Fire Island is famous for its hot spots -- from the come-as-you-are bar-restaurants in Ocean Beach to the gay-friendly hangouts of Cherry Grove. Come weekends, legions of daytrippers ferry over to the barrier island to join the summer share crowd for a long afternoon or night of barhopping.
In the wake of superstorm Sandy, it may have seemed as though Fire Island had been irreparably damaged. While there's still plenty to fix, many of the top spots are open.
FERRY FROM Bay Shore, with last trip back around 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights and 11 p.m. Sunday
WHAT TO EXPECT Loud crowds and a younger scene (ages 21-35). The late-night scene centers on the main boulevard, Bay Walk, where several bars are open.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS Fridays and Saturdays feature live music and DJs at Sandbar (631-224-2796), a DJ at Matthew's Seafood House (631-583-8016, matthewsseafood.com) and a late-night (11 p.m.-1 a.m.) happy hour at Maguire's (631-583-8800, maguiresbayfrontrestaurant.com). Something calmer? Try Houser's Bar (631-583-7805, housersfireisland.com) or Castaway Bar and Grill (631-583-0330). The once rough-hewn CJ's (631-583-9890, cjsfireisland.com) is now run by the Palms Hotel Group, but still serves those tasty but strong "Rocket Fuel" cocktails (piña coladas with 151-proof rum).
FERRY FROM Sayville, with last trip back at 12:40 a.m. Friday night, 2 a.m. Saturday night and 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
WHAT TO EXPECT Long famous for its predominantly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) community, Cherry Grove's bar scene is targeted to that demographic. But the party vibe of The Grove is perfectly friendly and it's common for straight men and women to join in the fun.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS The storied Ice Palace connected to the Grove Hotel remains a major hub of activities with DJ-driven parties mixed in with a calendar of nightly drag performances (631-597-6600, grovehotel.com). Cherry's on the Bay (631-597-7859, cherrysonthebay.com) features a heavy rotation of dance bashes and drag shows (including celebrity comic Hedda Lettuce at 10 p.m. Tuesdays), besides theme parties throughout the summer. The Island Breeze restaurant (631-597-9111) has a busy bar with a DJ on Wednesdays and Fridays, plus live music on Thursdays and Saturdays -- just know it's more pub than club.
FERRY FROM Bay Shore (west terminal), with last trip back at 10:50 p.m. Friday, 1 a.m. Saturday night and 11 p.m. Sunday
WHAT TO EXPECT Although there are only two spots to hang in this tiny community, weekend ferries can get very crowded, with an influx of daytrippers ready to party the afternoon away.
MAIN ATTRACTIONS Flynn's is the mainstay, whether it's Friday night or a weekend afternoon. DJs spin with the occasional live band playing to the hordes congregating at two bars and a lounge seating area (631-583-5000, flynnsfireislandny.com). The other option is Schooner Inn (631-583-8498, schoonerinnfireisland.com), a relaxed nautical-themed restaurant and bar with a courtyard on the bay's sandy shore. It also features live music on weekends and rents bikes should you want to tool around town.
Other Fire Island hot spots
No ferry necessary -- park at Field 5 at Robert Moses and walk (a mile) over. There's an open mic most Fridays and live bands most Saturdays.
Located on such a slender section of land that the bay and the ocean are visible, the Casino Bar can get wild on weekends with live bands and big crowds.
Pavilion, 631-597-6500, pavilionfireisland.com
The iconic super-club just reopened a week ago after the original was destroyed in a 2011 fire. The two-level structure towers mere footsteps from the ferry, and there's sure to be a big LGBT scene on its open terraces with views of the water.