hard to drag oneself away from Northport’s picturesque Main Street and waterfront, but it’s worth it in order to devote a few hours to also exploring the village’s rich agricultural offerings. Ever since its early days when it was known as Cow Harbor, Northport has been fertile farm territory, still visible now at places like Richters Orchard (1318 Pulaski Rd., 631-261-1980, facebook.com/RichtersOrchard). Richters has been selling lovingly grown apples and fresh-pressed apple cider for the last century, along with pies, jams and jellies, and a host of other edible delights. Stock up and go home happy.

Finally, you might not want to exit “Great Cow Harbour” without seeing an actual cow, so if you’re so inclined, Lewis Oliver Farm Animal Sanctuary (Burt Ave., 631-261-6320, lewisoliverfarm.org) has you covered. A historic landmark dating to the mid-1800s, the farm comprises three acres that are home to numerous rescued farm animals, including Annabelle the cow, goats, sheep, alpacas, chickens, ducks, peafowl, and turkeys. There are also original barns, botanical and vegetable gardens, a collection of native wildlife, a country store, and an education center. Just like the village’s human residents, the livestock here are quite happy to call Northport home.

Where To Dine In Northport

Aunt Chilada’s Mexican Grill
729 Fort Salonga Rd., 631-757-8226, auntchiladasrestaurant.com

Bistro 44
44 Main St., 631-262-9744, bistro44.net

Main Street Cafe
47 Main St., 631-754-5533

Maroni’s
18 Woodbine Ave., 631-757-4500, maronicuisine.com

Nina’s Pizza
487 Main St., 631-261-6822, ninaspizzanorthport.com

Robke’s Country Inn
427 Fort Salonga Rd., 631-754-9663, robkescountryinn.com

Rockin’ Fish
155 Main St.., 631-651-5200, rockinfish.net

Seven Quarts Tavern
688 Fort Salonga Rd., 631-757-2000, sevenquartstavern.com

Shipwreck Diner
46 Main St., 631-754-1797, shipwreckdiner.com

Tokyo Japanese Restaurant
192 Laurel Rd., 631-754-8411, tokyoeastnorthport.com

Great Neck: Gatsby’s Gold Coast Grandeur

Downtown Great Neck Village Plaza is the heart of the Gold Coast (Long Island Press photo)

The Long Island community of Great Neck is perhaps best known as the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic work The Great Gatsby, in which the book’s location was thinly disguised with the fictionalized name “West Egg.” Fitzgerald chose this pseudonym to directly oppose Great Neck’s posh Gold Coast neighbor, Sands Point, which was known as “East Egg.”

But it wasn’t always of Gatsby’s ilk. Like many LI neighborhoods, the advent of the railroad in the late 19th century brought major changes to Great Neck, with its status as the railhead of the New-York and Flushing Railroad sparking its evolution from a humble farming village into a New York City commuter community. By the time of the Roaring ’20s, Great Neck was a decadent playground for Manhattan elites, and served as home to celebrities like Eddie Cantor, Sid Caesar and the Marx Brothers during the ensuing decades. It retains much of its picturesque scenery and Gold Coast opulence today.

“Great Neck is truly a warm and neighborly place to live, with premier schools, beautiful parks and an excellent library system,” says North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. “It’s a community with a rich historic past that is headed for an exciting future. Whether you’re looking to go shopping in in any of the villages’ vibrant business districts, take in our beautiful waterfront views, or attend a concert in one of our many parks, Great Neck has something for everyone and is one of our many jewels in the Town of North Hempstead.”

These days, Great Neck boasts a dizzying array of choices for fine dining, shopping and nightlife, as well a multitude of active pursuits for sports, nature and art lovers. Some recommended Great Neck diversions include:

The Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink is a family-friendly way to spend a winter day.

LAND & SEA

To fully appreciate Great Neck’s prime location on the Long Island Sound, take a stroll through the waterfront Great Neck Steppingstone Park (38 Stepping Stone Ln., 516-487-9228, gnparks.org), which is outfitted with a marina, great lawn, concert stage and an ever-popular playground. Only Great Neck residents (or their guests) with a pass are permitted to enjoy the park, however, so be sure to hit up your local friends in advance of your arrival.

When the weather is right, you can also turn your trip to Steppingstone Park into a full-blown aquatic venture, courtesy of Watersports NYC (38 Stepping Stone Ln., 917-714-7707, watersportsnyc.com), which provides water jetpack and jetblade rental experiences, supervised by fully licensed and insured instructors. Getting a chance to soar above the LI Sound, courtesy of your jetpack, is truly one of those bucket-list moments.

Or, perhaps your idea of ocean adventure is more about what happens under the sea’s surface. Great Neck has you covered there, too, with Big Blue Scuba (975 Northern Blvd., 516-869-1888, bigbluescuba.com) being the go-to spot for enthusiasts. In addition to its well-stocked dive shop, Big Blue offers bilingual teaching in English and Chinese and provides diving training, adventure tours, equipment retail and team-building events. So the next time you consider orchestrating a “trust fall” to build co-worker camaraderie, consider strapping on a wetsuit and scuba tanks, instead.

Another good park choice (especially for nonresidents) is Village Green Park (640 Middle Neck Rd., 516-487-4360), which contains an assortment of playground features to captivate the kiddies, as well as a picnic area and bandstand. Don’t miss taking a gander at the stunning tree carvings on display there, handcrafted by artist Ken Packie, using dead stumps from trees that were damaged during storms in 2010.

THE SPORTING LIFE

Facilities devoted to keeping active and staying fit are a huge part of the Great Neck community, whether you’re a tot with too much energy, a teen training for competitive play, or a senior looking to remain limber. But for kids who love to bounce, the default stomping ground is Dreamnastics (24A Great Neck Rd., 516-918-9060, dreamnastics.com), which offers classes, birthday parties and special open gym sessions. The little ones love the gym’s slide, bars, trampolines and zip-line swing; parents love the safe, supervised environment.

Another haven for bounce addicts is Pump It Up (225 Community Dr., 516-466-7867, pumpitupparty.com/great-neck-ny), which is popular for the birthday parties it hosts but is also open to the general public for various “open jump” sessions throughout the week (check the online calendar). There are also special events and group activities, like its new six-week Occupational Therapy Sensory Jump Program and its summer kids camp.

Great Neck is also tops for tennis, thanks to the New York Tennis Academy at Great Neck (12 Shore Dr., 516-233-2790, nytagn.com), the area’s premier tennis center for players of all ages and skill levels. The academy offers a range of programs for juniors, including sessions for recreational, high school and tournament players, as well as high-energy cardio tennis, express tennis, leagues, Drill & Play and group clinics for adults.

And last, but definitely not least, for those who prefer a “court” featuring a sheet of ice, there’s the Andrew Stergiopoulos Ice Rink (65 Arrandale Ave., 516-487-2975, gnparks.org/190/Ice-Rink), part of the Great Neck Parkwood Sports Complex. The full-sized rink offers public skating sessions, skate school, travel hockey, intramural hockey, freestyle sessions, synchronized skating and competitive figure skating lessons and events. You can even plan a party there and bask in the glory that comes with having full run (or skate) of the ice.

EYE FOR ART

Art and antique lovers have plenty to keep them busy in Great Neck, especially if you want to add some stunning new pieces to your collection (or at least, take a moment to admire some). Regardless of whatever your particular aesthetic tastes may be, be sure to check out SUS Gallery (42 Middle Neck Rd., 347-395-1948, susgallery.com), launched in 2014 by designer Sharon Khazzam and her daughter, Alexandra Ainatchi. SUS (The Spot Under Spot gallery) features predominantly young, unique artists like D.D. Prince, Alex Rudin, Joanna Miller, Andrew Tess, Bonnie Siracusa and more, and holds special events throughout the year.

Admiring all that dazzling art may leave you feeling inspired, and you may want to see how a paintbrush feels in your own hand. If history is any indicator, art and alcohol tend to go together; so in that spirit, spend some time channeling your inner van Gogh at Muse Paintbar (34 Middle Neck Rd., 516-252-0515, musepaintbar.com), which fuses painting instruction with a restaurant and bar, open seven days a week. Enjoy a menu of dips, finger foods and desserts — as well as 20 different beers and wines — as you create your own masterpiece. And heck, even if your creation turns out less than masterful, you really won’t mind until the morning after.

Where To Dine In Great Neck

Peter Luger Steak House
255 Northern Blvd., 516-487-8800, peterluger.com

Lola
113A Middle Neck Rd., 516-466-5666, restaurantlola.com

Ponte Mollo
96 Northern Blvd., 516-829-0005, pontemollo.weebly.com

Colbeh
75 N. Station Plaza, 516-466-8181, colbeh.com

Moonstone Modern Asian Cuisine & Bar
14 Northern Blvd., 516-500-1000, moonstoneny.com

Morton’s The Steakhouse
777 Northern Blvd., 516-498-2950, mortons.com/greatneck

Pearl East
1191 Northern Blvd., 516-365-9898, pearleastny.com

Brasserie Americana Bar, Lounge & Restaurant
30 Cutter Mill Rd., 516-773-2000, innatgreatneck.com/restaurant-lounge/

Where To Stay In Great Neck

Inn at Great Neck
30 Cutter Mill Rd., 516-773-2000, innatgreatneck.com

The Andrew Hotel
75 N. Station Plaza, 866-843-2637, andrewhotel.com

Stony Brook: History, Nature Thrive in Ward Melville’s ‘New England’ Haven

Stony Brook Village Center

Stony Brook, as well as the broader area known as the Three Villages — Stony Brook, Setauket and Old Field — is a Long Island region deeply entrenched in local history with a commitment to preservation, boasting a rich array of cultural attractions, parks and event spaces, in a picturesque setting that retains much of its old-world colonial charm. Whether your idea of a rewarding travel excursion entails perusing museum exhibits, enjoying the outdoors or experiencing a great meal, Stony Brook consistently delivers on all fronts, while seemingly whisking you away from the LI hustle and bustle.

First settled in the late 17th century, Stony Brook and the Three Villages have a long history associated with LI agriculture and oceangoing life, later playing a notable role in the American Revolution, with spies from George Washington’s Culper Ring based in the area. Centuries later, local business magnate Ward Melville began transforming the Stony Brook hamlet into his idea of an idyllic New England community, starting in 1939 with the creation of his Stony Brook Community Fund, which established the white clapboard buildings and quaint shops that still give downtown much of its charm today.

“Stony Brook is one of the loveliest and most historic communities in Brookhaven Town,” Town of Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said. “Fronting on Long Island Sound, it is home to the first shopping center on Long Island built by Ward Melville in the colonial style that defines the community. It is also home to the State University and its 25,000-plus students. It has numerous museums, shops and restaurants.”
 

For a fantastic trip into the Island’s past, paired with vibrant and dynamic modern-day offerings, here are some must-do Stony Brook area suggestions:

The Jazz Loft is one of only a few venues dedicated to the genre on LI.
 
PAST APPRECIATION
 
Start your journey into Stony Brook’s rich cultural and historical offerings with a trip to The Long Island Museum (1200 Route 25A, 631-751-0066, longislandmuseum.org), home of a vast collection of American art, historical relics and LI wildfowl decoy hunting memorabilia, plus an unmatched trove of antique carriages in its 40,000-square-foot Carriage Museum. Just walking around the museum’s sprawling 9-acre campus—beginning with the Visitors Center/History Museum located on the former site of the 19th century Bayles Lumber Mill—will transport you back in time. There are three modern exhibition halls and five historic buildings to explore, including a one-room schoolhouse and a blacksmith shop.
 
For more Stony Brook area history, continue on to the Three Village Historical Society (93 N. Country Rd., Setauket, 631-751-3730, threevillagehistoricalsociety.org), which presents a range of public exhibits at the society’s headquarters, including displays pertaining to the American Revolution and the Three Villages’ special role in Washington’s Culper Ring. Don’t miss the current exhibition on nearby Chicken Hill, a 19th century community of Native Americans, African Americans and European immigrants who worked in the piano and rubber factories on the hill. From the headquarters you can also depart on some of the numerous popular historical walking tours run by the society.
 
Ward Melville’s impact on Stony Brook’s cultural landscape can also be appreciated at the WMHO Educational and Cultural Center (97 Main St., Suite P, 631-689-5888, wmho.org/education-cultural-center), an 8,800-square-foot multiuser facility run by the Ward Melville Heritage Organization that offers a wide variety of events, exhibits and workshops throughout the year. Annual summer exhibits include “Celebrating Coney Island, America’s First Amusement Park,” “Celebrating P. T. Barnum…the Man,” and “Motorcycles & the Open Road,” with memorabilia, artwork, sculptures, displays and guest speakers. The center also offers its LEGO Building Block Contest & Exhibit, and hosts the longest-running luncheon musical theatre series on LI; it is currently presenting its Holiday Tribute to Diana Ross living history production through January 10.
 
From there continue your Stony Brook cultural expedition to the Reboli Center for Art and History (64 Main St., 631-751-7707, rebolicenter.org), housed in the historic 1911 Bank of Suffolk County building. The center is dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of Stony Brook-based artist Joseph Reboli, best known for his oil paintings of local landscapes and subjects from the Three Village area and LI’s East End, and contains a massive collection of Reboli’s work. The Reboli Center also presents works by other contemporary artists and craftsmen, as well as LI historical exhibits, and promotes the study of classical painting and drawing through workshops and special events.
 
Music history and appreciation are alive and well in Stony Brook, too, especially for jazz hounds, who will find nirvana at The Jazz Loft (275 Christian Ave., 631-751-1895, thejazzloft.org), which now occupies Ward Melville’s former Suffolk Museum building. Opened in 2016, The Jazz Loft features 6,000 square feet of original jazz memorabilia displays spanning 100 years, a 1940s period second-floor performance space, and a deep list of education programs. A wide range of local, national and international artists perform at the Loft, which also hosts regular Swing Dance Long Island events. It’s one of only two jazz venues on LI.
 
NATURAL SPLENDOR
 
The vintage New England village charm of Stony Brook is further enhanced by the breathtaking natural beauty of the area, from its beaches and harbor-front vistas to the shady groves and rolling green meadows of its parks and open spaces. The first essential stop as you take in all this stunning scenery is Avalon Park & Preserve (200 Harbor Rd., 631-689-0619, avalonparkandpreserve.org), encompassing 140 acres of protected land that has been manicured to re-create the natural environment that greeted the area’s first indigenous peoples. The 8-acre park proper is accessible by a series of trails and hiking paths, and also contains a labyrinth and observatories used for astronomy programs.
 
Stony Brook is also home to one of Long Island’s most flawless, yet relatively unknown, stretches of beachfront: West Meadow Beach, which can be enjoyed from Joel L. Lefkowitz Park (Trustees Rd., 631-751-3193). From here you can walk a pristine length of beach that was once dotted with numerous private bungalows that have all been torn down in recent times, returning the land back to nature. It’s also a legendary spot for striped bass, bluefish and snapper fishing and an ideal location for snapping some gorgeous pics of the unforgettable scenery.
 

There are enduring traces of the area’s agricultural traditions, too. Just outside Stony Brook Village is Benner’s Farm (56 Gnarled Hollow Rd., East Setauket, 631-689-8172, bennersfarm.com), a private 15-acre family homestead first farmed in the 1700s, which operates much in the same way as it did under the watch of prior generations. The farm delights visitors with numerous seasonal activities like pumpkin and strawberry picking, maple sugaring and haunted hayrides, as well as educational workshops and courses throughout the year. Benner’s Farm also boasts the largest swing on LI, hung from what is reputedly the largest and oldest white oak in the Three Villages.

The Three Village Inn is a must-visit.
 
SHOPPING BACK IN TIME
 

As you wrap up your time visiting Stony Brook, remember that no visit to a destination is complete without some special souvenirs, and in the Stony Brook area the St. James General Store (516 Moriches Rd., St. James, 631-854-3740, facebook.com/St.JamesGeneralStore), built in 1857 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the undisputed spot to find all those delightful bring-back goodies. In keeping with its history, the store preserves the experience of shopping in an 1800s general store, upgraded to offer modern patrons an expertly curated selection of fine gifts, books, toys, food and confections. Don’t leave the store—or Stony Brook—without stopping at its ever-popular penny candy counter, where you can stock up on old-timey treats for the trip home.

Robinson’s Tea Room is the place to go for high tea and light bites.
 
Where To Dine
 
Ssambap Korean BBQ
2350 Nesconset Hwy., 631-675-6402, ssambapkbbq.com
 
Kumo
2548 Nesconset Hwy., 631-689-8585, kumojapanese.com
 
Pentimento Restaurant
93 Main St., 631-689-7755, pentimentorestaurant.net
 
Country House
1175 N. Country Rd., 631-751-3332, countryhouserestaurant.com
 
Where To Stay
 
The Three Village Inn
150 Main St., 631-751-0555, threevillageinn.com
 
Hilton Garden Inn Stony Brook
1 Circle Rd., 631-941-2980, hilton.com/en/hilton-garden-inn
 
Holiday Inn Express Stony Brook
3131 Nesconset Hwy., Centereach, 631-471-8000, ihg.com/holidayinnexpress
 
The Stony Brookside Bed & Bike Inn
48 Main St., 631-675-0393, thestonybrookside.com
 
Bayles Estate Bed and Breakfast
1249 N. Country Rd., 631-689-5865, baylesestate.com

Sayville: An Iconic Bayside Hamlet

Sayville takes the holidays seriously, with winter festivals, parades and carolers.

Like many of its neighboring South Shore communities, Sayville has always had an indelible connection with the water, and its prime location on the Great South Bay continues to inspire both visitors and residents to converge upon the venerable Long Island hamlet. Once prized for timber and oysters, today Sayville delights with quaint downtown charm, fabulous dining and a host of historic, outdoor and recreational pursuits.

Although settled in 1761 by John Edwards, Sayville — once known as simply “over south” — didn’t earn a proper name until 1838, after its first post office had opened the year prior. As the story goes, one resident had suggested the name “Seaville,” but the moniker later became “Sayville,” when the town clerk referred to an old Bible, which spelled the word “sea” as “say.” Thus “Sayville” was the spelling the clerk sent to Washington, D.C., for registration, and although the community later protested, the name stuck. The alternative spelling hasn’t seemed to hinder Sayville’s prosperity over the ensuing centuries.

“Like many hamlets in the Town of Islip, Sayville is a lovely community,”  says Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter. “It offers a sense of place for families, young professionals and many seniors. Shopping and dining experiences from casual to fine dining, as well as gift shops and specialty boutiques, are available within walking distance. Our pleasant community parks and Town beaches are easily accessible, and a short ferry ride brings passengers to the world-class, white-sand ocean beaches of Fire Island.” 

Like nearby Patchogue, Sayville is widely known as a key hub for ferries to Fire Island, just across the bay. In a tradition dating to 1894, the Sayville Ferry Service (41 River Rd., 631-589-0810, sayvilleferry.com) makes regular trips to the Fire Island communities of Cherry Grove, Sailors Haven, Fire Island Pines and Water Island. Check the website for the latest departure and arrival schedules.

But if you’re not headed over to the barrier beach, fret not: Sayville has a lot more to offer than just its ferry terminal. Don’t miss some of these essential Sayville hot spots.

CELEBRATING THE PAST

Start your journey by soaking up Sayville’s rich seafaring history, at the Long Island Maritime Museum (88 West Ave., West Sayville, 631-854-4974, limaritime.org), set on 14 beautiful waterfront acres from the former Meadowedge estate, once the home of Mr. and Mrs. Anson Wales Hard. It features a large collection of small vessels built or used around Long Island, including multiple sailboats constructed in Patchogue by iconic LI shipbuilder Gil Smith. There’s also an interactive lifesaving exhibit, a circa-1908 oyster house, an 1890 bayman’s cottage and the 1888 Oyster Sloop Priscilla, a National Historic Landmark. For the kids, the museum also offers winter and spring break programs, as well as summer camps.

Then, immerse yourself in 19th century South Shore architecture at Islip Grange Park (10 Broadway Ave., 631-472-7016, sayville.com/parks.asp#grange), boasting a collected “village” of restored authentic early buildings that have been moved to the 12-acre park from their original locations. Structures like the Bicentennial Cottage, Dutch Reformed Church, Estate Managers Cottage, Ockers Barn and The Mill provide a striking portrait of the lifestyle and aesthetics in a pre-Civil War Long Island hamlet.

History buffs can also experience Sayville’s early 20th century Gold Coast era at the Meadow Croft estate (299 Middle Rd., 631-472-4625, bayportheritage.org/meadowcroft.asp), formerly the summer home of John E. Roosevelt and family. Now owned by Suffolk County, Meadow Croft is composed of a restored 19th century farmhouse (including an 1891 addition designed by Sayville’s Isaac H. Green Jr.) as well as a carriage house, an auto house, a caretaker’s cottage and a swimming pool. The main house features some impressive original Roosevelt family items, including a grand piano and the original dining room set, where in 1903 the family hosted a lunch with former President Theodore Roosevelt, who was John’s cousin.

Downtown Sayville is a Long Island shopping mecca.

ON THE BALL

As integral as Sayville’s historical attractions may be, no seaside vacation (or daylong excursion) is complete without a little mini golf, as well. In Sayville, the putting frenzy goes down at Sayville Falls Mini Golf (30 Hanson Pl., 631-256-5632, sayvillefallsminigolf.com), which is known for its attractive, well-manicured course. There are numerous water features, including waterfalls, streams and pools, so putt with caution, or prepare to go fishing for your ball. The course is also a popular destination for special events, parties, and camp group visits.

Sayville’s spherical fun doesn’t stop there, either. Bowlers regularly flock to Bowlero Sayville (5660 Sunrise Hwy., 631-567-8900, bowlero.com) to get their fix; the recently revamped 50,000-square-foot bowling alley now features 60 lanes of black-light bowling, plush lane-side lounge seats, high-definition video walls and an extensive snack bar menu. There’s also a retro-themed cocktail lounge, video arcade and popular party games, like cornhole and beer pong. If you spend more time racking up gutter balls than rolling strikes, you can always blame the booze.

A dramatic sunset at a Sayville marina. (Shutterstock)

WIDE OPEN SPACES

Be sure, though, not to spend your entire trip to Sayville just bowling and playing beer pong. Get outside and enjoy nature too, especially at Sans Souci County Park (Broadway Ave., 631-854-4949, suffolkcountyny.gov), named for the French phrase “without worry.” Living up to its billing, a stroll through this 316-acre nature preserve — once a cranberry farm — will literally make your worries melt away. Three different nature trails originate at the preserve’s parking lot.

Another favorite Sayville spot for a stroll is The Common Ground at Rotary Park (located between Gillette and Candee Aves., 631-459-6603, thecommonground.com), a reflective garden created by community members in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Common Ground features lush gardens, walkways lined with personalized stones, memorial benches, the Peace Labyrinth and the Pamela Raymond Performance Pavilion, where outdoor concerts are regularly held (often as part of the Wednesdays in the Park weekly event). Other special events there include Family Fridays, Yoga in the Park, and special labyrinth walks.

And if the salt air is what you crave, head over to the Sayville Marina Park (400 Foster Ave., 631-854-4949, sayville.com/parks.asp#marina), offering a lengthy pier where you can relax on benches, do some fishing in the bay and enjoy classic Long Island waterfront scenery. The park — former site of the massive Tidewater Inn, which was built in 1916; the inn became known as the Shoreham in 1937 and burned down in 1973 — also includes a playground, picnic tables, tennis courts, boat docks and a small beach.

DRINKING AND DIPPING

Perhaps the most surprising Sayville attraction is Loughlin Vineyard (253 S Main St., 631-589-0027, loughlinvineyardny.com), which saves many wine lovers from having to make a trip to the East End, where the majority of LI’s vineyards historically reside. A family business for the last 34 years, the vineyard is located on the grounds of John E. Roosevelt’s former Meadow Croft estate, where it typically produces five wines per year from its 7-acre crop. Spend an afternoon tasting Loughlin’s popular red, white, and blush wines, then enjoy a picnic lunch (bring your own) among the grapes.

After you’ve purchased that perfect bottle of wine (or 10) at Loughlin, head over to the Crushed Olive (31A Main St., 631-256-5777, thecrushedolive.com), which is part of a local chain of stores that now have six LI locations. Sample the selection of extra virgin and infused olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and various other gourmet oils, then watch them fresh-bottle and cork your selection(s). Recommended varieties to try include the espresso balsamic and dark chocolate balsamic vinegars, which pair well with ice cream or fresh fruit, as well as the lemon-infused olive oil. Online shopping is available on the Crushed Olive website, in case you run out before your next Sayville visit.

There is no shortage of shops in downtown Sayville.

WHERE TO DINE

Butera’s
100 S. Main St., 631-563-0805, buteras.com/sayville

Bistro 25
45 Foster Ave., 631-589-7775, bistro25li.com

Off The Block
501 Montauk Hwy., 631-573-6655, offtheblockmeats.com

Café Joelle on Main Street
25 Main St., 631-589-4600, cafejoelle.com

Cull House
75 Terry St., 631-563-1546, cullhouse.com

Cricket’s
98 Main St., 631-567-6345, cricketssayville.com

Aegean Café
35 Main St., 631-589-5529, sayvilleaegeancafe.com

Downtown Burger at Five Points Café
1 Main St., 631-567-5655, fivepointscafe.com

WHERE TO STAY

Land’s End Motel & Marina
70 Browns River Rd., 631-589-2040, motel.landsendweddings.com

Sayville Motor Lodge
5494 Sunrise Hwy., 631-589-7000

Oyster Bay: More Than Just Shellfish

Oyster Bay's annual Oyster Festival is held on the waterfront.

The hamlet of Oyster Bay, part of the greater Nassau County Town of Oyster Bay, is perhaps best known as the home of former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, whose regal Sagamore Hill estate still wows onlookers today. It’s a community steeped in colonial heritage and Gold Coast opulence, providing both tourists and locals alike with some of the finest waterfront access on the North Shore, along with a host of other natural, historic and manmade attractions.

Once Matinecock Indian land, English settlers first began purchasing parcels in Oyster Bay from the Matinecock in 1653, receiving an official charter from the crown for the township in 1667. Oyster Bay figured prominently in LI’s involvement in the American Revolution and like much of LI, blossomed in the 1800s once connected to the Long Island Rail Road (Oyster Bay welcomed its first LIRR train on June 21, 1889). Around this time, in 1880, Roosevelt had purchased 155 acres in Cove Neck, where his home was completed in 1885, when he was still a New York State Assemblyman.

“Filled with tree-lined streets, steeped in history from Colonial times straight through the Presidency of Teddy Roosevelt, as well as numerous amenities including parks, beaches, and facilities nationally recognized for their excellence, Oyster Bay has been consistently recognized as one of the best places to live in the nation by numerous publications,” said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino. “I encourage visitors to come and visit the town, as there is no place quite like it!”

These days, Oyster Bay is also famous for its annual Oyster Festival (theoysterfestival.org), one of the largest waterfront festivals on the East Coast, which draws some 200,000 attendees to the hamlet each year. The 35th installment of the festival happens this year on October 13 and 14 in Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Beach (see below). Highlights include live entertainment, boats, artisans, pirate shows, rides and its famous oyster-eating and -shucking contest. There’s also a delectable food court, where scores of tempting oyster, clam and other seafood concoctions and traditional festival fare are served to hungry patrons.

But don’t let the Oyster Festival be the only reason you visit. Some recommended year-round Oyster Bay diversions include:

Long Island's Teddy Roosevelt
Long Island’s Teddy Roosevelt

HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS

One of the most iconic destinations in Oyster Bay, as well as the whole of Long Island, is Sagamore Hill National Historic Site (20 Sagamore Hill Rd., 516-922-4788, nps.gov/sahi), home of former President Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until his death in 1919. Dubbed the “Summer White House,” this stunning 23-room Victorian mansion — preserved and still containing its T.R.-period contents — sits on an 80-acre estate that also contains a 37-acre National Environmental Study Area with forest, tidal salt marsh and bay beach areas. The site also holds the Theodore Roosevelt Museum, chronicling the life and career of the president, within the 1938 “Old Orchard” house used by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. (T.R.’s oldest son) and his family.

Another historic Oyster Bay Gold Coast estate that now delights the general public is Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park (1395 Planting Fields Rd., 516-922-9200, plantingfields.org), once the home of the W.R. Coe family, who enlisted the Olmsted Brothers to create a 400-acre arboretum renowned for its divine camellias, rhododendrons and azaleas. Attractions include the Main Greenhouse, which holds an extensive collection of hibiscus, orchids, succulents and seasonal displays as well as the impressive Coe Hall, formerly the Tudor Revival residence of the Coe family, which is open for guided tours from April to September, and features dazzling collections of furnishings, paintings, stained glass and decorative arts.

And to delve even further back into Oyster Bay history, stop in at the Raynham Hall Museum (20 West Main St., 516-922-6808, raynhamhallmuseum.org), ancestral home of the Townsend family, including Robert, who was a spy in George Washington’s Culper Ring during the American Revolution. The home was purchased by Robert’s father Samuel around 1740 and expanded, later being named Raynham Hall by Samuel’s grandson, Solomon, during a mid-19th century renovation. In the 1940s the front of the house was restored to its colonial appearance; today it boasts an exceptional collection of archives and artifacts of interest, including 5,000 items of furniture, works of art, household accessories, tableware, cookware, textiles, costumes, toys and games.

Street corner on the main drag in Oyster Bay. (Photo by MDLR MediaShutterstock)

ENGINE POWERED

In Oyster Bay, manmade creations of steel and machinery are revered alongside the hamlet’s historical and architectural leanings. Singer/pianist Billy Joel, a longtime Long Island resident and Oyster Bay denizen, transformed his phenomenal personal motorcycle collection into the museum 20th Century Cycles (101 Audrey Ave., 20thcenturycycles.com), where visitors can view 75-plus vintage bikes — some quite rare — all owned by Joel. The space is also used for the ongoing restoration and customization of some of the motorcycles. Who knows, you might even bump into the Piano Man himself.

Or, if four wheels are more your speed, there’s the Collector Car Showcase (85 Pine Hollow Rd., 516-802-5297, collectorcarshowcase.com), an automotive museum and sales showroom that specializes in more than 70 years of Porsche history. The museum also has a vintage BMW 507, Mercedes Benz 300SL, VW Bus and other rare non-Porsche vehicles also on display. There is also a complete car-care center located onsite, so you can get your oil changed or car detailed while you browse the free exhibits.

Train fans aren’t forgotten in Oyster Bay, either. For a comprehensive look at the history and importance of locomotive technology, and its impact on life on Long Island, spend some time at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (102 Audrey Ave., 516-558-7036, obrm.org), located near the historic Oyster Bay Railroad Station and Turntable, where a permanent museum will be opened in the future. The current interim center offers selected displays from the museum’s collection, exhibits outlining plans for the future museum, and a gift shop stocked with rail-themed goodies.

Coe Hall Historic house at the Planting Fields Arboretum (Photo by Joe TrentacostiShutterstock)

SIMPLE BEAUTY

With all those historic and motorized spots to visit, don’t forget to also amply enjoy Oyster Bay’s best natural feature: its waterfront. A great starting point in that spirit is The Waterfront Center (1 West End Ave., 516-922-7245, thewaterfrontcenter.org), which offers kayak, sailboat and stand-up paddle board rentals, pleasure cruises and a wide range of educational and junior programs, including sailing lessons for various levels of expertise.

You can also stroll along the Oyster Bay waterfront and maybe even catch a special event in Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park and Beach (25 West End Ave., 516-624-6202), which is also the annual site of the Oyster Festival. The former marsh, once used as a dump and riddled with dilapidated shacks, was transformed into a popular public space in the late 1920s and donated to the town in 1942. It features walking paths, a marina, picnic areas, tennis courts, a softball field, children’s play area, and the Theodore Roosevelt Monument Assemblage, with 24 stones and a plaque that each tell a “chapter” in Roosevelt’s life story.

T.R.’s name also graces another of Oyster Bay’s natural treasures: the 15-acre Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary and Audubon Center (134 Cove Rd., 516-922-3200, dec.ny.gov/outdoor/84505.html), which started out as the first Audubon songbird sanctuary in the nation. Today it offers a wide variety of activities, including environmental and conservation education, wildlife research, and more, while serving as home to 15 raptors, such as hawks, owls, falcons and a vulture, as well as reptiles and amphibians from around the globe. Explore the nature center and hiking trails, the latter of which are popular for birdwatching. An avid outdoorsman, T.R. would’ve likely given the sanctuary — and the greater Oyster Bay of today — an emphatic “bully.”

Oyster Fest is one of the biggest annual events on Long Island.

WHERE TO DINE

Wild Honey
1 E. Main St., 516-922-4690, wildhoneyrestaurant.com

Canterbury’s Oyster Bar & Grill
46 Audrey Ave., 516-922-3614, canterburysobg.com

Coach Grill & Tavern
22 Pine Hollow Rd., 516-624-0900, coachgrillandtavern.com

Taby’s Burger House
28 Audrey Ave., 516-624-7781, tabysburgerhouse.food93.com

Bonanza’s
25 Shore Ave., 516-922-7796, bonanzasitalianices.com

2 Spring
2 Spring St., 516-624-2411, 2springstreet.com

Sweet Tomato
91 Audrey Ave., 516-802-5353, mysweettomato.com

Autentico
124 South St., 516-922-2212, autenticooysterbay.com

The Homestead
107 South St., 516-922-9293, thehomesteadny.com

Pietro’s Brick Oven Pizza
342 Lexington Ave., 516-922-2023, pietrosbrickovenpizzaoysterbay.com

Glen Cove: A Gold Coast Playground For All

Glen Cove residents and visitors celebrate Bimmerstock, an annual June car show in downtown Glen Cove that benefits the Diabetes Research Foundation.

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:

The City of Glen Cove recently celebrated its 350th anniversary.

HISTORICAL HAPPENINGS

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.”

One of the free summer concerts regularly held at Morgan Park.

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.

Prybil Beach in Glen Cove is a popular Long Island Sound swimming spot.

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.

Sunset on rocky pier at Morgan Park in Glen Cove

WHERE TO STAY

The Mansion At Glen Cove
200 Dosoris Ln, 877-782-9426, glencovemansion.com

WHERE TO DINE

American Cafe
5 School St, 516-656-0003, americancafe.org

Cedar Creek
75 Cedar Swamp Rd, 516-656-5656, cedarcreekli.com

LaBussola Restaurant
40 School St, 516-671-2100, piccolabussolarestaurant.com/glen-cove

Meritage Wine Bar
90 School St., Glen Cove, 516–801-0055, meritagebar.com

Riviera Grill
274 Glen St, 516-674-9370, kpsearch.com/DF/rivieragrill/all.asp

Sweet Mandarin
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

Wild Fig
167 Glen St, 516-656-5645, wildfigonline.com

The South Fork: Not Just A Playground For The Rich

Sea fog rolls into Southampton

Like its neighboring North Fork communities, the South Fork of Long Island — or as more popularly known, “the Hamptons” — started out as a colonial haven for agriculture and fishing, with close ties to New England, as is still seen in its surviving period architecture. That all changed in the late 1800s, though, when the region began its transformation into a summer playground for the wealthy — a distinction that continues to this day.

It’s easy to see why the rich and influential have been flocking to the Hamptons for more than a century: The area is an oceanfront paradise, with miles of exquisite coastline. And these days, there’s a wealth of other attractions too, from historical sites to fine dining to a robust local arts community.

“We’re close to New York City, we have great beaches, great schools, great theater and a summer and winter community that has supported my businesses for over 32 years,” says Elyse Richman, who owns several Westhampton businesses under the “Shock” moniker. “Raising my son in a small community where everyone knows your name is a step back in time. It’s a warm and friendly family oriented community.”

Unlike Richman, not all of us are lucky enough to live in the Hamptons, but we can certainly still visit. So, for an unforgettable South Fork experience, here are some can’t miss starting points:

A woman carries her surfboard from the beach in the Hamptons.

THE SALT LIFE

As you may have heard, the Hamptons are world famous for pristine beaches, where countless visitors and residents flock every summer. There are enough in the Hamptons area to fill an entire travel column on their own, but in Westhampton, one perennial favorite is Cupsogue Beach County Park (906 Dune Road, Westhampton Beach, 631-852-8111, suffolkcountyny.gov), a 296-acre barrier beach park ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing and striped bass fishing. There’s frequently live music to enjoy during the summer, as well as a tiki-themed food bar.

Also high on the list of East End beachgoers is Ponquogue Beach (Dune Rd., over Ponquogue Bridge, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-283-6011, southamptontownny.gov), known for its gorgeous scenery, clean and well-maintained public facilities and walk-up snack bar. A non-resident day parking pass will run you $25, which is a bargain, considering the cost of full-time residency.

Further down Dune Road, another popular beach choice is Pike’s Beach (765 Dune Rd, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-0143) with parking available to residents with permits or visitors who spring for a $40 day pass. It tends to be one of the quieter Hamptons beaches, since it is located past some of the more highly frequented spots on Dune Road. The beach offers only basic services (bathrooms, showers and lifeguards), but maximum relaxation.

Visitors at Montauk Point.

NATURAL SPLENDOR

The beaches aren’t the only worthy outdoor excursion on the South Fork. There’s also idyllic scenery to enjoy a little more inland, like at East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve (133 Hands Creek Rd, East Hampton, 631-329-3568, longhouse.org) a 16-acre garden with lush lawns, ornamental borders, plant collections and outdoor sculpture, planned by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, who assembled a collection of more than 70 sculptures for the gardens.

Some spots are so scenic, they’re mandatory for all visitors. Moving closer again to the water’s edge, for a truly breathtaking view of the coastline, there’s no substitute for a jaunt out to LI’s absolute eastern end, Montauk, where the Montauk Point Lighthouse (2000 Montauk Hwy, Montauk, 631-668-2544, montauklighthouse.com) has welcomed travelers since 1796, making it the oldest lighthouse in New York State and fourth-oldest active lighthouse in the nation. Its museum, gift shop and tours round out the experience.VIBRANT ARTS SCENE

The arts are alive and well in the Hamptons, too. An anchor for area development over the past 20 years is the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-1500, whbpac.org), offering a year-round program featuring world-class performers, its World Cinema series and its arts education program. Upcom-
ing performances include Josh Ritter (Aug. 12), Rufus Wainwright (Aug. 18), Arturo Sandoval (Aug. 19), John Hiatt & The Goners (Aug. 26), Eddie Izzard (Sept. 2) and Howie Mandel (Nov. 10).

In Sag Harbor, the Bay Street Theater (1 Bay St, Sag Harbor, 631-725-9500, baystreet.org) also offers year-round entertainment, in its 299-seat venue. In addition to the mainstage productions, Bay Street programs include its Comedy Club, workshops, special events and educational initiatives, like Literature Live!, theater workshops and kids theater camps and classes. The main-stage will present Evita from July 31 through Aug. 26.

A rapidly rising newcomer is the Southampton Arts Center (25 Jobs Ln., Southampton, 631-283-0967, southamptonartscenter.org), a local favorite due to its ever-changing array of exhibits, concerts, films an special events. Bring the kids for the popular puppet shows, view special film screenings and outdoor movie showings, enjoy exhibitions like “Counterpoint: Selections from The Peter Marino Collection” (through Sept. 23) or get/stay fit at one of its many wellness workshops. That’s a lot under one roof.

There’s also art that you can literally hold in your hand, such as the exquisite handbags crafted by Judith Leiber, whose creations are now dis-played in the Leiber Collection (446 Old Stone Hwy, East Hampton, 631-329-3288, leibermuseum.org) along with works created and collected by her husband, Gerson Leiber. The museum grounds and sculpture garden are equally eye pleasing.

Intersection at Main Street in Southampton.

HISTORICAL HABITATS

There’s long been an allure to the South Fork, so to immerse oneself in this rich oceanfront heritage, start at the Thomas Halsey Homestead (249 S Main St, Southampton, 631-283-2494), whose namesake cofounded Southampton in 1640. Halsey purchased the homestead in 1648; the Halsey House was built by his son, Thomas Halsey Jr. in 1683, and a two-room extension was added in 1730. The museum features historic furnishings indicative of a 1750 farm family and an exhibit on the native Shinnecock Tribe, complete with a recreated Woodland period village.

But to learn still more about the area’s indigenous Shinnecock Tribe, don’t skip past the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum (100 Montauk Hwy, Southampton, 631-287-4923, facebook.com/ShinnecockMuseum), located on the Shinnecock Reservation. The museum’s main building is a log structure containing Native American artifacts and exhibits on the Shinnecock and Woodland Indian cultures, while an adjoining living history village conveys 1700s-era life for Woodland Indians, with tribal members dressed in period garb and demonstrating aspects of Native American life before European settlement.

From there, move ahead by about a century and visit the Southampton Historical Museum (17 Meeting House Ln., Southampton, 631-283-2494, southamptonhistory.org), where its Rogers Mansion Museum Complex — featuring the Greek-revival Rogers Mansion built in 1843 by whaling captain Albert Rogers — offers 12 historic buildings focused on the area’s 19th-century development. The one-acre campus also contains a carpenter’s shop, blacksmith shop, dry goods store, paint shop, one-room schoolhouse and two barns.

Whaling was such a huge part of the region’s past, you could spend hours discovering more about it. If that strikes your fancy, there’s the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum (200 Main St, Sag Harbor, 631-725-0770, sagharborwhalingmuseum.org), housed in the 1845 home of Benjamin Huntting II and family. Explore the majestic mansion — a certified National Treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places — as well as its fine collection of historical objects from the village’s whaling past, plus contemporary exhibits reflecting the culture of the village today.

Finally, for perhaps the most unique South Fork experience, continue on your historical journey further eastward, jumping ahead yet another century, until you reach Camp Hero State Park (1898 Montauk Hwy, Montauk, 631-668-3781, parks.ny.gov). The park’s 415 wooded and beachfront acres once held a U.S. military base long rumored to be linked to mysterious research projects and a series of underground tunnels. Today you can enjoy hiking trails and world-class surf fishing there, or explore the ruins of the base, which still includes bunkers and massive radar dishes. Like the South Fork, Camp Hero has some- thing for everyone — even for us daytrippers.

Folks enjoy a casual meal at a clam shack in East Hampton

WHERE TO DINE ON THE SOUTH FORK

Starr Boggs
6 Parlato Dr, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-3500, facebook.com/StarrBoggsRestaurant

1770 House Restaurant
143 Main St, East Hampton, 631-324-1770, 1770house.com/restaurant

Rumba
43 Canoe Place Rd, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-594-3544, rumbahamptonbays.com

Cowfish
258 E. Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-594-3868, cowfishrestaurant.com

Harvest on Fort Pond
11 S. Emery St, Montauk, 631-668-5574, harvestfortpond.com

WHERE TO STAY ON THE SOUTH FORK

Aqualina Inn Montauk
20 S. Elmwood Ave, Montauk, 631-688-8300, aqualinainnmontauk.com

Bowen’s by the Bays
177 W. Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-728-1158, gobowens.com

The Drake Inn
16 Penny Ln, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-728-1592, thedrakeinn.com

Baron’s Cove
31 West Water St, Sag Harbor, 844-227-6672, baronscove.com

Gansett Green Manor
273 Main St, Amagansett, 631-267-3133, gansettgreenmanor.com

The North Fork: Farm Country Plus A Lot More

Since the 17th century onward, Long Island’s North Fork has been prime farm country, and today the region continues that tradition with a peaceful stretch of wineries, vineyards, apple orchards and potato and sod farms meandering eastward along the LI Sound from Riverhead to Orient Point. These days, however, the North Fork’s breathtaking natural scenery and deep-rooted agrarian lifestyle also drive area tourism, offering an East End experience entirely removed from the Hamptons scene.

Boasting more than 30 vineyards (and tasting rooms), miles of pristine coastline, fabulous dining and shopping options and a wide array of other activities and attractions, the North Fork’s allure continually grows among vacationers and LI-based weekenders. Whether you’re in Mattituck, Cutchogue, Peconic, Southold, Greenport, East Marion, Jamesport or Orient, you can expect a relaxing, yet bountiful, time like no other on Long Island.

“The North Fork is one of the sunniest locations in New York, allowing us to preserve farmland, whatever the agriculture may be,” said Diandra Petrocelli-Schultz, manager of the Raphael vineyard in Peconic. “Local produce complements local cuisine, which pairs with food-friendly local wine, for a well-balanced experience.”

In fact, there’s so much to do on the North Fork, we’ve had to split up our recommendations into a series of articles. We’ve already spotlighted Greenport (a key North Fork spot) in a previous column, and we published a comprehensive guide to area vineyards in a separate column.

That still leaves a virtual smorgasbord of other options, including:

Harmony Vineyards
Harmony Vineyards offers visitors the opportunity to experience a high-quality Long Island winery without traveling to the North Fork. (Photo: Harmony Vineyards Facebook profile)

FARM FUN

Aside from the ubiquitous wineries, there are a number of other local farms that offer “agraritainment,” especially during the fall pumpkin/harvest season. While there are too many to list each one here, no trip to the North Fork is complete without a visit to Harbes Family Farm (715 Sound Ave., Mattituck; 631-298-0800; harbesfamilyfarm.com), going strong after 13 generations, and historic Wickham’s Fruit Farm (28700 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-734-6441; wickhamsfruitfarm.com).

And if you’ve seen one North Fork farm, you definitely have not seen them all. For example, if goats (and goat cheese) strike your fancy, there’s plenty of each at Catapano Dairy Farm (33705 North Rd., Peconic; 631- 765-8042; catapanodairyfarm.com). Or, have you ever been to a lavender farm? There’s one of those, too: Lavender By The Bay (7540 Main Rd., East Marion; 631-477-1019; lavenderbythebay.com). Your nose will thank you. Love oysters? Visit Southold Bay Oysters (10273 N. Bayview Rd., Southold; 917-232-5152; southoldbayoysters.com) for an informative and delicious diversion.

A farmstand in Peconic, New York, on the North Fork of Long Island, displays a bounty of pumpkins for Halloween and Fall decorations.

EYE FOR ART

The North Fork’s visual appeal inspires a love of art that’s palpable in its communities. For one, a can’t miss stop for photography fans is the Alex Ferrone Gallery (25425 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-734-8545; alexferronegallery.com), renowned for its stunning displays of Long Island photos. The gallery exhibits and sells contemporary works by mid-career and emerging photo artists; it also hosts special events like public receptions, gallery talks and workshops.

From there, you can branch out into other media at the Old Town Art and Crafts Guild (28265 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-734-6382; oldtownartsguild.org), a nonprofit facility offering a gallery, historical art collection and gift shop, as well as special events like art classes, artist receptions and art fairs. Its Guild House displays member works throughout the year in juried competitions, regular shows and artist of the month exhibits.

Continue on your North Fork art adventure by visiting Jamesport, home of the William Ris East Gallery (1291 Main Rd., Jamesport; 609-408-5203; williamris.com), owned and directed by Mary Cantone, a dedicated collector of original art and supporter of local artists. The gallery showcases an extensive selection of original contemporary works by East Coast artists, particularly from Long Island.

Orient Point lighthouse at the point where the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay meet.

A HISTORICAL HAVEN

The North Fork holds some of LI’s oldest hamlets, so historical tourism is also embraced. To delve deep into North Fork history, especially its maritime past, spend an afternoon at the Horton Point Lighthouse and Nautical Museum (Lighthouse Rd., Lighthouse Park, Southold; 631-765-5500; southoldhistoricalsociety.org/lighthouse). The 1857 lighthouse and its accompanying museum offer a unique collection of marine artifacts, like sea chests, paintings, maps, scrimshaw and photographs. The tower is 58 feet tall and once held a third order Fresnel lens; in 1990 the tower was repaired and relit.

Another splendid source of exhibits is the Oysterponds Historical Society (1555 Village Lane, Orient; 631-323-2480; oysterpondshistoricalsociety.org), home to an extensive collection dispersed throughout a number of historic buildings and green spaces. OHS’ free exhibits include art and manuscripts, as well as historical objects donated by local residents. OHS also hosts annual seasonal exhibitions, programs and community events. This summer’s displays spotlight Orient and East Marion.

The North Fork’s love affair with local history doesn’t end there, either. Stop in at the Southold Historical Society museum (54325 Route 25, Southold; 631-765-5500; southoldhistoricalsociety.org), which contains a large archival collection of original diaries, letters, documents, ledgers, daybooks, genealogies, photographs, drawings and other related historic materials. The society also maintains more than a dozen buildings in Southold, ranging in date from 1750 to 1900; it opens many of these buildings to the public throughout the year.

Star trails at Custer Observatory at the Custer Institute in Southold, NY, caused by the Earth’s rotation_ approximately 1.5 hours. Vega creates a very bright streak in the middle.

NATURAL PURSUITS

All one needs to do is view a map of the North Fork, and it’s pretty clear that the region’s extensive waterfront is one of its main charms. And fortunately, a good portion of that shoreline is still freely accessible for the public to enjoy.

To enjoy the refreshing salt air and all the picturesque scenery the North Fork has to offer, start with Orient Beach State Park (40000 Main Rd., Orient; 631-323-2440; parks.ny.gov/parks/106), with 45,000 feet of frontage on Gardiner’s Bay and a rare maritime forest with red cedar, blackjack oak trees and prickly-pear cactus. The park was dubbed a National Natural Landmark in 1980. It was also deemed an Audubon Important Bird Area due to its prevalent populations of great blue herons, egrets, blackcrowned night herons and osprey.

Another North Fork seaside favorite is Goldsmith’s Inlet Park (Soundview Ave., Southold), a relatively quiet, lengthy stretch of pristine North Shore beach with water on both sides, adjacent to a narrow inlet connecting the LI Sound to a large salt pond. Watch the small inlet become a swift-moving river as the tide changes. Bring flip-flops for walking; North Shore beaches are notoriously rocky, and this spot is no exception. A Town of Southold parking permit or day pass from town hall is required to use the parking lot.

And don’t forget a recent addition to the North Fork’s bounty of public open space: the Hallock State Park Preserve (6062 Sound Ave., Riverhead; 631-315-5475; parks.ny.gov/parks/181), a 225-acre shorefront park preserve with nearly one mile of gorgeous North Shore beachfront on the Sound. It’s a serene spot for hiking, nature walks and bird watching.

Finally, with all of the dazzling scenery in front of you, don’t forget to occasionally look up, too; one of the great unsung draws of the North Fork is its breathtaking views of the nighttime sky. You can take that stellar experience up still another notch with a trip to the Custer Institute & Observatory (1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold; 631-765-2626; custerobservatory.org), Long Island’s oldest public observatory (circa 1927). Open Saturday evenings from dusk to midnight, the staff offers tours of the facilities and allows guests to view the night sky through its powerful telescopes. It’s the perfect ending to an ideal North Fork day.

WHERE TO DINE

The Jamesport Manor Inn
370 Manor Ln, Jamesport, 631-779-3488, jamesportmanorinn.com

Legends
835 First St., New Suffolk, 631-734-5123, legends-restaurant.com

Southold Fish Market
64755 Route 25, Southold, 631-765-3200, facebook.com/southoldfishmarket

Jedediah Hawkins Inn
400 South Jamesport Ave., Jamesport, 631-722-2900, jedediahhawkinsinn.com

Touch of Venice
28350 Main Rd., Cutchogue, 631-298-5851, touchofvenice.com

WHERE TO STAY

The Duncan Inn
1399 Main Rd., Jamesport, 631-722-4024, duncaninn.com

The North Fork Table & Inn
57225 Rt. 25, Southold, 631-765-0177, northforktableandinn.com

The Blue Inn At North Fork
7850 Main Rd., East Marion, 631-496-1630, theblueinn.com

Heron Suites
61600 Route 25, Southold, 631-596-4521, poemarine.com/heron-suites

Jamesport Bay Suites
67 Front Street, South Jamesport, 631-722-3458, jamesportbaysuites.com

Hotel Indigo Long Island – East End
1830 West Main St., Riverhead, 631-369-2200, indigoeastend.com

Babylon Village: Get Down, Downtown

For seemingly countless years, many Long Island communities have worked to create a “downtown” feel within their village centers, where shopping, dining, nightlife and other enticing pursuits are all within walking distance of one or more main streets.

The Village of Babylon — part of the larger Town of Babylon — has offered this kind of experience for decades, making the quaint, upscale waterfront destination one of the South Shore hangouts of choice for locals and visitors alike.

Nathaniel Conklin moved his family to the area known as South Huntington around 1803. Discovering that their new home was next to a tavern, Nathaniel’s mother proclaimed the area to be another “Babylon,” so Nathaniel named it “New Babylon.” LI’s Babylon town was officially formed in 1872, carved from a piece of the Town of Huntington. Babylon runs along the Great South Bay and beyond, also including parts of Jones Beach, Captree Island and Fire Island.

Today, Babylon village is one of the Island’s top locations for dining and nightlife, with a dizzying array of popular and innovative eateries lining Deer Park Avenue and Main Street, as well as well-frequented bars and pubs for thirsty patrons. The perennial popularity of the serene lakefront Argyle Park and the village’s ample dock space also makes Babylon quintessential turf for families and water lovers alike.

What follows is a sampling of the ways in which Babylonians — and anyone else with a hankering — enjoy this Long Island gem.

Argyle Lake

On the waterfront

There’s no other place in Babylon that’s as iconic as Argyle Park (Montauk Hwy., 631-669-1500, townofbabylon.com), with its signature dual waterfalls and whiterailed viewing areas welcoming all who cruise along the Montauk Highway/Main Street corridor through the village. The everpopular walking/biking/jogging trail runs in a loop around the park’s large main lake, passing side ponds and the playground along the way. Argyle’s also a classic local fishing spot, for freshwater species in the lake and ponds, and brackishwater dwellers in the pool below the waterfalls, which empty into the channel at the marina across the street. Over the years the brackish pool has been home to some truly massive carp; just try and catch one! There’s a reason they’ve grown so huge.

Or, for an even saltier Babylon experience, head south on Fire Island Avenue until you reach the Babylon Docks, where you can enjoy a splendid view of the Great South Bay and Robert Moses Causeway. It’s another timehonored fishing spot for pier-based anglers (especially during snapper season), and a favorite haunt among crabbers. Dock space is also offered for rental, when available.

While there, you may also choose to grab some fresh seafood at one of the waterfront establishments near the pier, including the venerable Pier 44 (444 Fire Island Ave., 631-661-5999, pier44restaurant.com) and Babylon Fish & Clam (458 Fire Island Ave., 631-587-3633, babylonfishandclam.com). Afterwards, pop in for a drink (or several) at the Sea Breeze Café (470 Fire Island Ave., 631-669-9790, seabreeze-cafe.hub.biz), a can’t miss local watering hole since 1985, featuring live music on specified nights and a consistent lineup of great locally brewed beer on tap.

Monsoon

Arts & nightlife

One of the great things about Babylon village is that even though its downtown area has been booming for years, it still continues to evolve and grow. One of the latest and much welcomed additions to the village is the renovation and upcoming opening of the Argyle Theatre (34 West Main St., 844-631-5483, ArgyleTheatre.com), a 500-seat venue that will occupy the historic building, which most recently housed the former Bow Tie Cinema. The theatre will host concerts, plays, musicals and other performing arts events when it debuts this spring, including six annual main stage productions. This coming year’s lineup includes: Hairspray, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Spring Awakening and The Producers.

After catching a show at the Argyle Theatre, or after you’ve dined at one of the downtown area’s many restaurants, the fun doesn’t need to end there. The village also has an extensive selection of pubs and clubs to choose from, many of which are institutions among locals. In addition to its fine food, the recently renovated Post Office Café (130 Montauk Hwy., Babylon, 631-669-9224, lessings.com) is one of those nightlife staples, attracting a healthy bar crowd for nearly 40 years within the former USPS building, which processed mail from the 1930s to 1970s. Sundays during football season are an especially tempting time to stop by, so you can enjoy some cocktails and upscale pub grub while watching the games on a 135-inch drop-down projection screen.

Babylon’s penchant for converting historic buildings into dining and entertainment spaces has also given rise to the Babylon Carriage House (21 Fire Island Ave., 631-422-5161, babyloncarriagehouse.com), an upscale bar and grille that occupies the aforementioned carriage house, built just after the Civil War. Patrons flock here for great food and top-tier drinks, as well as special events and themed nights. The restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe menu for just $27.95, there’s a Thursday night wine special that includes unlimited wine by the glass with the purchase of an entrée, and Sunday is primerib night.

Or, there’s Monsoon (48 Deer Park Ave., 631-587-4400, monsoonny.com), a trendy bi-level Pan-Asian hot spot built inside a former bank and known for its surf and turf. The owners are the same folks behind other upscale LI locales such as Tellers American Chophouse in Islip and Prime in Huntington, so expect excellence.

Another classic hangout, this time with a Celtic flair, is Lily Flanagan’s Pub (345 Deer Park Ave., 631-539-0816, lilyflanaganspub.com), where you can expect quality pub fare and a lively crowd most nights, as well as a steady stream of live music and special events. Tuesday is karaoke night, Wednesday is country night, there’s a late-night happy hour from 8 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and live acoustic performers are featured on weekends. Don’t miss steak and lobster night on Thursdays.

We’d also be remiss not to mention The Brixton (111 Deer Park Ave., 631-587-2000, thebrixtonbabylon.com) a gastropub that opened last year and quickly garnered rave reviews for its relaxed ambiance, mind-blowing drink selection and fantastic food menu. Be sure to check out its assortment of original cocktails, some featuring names that are Seinfeld references, like the “Serenity Now!”, “Gold Jerry, GOLD,” and “Del Boca Vista.”

Babylon village green

The shopping scene

Babylon village’s downtown area isn’t just home to excellent restaurants and bars, either; there’s also a wideranging base of boutique shops and mom-and-pop stores that consistently attract strolling shoppers. One of the longest running of these bastions of commerce is Bunger Surf & Sports Shop (50 E. Main St., 631-661-1526, bungersurf.com), which has been outfitting area wave rider and skateboarders for decades under the guidance of owner Charlie Bunger Sr., who’s been shaping boards since 1961. The shop also includes the Long Island Surfing Museum (lisurfingmuseum.com), featuring Bunger’s personal collection of surfboards and surfing memorabilia.

The array of unique offerings doesn’t end there, either. For example, for those with a mystical and spiritual bent, there’s The Genie Within (135 Deer Park Ave., Ste 4, 631-335-8892, thegeniewithin8.com), a “metaphysical shop and healing sanctuary, where you will find all the essential tools and gifts for the body, mind and soul,” according to its website. The store carries a wide selection of incense, candles, books, CDs, aromatherapy products, essential oils, healing crystals, oracle decks, statues and more. The shop also offers services like tarot card and mediumship readings, as well as healing sessions using techniques like reiki and reflexology, all of which would be especially helpful after a long night spent crawling the village’s many pubs.

Babylon, it seems, really does have it all.Where to Dine

Argyle Grill & Tavern
90 Deer Park Ave., 631-321-4900, theargylegrill.com

Kotobuki Restaurant
86 Deer Park Ave., 631-321-8387, kotobukirestaurants.com

Glen’s Dinette
23 E. Main St., 631-669-4700, glensdinette.com

Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar
69 Deer Park Ave., 631-321-1175, barriquekitchenandwinebar.com

Post Office Café
130 Montauk Hwy., 631-669-9224, lessings.com

Swell Taco
135 Deer Park Ave., 631-482-1299, swelltacoli.com

Long Beach: The City by The Sea

The City of Long Beach is among Long Island's most popular oceanfronts come summer.

The City of Long Beach, appropriately nicknamed “The City by the Sea,” has beckoned toocean-goers for centuries, from the generations of Long Island baymen who’ve plied their trade nearby, to beach-loving vacationers from Victorian times through today.

Shoehorned within Long Island’s westernmost South Shore barrier island, the city has grown consistently over time, and Long Beach now packs an incredibly diverse range of offerings in a tight geographic space.

“The City by the Sea has always been an oasis for visitors from all over,” says Ian Danby of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. “With three-and-a-half miles of beautiful white sand beaches and more than two miles of boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, you will fall in love the minute you arrive.”

English colonists purchased Long Beach from the Rockaway Indians in 1643, but the narrow island didn’t see year-round residents until centuries years later. Much had changed though by 1880, when Brooklynite builder Austin Corbin partnered with the Long Island Rail Road to lay track from Lynbrook to Long Beach. Corbin built the Long Beach Hotel the same year — the first resort on Long Beach — and some 300,000 visitors arrived by train for the first season. Development on the island continued steadily from there, and Long Beach became a city in 1922.

Here are some of the many reasons to visit Long Beach this summer.

The City by the Sea is known for its sunsets. Photo by Matthew Clark.

THE SALT LIFE

As its name implies, the heart of Long Beach is its waterfront, so don’t miss Ocean Beach Park (300 W. Broadway, 516-431-1021, longbeachny.gov), an idyllic stretch
of sand with 2.2 miles of recently rebuilt boardwalk. Parking may be a bit tricky during peak times, so you may want to consider Pacific Boulevard Beach (Pacific Boulevard and Shore Road) as an alternate. But if you do forge ahead to the boardwalk, a rewarding excursion awaits: There are myriad ways to spend an afternoon there, whether your inclination is dining, shopping, water sports, people watching, or just enjoying a seaside stroll.

“Our shining City by the Sea has something for everyone,” says Long Beach City Council President Anthony Eramo. “After you are done surfing, swimming, or taking a bike ride, you can visit our popular food truck market, dubbed ‘The Shoregasboard,’ or try one of the great concessions along the boardwalk. After an amazing meal you can visit one of our unique shops or live music venues.”

Many of those pursuits are active, whether it be on water, land, ice or in the air. For example, one of the more unique attractions to pop up near the boardwalk is I.FLY Trapeze (Riverside Blvd., 516-640-1579, iflytrapeze.com), run by the LI flying trapeze and circus arts school of the same name. Would-be flyers ages 4 to adult, as well as all skill levels, can sign up for a session with one of I.FLY’s skilled trainers. Call ahead for reservations.

Or, test your balance on a longboard, windsurfer or paddleboard provided by Skudin Surf (1 Long Beach Ave./tents on the beach, 516-318-3993, skudinsurf.com). The company offers board rentals, private surf lessons, adult camps, summer surf camps for kids and more, staffed by professional surfers and certified lifeguards. You can also rent and learn on a stand-up paddleboard, and even store your own gear at Skudin’s Hurley Surf Club facility.

Another established beachfront instructor is Surf2Live (830 Shore Rd., 516-432-9211, surf2live.com), which runs weekly surf camps from June through August for both adults and kids, as well as surf parties and private lessons. And if you need gear, look no further than Moku Surf NY (879 W. Beech St., 516-442-6900, mokusurf.com), a virtual cornucopia of surfing swag with a collection of vintage boards available.

Perhaps all that sun and surf has you feeling a little balmy. Or you prefer your water frozen. Whatever the case, Long Beach also has one of the premier Long Island ice skating rinks — City of Long Beach Ice Arena (150 W. Bay Dr., 516-705-7385, longbeachny.gov/icearena) — which is open year-round and offers public skating, group and private lessons, youth and adult hockey programs, birthday parties and more.

And if you’re really looking to upgrade your legs, the arena is home to the Long Beach
Skating Academy (516-705-7402, longbeachny.gov), which offers professional instruction to all age groups and skill levels.

P.T. Barnum’s circus elephants famously helped build the original Long Beach boardwalk.

OCEANFRONT ARTS & CULTURE

Folks have been flocking to Long Beach for generations, for many of the same reasons visitors head there now. For an in-depth look at Long Beach history and its artifacts, take a brief Sunday afternoon beach break and visit the Long Beach Historical & Preservation Society (226 W. Penn St., 516-432-1192, longbeachhistoricalsociety.org), a local history museum housed in one of the original Estates of Long Beach summer residence villas, circa 1909. The museum is open Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment, and Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. in July and August.

Continue your historical journey by driving past Cobble Villa, also known as Villa Clara (657 Laurelton Blvd.). The 2.5-story, asymmetrical Mediterranean Revival-style brick and stucco dwelling — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is Long Beach’s first home, built in 1909 for Sen. William Reynolds. Since 1976 it has been the home of the late artist Clara Steele and her family, who still open its doors to the public every December, so guests may tour the house and enjoy Clara’s artwork and unique décor.

Long Beach is also home to Arts in the Plaza (1 W Chester St., Kennedy Plaza, 516-507-8383, artsintheplaza.com), a weekly arts festival that runs from Memorial Day through Halloween. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., AITP features handcrafted art by Long Island artists, live music, cultural performances and a Kids Art Station, with displays of fine art, photography, custom jewelry and unique handmade gifts.

If all of that local creativity leaves you feeling inspired, pay a visit to Earth Arts Long Beach (162 W. Park Ave., 516-432-9000, earthartslb.com), where you can paint your own pottery, take art classes, book a party or attend a summer art camp. Programs are tailored for adults, children and groups, and there are periodic special events, like its Mother Daughter Tea Party and Mother’s Day Brunch. The fairer sex can also enjoy the BYOB “Ladies Night Out” event held there two Friday evenings per month.

These are just a sampling of reasons why Long Beach remains a well-traveled LI gem, for both visitors and the roughly 33,000 residents who call the city home. As any real estate expert will tell you, it’s all about location, and Long Beach’s location — plus its many attractions — simply can’t be beat.

“Long Beach will continue to be a place where people want to raise their families because it is a fun, vibrant, and tight-knit beachside community,” says state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “The Long Beach of the future must be one that is resilient in the face of severe weather and that continues to remain affordable despite the rising prices in the New York metro area. Having a dependable and safe commuter rail system is also important because it allows folks to work in the city while still living at the beach — a winning combination.”

Long Beach from the air.

WHERE TO DINE 

Grotta Di Fuoco
960 W. Beech St., 516-544-2400, grottalbny.com

Lost & Found
951 W. Beech St., 516-442-2606, facebook.com/LostandFound

Sorrento’s
255 W. Park Ave., 516-889-4800, facebook.com/pg/Sorrentos

Laurel Diner
300 W. Park Ave., 516-432-7728, laureldiner.com

Gino’s
16 W. Park Ave., 516-432-8193, ginoslongbeach.com

LB Social
62 W. Park Ave., 516-431-7846, lbsocialny.com

Swingbellys Beachside BBQ
909 W. Beech St., 516-431-3464, swingbellysbbq.com

Nagahama Sushi
169 E. Park Ave., 516-432-6446, nagahamasushi.com

WHERE TO STAY

Allegria Hotel
80 W. Broadway, 516-889-1300, allegriahotelny.com

Long Beach Hotel
405 E. Broadway, 516-544-4444, longbeachhotelny.com