For the past several summers I have put my United States passport to good use and traveled around the world. I’ve shared photos and posts about some exciting places but my most popular post is about a small town in upstate New York, 17 things to do in Ithaca.
Like many, I am hesitant about traveling this summer. We are now entering phase 3 post pandemic, so some places are opening up here in New York but I will not be going too far away. In fact, with an abundance of outdoor opportunities on Long Island, I will share my summer bucket list with my fellow islanders.
While the state parks do charge an entrance fee of $10, the Empire Pass can be purchased for the year for $80 and with this summer of limited travel, it is well worth the investment.
1. Robert Moses, Field 5
Yesterday I drove myself over the bridge to Robert Moses ocean beach on Fire Island. Clean, soft sand, refreshing salt water with moderate waves, qualified life guards and open bathrooms make this beach a true pleasure. If your ideal day is to sit in a chair under an umbrella and read or to take a long walk along the shore, visit the lighthouse and maybe stroll into the small beach village of Kismet, this can all be done in a day trip. Walking east along the shore I will warn you that some bathers prefer not to wear swim suits. Just remember to wear your mask in the bathrooms at the beach.
Parking $10 or Empire pass. https://parks.ny.gov/parks/7/
The eastern most point of Long Island has this amazingly, still quaint fishing village. The cost of hotel rooms has sky rocketed in recent years but since you save money on air fare and time and the hassle of driving through New York City, it can be worth the splurge. More ocean beaches, fishing trips, fresh seafood, hiking trails, cliffs, surfers and a light house to climb are just some reasons people keep coming out year after year to visit. My friend has made 2 visits already this summer with her kids to watch the sunrise at what is called THE END – and breakfast spots are open for the early birds too.
Hotel rooms are available but the average price per night is around $500 with a 3 night minimum on weekends. Day trip or a little getaway; I’ll be planning my trip out east soon.
3. Sunken Meadow State Park
What I love about this park is the 2 mile boardwalk along the beach for walking and riding bikes. This park has hiking trails through the woods, and a public golf course with a driving range. You must reserve a tee time in advance. In addition, I like to visit this location as it is where we got married on the beach last June and had a fun celebration with family and friends. We’ve been back a few times this spring and always enjoy some time outside.
Parking $10 or Empire pass: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/37/
This scenic park is located on the North Shore in Lloyd Harbor. The old estate and buildings are still standing on the hill above the Long Island Sound and active horse stables give the feel of being a guest at a country estate. The three mile paved and shaded trail is available to pedestrians and bicycles only. No dogs allowed.
Parking $10 or Empire pass: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/23/details.aspx
5. Cold Spring Harbor hiking trail
This one is Free. Simply park by the library on Harbor Road in Cold Spring Harbor and you will see the sign to the entrance. This is the north end of the 19 mile Nassau-Suffolk trail and does have some hills to climb. People often bring dogs along on a leash. I would highly recommend spraying for ticks before you head out on this trail or any trails on Long Island and be sure to check carefully when you return home as well.
6. Huntington Village
The restaurants in town are most creative as they set up outdoor dining tables on side walks and alleys. Musicians on the street, music coming from the restaurants and people walking around make us forget that we have been sheltering in place for 3 months. The waitstaff is required to wear masks and you have the option to wear a mask as well. Walking around the town, getting an ice cream and seeing people again can make us all remember we are part of a bigger community. And when you go out to eat, you can feel good about supporting the local economy too!
7. Planting Fields, Oyster Bay
If you prefer gardens, this former Gold Coast estate features 409 acres of gardens. The Coe house and greenhouses are currently closed but the grounds are open for walking and enjoying the outdoor gardens and architecture from the early 1900’s.
8. Bayard Cutting Arboretum
Located on the south shore in Great River, the grounds are open everyday except on Mondays. The trail along the river is lined with a variety of trees and plants in an informal setting. The house is closed currently but this is a beautiful park to visit and learn more about the types of plants in this area.
9. Long Island Aquarium
A favorite place to visit with families is the aquarium in Riverhead. The sea otters, penguins and sea lion exhibits are outdoors. Sting rays and sharks are indoors and masks are required. Due to reduced guest capacity, reservations must be made in advance.
10. Fire Island by Ferry
I grew up on the south shore in Sayville, known as the “friendliest town in America”. This is really a great little town with restaurants and small shops along a quaint Main Street that often closes for town events like car shows and summer festivals. Following Foster Avenue south towards the Great South Bay and turning left at the end, you will see the docks for the ferries. Two of my first jobs were cleaning houses at Fire Island Pines and making pizzas at Cherry Grove. Both awesome little beach communities that do not allow cars, homes are connected only by boardwalks and the vibes from the New York City gay community are alive and vibrant.
The ferry to Sailors Haven and Sunken Forest also leaves from the same dock area and while homes are not available to rent and only a concession stand is available for dining, this natural setting makes for a great day trip for families.
Ferries cost $16-18 round trip and you can pay to bring your dog as well. Ferries leave approximately every 2 hours.
10. ROBERT MOSES, Field 2
The western most end of Fire Island National seashore has a 3 par 9 hole golf course right there at the beach. No reservations necessary as it is first come, first served. Perfect for beginners and beach lovers. Pack a lunch or dinner, play golf and take a long walk around the point or hop in for a swim in the sea.
$10 parking fee or Empire Pass.
11. Jones Beach, Field 6
Although the concerts have been cancelled this summer, the iconic boardwalk at Jones Beach is still a treasure. I prefer field 6 on the eastern most part of the park as it is the shortest walk to the water and right on the boardwalk. Also a great place to walk with a stroller. The playground may be opening soon and a there is a small 9 hole pitch and putt golf course along the boardwalk as well. My grandmother and mom used to tell stories of going to the pool located in the building during the summer and the many evenings they spent dancing to music outside at the bandshell.
$10 parking fee or Empire Pass
12. Kayak River Rentals
I have heard wonderful tales of kayaking the Nissequogue River starting in Smithtown near the bull (It’s a famous statue here on Long Island). So you make a reservation and meet the group – sign some papers and board the kayak. Double kayaks and canoes cost about $60 for the approximately 3 hour tour down the river toward the Long Island sound. Nature, birds, and water are the best, just prepare for the sun, bugs and hydration on your adventure. A bus even brings you back to your car. This summer I will definitely try this.
13. Motor Boat Rentals
Living near the beach, I have always had either a sailboat or a motor boat… except for this summer. While I am happy to save on the expense of maintenance and repairs, I will miss going out in a boat.
Having friends with boats is always a good alternative. But if your friends don’t have a boat, it is possible to rent boats for a day or even half a day. I did this last winter in Florida with my sister and her family and we had a blast. So as a consolation to staying home this summer without a boat, I have been looking into day rentals and am considering two. For a boat that could accommodate 8 people, for the day it is about $1000.
In Freeport, the rental shop offers hourly rentals starting at 2 hours for about $300.
In Port Washington, Long Island Boat Rentals offers deals for small boats as well as captained boats for the day.
I am looking forward to trying out one or both of these places this summer. Who’s in?
I am grateful to live in such a beautiful place and to have the summer off. I can not imagine what the fall will bring for me as a teacher but I know that I have today to get out and enjoy. Keep safe, wear a mask if you will be near people and have a great summer!