Considered one of Long Island's best (and most crowded) beaches, Jones Beach has been a popular day-trip destination since the 1920s. Take a stroll along the boardwalk, play miniature golf, grab some food, or just hang out on the beach and build a sandcastle with the kids – 2400 acres and 6-plus miles of shoreline offer plenty of options. Each summer, thousands of folks come to watch the beach light up during the popular Fourth of July fireworks display, widely regarded as the best of its kind on Long Island. There's also an amphitheater that hosts big-name musical acts.
This vineyard on the South Fork is a prime tourist attraction, thanks to its proximity to the Hamptons' main resort areas – of course, award-winning merlots, cabernets, chardonnays, and blueberry ports don't hurt the popularity either. The 50+-acre vineyard features a Normandy-style chateau, and its "tell-tail" labels (designed to honor the Long Island duck) may be found at many stores in the Hamptons. Folks who want a more intimate experience with Duck Walk may visit the estate and enjoy a guided tour, followed by a complimentary tasting.
Walt Whitman – whose poems "Song of Myself," "O Captain! My Captain," and "I Sing The Body Electric" are oft anthologized – was born on Long Island in 1819. The poet, whose free verse extolled the virtues of nature and individuality, broke all the rules held dear by his contemporaries and helped redefine American literature forever. Whitman no doubt would find great irony in the fact that the quaint cottage wherein he was born is now surrounded by urban sprawl. The home has been preserved to appear as it did when Whitman and his family inhabited it. Credit cards accepted for minimum purchase of $15.
One of the most impressive residences on the East Coast, this former home of Standard Oil heiress Mai Rogers Coe and her husband (insurance tycoon William Robertson Coe) is now a chief attraction in Nassau County. The Tudor Revival mansion has been painstakingly cared for over the years and still maintains its Roaring '20s stateliness. Rooms are decorated with a priceless collection of antiques, handcrafted wood and stone details, and original artwork. The 409-acre grounds, known as the Planting Fields, have remained intact over the years and are the only Gold Coast estate able to make such a claim. Indeed, rolling lawns, exquisite formal gardens, and greenhouses boasting spectacular seasonal displays make the Planting Fields as popular as the mansion.
Housed in a stately 19th-century Greek Revival mansion, this unique museum charts the industry that kept Sag Harbor "in business" for so many years. Whaling drew adventurous young men from the four corners of the globe, all hoping to make their fortunes aboard ships anchored in the harbor. Exhibits of century-old whale jawbones, tools, weapons, artwork, historical documents, and clippings capture that thrilling past, as do temporary exhibits each season. The museum itself was built by Benjamin Huntting II, who owned several whaling ships in the mid-1800s. NB Credit cards accepted for purchases over $15.
A must-see for Long Island vacationers, this beautiful museum campus ranges across some 140 acres and includes an 18th-century Georgian mansion that belonged to William Cullen Bryant and, later, the son of US Steel co-founder, Henry Clay Frick. The museum's priceless permanent collection features more than 600 pieces of American and European art, including works by Roy Lichtenstein, Auguste Rodin, and Irving Ramsey Wiles. Also noteworthy are the formal gardens, sculpture gardens, and Tee Ridder Miniature Museum, whose diminutive items hail from all over the world. Call ahead, as museum closes several weeks each season.
Although construction began on William K. Vanderbilt II's exquisite Spanish Revival mansion in 1910, the home wasn't completed until some 26 years later. Rooms in the Gold Coast-era mansion are now open to the public, allowing intimate glimpses into the lifestyle of one of the nation's wealthiest families. Aside from the historic Vanderbilt Mansion, the museum complex covers 43 acres and features the curator's cottage, seaplane hangar, boathouse, gardens, and fountains. Visitors are also encouraged to visit the estate's maritime and natural history museums and the planetarium, which opened in 1971.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Sagamore Hill served as President Theodore Roosevelt's Long Island home from 1885 until 1919. Visitors find that it looks much as it did during the family's residence in the early 20th century. Original furnishings adorn the home, along with the President's big game trophies, animal skins, and other objects acquired during his storied globe-trotting days. Guided tours of the 23-room Victorian manor are offered on the hour until 4pm. The complex also includes a museum, visitors' center, and grounds.
This long, narrow barrier island reaches from the historic William Floyd Estate to Robert Moses State Park. It was designated a National Seashore in 1964 in the hopes that its bird habitats, maritime forests, and sandy dunes would remain free from commercial development. Road access to Fire Island is limited to the southern- and northern-most tips, which offer, respectively, the Fire Island Lighthouse and Smith Point Visitor Center. Two other visitor centers, Sailors Haven and Watch Hill, are accessible only by foot or boat and are open seasonally. Visitors who enjoy hiking, camping, and bird-watching without the intrusion of modern life will find much to their liking on Fire Island. Hours for the lighthouse and the Floyd Estate are adjusted seasonally (call ahead for specific times).
This narrow stretch of land becomes heavily wooded as it reaches into the Atlantic and forms Long Island's eastern tip. Here, seals gather and frolic on the shore. While not boasting the area's most hospitable swimming, Montauk Point does lay claim to what are, arguably, the island's best surf-fishing waters. Picnic shelters are available, and the Point offers hiking trails that become cross-country skiing paths in the winter. Fishing and hunting are permitted in-season only. The Point is also home to the famous Montauk Lighthouse.