Part of a series exploring winter destinations around Long Island.
Winter surfers who ride the icy 6-foot waves at Long Beach often come face-to-face with sleek, whiskered visitors from the frozen north.
"We see seals all the time. We just bark at them, and they bark back," says Joe Parrino, 25, of North Bellmore. Even in February, Parrino and his South Shore buddies hit Long Beach in their head-to-toe winter wet suits any time the waves reach 5 feet or more.
"There's so much adrenaline, you don't think about the cold," explains Parrino, who works at unsOund surf, a Long Beach surf shop that's open year-round.
Much too chilly for a dip this time of year? Long Beach also offers warmer winter fun. Toast your insides with a Snowflake martini at a beachfront hotel or a stuffed French toast breakfast at a coffee shop, then head back outside for a stroll under the boardwalk lights or ice-skating at one of the city rinks.
Valentine's Weekend Ice on the Plaza
WHEN | WHERE 4-8 p.m. Feb. 13, noon-8 p.m. Feb. 14 and noon-5 p.m. Feb. 15, Kennedy Plaza, 1 W. Chester St.
INFO 516-431-1000, longbeachny.gov/winter
ADMISSION $5 (includes skate rental)
Long Beach is setting up its own version of the Rockefeller Plaza ice skating rink -- for three days, anyway. The temporary rink in Kennedy Plaza will be surrounded by pop-up shops and food vendors. On Valentine's Day, married couples are invited to a nondenominational group wedding vow renewal ceremony at 4 p.m. on the plaza.
You can also go ice-skating indoors, year-round, in public sessions at the City of Long Beach Ice Arena on West Bay Drive. The 200-by-85-foot, National Hockey League-standard rink is inside a field house on the city's Reynolds Channel side ($8 adults, $6 younger than 12, $4 skate rental; 516-705-7385).
The boardwalk is also open during winter, decorated with nautical lighting.
"We have a brand-new, state-of-the-art boardwalk that's all lit up for the winter," says City Manager Jack Schnirman. A $40 million restoration put the boardwalk back in shape after it was damaged by superstorm Sandy. Layer your winter clothing and join the crowd walking, jogging, biking or spotting the hardy surfers.
Sunset happy hour
WHEN | WHERE 4-8 p.m. weekdays at Allegria Hotel, 80 W. Broadway
INFO 516-889-1300, allegriahotel.com
The Allegria is one of the city's best-kept winter secrets. Sit by the fireplace in the L'Onda Lounge hotel bar, as the waves crash beyond the boardwalk, and sip a winter cocktail. The snowflake martini is concocted from Stoli Raspberry, white crème de cacao and Godiva white chocolate liqueur ($16). An Allegria Hot Chocolate is a warm cocktail made with white crème de cacao, Blat vodka, hot chocolate and whipped cream ($12). On the "nibbles" menu: marinated calamari with spicy marinara ($12) and hot chicken wings ($12).
In addition to a Starbucks (101 W. Park Ave., 516-670-9182), the city is home to Gentle Brew Coffee Roasters. Popular with surfers and just about anyone who wants to come in from the cold, it fills up on weekend mornings from 9 to 11:30 a.m., says worker Amanda Greenfield. The hot chocolate doesn't come from a packet -- it's made with semisweet chocolate and steamed milk. The breakfast menu includes waffles, pancakes and stuffed French toast. Shake off cabin fever in the lounge chairs and couches by a living wall of plants (151 E. Park Ave., 516-605-2370, gentlebrewcoffee.com).
Exotic coffee from the around the world is a specialty at Coffee Nut Café (250 E. Park Ave., 516-897-6616).