How to Spend a Day on Long Island

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Are you wondering how to spend a day on Long Island?

There is no doubt that Long Island has its own culture, making it a unique place to visit on a day trip from New York City or a drive from anywhere in the tri-state area.

You will find so many things to do during the day that deciding could be quite overwhelming. 

We’ve broken it down by interest so you can find what you’re looking for right away.

As the name suggests Long Island is long. It is about 120 miles long with a height of only 23 miles at its widest north-to-south point. The sheer size of Long Island is something to consider when you’re planning your day. 

What you choose to do will depend on if you are on the North Shore or the South Shore. In Nassau County or Suffolk County, the middle of the island, near the city, or “out east.”

As you will discover, this list is heavier leaning in Suffolk County, because that’s what we know best.

Also, something to take note of is that many of the beaches, parks, and recommendations in this article are part of the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation system.

If you plan to visit any combination of these, at least five times in a calendar year, save money and purchase an Empire Pass in advance. 

So, let’s get into it.

*Some links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission when you make a purchase at no extra cost to you. I only link to products I use or really like and would personally recommend to a friend. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

smith's point beach
Long Island Beaches

How Beach Lovers Can Spend a Day on Long Island

Long Island is known for its beautiful beaches on the North Shore as well as the South Shore. Here are a few that you can’t go wrong with.

Jump on a ferry to Fire Island. Leaving from the Bayshore Ferries, you can spend a day at Ocean Beach. Relax in the sun and sand, then head back for a meal at Rachel’s or an ice cream at Scoops in town while you wait for the return ferry.

Looking for longer than just a day trip to Fire Island


Long Island Beaches
Spending a day on Long Island

Jones Beach is within an hour of New York City, depending on traffic, making it a great option for a day at the beach. Sunning and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean are the most popular activities. There is a 3-mile boardwalk for when you need a walk or a snack.

Just a short way down Ocean Parkway you’ll discover Gilgo Beach, a favorite of surfers.

Unlike Fire Island, Jones Beach is easily accessible by car, taking the Wantagh State or Meadowbrook State Parkway.

Driving out to Montauk Point for the day, especially during the summer season, might be a bit of a stretch, but seriously possible if you have more than one driver and leave at the crack of dawn. However, heading home will be the tough part. Once you’re there you won’t want to leave!

Montauk Point
Montauk Point

Go paddleboarding and kayaking at Meschutt Beach County Park. Located on Great Peconic Bay between the forks. The water is still making this park a great beach for little ones who want to swim but are intimidated by big ocean waves crashing down. Instead, it provides a calm and peaceful body of water where they can splash in. 

Sunken Meadow State Park, located on the Long Island Sound, is perfect for the hiker, the picnicker,  and the beach lover.

The shaded picnic areas are a cool spot for family outings. The wooded bluffs, filled with trails, will give you a good workout. On a clear day, you can see over to Connecticut from the beach. 

Are you a fishing fan? Book a half or full-day fishing tour out of Captree State Park. The chartered boats are a fun day for the whole family. The crew will supply the gear and the bait and all you need to do is show up. They will even clean your snapper or fluke for you. 

Fishing Charter at Captree State Park
Fishing Charter at Captree State Park

Looking to spend longer than just a day trip to Long Island?


How Foodies Can Spend a Day on Long Island Eating

If you are looking for good food on Long Island, it isn’t hard to find. Here are a few favorite spots.

If you are looking for elegant decor and outdoor seating then Blackstone Steakhouse in Melville is for you. Warm yourself by the fireplace and enjoy some sushi or a Porterhouse steak. A great choice for a special occasion.

The towns of Patchogue, Huntington, and Babylon have fabulous downtown areas where you can wander around and find one good restaurant after the other.

A favorite town to wander about for its maritime atmosphere and food is Port Jefferson

Overlooking the Long Island Sound near the Port Jefferson Ferry is the iconic Steam Room. A place to munch alfresco on some sweet fried clams or a basket of fried shrimp. 

Just a short walk away you will find Slurp Ramen, which is arguably the best ramen in Suffolk County.

Ramen at Slurp in Port Jeff
Ramen at Slurp in Port Jeff

For comfort food pop over to Retro Cheesesteak in Rockville Centre. Amazing Philly Cheesesteaks and art.

Visit Southold Bay Oyster Farm and learn all about the oyster industry on Long Island. Taste some delicious oysters and sip some local wine with your group. 

CHECK AVAILABILITY for the Oyster Farm Tour.

If you are out in Montauk you must try the Italian-inspired restaurant Harvest on Fort Pond for the amazing seafood they serve. 

If you want waterfront dining, Oakdale is the town to visit with multiple restaurants that offer tables outside right at their marinas.

Read this post for insight into the iconic Long Island food you need to try.

Where History Buffs Can Head to on Long Island

Sagamore Hill is the home of former President Theodore Roosevelt

During his presidency, it was known as the “Summer White House”. The grounds are beautiful and a peaceful spot to stroll around in nature. 

There is an interesting museum on site, but the highlight of the visit will be touring the house and hearing the tales of his life and family. 

The tours are limited each day in size. 

At one time, you were able to arrive early and get a timed ticket for the house tour. At the time of this writing, you now need to make a reservation in advance. Things may change so just check the website for Sagamore Hill before heading over. 

Either way, make sure to take the opportunity to go on the nature hike, which brings you down to Cold Spring Harbor Beach and Eel Creek. It’s worth it.

Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Harbor. The Gilded Age of Long Island’s Gold Coast lives on here and you can see it from the inside! There are daily tours at 11 am that will reveal the fascinating history of the past 100 years.

This historic national landmark has a bar and restaurant and can be used as a wedding venue.

How to Experience Nature on Long Island

While Long Island is known for its beautiful beaches, there are many other lovely ways to spend the day in nature. 

Access the Greenbelt Trail from Cold Spring Harbor State Park. It is rare to find an elevated or hilly hike on Long Island. This trail is the best you can find if that is what you’re after. Park in the Cold Spring Harbor Public Library parking lot and follow the trail that goes up the left side and to the back. 

View from the Greenbelt Trail at Cold Spring Harbor
View from the Greenbelt Trail at Cold Spring Harbor

Tip: Don’t forget to look back on your way up the trail to see the amazing view of the harbor. 

You will find an access point to the Greenbelt Trail there. The nicest part about this spot is there are public bathrooms for your use attached to the back of the library.  Make a right when entering the path and head back when you come to the roadway. You will have completed a moderately challenging, three-mile, round-trip hike. 

Greenbelt Trail in Cold Spring Harbor
Greenbelt Trail in Cold Spring Harbor

Blydenburg Park In Hauppauge is another great spot for a long hike. A complete hike around the lake is just over 6 miles and will take several hours. The scenery changes as you go so it’s interesting the entire time. Not too much in the way of wildlife other than birds and mosquitos. There are many different paths and you can turn back at any point for a shorter trek. 

cottage on the grounds of Planting Fields in Oyster Bay
Cottage on the grounds of Planting Fields in Oyster Bay

Explore Planting Fields, a 409-acre estate located in Oyster Bay, that boasts a landscape designed by the Olmstead Brothers Firm. Coe Hall, the greenhouses, and the grounds are a scenic throwback to the Gold Coast one hundred years ago.

How Music Lovers Can Spend a Day on Long Island

Located in Huntington, discover The Paramount, a historic music venue that has hosted a wide range of musical acts and events, including rock concerts, comedy shows, and theatrical productions. 

Truly passionate music fans can join their members-only club, Founder’s Room. The club gives you access to a private room, meet-and-greets, and VIP events among other things.

Huntington is a place bursting with fantastic restaurants and shopping so you can easily fill a day visiting just this town alone.

Tailgating in the parking lot of Jones Beach Theater is an outstanding way to spend a summer afternoon.

This outdoor amphitheater is located in Wantagh right at Jones Beach State Park and offers stunning views of the ocean.

When you are in the audience, you will be looking out at the musicians surrounded by the water of Zach’s Bay.

As the sun sets, the water around the stage will glisten and it is an experience that’s hard to top.

How Theater-goers Can Spend a Day on Long Island

The Tilles Center for the Performing Arts is located in Brookville on the Campus of LIU CW Post. It is a world-class performing arts venue that hosts a variety of concerts, theatrical productions, and dance performances.

In the picturesque Village of Bellport, you will discover Gateway Playhouse.

Gateway Playhouse is a professional theater that offers a wide range of theatrical productions, including plays, musicals, and children’s shows. It is a spectacular venue in Suffolk County and is highly regarded for its excellent performances. 

Visiting Art on Long Island

The Parrish Art Museum in Watermill houses thousands of pieces showcasing local artists. They are closed Tuesday and Wednesday so plan accordingly. 

Parrish Art Museum- Watermill
Parrish Art Museum- Watermill

To examine art by local Long Island artists head to The Reboli Center in Stony Brook, a small gallery that has only been open to the public since 2016. They house rotating exhibitions with information about Long Island and art history. 

Looking to spend longer than just a day trip to Long Island?


How Sports Lovers Can Spend a Day on Long Island

Take in a hometown baseball game. Forget the huge crowds and pricey tickets. Central Islip is home to the Long Island Ducks where you are up close and personal with both the field and the players. The best part is, no traffic crunch or crowded subway ride on the way out.

Bethpage State Park is home to five public golf courses. For information about golfing on Long Island, check out this site for course information and reserving tee times

Golfing with the whole family is awesome at Top Golf in Holtsville. The multi-tiered driving range is a blast. Waitstaff will take care of all your food and drinking needs as you cheer each other on to score high. 

Top Golf in Holtsville
Top Golf in Holtsville

Hockey fan? Score yourself some tickets to see the NY Islanders at Belmont Park in the USB arena.
Belmont Park is the place for horse lovers in the spring and summer. For a day at the races general admission tickets cost as little as five dollars.

How to Spend a Day on Long Island Drinking


Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue started as a small local brewery and expanded after being purchased by Anheuser-Busch.

Although the present location, which opened in 2019,  and the overall vibe are different than the original grassroots brewery, Blue Point Brew Pub is still a great place to get a delicious draft on tap.

outside at the original Blue point Brewery on River Ave.
Outside at the original Blue Point Brewery on River Ave.

Locals are hard-pressed to pass up the nostalgia of the original location.

There is plenty of games, food, and live music in addition to the thirst-quenching craft brews to keep everyone satisfied.

live music at Blue Point Brew Pub in Patchogue
Catch some live music at Blue Point Brew Pub in Patchogue
Blue Point Brew Pub
Blue Point Brew Pub


Although Long Island’s 57 wineries have only been producing in the last few decades, they have come to make a name for themselves in the New York wine industry.

Coming out east to the Island to visit the wineries is a fantastic way to spend the day.

Kontokosta Winery is in Greenport on the North Shore near the Long Island Sound.

A gorgeous, light-filled tasting room overlooks the pristine grounds. If visiting during spring or summertime, be sure to take the short drive down the road to the nearby Lavender Farm on the Bay.

If you are heading out to Montauk, make sure to stop at the Wolffer Estates tasting room in Sagaponack. Their famous Summer in a Bottle rosé wine is waiting for you. 

Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead
Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead

A few other notable wineries you might want to explore are Roanoke Vineyards, Macari, and Pindar.

Enjoy a Farm and Wine Country Bike Tour in Mattituck. A scenic ride to the beach and vineyards in the fresh air. 

CHECK AVAILABILITY for the Farm and Wine Country Bike Tour. 


Housed at the old Blue Point Brewery location is a new and exciting addition to the Long Island drinking scene. 

The Better Man Distilling Co. is a cool indoor-outdoor loungy venue with a quirky mid-century vibe. 

Cocktails at Better Man Distilling Co.
Cocktails at Better Man Distilling Co.

Craft cocktails mixed in with a varied calendar of art, music, dancing, and events. Not only do they have a Book Club but a Whiskey and Cocktail Club as well.

The Better Man spirits are available all across Long Island, the city, and upstate New York. The Elysian Fields Lavender Gin is exceptional.

lavender gin at Better Man
Lavender gin at Better Man

Spend a Day Shopping on Long Island

Long Islanders love their malls. Roosevelt Field Mall, Walt Whitman Mall, and Smithhaven Mall are a few popular ones.

For an “outdoor mall” experience find the Tanger Outlets located in Riverhead and Deer Park. Dozens and dozens of outlet stores, regular retail, and restaurants make up these outlet centers.

The Deer Park outlet even boasts a movie theater, in case half of the family chooses to shop while the other half takes in a flick.

There are a few charming main streets like Sayville and Westhampton Beach that draw shoppers in for the day. A bit of boutique window shopping and lunch at a small local restaurant makes for a lovely afternoon.

If you are headed to Long Island to spend the day, make sure to take advantage of all the fun and beauty it has to offer. The abundant nature, food, culture, and shopping will make your day on the island memorable. 

There is more than enough to fill one day, so if you would like to extend your visit then check out the great places to stay in the links below. 

Looking to spend longer than just a day trip to Long Island?



Frequently Asked Questions about Long Island

Is Long Island walkable?

Long Island is car dependent for the most part. While there are several downtowns and main streets that are walkable you will need a car to get from place to place. 

Can I take a train to get around Long Island?

You can take a Long Island Railroad train to head east from NYC, but you will need a car once you arrive. If you are going to visit one town only, it is possible to Uber back and forth from the station, but not really practical or cheap.

How long does it take to drive to Montauk from New York City?

It will take about 2 1/2 hours by car but plan on a longer drive when there is traffic. Driving to Montauk from May through October typically will be the busiest traffic time. The worst traffic of all will be Friday afternoons and evenings during these months.


Canoeing and Kayaking. Accessed 5 Apr. 2023.

New York State Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation. Accessed 5 Apr. 2023.

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