If social distancing is driving you a little stir crazy, a road trip to see Long Island’s finer points could be just the tonic. Here are scenic drives packed with history lessons and remote picnic spots.
Sometimes escape lies just a parkway away. The 16-mile barrier island highway — accessible from the Wantagh and Meadowbrook Parkways and the Robert Moses Causeway — is packed with points of interest. There’s the Jones Beach Tower and the 15,000-seat Jones Beach amphitheater and farther east, quaint, hurricane-daring cottages edging the ancient salt marsh. The road narrows as the scenery gets wilder, and it ends at Captree’s picturesque boat basin and views of Fire Island across the bay. Backtrack to the Robert Moses Causeway to leave footsteps in the sand at Robert Moses State Park.
Washington Spy Trail/New York State Route 25A
The state highway from Great Neck to Port Jefferson is a scenic American history lesson. It’s the same route George Washington followed on a victory lap to thank the courageous patriots portrayed in the AMC series “Turn.” Treat the kids to exciting tales of Revolutionary War spies defying death amid the region’s peaceful harbors and stately historic homes. For details visit longislandheritagetrail.com
Sound Avenue/Long Island Wine Country
The North Fork's farm road exudes peace, quiet and calm even during trying times. Take the Long Island Expressway to exit 71, make a left on Route 24 and — voilà — you’re surrounded by farm fields bursting with spring flowers. A right on Route 25 takes you through Riverhead to the heart of wine country. Or keep driving farther north, turn right on Sound Avenue, and you’ve entered Instagram Oz, a bucolic region of vineyards, horse farms and produce stands. Although many tasting rooms are currently closed, drive-up bottle sales continue at wineries, according to Kareem Massoud of Long Island Wine Country. (Details at liwines.com) At the end of the road in Orient, unwind on the winding road through Orient Beach State Park (entrance next to Cross Sound Ferry), flanked by choppy Gardiners Bay and a rare maritime forest. Or cross the street to Orient Point County Park, and follow the dirt trail through the woods to a Long Island Sound pebble beach and a panorama from the Connecticut shore to mysterious Plum Island.
Right now we could all use a gander at the Big Duck. The goofy landmark on Route 24 in Flanders makes a good starting point for a South Fork meander. Take Long Island Expressway exit 71 south to the end of Route 24, then head east on Montauk Highway. The Hamptons highway runs through chic Southampton and East Hampton), past water views and windmills, and over the awesome Shinnecock Canal. For a stunner of a side trip, take arching Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays to gawk at Dune Road mansions. Farther east, Old Montauk Highway splits off Route 27 for a roller-coaster ride on rolling hills past Malibu-style homes and mind-blowing ocean views. Keep driving east till you reach Montauk Point State Park and Montauk Point Lighthouse. Or cruise by nearby Camp Hero State Park, a place of scary legends and abundant wildlife.