As a ‘native’ New Yorker and Long Island lad, as soon as the Covid19 cloud covers clear, guess where this writer’s roaming?! We’ve already got our bags packed and parked at the front door, awaiting a new departure gate and instructions! Meanwhile, making plans is Almost, as good as Going Along to Long Island…
Location, Location, Location!
Long Island is not only, just a hop, skip and jump from the hustle and bustle of marvelous Manhattan, but it is home to some of the world’s most bountiful beaches, incredible eateries, and fabulously famous folks. Nested accessibly nearby, in Manhattan’s backyard! If you’re headed for the lights of Broadway and a bite of the ‘Big Apple’, we highly suggest you ‘hang a right’, and explore the island ‘next door’: Long Island, New York!
The toughest decision visitors to Long island face, is, what to do first! Although the Island is only 118 miles long (190KMs) from toe-nail to top-hat, and 23 miles wide (37KMs) at its stretchmarks, Long Island is packed from top to bottom with wonderful visitor options. You name it, they got it. I’ve done almost a life-time’s bagful of Long Island exploring and although I can’t possibly list all the top spots, activities and eateries, I’ve made a modest stab at it. Included in the contact box at the end of this feature are a few of the websites for digging deeper. Plan your own Long Island adventure.
International visitors to the United States have repeatedly listed shopping as their Number # ONE activity for over 30 years running. Pack lightly, and invade Long Island prepared to buy another bag for the goodies you’ll garner to tote home. Many retailers, recognising the potential of overseas purchasing power have dangled deep-pocket discounts to attract your attention, and you’ll never travel very far between marvellous malls or seductive sidewalk selections. Historically, it all started on Long Island!
The Mall that started it ALL… well, was not ‘really’… a Mall at All!
During the boom era of “The Great Gatsby”, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the manuscript from Manhasset, a very well-heeled ‘bedroom community’ on Long Island Sound. To further ring their cash registers, 5th Avenue retailers like Cartier, Tiffany, Sacks Fifth Avenue, Brooks Brothers, Bloomingdales and others took the retail mountain to Manhasset and set up shops, neatly in a row, along what is known today as, “The Miracle Mile” . It was the first time large inner-city department stores, requiring customers to drive to the city centre to spend, opened shops in suburban settings to create a spending destination. And the notion went ballistic. Today’s Malls started in my hometown of Manhasset!
One of the eastern seaboards largest Malls, Roosevelt Field offers a GPS system to shopping, nested on the sight of the historic airstrip for the Landing of Charles Lindbergh and other aviation greats. The hangers and runways have been replaced by thousands of remarkable retailers, like MACYS who dangle an International Shoppers Discount Card, for simply showing-up with your passport.
There are small towns and villages on Long Island, tucked-away every few kilometers where visitors can stroll tree-lined lanes and boardwalks while window shopping in historically significant surroundings.
Day-trippers from Manhattan simply board the Long Island Railroad and make a day of it. Tote the bathing suit in summer, and get wet while plying your ‘plastic’. L.I.R.R. Trains, bustling with commuters during peak hours, offer off-peak prices for passage in-between rush hours and on weekends.
Mix the Board-Shorts with Sports and Entertainments
Name a nationally-followed-sport in the USA, and it’ll have a home-port on Long Island that attracts spectators. Take in a game when you visit! Even if you don’t follow the sport, ask the fan in the seat next to you, and you’ll get the good oil and an ear-full on what’s going on with the action.
Fancy the Arts? Entertainment-lovers are never too far from the front row and footlights of world-class options. The only thing between our ‘under-the-stars’ seats at the Jones Beach Theatre was water; the stage is set on a man-made island, with a Nature Preserve as its backdrop. Galleries pop up everywhere, many touting local artists, and some boasting internationally acclaimed names. Top acts, concerts, and big-draw names fill the dance-card all year long, with the pace picking up in the American summertime; June, July, and August. The Long Island Visitors and Convention Center keeps running tabs on offers, so get in early to get your seats, and avoid disappointments. Celebrity-spotting at these events is highly advised. Many world-class celebrities and famous folk live on Long Island and could be sitting in the next seat over! We sat next to Meg Ryan and her son. Peek at your fellow shoppers as well, you never know, unless you go.
Getting there and Getting Around! Trains, Planes and … Limousines
Well-heeled Manhattanites use every means available to light out for Long Island, and there are private car services, the Hamptons Jitney, Water Taxis, Helicopters, and other means of getting onto the Island.
But the most cost-effective way over, is the train. The Long Island Railroad shuffles between Long Island and New York City 24/7 every day of the year and makes getting there, and back, a breeze. Buy an ‘off-peak round trip’ ticket before you board. Trains carry commuters to and from New York each day, so off-peak journeys are offered at seductive rates, and the smart traveller avoids the crowds and lands the best seat in the carriage.
During peak periods and special events on Long Island, the railroad adds carriages, as major sporting events like baseball, basketball, tennis, and golf each host a venue on the Island. Take in a game, and stick around to shop for the T-shirts and caps while you chat up the locals and get the low-down on who’s hot, and who’s not.
Linger Longer, Luxuriously, on Long Island
The options for living it up, without breaking the bank on Long Island seem endless. Doing our homework, we could lock in a mid-week beach-home ‘in the Hamptons’ with all the creature comforts for the price of a double-double at a London B and B. The bragging rights will linger for years to come. Or, enjoy the bridal sweet-suite on the estate of well-known oil baron.
Moving the ‘mouse’ will save money. Planning ahead on line, can offer significant savings, even in many of the world-renown resorts, B & B’s and guest houses. Every major hotel chain and brand is represented on Long Island, and we used our ‘loyalty and rewards dollars and credits to significant advantage when selecting night-stays.
In summer, numerous universities and colleges on the Island being empty of students, offer up dorm rooms and campus facilities to guests if the budget is tight.
Cost and venue options for accommodations run the gamut, and it pays to plan ahead.
Water, Water Everywhere!
It’s a well-observed notion, that Long Island is surrounded by some pretty spectacular water. So fishing, surfing, sunning, sailing and a treasure chest of other water-side related activities. Self-sail charters, group ‘party’ fishing boats, deep-sea and freshwater fishing, sunset sail and yacht cruising are only the tip of the pole. Try the fresh seafood when you visit. Or catch your own dinner. No licence is required for anything in salt water. And walking the shoreline has a humongous upside; the beachfronts along the “Hampton’s” belong to everyone, so you can stroll till you flip-flops fall off unencumbered by ‘private property’ signs. Even if you’re outside of Mel Gibson’s place.
Car hire options on Long Island are significant, and everything with wheels seems to be available. Harley Davidson or Ferrari? No problem, just throw money at it. Getting around one you’ve unpacked the suitcase in our view, is best accomplished by car. Uber, cab services and chauffeured cars are at your fingertips, but to linger longer, take the laneway untraveled on Long Island, get wheels. Roads on L.I. are well signposted, GPS on board or on the phone make navigation a cinch, but being able to pull over, stroll longer on the village square, or capture a photo opportunity, take to the streets. People movers, recreational vehicles, convertibles and more can be picked up and dropped off conveniently and Long Island boasts the two major airports (JFK and LaGuardia) which both have car hire depots galore. There are huge advantages to the freedom and flexibility of hiring a car. Easy-peesey and hire car prices are extremely competitive.
Americans drive on ‘the wrong side of the road’ and we simply followed flow of traffic and the tail-lights of the fella in front. Petrol (gasoline) is still measured in ‘gallons’ and the price is STILL, half of what you’ll have to pay at any hometown pump. Signal your lane-changes; about half of America does!
If you plan to invest your hard-earned holiday dollars on an adventure to New York City, a visit to Long Island will be the cheery on the top of your tour. Plan ahead, and make tracks for New York City’s ‘Beachfront Backyard’. Long Island here we come!
- Mark William Sheehan would like to thank NYC & Company, and Long Island Visitors and Convention Bureau for pointing him in the right direction during his previous stay.
- And Thanks to the tail-feathers of both Air Tahiti Nui & Delta Airlines for helping with flights.
CONTACT Box: Help Yourself!
Air Tahiti Nui www.airtahiti.com
Delta Airlines www.delta.com
ALAMO Car Hire www.alamo.com
CruiseAmerica RV rentals www.cruiseamerica.com
Oheka Castle https://www.oheka.com
The Long Island Marriott https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/nycli-long-island-marriott/?scid=bb1a189a-fec3-4d19-a255-54ba596febe2&y_source=1_NjQ3NjE3LTcxNS1sb2NhdGlvbi5nb29nbGVfd2Vic2l0ZV9vdmVycmlkZQ
Hyatt Place East End https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/new-york/hyatt-place-long-island-east-end/ispzr
Tickets, Passes and Events:
Stub Hub www.stubhub.com
The Full Menu
Long Island Visitors and Convention bureau www.discoverlongisland.com
NYC & Company! www.nyandcompany.com
Visit USA https://trip-planner.visittheusa.com
Written by: By Mark William Sheehan and Credit : Long Island Watercolours: Liz Neighbors Studios
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