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Long Island

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Long Island

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For other places with the same name, see Long Island (disambiguation).

Long Island is an island stretching eastward from New York City in the Metro New York region. The largely suburban area is approximately 115 miles long from Brooklyn and Queens at the western end, to Montauk at the easternmost point. At its widest the island is approximately 20 miles from north to south. While Long Island geographically includes Brooklyn and Queens, politically Long Island in general includes Nassau County and Suffolk County of New York State only.

The primary tourist attractions are the large number of excellent beaches along Long Island Sound on the North Shore (the setting of the famous novel and movie "The Great Gatsby", and the more famous South Shore, which is home to the Atlantic Ocean's waves and white-sand beaches.

The North Fork is also home to many wineries, farms and culinary outlets.

Other attractions include North Shore harbor towns such as Port Jefferson, Huntington Village, Stony Brook and Northport where a variety of eateries and small businesses thrive in a bohemian atmosphere.

While Long Island is home to three million year-round locals, many commuting in and out of New York City, the Island is home to a lot of discreet tourism (concentrated in certain towns- Huntington, Fire Island, Montauk) and also serves as the zip code for the vacation homes of many wealthy city dwellers, particularly in the Hamptons.

From a tourist's point of view, Long Island is most ideal to visit in the summer and the fall when the scenery can be most appreciated. Long Island is great place to visit whether it be for a family vacation, a group of 20-somethings looking to rent a summer house, or an older retired couple looking to enjoy some natural sight-seeing or tour a museum.

Nassau County and Western Suffolk County is very developed and densley populated, and is home more to the 'suburbia' type neighborhoods Long Island became famous for after World War II, where most year-round residents live. (i.e. Levitown, Oceanside). Central and Eastern Suffolk County, however, is somewhat rural (for the New York area, anyway) and is home to much agriculture, wineries, and beach towns. Many summer homes and hotels are located here, and is where most wealthy New Yorkers congregate in the summer months when the concrete jungle is too hot to bear. Tourist attractions can be found equally in both counties and throughout the entire Island.

Long Island's only downside to tourism is harsh north-eastern winters that make traveling somewhat difficult, and the fact that it is an expensive place to both live as a permanent resident and also as a tourist. There are towns that are more friendly to the wallet than the notoriously expensive Hamptons, or "Gold Coast" North Shore towns, however, Long Island is home to some of the most expensive zip codes in the entire world. Do not expect a bargain vacation when traveling to Long Island, or anywhere in the New York Metropolitan area for that matter.

Long Island is also the home to the top-100 Universities (US News and World Report) rated Stony Brook University, part of the State Univeristy of New York (SUNY) system, providing a very academic and international community within central Long Island. Brookhaven National Laboratory, affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, (where DNA was discovered by Watson and Crick), is also located on Long Island. Both labs are affiliated with Stony Brook University.



Long Island is essentially a suburban area throughout (except for the Twin Forks region, which is rural) and has few major cities.

Other destinations


Long Island consists of Nassau and Suffolk counties. Queens and Brooklyn are boroughs of New York City, and are generally not considered to be part of "Long Island," even though they are physically part of the island. A generation or so ago, Suffolk had a lot more farmland; the only remaining farmland is on the East End, where one can find many farmers' markets and wineries. Brookhaven National Laboratory's particle accelerator in Upton is visible from space.

Tourist Information

The Long Island Conventions & Visitors Bureau [1] provides information about Long Island and the places to visit.

Get in

By plane

  • MacArthur Airport (IATA: ISP) in Islip is a convenient regional airport centrally located on Long Island. The primary carrier flying in and out of this airport is the low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines.
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK), [2] is convenient because the AirTrain connects JFK's monorail system to the LIRR at Jamaica or Howard Beach Stations for only $5.
  • LaGuardia Airport (IATA: LGA), [3].
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (IATA: EWR), [4] is located to the west of the Island (and New York City) in the state of New Jersey.

By train

The Long Island Railroad [5] runs from Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan to various points on Long Island on many branches. Service is not as frequent as the NYC subways. Take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Long Beach ($6.75 one way) and from there go south to the beach itself.

By boat

  • Ferries from the North Shore of the Long Island Sound (in harbors such as Port Jefferson) to Connecticut.

By car

  • There are many controlled-access highways that run through New York City from Connecticut and New Jersey. It is advisable, however, to travel on routes that do not cross Manhattan Island (where traffic is perpetually horrendous). From New Jersey, I-278 runs across Staten Island to Brooklyn where major roads (including Route 27 and the LIE) can be reached. From Connecticut, take I-95 South to I-295 and the Throgs Neck Bridge. Once into Queens, nearly every major thoroughfare is encountered while still heading south on 278.
  • A convenient way to bypass most traffic is to take a car ferry from either Bridgeport, CT to Port Jefferson (on the North Shore in the center of Suffolk County) [6] or New London, CT to Orient Point (on the North Fork). [7] However, always check the ferry schedules while they do not operate overnight.
  • The Southern State Parkway runs from East Islip to Queens where it becomes the Belt Parkway. The SSP is a very busy thoroughfare during rush hours and connects most of Nassau to each other. The Meadowbrook Parkway runs from Jones Beach, through Long Beach connecting the south shore towns to Mineola and The Northern Parkway. The Long Island Expressway, or The LIE is billed as the world's longest parking lot, especially during peak rush hours. The LIE connects Manhattan to Riverhead. Sunrise Highway, or NY-27, as a divided highway goes from Queens along the south shore of Nassau County, becoming an expressway in Babylon, back to a divided highway in Suffolk County and ending at the east end of the island in Montauk.

When traveling along the North Shore, you may take the scenic and relaxing route of 25-A, a single lane road that runs through historic, wealthy towns on the northern shore.

Get around

  • Long Island Bus has a main terminal in Hempstead. There is also a terminal which serves about 4 or 5 different buses in Mineola that take you to the North Shore. Long Island Rail Road (which has a major transfer point at the Jamaica LIRR which nearly EVERY train line goes through) can take you to Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.


  • Take a day trip on the Hampton Jitney
  • Long Island Wine Country is on the North Fork
  • The Hamptons are on the South Fork.
  • Atlantis Marine World Aquarium [8] - Located in Riverhead at the end of the Long Island Expressway. Has stingray and shark petting, large tank with sharks, moray eel, turtles and manta rays, outdoor exhibits including emus and tortoises. Many conservation efforts.
  • The Americana mall (popularly called the Miracle Mile, like in the Billy Joel song "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me). Some of the richest people on the island shop in this stretch of conspicuous consumption, beautiful store layouts, and mind-boggling prices. On Northern Boulevard in Manhasset.
  • Long Island has some great villages, like Great Neck and Huntington where you can just wander around and see cute little stores and take in nice views.
  • Port Washington has a beautiful bay with a public park where you can see all the boats and the water.
  • Sagamore Hills [9] It is the summer-home of President Theodore Roosevelt. Includes tours, a museum, and a visitor center. It is run by the National Park Service.
  • The Hicksville Gregory Museum [10], which has hundreds of scientific specimens.
  • The Cradle of Aviation [11], a museum about airplanes and the history of aviation.
  • Garvies Point Museum and Preserve [12], which has Native American artifacts.
  • Sands Point Preserve [13], with its two castles.
  • Wantagh Museum [14], the Wantagh Museum features three structures, The Station (built in 1885), The "Jamaica" Railroad Car (built in 1912 for the Long Island Rail Road) and the Original Wantagh Post Office (built in 1907).
  • Old Bethpage Village Restoration, which has a farm as well as houses and businesses from the early-to-mid 1800's.
  • The Village of Roslyn, which is a historic town located on Hempstead Harbor on the North Shore. Homes date from the 17th Century.
  • Sagtikos Manor [15] Montauk Highway and Manor Lane, West Bay Shore. Sagtikos Manor, built in 1697, served briefly as headquarters for the British army during the Revolutionary War. President George Washington stayed there during his tour of Long Island in 1790. Take a tour of period rooms through the Manor House led by costumed docents and stroll through the grounds and nearby Gardiner County Park. Memorial Day, 1-3:30PM (last tour) June, Saturday & Sundays 1-3:30PM, July & August, Thursday,Friday,Saturday and Sunday 1-3:30PM, 631-854-0939. Robert Moses Causeway Exit RM2E Bay Shore. Turn right onto Rt 27A and continue east approx. 1/2 mile. Entrance on left.


  • Splish Splash water park at exit 73 of the LIE.
  • Tanger Outlets in Riverhead & Deer Park.
  • Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City (Nassau) OR Smithaven Mall in Lake Grove (Suffolk).
  • Splurge at the 'Miracle Mile' shopping resort in Manhasset.
  • Bar hop through Huntington, Port Jefferson, or Smithtown.
  • Strike Go-Karts/Bowling/Arcade in New Hyde Park.
  • ICE Nightclub in Farmingdale.
  • Vanderbilt Museum
  • Oheka Castle in Huntington.
  • Cradle of Aviation Museum.
  • Jones Beach and Captree State Park
  • Go see the Amityville Horror House in Amityville.
  • Swim at any of the great South Shore/Ocean beaches. Jones, Hamptons, Montauk, Robert Moses, Smith's Point.
  • Visit the Saint James General Store off route 25-A in Saint James.
  • Visit historic Stony Brook Village, get afternoon tea.
  • EAT Italian food, pizza (Little Vincent's in Lake Ronkonkoma and Huntington, known as the best on Long Island), bagels, at a local Diner, seafood (especially local clams and muscles! --local Long Island specialty foods!
  • Visit "Polish Town" in Riverhead.
  • Explore Italian-American culture- go to Uncle Giusueppe's Market- trademark store in Smithtown on route 111.


Long Island is a lot like New Jersey and parts of Connecticut in as much as a there are a lot of 24 hour diners that serve pretty much anything whenever. Young people congregate in these diners at odd hours, and they can be found spread out on the major roads like Jericho Turnpike or Sunrise Highway. Because there are so many local restauraunts, (many Zagat rated), with influence from European families and the nearby international cuisine of New York City, a Long Islander wouldn't recommend to eat at a chain restaurant that could be found anywhere such as Applebee's, the Olive Garden or Red Lobster. They are of course readily available on Long Island, but it is really a shame to not try privatley owned eateries that are equally priced but more distinct than the chain restaurants. Try one of the following:

  • Peter Luger's Steakhouse est. 1887 in Brooklyn is one of the best steakhouses in New York [16]
  • Bulldog in Amityville is an excellent place for burgers
  • The restaurant at the Jedediah Hawkins House [17] in Jamesport is really good and in a beautiful setting.
  • The really amazing New York restaurant, Il Mulino, has a location in Roslyn.
  • Mama's in Copiague has some of the best Italian food
  • Kitchen Kabaret in East Hills (Roslyn), while not the best ambiance for a restaurant, has great food to take out. Very popular for rich kids getting lunch and upscale north shore catering.
  • The Cider Mill in Laurel on Route 25 has the best pies.
  • All-American Drive-in in Masssapequa has the great hamburgers.
  • Tennessee Jed's [18] is an old fashioned family-owned BBQ restaurant in Wantagh.
  • Bobbique in Patchogue has fantastic real pit barbecue and lots of great beers on tap. Not for vegetarians.
  • The Milleridge Inn in Jericho is a rustic eatery perfect for dinner or classy lunch.
  • Briemier Pies in Riverhead- people travel from the city to eat one of these delicious pies- you wonder what is in them that makes them so addicting!
  • The Kitchen, a Bistro, in Saint James- voted the best restaurant on Long Island of 2009. French Mediterranean cuisine using local Long Island ingredients.
  • The sister eatery, The Kitchen, a Trattoria, offers light, rustic Italian cusine. Also located in Saint James, this is a bit different than New York Style Italian that leaves you feeling like a huge salami about to roll out the door- this is the real deal. Light, delicious non-Americanized Italian food that you would find at a trattoria in Italy.

Many major fast food chains and chain casual dining restaurants have locations on Long Island.

Be sure to visit a local farmstand, especially those out east and on the North Fork. Local produce and farming is a major industry on Long Island.


The well known cocktail, the Long Island Iced Tea, was first created on Long Island. One of the most celebrated local beers is called Blue Point [19], named for the town of the same name.

Drinking on Long Island is tough because you need a car to get around, with this in mind, use the Long Island Railroad to your advantage. Take it from town to town, or take a night out to go into the City. At night, there is little public transportation besides LIRR, but there are taxis. The South Shore in Nassau County has some good bars, (with a somewhat rowdy crowd, however).

On the North Shore you will find a buzzing college-bar scene year-round, mostly for those college students and other 20-somethings looking for a night out that doesn't involve a dorm party, frat or sorority or an expensive trip to NYC. The most popular towns for this kind of bar-scene are Huntington Village, Port Jefferson, (both along Route 25-A) and recently Smithtown along Jericho Turnpike/Route 25, which has developed as an up and coming bar scene by night despite their charming shopping and family-oritented atmospheres by day.

Montauk and Fire Island, which are very much touristy beach towns, are home to many bars- what else is there to do on a warm summer's night?!


  • The daily, Island-wide newspaper is Newsday, which also provides a detailed history of the island. [20].
  • News 12 on Cable TV (Cablevision) also covers local news.

Stay safe

Be smart, don't travel to towns with a lot of crime at night. These towns include: Roosevelt, Hempstead, North Amityville, North Baldwin, Wyandanch, Rosedale, North Bay Shore, Central Islip, New Cassel, Brentwood, Uniondale and northern Freeport. In the daytime, these areas are generally safe.

Other than those towns, which most locals could tell you is where most of the dangerous crime occurs, crime on the rest of Long Island is related to drug-arrests and burglarlies of high-end neighborhoods. Most robberies are related to hired help, and are low-profile crimes. However, the most recent epidemic crime problem has been the increase in heroin use among Long Island teens, particularly of wealthier neighborhoods along the North Shore. Generally, this should not be a problem for a tourist.

Get out

One of the biggest saftey hazards Long Islanders face when preparing for natural disasters such as hurricanes is the lack of ways to get off the Island. There really is only one immediate way out via car- through the highly congested bridges of New York City. You may also exist via Ferry to New England, or fly out of one of the three major airports. (One on LI, 2 in NYC)

You may leave Long Island to go on day trips to any borough of New York City, Connecticut, New Jersey, upstate New York (another great place to visit)...however, there are so many day trips that can be spent on the Island itself with it's many unique towns and other nooks and crannies, that it is advised by locals to plan on staying on Long Island if you plan a trip here and seep into local life as much as possible. It is very common for Long Islanders to never leave the Island during summer vacations because there is so much to do in the summer even for locals. The Island itself is large, and one csn live on Long Island their entire life and still find something new to do or explore on te very same island each summer. On Long Island, there is no manufactured fun. It is all about exploring the communities and natural scenery for what they are to year-round residents. Long Island is not built for tourists like Florida's Disneyworld might be, however, ironically, that makes for the best kind of tourism.Create category

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