Long Islanders are finally getting a chance to head back out and make a night of it. For couples who may have been kept apart by health concerns — or have been cooped up together just a little too long — here are some opportunities for a distanced date night.
Many vineyards have reopened, but with a reduced amount of seating, so making reservations is a wise way to secure a table for two. One spot that is asking potential patrons to RSVP is Sannino Vineyard (15975 CR-48, Cutchogue). “A lot of couples have been looking for a quick getaway without having to travel too far,” says owner Lisa Sannino, 51, of Dix Hills. “I’ve noticed couples looking to celebrate missed special birthdays and anniversaries.”
Sannino suggests couples try the wine tasting and cheese platter, as well as the winery’s weekend tours and VIP blending classes, or just take "a quiet walk in the vineyard." For an extended date night, patrons can add a stay at the vineyard’s B&B. "It’s nice to steal a few hours or day to reconnect,” Sannino says. All reservations can be made online at sanninovineyard.com.
Another chance to sip vino and munch is at the tasting room and wine stand at Wölffer Estate Vineyard (139 Sagg Rd., Sagaponack). Open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, reservations are recommended at this Hamptons vineyard which is open for outdoor seating and indoor tasting. Outdoor tours of the grounds are also available; reservations can be made online at wolffer.com.
Couples can also make reservations Thursdays through Sundays at Harmony Vineyards (169 Harbor Rd., Head of the Harbor), where owner David Acker, 59, says people have been finding a much-needed escape. “Everyone has commented in one way or another about how they missed having a safe a serene place to meet up and hang all these months," he says. Events are still not running on a firm schedule, but there have been some live music offerings and a twosome is more than welcome to stroll down to the spot’s waterfront. Call ahead or visit the website (harmonyvineyards.com) to set up an RSVP.
TUNES BY THE BEACH
A number of spots by the water are hosting live bands this summer. Current "shack" options include The Snack Shack at One Pacific (1 Pacific Blvd., Long Beach; 516-343-5200, snackshacklbny.com), which is hosting performers in its "Shackyard" beach space weekends after 5 p.m. Salt Shack (100 Ocean Pkwy., Babylon; 631- 422-7222, saltshackny.com) is holding acoustic performances daily from 6 to 9 p.m. (only open to Town of Babylon residents until 5 p.m.; after 5, all are welcome). The Boat Yard Waterfront Bar and Grill at Tobay Beach (516-324-8474; theboatyardny.com) is also hosting bands on select nights, starting around 5:30 p.m. And while it’s not exactly on a beach, there’s no denying the cool factor at SaGhar (111 W. Broadway, Port Jefferson; 631-473-8300, sagharportjeff.com), which has live music 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 to 7 p.m. Sundays from its rooftop deck that overlooks Port Jefferson Harbor.
Some of Long Island's loveliest angles are viewable from the water. For a wildlife sightseeing tour, American Beauty Cruises & Charters (631-725-0397; americanbeautycruises.com) launches from Sag Harbor and does a $30-per-person, 90-minute nature cruise that focuses on the village’s historic past. Two-hour sunset cruises on Noyac Bay or Gardiners Bay are also available for $45 a person.
For a Nassau County option, Captain Lou Fleet's (31 Woodcleft Ave.; 516-623-5823) two-hour sunset cruise leaves from Freeport’s Nautical Mile every Wednesday at 7 p.m. “There have been a lot of couples coming out on our cruises,” says Oceanside resident Michael Danon, 60. The cruises focus on the sunset over the bays along Jones Beach, Point Lookout and Baldwin Harbor, and as Danon notes, “you may come across some historic Freeport Bay houses." Pay $25 each (or $45 each to score an open bar) for a journey along the South Shore that also includes an onboard DJ spinning some tunes. Book online at captloufleet.com.
Movie theaters are closed and drive-ins are back in fashion. The Bayville Drive-In Movie Theatre and Dinner deal happening at Bayville Adventure Park (8 Bayville Ave., Bayville; 516-624-7433) is one of many offering more than just a flick. Park at an outdoor movie screen and pay $20 to watch a film. Purchase a minimum of at least $50 worth of food and beverages from a menu that includes lobster rolls, pizza and movie treats like popcorn and pretzels; beverages include cocktails and boozy milkshakes. Owner Donald Finley, 58, says he’s seeing couples come in on date nights, adding, “They especially love the horror movies!” Everything gets served to your car or guests can sit at a “Movie View” table.
Tickets are available online at bayvilleadventurepark.com. A romantic duo looking to spend more time together before watching the show can take a crack at the park’s “Pirate Adventure” miniature golf course; tickets are $11.75 in advance. Beer and cocktails-to-go for golfing can be added.
SOCIALLY DISTANCED COOKING
In the past, cooking classes and date nights went hand-in-hand, but recent regulations make kitchen work a challenge. At The Cook’s Studio (156A Engineers Dr., Hicksville; 516-439-1355, thecooksstudio.com), classes are open to up to eight couples at a time, with tables spread out across the room, using double the space normally required.
Gloves, masks and hand sanitizers are provided, as is the food and necessary equipment (masks are not required at individual tables, much like current restaurant rules). Chef Victor J. McNulty, 53, of Huntington, says several couples have already taken part, and that “we have about 24 different themes to choose from with lots of old favorites like Cuban, mozzarella & burrata, sushi [and] jambalaya plus some new options like steak Pizzaiolla, chicken Scarpariello, fresh black pasta, shrimp scampi [and] Mediterranean chicken meatballs." Sessions are $75 per person; purchase entry online.