Known as NYC’s ‘beachfront backyard’, it’s sometimes overlooked by visitors. Outside the famous Hamptons there’s 120 miles of sparkling ocean beaches, historical sites, quaint downtown villages, and perhaps most importantly, fresh seafood, roadside produce stands, farm-to-table restaurants and award-winning wine country to explore.
Here is a short guide of what to do, where to eat and where to stay whilst visiting Long Island...
What to do:
1. Admire the opulent 1920s mansions of the Gold Coast that inspired The Great Gatsby 100 years ago. Those open to the public include Oheka Castle, Vanderbilt Mansion, Old Westbury Gardens and Mill Neck Manor.
2. Grab a surfboard and take to the sparkling waves of Long Beach, Lido-Nickerson Beach or Rockaway Beach with Skudin Surf School, founded by pro big wave surfer Will Skudin.
3. Compared to its glamourous Hamptons neighbours, Montauk still retains its nostalgic, surf-driven charm, with gorgeous white sand beaches, old school American diners, and 1950s-style motels – albeit with modern makeovers that include five star facilities and poolside DJs.
4. Saddle up at the oldest working cattle ranch in the USA and birthplace of the American cowboy – the family-run Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk. Meander through picturesque woodland trails and across white sandy shores whilst catching a glimpse of America’s rich history. Horse lovers can also herd adorable mini-horses at Spirits Promise Equine Rescue.
5. Lose yourself in the pristine wilderness of car-free Fire Island, including the mystical Sunken Forest – an ecological rarity – and myriad soft sandy shores.
6. If travelling with the family, kids will love the plethora of fun and educational activities, from catching trout at the Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium, to stargazing at the Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium or the ‘bubble exhibit’ at the Long Island Children’s Museum.
Where to eat:
1. New York is the third largest wine region in the US, with Long Island boasting sixty wineries and award-winning blends. At Sannino Vineyard in Cutchogue you can be a ‘winemaker for a day’ and blend a custom bottle of wine.
2. For the best lobster roll on Long Island, head to The Lobster Roll, a diner-slash-shack affectionately known as ‘Lunch’ from its prominent sign. Tuck into the freshest sushi and sashimi at Point Lookout Clam Bar and see live fish caught and delivered straight to the adjacent dock.
3. Pull up one of the North Fork’s roadside farms, such as Condzellas Farm, to pick your own fresh seasonal produce and fruits of the harvest, and enjoy a picnic overlooking Long Island Sound.
4. Enjoy farm-to-table cuisine at North Fork Table & Inn, which provides guests with a curated seasonally inspired cuisine featuring locally grown biodynamic and organic produce, and fresh seafood from Peconic Bay.
5. Visit one of the island’s celebrity chef fronted restaurants, such as the sophisticated Red Salt Room at The Garden City Hotel where acclaimed chef David Burke presents dry aged steaks using his own patented process and whimsical dishes such as “Candied Bacon on a Clothesline”.
Where to stay:
The Menhaden is a 16-key boutique hotel in the heart of Greenport Village. Named after the local Menhaden fish, the design pays homage to Greenport’s fishing legacy with nautical artefacts woven through the public spaces: bottles, bricks, horseshoes and a mast from a whaling ship. The perfect base from which to explore local vineyards and the beach, the hotel also offers an exclusive roofdeck with firepit and expansive views.
Named after the wild grass that grows on the surrounding sand dunes, Marram is the only oceanfront, barefoot luxury boutique resort in the heart of Montauk. Marram offers grounded, essential experiences that invite guests to engage with their surroundings. The 96-room hotel has an innate and intimate sense of place that evokes the spirit of its natural, untouched landscape. Guests can take a dip in the oceanside pool, surf or tuck into refined Latin American cuisine at the on-site café. Activities include sunrise meditation, yoga, guided nature walks, in-room massages and nightly firepit bonfires. www.marrammontauk.com
Built by banker Otto Hermann Kahn, the man who inspired the original Monopoly Man, Oheka Castle is a breathtakingly beautiful historic mansion located on the famed Gold Coast of Long Island between New York City and The Hamptons. At twice the size of the White House, Oheka Castle is the second largest private home ever built in America. Constructed during the Roaring 20s as the country house of the legendary New Yorker, the mansion has seen the likes of famous dignitaries, socialites and Hollywood celebrities. With just 32 guestrooms, the chateau-style mansion has an intimate, yet opulent feel, with stunning manicured gardens and lawns making for a fairy tale escape. www.oheka.com