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The Hidden Treasures of Long Island

By Hailey Pitcher

To the east of New York City, lies a beachy,suburban hidden treasure, frequently overlooked for its well-known neighbor: Long Island. Just a comfortable car ride from the city, this stretch of land boasts harbors, beaches, vineyards, boutiques, and more that provide a small town touch to the Empire State.

Long Island has more recently been tagged as a perfect city detox. As COVID restrictions loosened their grip on New York City, apartment dwellers did not hesitate to take advantage of Long Island’s Wine Country – possibly one of its most popular attractions. LI’s Wine Country consists of vineyards, tasting rooms, and wine brewers, spanning from Suffolk County and up along both the North and South forks.

Long Island’s vineyards provide a sophisticated, yet relaxing atmosphere. Many have wooden interiors and cottage-like scenery, perfect for a cool and sunny day out. Nearby the vineyards, you’ll find family friendly farms with petting zoos,playgrounds, and farmer’s markets with fresh fruit, blooming flowers, and sometimes even homemade ice cream at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck.

Long Island boasts multiple marinas and harbors, providing walking trails along the water. At the North Shore, towns such as Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor encapsulate the sweet water side towns you would see in a feel good TV show. As the sun sets on the water, a beautiful shine behind a scenery of pink, yellow, and red is illuminated. Take the boat out for a day and explore the Long Island Sound, kayak on the harbors, or fish in the bay.

Beaches are located on both shores, for example Jones Beach on the south shore, which features a concert amphitheater, is especially popular in the summer as music festivals come back to town. In the winter, Jones Beach hosts the popular Christmas light drive thru show, and in the summer, it’s annual Fourth of July firework show.

Long Island was the setting inspiration for the classic novel, The Great Gatsby. West Egg and East Egg are real places, now separated into towns such as Great Neck on West Egg and Manhasset on East Egg. Known now as the Gold Coast, both towns boast dazzling mansions and castles, sure to bring Gatsby’s story to life for any die-hard fans. Take a trip to Oheka Castle in Huntington, where Taylor Swift shot the video for her hit-song “Blank Space”.

Aside from the glitz, glamor, and aged wine tasting, Long Island is rich in American History. Long Island was a landmark for former presidents George Washington and Theodore Roosevelt. You can take a stroll through Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt’s summer house, or be brought back in time to the American Revolution with a visit to the Culper Spy Ring, run by then General Washington. Long Island is also home to Walt Whitman’s birthplace. Take a day to live the early life of the father of American poetry, and see some of his muses from home.

Long Island is consistently overlooked for the Big Apple and its hustle and bustle. We are always looking for the next big thing to do, the next big project that must be finished, and getting stuck in patterns: it’s the natural environment of the city. Long Island provides a quick and relaxing getaway, filled with scenery, history, and a nostalgic small town feel you can’t find in a city.

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