The white beaches at Orient Point in Long Island, New York
travel guide

A pocket guide to Long Island, New York

Bri Bleiwas

Contributing writer

Long Island is a beautiful area in New York known for its beaches and wineries. It’s also right outside of the Big Apple, making it easy to see both during a trip. Whether you’re visiting alone, with friends, or with kids, there’s plenty to see and do here.

This guide will fill you in on what you need to know before visiting Long Island. Since the area is so large, we’ll cover the basics. Pack your bags and get ready for an adventure!

So, what’s considered Long Island? Well, Long Island includes four counties: Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau, and Suffolk. However, Queens and Brooklyn are also boroughs of New York City, so this guide will focus on Nassau and Suffolk.

View on the Northport Bay in Centerpoint, Long Island.

The best time to visit Long Island

While there are fun things to do on Long Island year-round, perhaps the best time to visit is in the late spring or summer. During this time of year, you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor activities without worrying about getting too cold. Long Island can get humid during the summer, so come prepared with clothing for warm weather and plenty of water.

How to get to Long Island

If you’re flying to New York, land at John F. Kennedy Airport, LaGuardia Airport, or Long Island MacArthur Airport. From there, take a rental car or the Long Island Railroad to the town your hotel is in. Alternatively, you can take an Amtrak train to New York City and transfer to the LIRR at Penn Station

Getting around Long Island

The easiest way to get around Long Island is by car. If you’re reliant on public transportation, you can take a bus or the Long Island Railroad. Most towns in Nassau and western Suffolk have a train station, but there’s generally only one per town.

While the train isn’t your best option for transportation within Long Island, it’s the best way to get to New York City for a day trip. If you decide to visit Manhattan, you can take an LIRR train to Penn Station. Traffic is congested in the city, so you won’t want to bring your rental car!

Jones Beach at sunset with some clouds and people walking on the beach in the distance

Things to do on Long Island

Given the area’s size, there’s no way we could cover everything there is to do on Long Island. Instead, we’ll show you some must-see attractions:

Jones Beach

Jones Beach might be the most popular beach in Nassau County. The beach has concessions, a playground, and mini golf, so you could easily spend a whole day here.

Jones Beach doubles as a concert venue - if you have time, consider catching a performance there. The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater routinely hosts popular acts like Tim McGraw, Phish, and Pitbull. Grab your tickets before they sell out!

Long Island Children’s Museum

If you’re visiting Long Island with kids, be sure to add the Long Island Children’s Museum in Nassau County to your trip itinerary. It has interactive, educational exhibits on a variety of topics so kids can learn while they play.

Cradle of Aviation Museum

Near the Children’s Museum is the Cradle of Aviation Museum. Here, you’ll see several galleries filled with aircraft and spacecraft. There’s also a digital planetarium theater that shows films about astronomy. Whether you’re visiting Long Island with your family or with a group of adults, this museum offers something for everyone.

Two Cape Cod-style chairs with rows of vines in the background on a sunny day

Long Island wineries

Most of Long Island’s wineries are in the north fork of Suffolk County. If you don’t want to drive around all day, you can take an organized wine tour that will bring you to local wineries in the area. Several companies do this, so look into them to find the excursion that’s most appealing to you.

If you’d rather visit one or two wineries instead of taking a tour, you can do that, too. Clovis Point Vineyard & Winery, Macari Vineyards, and RGNY are just a few that have tasting rooms. There are dozens of wineries to choose from, so consider visiting one close to other attractions you’d like to check out.

Where to stay on Long Island

Many towns on Long Island have hotels in or near them. Here are some lodging options near the attractions above:

Near the Long Island Children’s Museum and Cradle of Aviation Museum: Courtyard by Marriott Westbury Long Island

Near Jones Beach: Jones Beach Hotel and Best Western Bar Harbour Inn.

Near Suffolk County’s Wineries: Sound View Greenport, Rose Hill Vineyards Farmhouse Inn, and Residence Inn by Marriott Long Island.

Restaurants on Freeport Nautical Mile

What to eat on Long Island

New York City may be known for its pizza, but Long Island also has some fantastic spots to grab a bite from. You’ll find multiple pizzerias in every town.

There are also great places to get seafood on Long Island. If you’ll be in Nassau County, take a stroll down Freeport’s Nautical Mile, where you’ll see several seafood establishments. There, you can enjoy clam chowder and calamari overlooking the water. If you’re craving something other than seafood and pizza, don’t worry - Long Island probably has a restaurant for it.

No matter which parts of Long Island you plan on visiting, you’re in for a great trip. You’ll see for yourself that there’s so much more to New York than the city!

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Bri Bleiwas

Author - Bri Bleiwas

Bri is a New Yorker living in Oregon who loves dogs and writing. She also enjoys traveling and has been to Austin, Finland, Orange County, and many other places. In her spare time, she bowls and makes crafts with her Cricut.

Last Updated 18 May 2022

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