Moses State Park // (c) discoverlongisland.com
Just a commuter train ride from Manhattan, Long Island is the biggest island in the contiguous United States. It really is long - 118 miles, including Queens and Brooklyn. Close to the city is Nassau County; beyond it, Suffolk County has the famous glitterati playground, the Hamptons, and 30 family-owned vineyards and wineries. Long Island has gorgeous powder sand beaches, great aviation landmarks, fishing and seafaring towns, a completely different world from the heart of the city. Although the 118 miles serve up plenty of activities, my Fave Five follow.
Cradle of Aviation Museum
Living in Long Island, I have my personal faves, like the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City. Roosevelt Field, where Charles Lindbergh took off for his solo transatlantic flight in 1927, is now a shopping mall, but his Jenny is on display at the museum and so is an impressive collection of air and spacecraft including a Lunar Excursion Module built on Long Island. The first time I visited I had budgeted a couple of hours, but four hours later I hadn’t even tried the huge IMAX theater or some of the hands-on experiences.
Charles Lindbergh Blvd.,
Garden City, NY
Lighthouse at Fire Island
// (c) discoverlongisland.com
Jones Beach is probably the first thing most Manhattanites visit in Long Island, and Long Beach is my personal home from home, but Fire Island is an enchanted beach and outdoors destination, with the National Seashore and the centuries-old Sunken Forest. You need a car to go to the eastern and western beaches, but communities like Cherry Grove and Ocean Beach and the Forest can be reached by ferry. The 1,000 acres of Robert Moses State Park are truly beautiful, and a new boardwalk connects the area to Fire Island National Seashore. The Fire Island Lighthouse still functions, with a museum below and tours available from April through mid-December for those willing to climb the 192 steps to the top to see the gorgeous view.
If you want to enjoy a Long Island meal, Greenport on the North Fork is a town with a great lineup of waterfront restaurants where you can enjoy the extremely fresh seafood with vintages from the local wineries. Walk down the street and see which one has the brand of live music you prefer, then shop the one-of-a-kind stores and the roadside stands. If you want to linger overnight, take the ferry over to Shelter Island, which has a Canadian feel with its Victorian B and Bs.
Long Island Vineyard //
(c) Richard Wilches 2009
To taste a real sampling of the wines of Long Island, The Tasting Room, in a tin-walled 1860s building, is the only one where a number of vineyards have a cooperative tasting room, with artisan vintages from ten Long Island wineries. If you’d like to explore the wines further, Peconic is within 20 miles of nearly all the Long Island vineyards, and when colder weather comes, Jazz on the Vines brings live music to the wineries.
2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic, NY
Attias Flea Market
With around 200 vendors and 600 booths, the Attias Flea market is open Thursday through Sunday. Set aside an hour and a half for browsing, but if you’re seriously shopping three or four hours is more like it. They have 60 jewelry counters, a bridal section, wiccan supplies, name brand and knockoff purses and shoes, electronics, massage, etc., etc. For the foot-weary there is a food court where you can try to remember where you saw that must-have patented fishing reel.
5750 Sunrise Highway,