Long Island Travel Guides
Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Long Island
Why We Love Long Island: Long Island is known for its pristine sandy beaches, historical mansions-turned-museums, and proximity to New York City. From the warm summer waves and clamming at Fire Island to the vineyards and local farmstands of the east, Long Island has something to offer everyone. On this island, you can hit the beach, tour a Gatsby-era mansion, and board a train to a Broadway show all in one day. The perfect place to experience all four seasons, Long Island is full of hidden gems and things to do year-round.
Best of Long Island
With such a wide variety of things to do on Long Island, you’ll find fun any time of year:
- Beaches – Sandy shores are perfect for swimming, surfing, fishing, sunbathing, shell collecting, and more.
- Cradle of Aviation Museum – Home to dozens of aircraft and exhibits documenting the history of flight on Long Island and beyond.
- Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium – Mansion and grounds converted to a museum, featuring natural history and marine exhibits.
- Wine Tasting – Long Island’s North Fork is filled with local vineyards that offer wine tasting and tours.
- Roosevelt Field Mall – The largest mall in New York, featuring more than 200 retailers.
👉 Explore all things to do on Long Island.
Here are some of the best places to stay on Long Island, whether you want to be at the beach or stay close to New York City:
- Fire Island – Barrier Island with miles of sandy beaches. Home to small coastal towns with local restaurants and bars.
- Garden City – Village full of shopping districts, museums, dining, and parks. Easy access by railroad to NYC.
- Montauk – Beach and fishing village at the eastern end of the island. Boasts nature trails, historical sites, and ocean activities.
👉 See the full guide to where to stay on Long Island.
🛎️ Best Hotels
Long Island has plenty of hotel options. These hotels in particular make for a wonderful stay:
- Ice Palace Resort – Fire Island hotel with ocean views and a pool, close to restaurants and bars.
- Garden City Hotel – Historic luxury hotel with an indoor pool, with easy access to New York City.
- Montauk Manor – Hilltop Tudor revival hotel close to the beach, restaurants, and bars.
When it comes to food, Long Island has lots to offer – especially in the seafood department. Some of the best spots to eat on Long Island are:
- The 1770 House – Historic colonial inn offering a two-course prix fixe menu, featuring local seafood and meat.
- Babylon Fish & Clam – Casual spot near the water for fresh seafood. Highlights are clam chowder, mussels marinara, and scallops.
- Restaurant Joanina – Classic Italian fare in a rustic setting. Complete with a brick oven and an extensive wine list.
- Zest – New fusion restaurant with a barbeque-heavy menu and a funky pop art theme.
- Waterzooi Belgian Bistro & Oyster Bar – Belgian eats focused on mussels with a variety of sauces, as well as imported beers.
🚗 Day Trips
- Manhattan – Take the train into the city and explore Central Park, Broadway, the High Line, and the many museums in NYC.
- Montauk – Trek to the tip of the island, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, rocky beach walks, and historic sites.
- Brooklyn – This trendy borough offers attractions like the Brooklyn Bridge, Dumbo, and Coney Island.
- North Fork – Visit vineyards, farmstands, and seasonal pumpkin patches, and apple orchards.
- Museum Row – Explore Garden City’s museums, including the Cradle of Aviation and LI Children’s Museums.
- North Shore – Long Island’s “Gold Coast” homes attractions like Old Westbury Gardens, Oheka Castle, and harborside towns.
- South Shore – Sandy beaches, restaurants, parks, shopping, and nightlife in coastal towns.
- North Fork – Long Island’s wine country, with seasonal lavender, pumpkin, and sunflower fields.
- South Fork – The Hamptons and Montauk offer beaches, chic restaurants, surfing, and breweries.
- Nassau County – Closest county to New York City. Home to Jones Beach State Park and Nassau Coliseum.
- BrickHouse Brewery – Long Island’s oldest craft brewery, serving house brews and delicious wings.
- Charlotte’s Speakeasy – Historic restored speakeasy offering cocktails, light fare, and live jazz music.
- Repeal XVIII – Vintage lounge with a beer garden, pool, darts, and a creative cocktail menu.
- Post Office Cafe – Long Island favorite offering cocktails, burgers, craft beers, trivia night, and Sunday brunch.
- NuBar – LGBT pub-style bar that hosts trivia nights, drag shows, bingo, and karaoke.
- Robert Moses State Beach – Five miles of sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Popular for swimming and summer picnics.
- Montauk – Rocky beach below the bluffs. Perfect for beach hikes and fishing.
- Jones Beach – Barrier island beach in Nassau County, complete with a boardwalk, mini golf, and summer concerts.
- Gilgo Beach – Popular white sand beach and Long Island surf spot.
- Sunken Meadow State Park – Three miles of beach along the Long Island Sound with a boardwalk.
- Cradle of Aviation Museum – Museum exploring the history of flight and space travel, including dozens of aircraft.
- African American Museum of Nassau County – Showcases and promotes art by African American artists, many of them local.
- Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium – Historic mansion that has been converted into a natural history museum and planetarium.
- Heckscher Museum of Art – Features a permanent collection and rotating exhibits, focused on Long Island artists.
- Long Island Maritime Museum – Documents the island’s nautical heritage, from whaling to boat building.
Long Island Travel Advice
🗓️ Best Time to Visit
While there are things to do on Long Island all year, it’s easier to enjoy outdoor activities and warm water temperatures during fall and summer.
- 🍂 Fall – Sunny and pleasant, with lingering warm ocean temperatures perfect for outdoor adventures.
- 🌞 Summer – Hot and humid. Cool off at the beach or enjoy breezy patio seating at coastal restaurants.
- 🌼 Spring – Rainy and cool, but offers beautiful blooms later in the season.
- ❄️ Winter – Cold and windy with the possibility of snow. Good season for indoor activities, like museums.
🚌 Getting Around
Attractions and destinations are pretty spread out across the island, so it’s helpful to have transportation lined up when you go.
- 🚶♀️ Walking – Individual towns can be walkable, but Long Island as a whole is not.
- 🚗 Driving – Driving is the easiest and most convenient way to explore Long Island.
- 🚇 Public Transit – The Long Island Railroad is excellent for going into NYC and across the island.
- 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are easily available on Long Island.
- 🚢 Ferries – Ferries run from Long Island to both Fire Island and Connecticut.
- 🚴♀️ Biking – Long Island is bikeable, but the shoulders are narrow and not particularly bike-friendly.
- ⛵ Boat – Power and sailboats can be used to access barrier islands. Rentals are available.
👉 Tips & Things to Know
- 🚗 – Have a transportation plan – Long Island isn’t very walkable and public transportation is spotty. Renting a car guarantees you’re in control of your trip.
- 🌦️ The weather can change quickly – Spring and summer bring rain, from light drizzle to sudden downpours. Keep an umbrella handy.
- 🦟 – Use bug spray – During summer, mosquitoes are at their worst. Apply bug spray to keep them, and ticks, at bay.
- 🦟 – Pack warm for winter – If you’re visiting for the holiday season, layer up with thermals, a hat, and a heavy coat.
- 🦺 – Health & Safety – Research covid guidelines for Long Island before you go, so you’re prepared before you arrive.
🧳 What to Pack
- ☀️ – Sunscreen – The sun on Long Island is strong year round. Protect your face from burns with sunscreen.
- 🕶️ – Sunglasses – The reflection of the water or snow can create some serious sunlight – come prepared with sunglasses.
- 🌧️ – Rain jacket – A rain jacket will keep you dry during Long Island’s sunshowers and thunderstorms.
- 👙 – Swimsuit – Pack a bathing suit to make the most of the warm ocean temps in summer and fall.
- 💄 – Lip balm – Between the strong sun and ocean breeze, Long Island knows how to chapped lips. Use balm with SPF to keep them safe.
🤓 Facts & Info
💵 Costs & Budgeting
- 3 Star Hotel Room – $110-380/night
- 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $120-550/night
- Rental Car – $55+/day
- Public Transit Ticket – $6-37 on LIRR ($26 to airport from center)
- Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $40-60
- Take Out Meal for Two – $25-55
- Sit Down Dinner for Two – $65-180
- Draft Beer – $6-12
FAQs About Visiting Long Island
Is Long Island safe for tourists?
Long Island is safe for tourists. The crime rate on Long Island is 80% lower than the national average, making it a particularly safe travel destination.
Can you swim at Long Island beaches?
You can swim at Long Island beaches like Robert Moses State Park, Jones Beach, the Hamptons, Sunken Meadow, and more. During summer and fall, ocean temperatures are warm and swimming is a popular activity at Long Island beaches.
How do people get around on Long Island?
Car, train, rideshare services, and public transportation are the best ways to get around on Long Island.
How far is Long Island from New York City?
The closest point on Long Island to New York City, Nassau County, is about 20 miles from the city. The furthest point on Long Island from New York City, Montauk, is about 120 miles from the city.
Is Long Island above sea level?
Long Island is approximately 95 feet above sea level.
Meet Our Long Island Travel Expert
Victoria Folz is a freelance writer and travel enthusiast based in Southern California. She enjoys red eye flights, hiking, road trips, running, and solo adventures. Her favorite destination abroad is a tie between the island of Roatan and Porto Xeli, Greece. Visit her website here.
📰 Long Island Travel Guides
New York is home to world-class travel destinations like New York City and Long Island. Here are our other guides to places to visit in Long Island:
- Camping in Long Island in 2023 (9 Best Spots)
- 15 Best Long Island Restaurants (in 2023)
- Where to Stay in Long Island in 2023 (Best Places & Areas)
- 33 Best Things to Do on Long Island (in 2023)
- Best Time to Visit Long Island in 2023 (By a Long Islander)