You’ve seen the Smithtown Bull, the Jones Beach Tower and The Big Duck in Flanders. Now how about taking a gander at really quirky local history sites?
A former speakeasy, a tomb guarded by a stone knight and the nature sanctuary that once was a spy ring’s headquarters are among the stops on walking tours in Huntington, East Hampton and the Three Villages.
Walk along with them and you’ll stray from downtown streets to cemeteries, farms and even a few local pubs.
“We always try to pick places that even if the establishment isn’t historic, the building is,” says Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano, executive director of the Huntington Historical Society.
With local historians as your guide, you’ll learn local lore that you wouldn’t necessarily hear on a typical walking tour.
“They are very passionate about the history and getting it right,” says Mari Irizarry, creative services manager at The Three Village Historical Society.
Here are walking tours that emphasize the more curious aspects of the long-ago past.
1. Historic Walking Tour and Pub Crawl
WHEN | WHERE 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26, and June 30. Meet at Soldiers and Sailor’s Memorial Building, 228 Main St., Huntington. Reservations required.
INFO 631-427-7045 ext. 401, huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org
THE ROUTE A stroll past notable buildings includes stops at The Old Burying Grounds Cemetery and three local watering holes.
YOUR GUIDE Huntington town historian Robert C. Hughes, author of “Cold Spring Harbor” (Arcadia Publishing), a history of the North Shore enclave. Hughes is “very entertaining, and tells a lot of anecdotes and stories,” Fortunato-Napolitano says.
QUIRKIEST SITE Finnegan’s Pub, the oldest continuously operating bar in Huntington, established in 1912. Inside, look for the bottle of Finnegan’s bootleg whiskey, unopened since the 1920s Prohibition Era.
2. East Hampton Historical Society
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m. July 16, Historical Cemetery Tour, $10, reservations required, meet at Mulford Farm Gate, 10 James Lane, East Hampton Village; 10 a.m. Aug. 20, Walking Around the Hook Tour, free, reservations required, meet at the municipal parking lot opposite the I.G.A., North Main Street, East Hampton Village.
INFO 631-324-6850, easthamptonhistory.org
YOUR GUIDE Hugh R. King of Amagansett, director of Home Sweet Home Museum in East Hampton, is also the official Town of East Hampton town crier, an appointed position dating to the 18th century.
QUIRKIEST SITE The tomb of Lion Gardiner (1599-1663), designed by American architect James Renwick Jr. (who also designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan and The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.). A knight sculpture in boots and chain mail sleeps atop the tomb.
3. The Three Village Historical Society Tri-Spy Walking Tour
WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m. June 12; noon July 31; 9 a.m. Aug. 14; 1 p.m. Sept. 18; 1 p.m. Oct. 23. Meet at Frank Melville Park, 1 Old Field Rd., Setauket.
INFO 631-751-3730, tvhs.org
THE ROUTE The 3-mile, two-hour tour takes you to a number of local historic sites, including Caroline Church of Brookhaven, the 1812 Setauket Presbyterian Church and Patriot’s Rock, where cannons were mounted during the battle of Setauket.
YOUR GUIDE Margo Arceri of Setauket, who has spent years researching the Culper Spy Ring and its effects on the American Revolutionary War on Long Island.
QUIRKIEST SITE Caroline Church, built in 1929. According to Arceri, it’s the oldest wooden Episcopal Church in the United States.
ALSO TRY The society’s Abraham Woodhull Farmer & Spy Walking Tour is a 90-minute tour visiting locations featured on the AMC TV series “TURN: Washington’s Spies,” including Woodhull’s farm, the Setauket Village Green, Grist Mill, Patriot’s Rock and historic grave sites. It’s led by farmer and Revolutionary War spy Abraham Woodhull (played by Beverly Tyler of Setauket, the society’s historian, who dresses in Revolutionary War garb). Offered 2 p.m. July 2, Aug. 7 and Oct. 9. Meet at the Caroline Church Parking, 1 Dyke Rd., Setauket ($8).