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To the east of New York City, Long Island stretches from just past John F. Kennedy International Airport all the way to Montauk, and has a personality all of its own. At its heart, it’s a comfortable suburb so many New Yorkers call home, but it’s just as vibrant of a destination, especially thanks to its 118 miles of white-sand coastline with 150 beaches on both sides. It also has its own wineries and breweries, more than 60 golf courses, art and science museums, historic landmarks, and the fanciest of mansions along its Gold Coast. And with fresh seafood and farms of every kind, the food scene is just as thrilling.
As the name implies, Long Island’s geography means that the amount of time it takes to get to your destination depends on just how far east you’ll be traveling. The western destinations can be as close as a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan taking Penn Station’s shiny new Moynihan Train Hall on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which services 124 stations in Long Island. Driving from Manhattan will no doubt take longer because of the ever-present traffic, but should take about an hour to western villages such as Valley Stream and closer to three hours to get to the far end in Montauk. The Hampton Jitney bus also runs to many cities on both the North and South Forks of the eastern end. Ferries run across Long Island Sound from Connecticut to Port Jefferson from Bridgeport and Orient Point from New London. For those flying in, Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) is the most central, though John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and LaGuardia Airport (LGA) will have more flight options. Rideshare services are available throughout the region.
The warmest months in Long Island are from May to September, and the coldest are between December and February. While it does snow during the winter months, it tends to be less than the rest of the state — usually just a few snowstorms a year, and most times, it’s less than an inch. Annual events include the oldest Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes, in Elmont in June; the Tomato Festival in Mattituck in August; the Long Island Summer Festival at Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove in July; and the Festival of Trees at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City during the holidays.
No cars are allowed on this 32-mile-long barrier island along the Atlantic coast, inherently making it an idyllic beach destination where the pace of life slows down. Along with its 17 separate communities is the 40-acre maritime Sunken Forest and 168-foot-tall Fire Island Lighthouse — the tallest on Long Island.
All that glitters just might be gold here. On the northern side of Long Island from Port Washington to Centerport, the coastline is dotted with mansions so extravagant that they’ve inspired literature. Highlights include the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium in Centerport.
At the far eastern point of the South Fork, the waters of the Atlantic Ocean meet the strait of the Block Island Sound, causing a phenomenon where the tides seem to race against one another. Take a hike along the shore and you might also see seals out on the rocks, or grab a board and surf the waves (surf fishing is also popular here). For a higher perspective, stop by the state’s oldest lighthouse, Montauk Lighthouse, right next door.