The sight of birds coming home to nest in our Rockville Centre birdhouse means three things: Spring is here, summer will soon follow, and the time is right to plan our next vacation.
Now that our three children are grown, planning and taking a vacation with my husband, Ken, has taken on a whole new meaning. Without children, our options can go beyond searching for hotels with free kids' meals, all-night game rooms, or indoor pools and hot tubs. We are no longer limited to looking at theme parks, ski resorts with indoor water slides, or all-inclusive resorts that need a hot dog, hamburger and ice cream buffet.
My ideal vacation spot lets me balance culture, physical activity, and relaxation. I enjoy museums and galleries, shopping, sightseeing and new cuisine. Hiking, kayaking and biking are bonuses. But a prerequisite for a great vacation includes the sun, fun and ultimate relaxation provided by a beach.
Luckily, Ken and I enjoy the same things, so planning our kids-free vacations has been easy. We've had fun in Montreal, where we enjoyed sightseeing, museums and great restaurants -- but no beach. And there was Cape Cod, where we enjoyed swimming, kayaking, biking, gorgeous beaches and delicious seafood cuisine -- but no museums and limited shopping. It was hard to find a destination with both metropolitan and seaside activities.
Then something happened. My cousins from Ireland asked me to recommend places to visit and stay on a summer trip to New York. Since they were making our house their first stop, I started to explain all the activities we could do while they were in Rockville Centre.
I told them Rockville Centre was close to New York City -- and the beach. They were surprised and excited to learn that they could be in the heart of Manhattan in less than a 30-minute ride on the Long Island Rail Road, or in about 20 minutes they could be surfing the Atlantic Ocean waves or riding bikes on the Long Beach boardwalk.
"Ah, sure you guys must feel like you are always on vacation, living in Rockville Centre," my cousin Thomas said. Then it dawned on me. We were living in a great place that met all our requirements for a great vacation -- Rockville Centre!
I continued to help Thomas plan his family vacation to New York. In Rockville Centre itself, they could go to Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral, have breakfast in Chat Noir, shop at our farmers market and browse in the boutiques on Park Avenue. Then we could spend the afternoon in Long Beach and head to Manhattan the next day.
So Ken and I decided that for our next vacation, we'd plan a staycation. We'd stay home and explore Long Island, starting with Rockville Centre.
Look for the Expressway reader essay Saturdays in Newsday. Submit your personal story about life on Long Island to email@example.com, or write to Expressway, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, N.Y. 11747. Please limit them to 540 words. Some essays are published in the newspaper and newsday.com, some are used online only; publication is not guaranteed. Readers are not paid for essays. Essays will be edited and may be used in all media.