Long Island, New York: 15 Great Things to Do

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Updated On: November 09, 2023 by   Courtney AugelloCourtney Augello

Long Island, New York, is a captivating destination with many attractions and experiences. Located just off the eastern coast of the United States, the island stretches from the bustling streets of New York City into the glistening waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

From beaches to fine dining, there is much to see and do on the island. To help you plan the best trip to Long Island, we’ve explored the most popular attractions that the landmass has to offer.

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Long Island extends to the Atlantic Ocean.
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The island is close to New York City.

Long Island is an elongated landmass stretching eastward from New York City into the Atlantic Ocean. The island is separated from the mainland by various bodies of water, including the East River, Long Island Sound, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Long Island holds significant importance due to its close proximity and strong connection to New York City. While geographically separate, Long Island and New York City are deeply interconnected, forming a critical part of the metropolitan region.

The island serves as a residential and economic hub for millions of people who work in the city but prefer the suburban lifestyle. It offers a desirable alternative to the bustling cityscape, with quieter neighbourhoods, spacious suburban communities, and access to beaches.

Long Island also plays a vital role in various industries, including finance, healthcare, education, and technology. It is home to numerous prestigious universities, renowned medical centres, and major corporations.

The island’s economic significance is further amplified by its thriving tourism sector, attracting visitors from around the world who seek its scenic beauty, historical landmarks, cultural attractions, and recreational activities.

Long Island’s Best Beaches

Long Island boasts a stunning coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, offering a plethora of beautiful beaches to suit every preference. From serene and secluded stretches of sand to vibrant and bustling hotspots, the island’s beaches attract visitors from near and far.

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There are many beautiful beaches on the island.

Jones Beach State Park

Located in Wantagh, Jones Beach is one of Long Island’s most iconic beaches. This expansive park features miles of sandy shoreline, a boardwalk, and various amenities such as picnic areas, playgrounds, and sports courts. The Jones Beach Theater hosts concerts and events during the summer, adding to the beach’s vibrant atmosphere.

Robert Moses State Park

Situated on the western end of Fire Island, Robert Moses State Park offers both ocean and bay beaches. With its wide sandy shores, the beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. The park also provides amenities such as lifeguards, concessions, and recreational facilities for activities like fishing, surfing, and birdwatching.

Coopers Beach

Located in Southampton, Coopers Beach consistently ranks among the best beaches in the United States. It boasts pristine sand, clear waters, and a laid-back ambience. Visitors can enjoy amenities like chair and umbrella rentals, snack bars, and showers. The beach’s proximity to Southampton Village provides additional shopping and dining options.

Long Island’s Natural Beauty

Long Island offers a wealth of opportunities to experience and appreciate its natural beauty, such as hiking through lush forests, observing wildlife in its natural habitat, or enjoying the thrill of water sports.

These activities provide a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, allowing visitors to connect with the island’s stunning landscapes and create lasting memories.

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Many locals go sailing on the ocean.

State Parks and NaturePreserves

Long Island is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, which can be explored in its numerous state parks and nature preserves. These protected areas offer a chance to immerse oneself in the island’s diverse ecosystems and observe native flora and fauna.

Parks such as Montauk Point State Park, Heckscher State Park, and Caumsett State Historic Park provide hiking, picnicking, and scenic walks opportunities. Nature preserves like Avalon Park & Preserve, Quogue Wildlife Refuge, and Mashomack Preserve offer tranquil settings for birdwatching, nature photography, and educational programs.

Hiking Trails and Wildlife Observation

Long Island offers a variety of hiking trails, allowing visitors to connect with nature and appreciate the island’s natural wonders. The Greenbelt Trail, spanning over 30 miles, takes hikers through picturesque woodlands, meadows, and wetlands.

The Paumanok Path, a 125-mile trail, offers a longer trek along the length of the island, passing through diverse landscapes. Along these trails, hikers can encounter wildlife such as deer, foxes, birds, and butterflies, providing excellent opportunities for wildlife observation and nature photography.

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The island is more naturally scenic than New York City.

Water Sports

With its extensive coastline and scenic waterways, Long Island offers an array of water sports activities for adventure enthusiasts. Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular options, allowing visitors to explore the island’s coastal areas, bays, and rivers at their own pace.

Launching from various access points, such as state parks or local marinas, kayakers and paddleboarders can enjoy the serene waters, observe marine life, and discover hidden coves and inlets.

Long Island’s waters are also ideal for other water sports, such as surfing, boating, and fishing. Surfers can catch waves at beaches like Ditch Plains in Montauk or Gilgo Beach in Babylon.

Boating enthusiasts can rent sailboats or powerboats to explore Long Island Sound or embark on fishing excursions. Long Island’s waters are teeming with a variety of fish species, making it a paradise for anglers.

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There are many historic buildings and landmarks on the island.

Cultural and Historic Gems

Historic Landmarks

Long Island is home to numerous historic mansions and landmarks that offer a glimpse into the island’s rich cultural heritage.

One iconic mansion is the Vanderbilt Mansion in Centerport, an opulent residence once belonging to the Vanderbilt family. Its grand architecture, stunning gardens, and breathtaking views make it a must-visit destination.

Another notable landmark is the Old Westbury Gardens, a former Gold Coast estate known for its magnificent gardens and beautiful Georgian-style mansion. These historic properties allow visitors to step back in time and learn about the island’s illustrious past.

Museums and Galleries

Long Island boasts an impressive array of museums and galleries that cater to art enthusiasts and culture seekers.

The Nassau County Museum of Art offers a diverse collection of artwork, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, showcased in a stunning mansion surrounded by beautiful gardens.

The Parrish Art Museum focuses on American art, particularly works that celebrate the East End of Long Island. Additionally, the Long Island Museum showcases the island’s history and culture through exhibits, historic structures, and a renowned collection of art and artefacts. 

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Events are held throughout the year.

Festivals, Concerts, and Local Events

Long Island is a hub of cultural activity, with a vibrant calendar of festivals, concerts, and local events throughout the year. The Hamptons International Film Festival draws cinephiles and filmmakers to the East End, showcasing a wide range of independent films.

The Long Island Winterfest, held annually, celebrates the region’s vibrant music scene with live performances at various venues, including wineries and breweries. Additionally, communities across the island host fairs, farmers’ markets, and parades that showcase local talent, culinary delights, and cultural traditions.

Venues like the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater and the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts attract renowned artists, musicians, and performers from various genres. Long Island’s vibrant live music scene extends to smaller venues and intimate settings, where local bands and artists showcase their talents.

Culinary Delights

Long Island boasts a vibrant and diverse culinary scene that caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences. With its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and fertile agricultural land, the island offers a bounty of fresh seafood, locally sourced ingredients, and a melting pot of international cuisines.

From casual eateries to upscale dining establishments, Long Island is a haven for food enthusiasts seeking memorable culinary experiences.

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Seafood is popular on the island.

Seafood, Farm-to-Table, and International Cuisine

Seafood takes centre stage in Long Island’s culinary offerings. With its abundant coastline, the island is renowned for its fresh catches, including clams, oysters, lobster, and flounder. From classic New England-style seafood shacks to upscale seafood restaurants, visitors can indulge in delectable dishes like clam chowder, lobster rolls, and grilled fish.

Long Island’s farm-to-table movement is another notable aspect of its culinary scene. The island is home to numerous farms and agricultural markets, offering access to locally-grown produce, dairy products, and meats.

Many restaurants incorporate these fresh, seasonal ingredients into their menus, creating flavorful dishes that celebrate the island’s agricultural heritage.

In addition to seafood and farm-to-table options, Long Island’s culinary landscape embraces international flavours. With its diverse population, the island is a treasure trove of international cuisine.

From Italian and Mexican to Asian and Middle Eastern, visitors can savour a wide range of global dishes that highlight authentic flavours and culinary traditions.

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There are many great attractions on the island.

Wine Country

Long Island’s Wine Country is a hidden gem for wine enthusiasts, boasting a thriving wine industry with numerous vineyards and wineries. Located primarily on the North Fork of the island, this region is known for its picturesque landscapes, rolling vineyards, and charming tasting rooms.

Experiences and Tours

Visiting Long Island’s vineyards and wineries offers a delightful wine-tasting experience and a chance to explore the winemaking process. Many wineries on the North Fork open their doors to the public, providing tastings of their diverse wine offerings.

Tasting rooms often feature knowledgeable staff who guide visitors through the wine selections, providing insights into each varietal’s flavours, aromas, and characteristics.

Vineyard tours are another highlight of the wine country experience. These tours allow visitors to stroll through the vineyards, learning about the grape-growing process, the impact of terroir, and the winemaking techniques employed on Long Island.

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Wineries on the island host tastings and tours.

Long Island’s wine offerings include Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling. The region’s cool climate lends itself well to producing crisp white wines and elegant red wines.

Winemakers on Long Island are known for their craftsmanship, focusing on producing high-quality wines that showcase the unique terroir and characteristics of the region.

Family-Friendly Activities

Attractions and Amusement Parks

Long Island offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions and amusement parks that are sure to keep children entertained.

Adventureland in Farmingdale is a beloved amusement park featuring thrilling rides, games, and attractions suitable for all ages. The park offers a mix of classic and modern rides, including roller coasters, bumper cars, and a carousel.

Splish Splash Water Park in Calverton provides a fun-filled day of water adventures with its slides, wave pools, and lazy river. Kids can also enjoy indoor play centres like BounceU and Pump It Up, which offer inflatable play structures and organised activities.

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The island has many family-friendly attractions.

Zoos and Aquariums

Long Island is home to several zoos and aquariums that offer exciting animal encounters and educational experiences for the whole family.

The Long Island Game Farm Wildlife Park & Children’s Zoo in Manorville is a popular destination, allowing kids to interact with a variety of animals, including farm animals, exotic species, and even the opportunity to hand-feed some animals.

The Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead offers an immersive underwater experience, with exhibits featuring marine life from around the world. Visitors can watch sea lion shows, touch stingrays, and even go on a shark dive adventure.

Outdoor Activities and Events

Long Island’s outdoor spaces provide endless opportunities for family-friendly activities. State parks such as Sunken Meadow State Park, Heckscher State Park, and Caumsett State Historic Park offer scenic hiking trails, picnic areas, and playgrounds. Many parks also host events throughout the year, such as outdoor concerts and seasonal festivals.

During the summer months, the beaches provide a perfect setting for family fun. Whether it’s building sandcastles, playing beach games, or simply splashing in the waves, the island’s beautiful coastline offers hours of entertainment for all ages.

Additionally, mini-golf courses, batting cages, go-kart tracks, and trampoline parks are scattered throughout the island, providing additional options for family-friendly outdoor activities.

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Local theatres put on productions year round.

Long Island also hosts a variety of family-friendly events and festivals. From county fairs to holiday parades, there is always something happening that caters to families. Local libraries, community centres, and theatres often offer performances, puppet shows, and interactive workshops, ensuring there is no shortage of family-friendly entertainment options.

Shopping and Entertainment

Shopping Districts

Long Island is a shopper’s paradise, offering a diverse range of shopping districts and unique boutiques. One of the most popular shopping destinations is Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, known for its extensive selection of high-end and mainstream retailers.

For a more unique and eclectic shopping experience, areas like the North Fork and the Hamptons offer charming boutiques and local artisan shops showcasing handmade jewellery, clothing, home decor, and speciality food items.

In addition, downtown areas such as Port Jefferson, Huntington, and Patchogue feature vibrant main streets lined with a mix of independent boutiques, antique stores, and speciality shops, allowing visitors to discover one-of-a-kind treasures.

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The island is full of shops, restaurants, and more.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Long Island’s nightlife scene offers a wide array of entertainment options for all tastes. Vibrant hubs like Huntington Village and Patchogue Village are known for their lively atmosphere, with an abundance of bars, pubs, and music venues that offer live performances ranging from local bands to renowned artists.

Additionally, casino resorts provide a lively setting for gambling, live entertainment, and dining. Visitors can also enjoy comedy clubs, wine bars, and craft breweries scattered throughout the island, providing a vibrant nightlife experience.

Live Performances and Cultural Events

Long Island’s vibrant cultural scene is enhanced by its array of live performances and cultural events. The Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post hosts theatre productions and musical concerts featuring local and internationally acclaimed artists.

The Paramount is another renowned venue that brings in a diverse lineup of performances, including concerts by popular bands and solo artists. In addition, the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University and the Landmark on Main Street present theatrical productions, film screenings, and lectures.

Throughout the year, Long Island hosts a variety of festivals and cultural events that showcase the island’s rich heritage and diverse community. From food festivals and wine tastings to cultural celebrations, there is always something happening to engage and entertain visitors.

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Long Island is a great tourist destination.

Long Island has Many Great Attractions

Long Island, New York, stands as a captivating destination filled with a rich tapestry of attractions and experiences. With its vibrant cultural scene and natural wonders, the island offers diverse attractions that cater to every interest.

Long Island is a destination that effortlessly combines history, natural beauty, culinary delights, family-friendly attractions, and cultural experiences. From basking in the sun on pristine beaches to enjoying diverse cuisine, Long Island offers an unforgettable journey of discovery and enjoyment.

If you’re looking for holiday destinations in the United States, check out these 6 Must Visit Destinations for City Breaks in the USA.

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