It doesn’t come as a surprise that one of the largest islands in the country has a lot of attractions to offer – both natural and man-made.
Long Island is a stretch (literally) of beautiful beaches, lush greenery, stunning colors, and rich heritage.
You could be driving past an open space with a view of the Atlantic Ocean and suddenly land in a paradise with elaborate mansions. With Long Island, just sit tight and expect to be amazed.
If you’re on the clock and have enough time for only so many places, we’ve got our 25 top picks of places you could explore here.
We’ve accounted for everything. Whether you’re the outdoorsy type or more into history, we’ve got the perfect places for you to check out.
Let’s dive in!
1. The Hamptons
It’s only appropriate that the Hamptons come first on this list. You’ve probably seen it in a lot of movies – that perfect getaway/destination for the coolest parties.
Visit this incredible beach town on the South Fork of Long Island and enjoy everything it has to offer. From chilling in 5-star hotels to surfing at Cooper’s beach or biking along the shoreline, you’re spoilt for choice on what to do here. Of course, there’s great food and wine.
And you could even bump into one or two celebrities here, as it’s famous amongst even famous people.
And while vacationing in the Hamptons is a little pricey, it’s a small price to pay for all the fun you’d have there.
2. Old Westbury Gardens
Yes, gardens with an “s”. You can’t visit Long Island without going to the Old Westbury Gardens. This place features a picturesque manor – The Westbury House and the gardens proper, with an assortment of lovely flowers.
Start by exploring the Westbury house. Each floor offers something unique and magnificent. Then, move on to the gardens. There’s always something blooming here. All color-coded and perfect!
The journey begins from the wrought-iron gates that feature Janus – the Roman god of beginnings.
Walk through the gates and enter the Lindee Alee – an avenue of beautifully lined linden trees. From there, it’s just beautiful to behold.
From a walled garden of lovely plants to the exquisite rose garden and a lovely lilac walk. You’ll even see the most quaint cottage and pond.
3. Oheka Castle
The Westbury home isn’t the only magnificent building Long Island has to offer. Take some time to visit the incredible Oheka Castle for a taste of the rich history Long Island is known for.
This French Chateau can only be described as massive. It’s been used to host the most lavish parties fit for royalty for a very long time. You could visit it for the ambiance and tour the historic Mansion.
Or you could host a party here…perhaps your wedding. What could be better? Either way, there are rooms available for you and your family.
As for the food, trust Oheka to have mastered the art of fine dining. Visit the Oheka bar and restaurant for a taste of Europe in America created by some of the best chefs around.
4. Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
With all that history going around, you can bet Long Island has a selection of museums. Visiting a museum is one of the top things you can do on Long Island and the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium is a great place to start.
This museum is a community on its own. Not just famous amongst tourists but locals regard it as a favorite spot to visit.
Inside the museum, you’ll be amazed by the amount of detail that must have gone into the antique decor with fine art everywhere.
We’ll say it’s living up to Vanderbilt’s original vision of the museum being “for the use, education, and enjoyment of the general public”.
The grounds are lovely and the planetarium can take your breath away. Here, you’ll find the museum’s mansion, the curator’s cottage, a seaplane hangar, and even a boathouse.
5. Brooklyn Museum
Another museum to make this list and for good reason. The Brooklyn Museum is a very New Yorksy place to visit. Thus, it’s naturally one of the top attractions in Long Island.
What started as the Brooklyn Apprentices Library has grown to become the Brooklyn Museum – the third-largest art museum in New York City.
The artworks here are over 1.5 million pieces. Of these, the Egyptian antiquities form an especially valuable class of antiquities. The pieces all have relevant meanings to them. This is why the Brooklyn Museum is regarded as a Premium Art Institution.
It’s also a hub of activities. You could explore the outdoors or the botanic garden next door, sign up for education programs (especially for the kids), and of course, go to the museum building itself. Sometimes, events such as the CFDA Fashion Award are hosted there.
Ultimately, the Brooklyn museum provides an ideal vacation.
6. Nassau county museum of art
Long island is a culturally rich place. This history permeates the ground. A typical thing to do in long island is to find a museum somewhere and get some sort of crash course on the area.
The Nassau County Museum of art is one of the best museums in the area. This museum embodies art in itself.
Firstly, the museum’s mansion shows the Gold Coast architecture of the 19th century.
Then, there’s a massive Sculpture Garden with sculptures that are made to be one with nature. And of course, there’s the artwork within the museum.
It’s incredible for anyone who’s got an eye for art. Museums such as these aren’t always kid-friendly but your family will still feel welcome.
Exhibits and several other programs and events make for a very entertaining experience. If you’d like something more kid-friendly, check out the Long Island Children’s Museum.
It’s got fun, hands-on exhibits for kids, as well as great art spaces, a live theatre, and several activities that can keep the little ones occupied.
7. Lieb Cellars
All you wine connoisseurs were not left out. Lieb Cellars has been providing some of the purest, tastiest wine the state has seen…since 1992.
Located on the North Fork of Long Island, this 85-acre vineyard is devoted to producing Lieb Cellar’s signature dry, “fruit-forward” wine. You can’t go wrong here. There’s a ton of things to get up to here.
You could start with some wine tasting. They usually allow a maximum of 10 guests per group, although you could increase this number for a private party.
Other than the tasting, you could get wine by the glass or bottle PLUS a snack menu of cheese and charcuterie!
Wine and cheese, what could be better? Perhaps a tour around the North Fork region could add to the overall experience.
We recommend getting a reservation for the wine tasting to maximize the experience.
8. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company
If your palate is more suited for beer, vineyards and wineries are not all Long Island has to offer. There’s the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company where beer is produced. There’s an ASSORTMENT of beers you’ll be treated to here.
You might wonder how something can be so rich and tasty. Well, that much is to be expected what with the company committed to excellence in every drop.
They’ve got two breweries on the North Fork of Long Island. You can still pop on over to the breweries – one in Peconic and the other in Greenport for some beer tasting.
Visit the Greenport Harbor Brewery and Restaurants for some tasty beer and food, and an atmosphere of genuine peace.
9. Long Island Game Farm
Can you truly regard this trip as a vacation without throwing some animals into the mix? We doubt it. On that note, the Long Island Game Farm is an excellent option.
The wildlife park and children’s zoo is located in Manorville. It provides an excellent platform for the kids to learn all about animals in their natural habitats.
There are a dozen zoos and wild animals of different species to keep the children amazed. From ponies, wallabies, giraffes, llamas, and alpacas to donkeys, the kids are in for a treat.
And there’s nothing to worry about here. The kids will be safe playing with the kid goats and bunnies in the nursery, or even feeding the buffalos and ostriches through special feeding tubes.
Also, enjoy the private tours that lead you outdoors and provide an opportunity to connect with nature. If you’re looking for a place to go and have some fun with your family, then this is it.
10. Coney Island
25 fun things to do in Long Island, right? Well, it doesn’t get more fun than Coney Island. The New York City neighborhood boasts of an amusement area with over 50 rides and attractions owned by different businesses.
There’s a mermaid parade, the circus slideshow, film festivals, museums to explore, rides to go on, and a beach to chill at.
As a bonus, there are many ways to get to Coney Island. You could take an Express bus or train from Manhattan or drive your family down to the Island.
Accommodation isn’t an issue. There are some great inns close to Coney Island you could lodge in. You’ll be needing them because there’s no way you would be able to fit all the activities there in one day.
11. Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center
Long Island isn’t just known for great views by the ocean. Dive down and see what the Island has to offer here. The Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center can only be described as incredible.
A massive 120,000-gallon shark tank is the centerpiece here. Get treated to an array of sharks such as sand tiger sharks and nurse sharks in addition to numerous species of fish.
Also, you’ll get to see sea lions, African penguins, and lots more. The Aquatic Coral Reef here is one of the largest in the country.
Other than the sea creatures, there’s an exhibit with lots of diverse animals including bugs and birds of different species.
And we saved the best for the last. At this location, you can go shark diving at “The Lost City of Atlantis”.
12. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park
This name was bestowed upon the park during the 1964 New York World’s Fair. The park is a center of activities, especially for the sports lover.
You and your family can play soccer, baseball, volleyball, tennis, cricket, and engage in several other sporting activities. You could also ride a bicycle, paddle boats, go skating, or even just take the most romantic walk with a view of the gorgeous scenery with your partner.
But of course, you can’t expect any less from one of the longest public parks in the city with over 800 acres of land.
Whether you are a jock, an artist, a lover of nature, or just in for a good time, this park has got something for you. Be sure to visit when you come to Long Island.
The name says it all. This place is iconic. People have planned trips to Long Island just because of Adventureland. And we can’t fault them for that.
Family-friendly, accessible, and filled with attractions and games. As of 1962 when the park was opened, there were only four rides – the train, the carousel, the little Dipper Coaster, and the boats.
Well, a lot has changed in the past couple of decades. Over 30 rides and attractions are available now. Plan a trip here and you can rest assured of a fun-filled day for the whole family.
Of worthy mention is the “Turbulence” –the first-ever spinning roller coaster in the tri-state area. Sounds exciting, right? It certainly does.
14. Commander Cody's Seafood, Shelter Island
What vacation doesn’t come with some sort of journey to find the best food the area has to offer? Not a great one.
Let’s take you to another part of Long Island – Shelter Island – for the delicious seafood. You can’t be on an island and not eat fresh food from the sea.
At Commander Cody’s, you’ve got a rich blend of fresh seafood, great culinary skills, and the history to go with it. It’s a ‘must stop’ if you’re visiting Long Island.
You can sit outside and look out to the peaceful scenery with your family for the freshest seafood you’ve ever had.
Wondering what the wave is all about?
Here’s why – Homemade crab cakes, fish calamari, broiled CRAB STUFFED SHRIMP, and more.
Other than the seafood menu, you’ve got chicken dinners, BBQs, and an extensive selection of sides and salads. We’re certain you’ll love it here when you visit.
15. Catapano Farms
Two words…Baby Goats. At Catapano farms, your kids will be thrown into a haven of some sort.
As for you, if you love wine and cheese, then this is the place to be. So, just kick back and sip on some fine wine while the kids play with baby goats all day.
It gets better. By evening, they start milking the goats. That sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
Be sure to give it a try. And don’t forget to bring your cooler bag with you. You can’t visit the Catapano farms without coming back with some of the best goat cheese and goat yogurt ever made
16. Montauk Point Lighthouse, Montauk
Lighthouses aren’t the commonest sites in most cities. Go ahead and visit Montauk Long Island for an opportunity to visit the natural historic landmark that is Montauk lighthouse. It’s the oldest lighthouse in New York State, located on the tip of Long Island.
The full experience includes climbing to the top for a breathtaking view of the Island and the sea. You can visit the museum for an in-depth history of the lighthouse and Island as well.
Options for tours abound. These include cultural tours, walking tours, and even biking tours.
A particularly interesting attraction is the Shark Cage Charter for some shark diving experience…definitely worth the trip.
17. Sands Point Preserve
This is another magnificent building on long island. Step into a real-life castle and take in the beauty. Suited for people of all ages, you can plan a fun trip with activities for you and your family.
It’s over 200 acres of land with a Great Gatsby era-style Castle. You can explore the castle, but the fun doesn’t stop there.
If you don’t know what to do on Long Island, then here are more fun ways you can spend your time in sands point preserve – take a guided nature walk across the preserve, go for an outdoor adventure in search of small animals, or even go for a bird walk.
18. Fire Island Lighthouse and Natural Sea Shore
Firstly, this Island has got the Great South Bay and the Atlantic Ocean on both sides. How incredible is that?
People often call it the “Spectacular Jewel of the South Shore of Long Island” and with good reason. The island is exquisite. It’s also far enough from the big cities that you can unwind and escape from the hustles and bustles that come with those.
Come over to Fire Island and be treated to a variety of sights including unique marine mammals – whales, dolphins, and lots more. You can also find dunes, landmarks, and enjoy the constant wash of sweet waves.
Try not to visit in passing. Prepare for some camping so you enjoy it fully. Park rangers are available for lessons if you’re interested too.
19. Belmont Park Race Track
This is another great place to visit on Long Island. The park is located in Elmont, Long Island. Be sure to check for the right time to visit so you get to enjoy the annual Belmont Stakes.
These stakes are regarded as the longest (and most people difficult) parts of the Triple Crown Challenge – annual horse races including the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
Other than the Belmont Stakes that only happen at specific periods, you can still visit the park at any time and be treated to a load of other amazing stuff.
Your entire family could have breakfast while enjoying the view of thoroughbreds training. There’s also a paddock show you could enjoy. If the weather is good, you can even get a tram ride through the stables area.
20. Splish Splash Water Park
Visiting the splish splash water park with your family is one of the coolest things you could do on Long Island. It’s almost 100 acres of fun with water.
There are almost 20 water slides, rides, and attractions. These include a 1,300-foot Lazy River, two wave pools, and slides of all sorts – body slides, speed slides, and tube slides…it’s a slide fest over here.
Of course, you wouldn’t take your family to a water park that doesn’t account for kids. Well, kids are the MVPs at splish splash.
We’ve got ‘Just Kid’ sections including the Elephant Slide, the Monsoon Lagoon, the Pirates’ Cove, and the Octopus Pool.
And one other fact to blow your mind? The park features an incredible water roller coaster! That should be one of the things you’ll look forward to in Long Island.
21. Cradle of Aviation
A trip to the Garden City of Long Island would not be complete without stopping by at the famous Cradle of Aviation.
Step through the doors and it would feel akin to taking a trip down memory lane – Aviation style. This museum has a theatre and planetarium within.
The galleries hold about 70 diverse air and spacecraft. There’s a lot to learn here. You might have heard all the stories of the Second World War. This place holds several of the airplanes that helped America then.
It’s the perfect place to learn all about Long Island’s aerospace industry which has been preserved within its walls for a few decades.
Plus, the kids will love it here. There’s something about the Cradle of Aviation that just speaks to young minds and inspires them to satisfy their curiosity about science and technology.
Don’t forget to visit the museum store on your way out for some freeze-dried ice cream like the astronauts get and for some custom World War II dog tags – for the memories.
22. Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum
When a place has ‘whaling’ in its name, you can rest assured that it’s going to involve big things. Sag Harbor has always been a major port for the whaling industry.
It’s one of the best coastal towns in the US and the highlights involve the Whaling and Historical Museum. Here, efforts are made to preserve the town’s culture by displaying relevant objects of history.
They also host contemporary exhibits.
You’ll see a collection of the most unique whaling artifacts that tell the story of Sag Harbor – through a sailor’s eyes.
The building itself was once home to Benjamin Huntting II, a whaling ship owner with a passion for the business. Today, it is home to memorabilia of the town’s rich history as a lucrative whaling port.
23. Fun at the Beach
It will be too much pressure choosing just one beach to put on this list. Long Island has a lot to offer the beach lover.
Picture perfect sandy beaches, stretching as far as the eye can see, make for the most relaxing day you could imagine. Most of the island is popular for having the most vacation-worthy beaches in the state.
You can choose to sit on the sand and stare out at the blue ocean as the sun sets or you could come earlier with your family, your cooler, and other beach fun-day essentials.
The only issue you would have is choosing which beaches to enjoy. There are so many of them that if you decide to visit all, you’d probably spend all your vacation days at various beaches.
To make it easy for you, here are our top picks of beaches you could check out if you’re in for a fun time in Long Island:
✔ Jones Beach State Park
✔ ParkWatch Hill
✔ Hither Hills State Park
✔ Coopers Beach
✔ Gin Beach
✔ Long Beach
✔ Main Beach
✔ Orient Beach State Park
✔ Cupsogue Beach County Park
Just like the beaches, this should be a separate post on its own. Long Island caters greatly to the needs of nature lovers.
Exploring the numerous parks and trails is one of the most popular and exciting things to do on the island.
If you’ve got your family with you, you don’t have much to worry about. There are several kid-friendly hiking trails here.
The Massapequa Preserve is a great choice. Tranquil, green, and relaxing to boot. There are also hiking and biking paths and lovely streams and ponds with fish to keep the kids entertained all day.
The Mill Pond Park is another excellent option. This idyllic park is one of the most popular outdoor recreation areas around here.
There’s a playground, boardwalk, and a trail for you and your kids to explore. You could also sit under the gazebo and look out at the charming view.
Another great option would be to take them to the nature preserve in Oceanside – The Marine Nature Study Area. Year-round, expect to see diverse wildlife, so be sure to pack binoculars for the kids.
Other hiking trails worth mentioning include the North Fork Sunflower Maze, Makamah Nature Preserve, Sans Souci County Park, and West Hills Nature Preserve.
25. Eat with a view
This isn’t actually a location, it’s just one of the things you must do in Long Island. Museums and theatres are great, but after staying cooped up indoors, you just have to go outdoors and appreciate the beauty that Long Island has to offer.
A great way to do this is over a plate of delicious food and some good company. The last one will be easy to get if you’re with your family.
If not, people are generally nice in Long Island, so a good conversation shouldn’t be too hard to find.
As for the food, go for great food in a great location with a stunning view. It doesn’t matter if you are sitting down to fresh seafood, pulled pork, or even fried chicken, you always eat with your eyes first and the view of the beautiful ocean adds some sugar and spice to everything.
Fortunately, Long Island has no shortage of outdoor restaurants that can satisfy all your cravings for food and a view.
We’ve got a few recommendations for you including the Lake House, Cowfish, Edgewater Restaurant, Inlet Seafood Restaurant, Scarpetta Beach, and Trumpets on the Bay.
We hope you enjoyed the ride to Long Island with us. The journey gives you a thorough look through the history and the rich cultural background of Long Island.
You’ve seen all that Long Island has to offer. Art, food, nature, wildlife, sports, and lots more. After reading this post, you probably know exactly what to do on long island, or at the very least, you’ve got an idea of where to start from.
That said, if you’re down for a family vacation, a getaway with your significant other, or just in for an amazing journey, it doesn’t get better than Long Island.