Monday, May 24, 2021

List: Ten things to do and places to see on Long Island - Nassau County Edition.

 Today is all about part two of my travel recommendations for Long Island.  Last we spoke about my top ten favorite things to do and places to see not including eats or drinks on the east end of the island, Suffolk County.  Today we'll be focusing on the western half of Long Island, Nassau County.

plan a vacation on long island new york nassau county long beach

This series of posts (one for Suffolk County & one for Nassau County) are dedicated to some of my favorite places not counting restaurants or bars worth visiting on Long Island.  We're skipping right past the typical tourist spots like The HamptonsJones BeachNassau ColiseumSplish Splash ew, local wineries, and Adventureland.  Instead, I'm taking you to some of the spots that are loved by the locals.

Tip:  If you know when you're coming to visit Long Island, do a quick search to see what local festivals and festivities are going on at that time.  There's never a weekend that passes without something going on.  Take a moment to see if there's something that peaks your interest!

what to do while on vacation in new york or long island

Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links to products.  We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. Please note that I would only recommend products that I would use myself and all opinions are my own.

10 things to do on Long Island - Nassau County Edition.

Of the entire list, this is my favorite place to be.  This is one of the many famous "Gold Coast Era" estates on Long Island.  Built and owned by the Vanderbilt family, think Long Island royalty it's truly magnificent.  The garden is large enough to get lost in for over an hour.  The terrace and pool are spectacular, and if you climb up the steps in the back, there's a beautiful view of the Long Island Sound while overseeing an antique salt water pool.  Tour the inside of the mansion where you'll be able to explore the home.  The most memorable part of visiting this mansion for me is the 3,000 year old Egyptian mummy.  I mean, how cool is that, to see a real mummy just chilling in someone's HOME?!  My husband's favorite part is the Carriage House where one can see Vanderbilt's ancient racecar collection.  The kiddie's favorite part of our visits is always the Full Dome Planetarium Shows (link).  They have different shows available at different time of the day at the Planetarium.  We usually make a point of seeing one show, exploring the grounds & mansion, and then seeing a second one before leaving.

Fun Fact:  The Habitat and Stoll Wing has an impressive collection of items similar to what one would find in the American Museum of Natural History.  William Vanderbilt hired the scientists and artists from the museum to curate his own personal collection.  The coolest piece on display is a 32-foot whale shark, the largest taxidermist preserved fish in the world!

My husband would never forgive me if I skipped this Long Island gem.  That being said, this is a super cool place for those interested in aviation.  Located in Garden City, this museum is dedicated to everything air and space.  With over 75 air and space crafts on display, an Arcade Age exhibit where you get to play retro arcade games, and a planetarium, this is a place many families frequent.

Tip:  Not into air or space crafts?  That's ok.  Look into the Heckscher Museum of Art (link) instead.  This museum is another staple on Long Island.

My grandfather used to take us to this historic village every Summer.  We loved exploring, walking through the old homes, interacting with the actors, walking through the gardens, and watching the farm animals.  Some of the homes that you're allowed to visit date back to the 1600s and are ORIGINAL buildings.  If you plan accordingly, you can get live demonstrations such as basket weaving, blacksmithing, spinning, and natural dyeing.  Make sure to check out their calendar of events (link) to see if anything specific peaks your interest such as the 1863 Thanksgiving Celebration, the apple festival, or the Gingerbread Workshop.

While I'm not a fan of horse racing or gambling, we used to take my mom to the Belmont Stakes every year for her May birthday.  It would make for a nice day out sitting on the bleachers, placing bets on horses while hopefully winning a few bucks, and admiring the fancy attire and hats the ladies normally wear.  You can either dine in the Belmont Room (link) while watching the races from the windows in the luxury of the restaurant, grab a quick bite at the Belmont Cafe (link), or eat in the picnic areas from a food truck.  If you're like me and like to explore, print out the Traditions at Belmont (link) and find all the sites depicted on the page.  Each element is historical, fascinating, and blends in with the park so you wouldn't notice them unless you were looking for them.

Note:  For those wondering if Belmont Park is handicap accessible, I can confirm that it absolutely is.  Call ahead instead of purchasing tickets online.  The staff will be very accommodating and work towards making your visit work for you.  We've had experience with this annually for over a decade and they never once fell short with accommodating any special needs.

5.  Long Beach, NY
If you're looking to bypass the touristy beach spots on the west end of Long Island, skip Jones Beach and head on over to Long Beach.  This little beach town is compact, but is where the locals go for a beach getaway.  Stay at the Allegria hotel (link) right on the water, stroll along the boardwalk, enjoy some great eats and trendy drinks, catch a show at the Jones Beach Theater (link), and get ready to party because party sums up Long Beach!

Whenever someone says polo, the thought of uppity, high class people wearing polo shirts or large, floppy hats overseeing a game in the Hamptons comes to mind.  At least, that's what I think of.  Luckily, I'm hear to tell you that you don't have to drive out to the Hamptons to enjoy a traditional polo match.  The Meadowbrook Polo Club is the oldest polo club in the US, dating back to 1881.  Enjoy a lovely day with the family by learning how to play the sport, watching a polo match, or even join a tournament.  If you're just looking to watch and wear a floppy hat check out their Spectators page (link) where they list everything you need to know.

Aside from being a very short distance from my favorite mall ever, this is a very cool place to visit.  You'll have plenty of time to shop because you'll be able to see everything in under two hours.  Tour the historic home that dates back to 1816, see Walt Whitman's birthplace, visit the Interpretive Center where you'll find countless exhibits, and see the grounds of the poet's childhood home.  

Tip:  Don't forget to save some time to visit the Walt Whitman mall and dine at one of the fabulous restaurants.

Cold Spring Harbor is an underrated place on Long Island.  It's a quaint, little hamlet that's filled with history, nature, and some pretty cool places.  Of all those cool places, a family favorite of ours is the hatchery.  You'll be able to observe fish native to Long Island in the aquarium, feed fish in the trout pond, see the fish eggs seasonally in the Hatch House, count how many different species of turtles you see in the Turtle Pond, catch and release fish in the Tidal Raceway, and see what unique wildlife you find at the observation platform while overseeing the tidal estuary.

The Gold Coast Mansions are famous on Long Island thanks to The Great Gatsby.  You can visit Eagle's Nest (link)Oheka Castle (link), Westbury House & Old Westbury Gardens (link), or Winfield Hall (link).  While Sagamore Hill is nothing compared to the extravagance of these mansions, this is my second  favorite one to visit right behind Eagle's Nest because of the grounds.  This park is known for being the location of the Summer White House as the home of President Theodore Roosevelt.  Tour the home, learn the history of the Roosevelt family, walk through the nature trails, and find the almost secretive entrance to the Cold Spring Harbor Beach on the grounds.

What's your favorite local place to visit?



  1. I first read it as a nasty county edition and was all excited and then you got me disappointed LOL I expected some juicy drama.

    1. hahahaha Maybe I'll make a 3rd edition with all the naughty hot spots!

  2. How strange about all the natural history museum stuff at the mansion. Crazy rich people! Lol! I didn’t know Walt Whitman was born there. Sounds like some pretty places to visit in the summer. I like to visit Stan Hywet mansion and gardens in the summer. It was the home of F.A. Seiberling, cofounder of Goodyear Tires.

    1. Sounds like a nice local getaway! I love exploring places like that. Crazy rich people is right. Why visit a museum when you can create your own to look at every day?? LMAO

  3. Wonders of world. I visited Niagara Fall.

    1. I've never been but heard it's quite intimidating.

  4. I have always wanted to tour the Vanderbilt mansion. I had no idea it had museum quality artifacts in it though! A freakin mummy!? That's insane. Now I want to go even more!


Spread a smile with a comment!