Sands Point Preserve attraction in Long Island

12 Best Things to Do on Long Island, NY

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There are lots of fun things to do on Long Island, so if you’re going to be in the New York metropolitan area, you can’t miss it. From New York Harbor, Long Island extends about 120 miles east to the Atlantic Ocean, and it includes the New York boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

In fact, many New Yorkers spend their summers enjoying the attractions on Long Island, from the beaches and state parks to the museums and wineries. Of course, there are plenty of Long Island activities you can do in the off-season, too. For this reason, it’s one of the best weekend getaways from NYC.

To help you plan your visit, I’m sharing the best of Long Island, from the top things to do, to where to stay during your trip.

1. Visit Fire Island National Seashore, one of the best things to do on Long Island

Fire Island National Seashore is one of the most beautiful places on Long Island. With 30 miles of coastline, it’s the perfect spot to go sailing or swimming with family.

While you’re here, you can’t miss the Fire Island Lighthouse, one of the best attractions on Long Island. Built in 1826 along the Great South Bay, it towers 168 feet tall. You can climb the 182 steps to the top and check out the Keeper’s Quarters and historical exhibits.

Fire Island National Seashore, best place to visit in long island new york

1. Visit Fire Island National Seashore, one of the best things to do on Long Island

It’s also worth taking a stroll along the Sailor’s Haven boardwalk. This 1.5-mile trail goes through the Sunken Forest, where you can see different plant and animal species, as well as waterfowl like egrets and herons.

Moreover, if you’re looking for outdoor activities in Long Island, check out the Watch Hill Campground and its neighbor, the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness. This rustic, natural area is a gorgeous place to hike and spot critters like white-tailed deer.

So, with all these scenic areas to see, it’s no surprise that Fire Island National Seashore is one of the best places in New York state.

2. Vacation at the Hamptons, one of the best things to do in Long Island, New York

Without a doubt, the Hamptons is one of the best places to visit in Long Island, so I highly recommend it. There are all kinds of awesome things to do in the Hamptons, but something I must mention is the spectacular shoreline.

You can appreciate the soft, clean sand at Cooper’s Beach, a quiet area surrounded by historic mansions. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer, so it’s a great place to go swimming and enjoy a family beach day. Main Beach is another scenic spot, and Ditch Plains is the perfect place to go surfing.

Coopers Beach in the Hamptons, fun places to go in long island

2. Vacation at the Hamptons, one of the best things to do in Long Island, New York

Besides going to the beach, I recommend visiting one or more of the coastal communities in the Hamptons. For example, Sag Harbor is a charming town with a whaling museum, a cute downtown area, and some historic buildings dating back to the 1800s. East Hampton isn’t far from Sag Harbor, and its Main Street district is a vibrant spot to go shopping or grab a bite to eat.

Yet another fun thing to do in Long Island is to go biking through the Hamptons and discover the historic windmills. That said, if you’re short on time, this day tour from NYC will cover all the highlights and return you to Manhattan.

3. Go to Montauk Point State Park, another great thing to do in Long Island, NY

On the eastern end of Long Island, you’ll find Montauk Point State Park, an impressive spot with 860 acres of shoreline, including marshes and forests. From here, you can get incredible views of the sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Montauk Point State Park, outdoor activities in long island new york

3. Go to Montauk Point State Park, another great thing to do in Long Island, NY

Coming here is one of the best things to do in eastern Long Island, especially for the Montauk Lighthouse. Dating back to 1796, it’s one of the oldest lighthouses in the state, and it was even used during the American Revolution. At 168 feet tall, it’s a spectacular landmark from the outside, although you can also visit the interior museum.

Another nice thing about this area is that there are several free things to do in Long Island, like visiting Camp Hero. It’s next to Montauk Point State Park and includes gun emplacements, fortifications, and observation bunkers from World War I and II. Alternatively, you may enjoy strolling along one of the walking trails, taking a bike ride, or picnicking along the coast.

4. Walk through Old Westbury Gardens, a romantic thing to do on Long Island

If you’re visiting with your partner, a trip to Old Westbury Gardens is one of the best couples’ things to do in Long Island. These romantic gardens are part of the former estate of a prominent businessman. He had the property built in 1906 to resemble the family residence of his British fiancée, and today, it’s a historic museum house and garden.

Walking through the gardens is a lovely thing to do together on a warm spring day. If you visit during the first two weeks of May, you can see the Lilac Walk in bloom, which includes 30 lilac varieties. The property is beautiful all year round, with a Rose Garden, a Walled Garden with a lily pond, a traditional thatched cottage, and a private greenhouse.

Old Westbury Gardens, where to go in long island

4. Walk through Old Westbury Gardens, a romantic thing to do on Long Island

For an intimate moment, sneak away to the West Pond or the East Lake, a spring-fed lake with a small pavilion called the Temple of Love.

Old Westbury Gardens also has a Café in the Woods and guided tours of the estate house. The 23-room mansion mimics England’s Charles II style and features a series of terraces and wrought-iron gates. Its reflecting pool is particularly pretty and includes a classic statue of the Greek goddess Diana overlooking the water.

General admission is only $8, so it’s one of the best places in Long Island for a date.

5. Spend the day at Coney Island, a fun thing to do on Long Island

Visiting Coney Island is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn, especially with kids. Here, your inner child will light up as you stroll the boardwalk, play carnival games, and enjoy summertime treats like funnel cake and Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs.

Coney Island is the perfect warm weather attraction in Long Island, although the beach and boardwalk are open year-round. That said, you’ll have the most fun in the summer when you can go swimming at Coney Island Beach and check out the two amusement piers, the main tourist attractions in Coney Island.

Coney Island, things to do on long island new york

5. Spend the day at Coney Island, a fun thing to do on Long Island

First, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park is named after the famous Wonder Wheel, which stands 150 feet tall and has stationary and traveling cabins. You can also find kiddie coasters and family rides here. The other amusement pier is Luna Park, which is modeled after the original Luna Park from 1903. It has an arcade and rides for all ages, including the iconic Cyclone rollercoaster and B&B Carousel. You can get a ticket to the park here.

Besides the thrill rides and amusements, there is the Coney Island Museum, where you can look at interesting memorabilia and historical artifacts from Coney Island’s past. It hosts the seasonal “Sideshows by the Seashore” acrobat and circus show, which is another fun thing to do in Long Island in the summer.

6. Visit Planting Fields Arboretum, something to do in Long Island with family

Planting Fields Arboretum is another outdoor attraction in Long Island that you should check out. This historic state park was founded in 1915 and covers over 400 acres of gardens and woods. You can easily spend a few hours here exploring the shaded walking paths and admiring the gardens.

This place is also home to the Coe Hall Historic House Museum, a 67-room mansion and visitor center. Here, you can learn more about the property, its history, and the various plants, shrubs, and trees throughout the gardens.

Planting Fields Arboretum, fun things to do in long island

6. Visit Planting Fields Arboretum, something to do in Long Island with family

Among the species you’ll see here, the dahlias, lilies, hydrangeas, and hollies stand out. Moreover, the Rhododendron Collection has over 1,000 types of rhododendrons and azaleas, while the Rose Garden boasts over 680 roses. There are also two private greenhouses and an herbarium that you can visit.

In addition to being one of the most beautiful places in Long Island, Planting Fields is a great attraction to visit as a family. The children’s playhouse is perfect for the kiddos, and everyone will love the Azalea Walk and Green Garden. Also, don’t miss the Italian Blue Pool Garden and tea house.

Admission to the arboretum is $8 per car, and it costs $10 to enter Coe Hall.

7. Stargaze at the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, something to do in Long Island with kids

Another cool thing to do in Long Island with family is visit the Vanderbilt Museum. Located on the former estate of Cornelius Vanderbilt’s great-grandson, the museum is a converted Spanish-Revival mansion where you can get a glimpse of Vanderbilt history.

In addition to the mansion’s Grand Living Quarters, there are several exhibit halls and galleries to explore. You can see cultural and historical artifacts from Vanderbilt’s worldwide travels, animal dioramas, European art, and even a 3,000-year-old mummy. The Moroccan-style courtyard and Vanderbilt’s library also stand out. Another highlight is the Hall of Fishes, a two-story exhibit with marine specimens and nautical objects like shells and whale skeletons.

Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, indoor things to do in long island

7. Stargaze at the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium, something to do in Long Island with kids

General admission is $10 and during peak season, the museum hosts living history tours, so it’s a fun place to go in Long Island in the summer.

While you’re here, you must also check out the planetarium, which will delight kids and adults. It features a state-of-the-art full-dome projector and surround-sound system, as well as a rooftop observatory with nighttime and daytime telescopes. The one-mile Solar System Hiking Trail includes a scale model of the solar system, and the planetarium has a series of nightly shows.

8. Go swimming at Jones Beach State Park, the best thing to do on Long Island in the summer

If you’re looking for another Long Island park to check out, head to Jones Beach State Park. Stretching for 6.5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean, this area is known for its magnificent beaches and outdoor recreation.

Jones Beach is one of the best beaches in NYC, so it’s a popular summertime destination for New Yorkers. In addition to swimming and surfing, you can go biking, see a show at the outdoor amphitheater, take a walk along the two-mile boardwalk, or visit the nearby Long Beach Boardwalk.

Jones Beach State Park, things to do long island new york

8. Go swimming at Jones Beach State Park, the best thing to do on Long Island in the summer

This place offers all kinds of fun things to do in Long Island in the summer, so June to August is the best time to visit. Besides enjoying the surf, sand, and sun, you can play basketball, mini-golf, paddle tennis, pickleball, or shuffleboard.

You’ll also find some Long Island landmarks here, like the Jones Beach Boardwalk Bandshell, the Jones Beach Energy & Nature Center, and the Central Mall Walkway, which boasts beautiful large-scale mosaics.

Finally, the two bathhouses are quite interesting, and the West Bath House pool is still open. It’s near the old water tower, which was built to resemble the St. Mark’s Basilica bell tower in Venice, Italy.

9. Visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum, a fun thing to do in Long Island as a family

Another excellent museum in the area is the Cradle of Aviation Museum, which is part of the former Mitchel Air Force Base. The site oversaw many historic flights, like the first recorded balloon flight over the island in 1873. This led to the base being called the “cradle of aviation,” so that’s the name the aerospace museum took when it was founded.

If you’re looking for indoor things to do in Long Island, you can’t beat a visit to this museum. Its exhibits and airplane models will appeal to all ages, so it’s perfect for families. There are over 70 aircraft here, spanning different eras and uses. For example, you’ll see pioneer aircraft from the early days, hot air balloons, civil and commercial aircraft, warbirds, modern jets, and spacecraft.

Cradle of Aviation Museum, long island weekend activities

9. Visit the Cradle of Aviation Museum, a fun thing to do in Long Island as a family

Some highlights include Charles Lindberg’s Curtiss Jenny, an A-10 Thunderbolt II, a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, and an Apollo Lunar Module, LM-13. Several of the exhibits are interactive, and you can even sit in different plane cockpits to get the perspective of a pilot.

The museum also has a Jet Blue Dome theater and a digital planetarium, and the property includes the smaller Nassau County Firefighter’s Museum, so you can visit two museums in one. Admission is $16, or you can pay $21 for the museum and planetarium combo ticket.

10. Walk around Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, another top thing to do in Long Island

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site covers 83 acres of landscaped grounds and historic buildings, including the former home of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Known as the “Summer White House,” Roosevelt lived here from 1885 to 1919, and many remnants of his life are still here.

Most of the furniture in the Theodore Roosevelt Museum House is original, and you can take a guided tour of the facility during your visit. Sagamore Hill also offers outdoor activities on Long Island, like the scenic nature trail that leads to Eel Creek and Cold Spring Harbor. Here, you can admire the tidal salt marsh and beach, visit the native plant garden, and rest by the picnic area.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, long island things to do

10. Walk around Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, another top thing to do in Long Island

There is also a farm shed and chicken coop with outdoor exhibits, and the property is a lovely place to go birdwatching. Some species to look out for include the great crested flycatcher, ruby-crowned kinglet, winter wren, and yellow-billed cuckoo.

Roosevelt died at this home in 1919, and he’s buried in the nearby Youngs Memorial Cemetery. Visiting the grounds at Sagamore Hills is free, although guided tours cost $10 for adults.

11. Go to Sands Point Preserve, an outdoor thing to do on Long Island, NY

Yet another Long Island park that I recommend is Sands Point Preserve. This beautiful area is on the original Guggenheim Estate, which was built in the early 20th century. It’s a gorgeous property and was even featured in The Great Gatsby as the “East Egg”.

The entire park spans 216 acres and has some of the prettiest gardens and historic mansions on Long Island. For example, Castle Gould was inspired by Kilkenny Castle in Ireland and features a huge clock tower and vaulted ceilings. The Falaise (French for cliff) is modeled after a 13th-century Norman manor house and includes 16th and 17th-century antiques, Renaissance art, and a cobblestone courtyard with a swimming pool.

Sands Point Preserve, attraction in Long Island

11. Go to Sands Point Preserve, an outdoor thing to do on Long Island, NY

The Hempstead House is a Tudor-style castle adorned with stone gargoyles and medieval tapestries. Among its 40 rooms, the walnut-paneled library and the palm court stand out. Behind the house, there is a rose garden with picturesque fountains and 1,500 rose bushes.

Sands Point Preserve is also home to the Phil Dejana Learning Center and the Great Lawn, which serves as the park’s centerpiece. This is where you can embark down various hiking trails that wind through the property, towards the beach, and along a freshwater pond.

There is also a woodland playground, a dog run, and mansion tours, so if you’re looking for things to do on Long Island, Sands Point Preserve has something for everyone.

12. Tour Long Island’s North Fork wineries, a fun thing to do in Long Island with friends

Finally, if you’re looking for a fun activity in Long Island for adults, you can’t go wrong with visiting one of the region’s wineries. There are lots of prestigious vineyards and wineries throughout the North Fork area, but I’ll highlight a few below.

First, Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue is a family-owned winery with lush gardens and a beautiful mahogany pavilion. It’s known for its hand-crafted, sustainably sourced wines, so you’re sure to love it.

Another option is Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, which has been owned by the Macari family for three generations. It’s a waterfront farm with a huge vineyard and intimate tasting room, and the views of Long Island Sound are gorgeous.

Wolffer Estate Vineyard, famous places in long island

12. Tour Long Island’s North Fork wineries, a fun thing to do in Long Island with friends

You’ll also like Knotokosta Winery in Greenport, which overlooks the sound from atop the bluffs. It has a collection of award-winning wines, and it’s the perfect place for private events.

There’s no doubt that this part of Long Island makes for a wonderful day trip from NYC, and it’s an awesome thing to do in Long Island as a couple or with friends.

However, if you don’t have much time, this winery tour is an excellent alternative. It includes transportation in a private vehicle and tastings at a couple of popular wineries. You’ll visit Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards, a 90-acre winery with divine Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll also make a stop at Duck Walk Vineyards North, which has impeccable Vidal ice wine and blueberry port.

Where to stay in Long Island, NY

Long Island isn’t far from New York City, but if you plan on doing lots of Long Island sightseeing, you may want to stay overnight. You can check our guide on where to stay in NYC, or reserve one of these places specifically on Long Island:

  • East Hampton House Resort – This is a great hotel if you want to stay in the Hamptons, and you’ll be just a few blocks from the beach.

Long Island map

Before I wrap up this list of things to do in Long Island, here is a map to help you plan your trip. It includes all the Long Island attractions I mentioned, as well as the accommodation options:

Of course, if you have any questions or you’d like to share your favorite Long Island activities, leave me a comment below. I’d be happy to hear from you! Until then, have a wonderful trip!

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CHIEF ADVENTURER, TRAVEL GURU, AND MASTER PLANNER AT CAPTURE THE ATLAS
Hey there, I'm Ascen, your personal trip planner on a mission to help you craft the most incredible adventure of your life. While I'm based in Las Vegas, you won't find me there often. As a full-time traveler, I'm always on the go, exploring new destinations and capturing the world through my lens. From the enchanting shores of Almeria, Spain, where I grew up, to the far reaches of the globe, I'm here to provide you with detailed travel guides and practical tips to make your trip planning a breeze. Find out more about me here.
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