5 Places to Visit on Long Island

By Virginia Coleman

I was born and raised on Long Island, specifically Garden City; therefore I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it in my blog.  

1. Garden City, New York

Garden City is a quaint town located about 18.5 miles from Midtown Manhattan. Alexander Turney Stewart founded the village in 1869. Following Alexander Stewart’s death, Cornelia Stewart (his wife) built a memorial Cathedral along with a school for girls and a school for boys.  The Cathedral was designed to mirror the Gothic style of architecture found in many European churches.  The stained glass windows located in the Cathedral are breathtaking on a beautiful sunny day.  After viewing the Cathedral you can walk around and see the original Victorian style homes and St. Paul’s School for Boys, which are all still standing. Visitors can enjoy a stroll down 7th Street (Main Street) for some local shopping and stop for a bite to eat. The town is most noted for being the site of Charles Lindbergh’s historic solo transatlantic flight in 1927. The airfield is now known as the Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall, one of the largest shopping malls on Long Island. Sadly, this piece of history is lost on many, as only a small plaque in the mall near Macy’s exists to commemorate the flight.  On the plus side, there is the Cradle of Aviation Museum to make up for the paving over the airstrip with a mall.  The Cradle of Aviation Museum is an educational center showcasing Long Island’s contribution to aerospace, science and technology.

2. Teddy Roosevelt’s House
20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771

My absolute favorite place to visit on Long Island is the home of America’s 26th President Theodore Roosevelt.  Sagamore Hill was known as the “Summer White House” during the years that Teddy Roosevelt was President of the United States.  The house is still standing and open to the public for guided tours.  Most of the furnishings in the home are original and include some gifts to the President from leaders of other countries at the time of his presidency. I have visited many historical sites in the country, my father was a huge US history buff, but the one that I remember most fondly is Sagamore Hill. While touring the home, one gets a true feeling of the family that lived there. After viewing the house, enjoy a picnic lunch in the picnic area available for visitors. There is a nature trail on the grounds to walk with your family or friends and discuss the day. The town of Oyster Bay is only ten minutes away and also worth a visit with many small shops and good restaurants which pay homage to their most famous resident Theodore Roosevelt.

3. Long Island Beaches and Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

Long Island is known for its vast beautiful beaches both on the North Shore and South Shore of the island.  The beaches are perfect in the summer for surfing, sailing, fishing and swimming.  Many of the beaches are part of the NYS State Park System and offer many amenities such as fishing, picnic areas, and camping sites to name a few.  Boardwalks which one can ride their bike or just go on a calm walk and stop by for a cold treat such as ice cream surround many of the Long Island beaches. 

Nikon Theater

Nikon Theater

Every summer Nikon at Jones Beach Theatre hosts concerts to many well-known bands.  I look forward each spring to seeing the list of concerts being held at the theater. The venue looks like a large shell over the water and makes for an enjoyable summer concert with a nice summer breeze to enjoy while watching the show.  The theatre is not too large so that even the cheaper priced tickets are worth purchasing, as you will be able to enjoy the music. Many times concertgoers will get to the show early and enjoy a tailgate party prior to the show with friends.  One just needs to not partake in the party too much as to miss the show.

4.  Ocean Beach, Fire Island

I haven’t been to Fire Island in over 20 years, but my daughter goes every summer with her friends and loves it so I decided to include it in my blog. Part of the fun of Fire Island is getting there, as Ocean Beach is just a half-hour ferry ride from Bay Shore, Long Island. The ferry runs frequently from early spring to late fall, so if you miss one, another will arrive shortly. It runs less frequently in the winter months. The village of Ocean Beach is car free. In order to get around town, one needs to walk or bike to small shops, galleries, restaurants, beaches, ice cream shops and a movie house. My daughter looks forward to going to visit the island each summer as it’s almost like she’s in another world.  The island beaches are beautiful and the restaurants are very good.  For those who want to stay over night there are hotels and inns available.

5. Miscellaneous Activities

Finally, I decided to mention various activities that one can enjoy on the Island without going into detail. Long Island is known for it’s many wineries located primarily on the North Shore.  Many visitors will rent a limousine and go wine tasting, finishing off their visit at one of the Island’s finer restaurants. In the fall, many of the local farms have harvest festivals offering many activities such as pumpkin picking, corn mazes, haunted houses and barbeques.  I look forward to the fall season and especially enjoy the many activities the North Shore and South Shore of Long Island offer to its residents and visitors. Finally, I will mention the Hamptons as that is well known to non New Yorkers as many celebrities spend their summers out there. The Hamptons offer many upscale restaurants and shops for one to visit. South Hampton has more of younger appeal while East Hampton is considered more “old money”. As you make your way through the South Shore visiting the numerous Hampton villages it’s nice to end your journey in Montauk and visit the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is the oldest in NYS completed in 1796 and still serves as an aid to navigation. The Lighthouse makes for a perfect ending for pictures and it is the furthest point out east on Long Island.

About Virginia: Virginia enjoys baking, going to museums and reading.  She lives on Long Island with her two teenage daughters and her husband. Feel free to contact her with any questions at vcoleman@jicuf.org.