You can take a (big) step back in time in Stony Brook.
First, visit the Stony Brook Grist Mill, dating from the 1700s, when it pressed grapes and ground grain into flour. It still operates as a working mill museum; guided tours are led by a miller in period dress noon-4:30 p.m. on weekends April-October. ($1-$2,631-751-2244, wmho.org). The grist mill is on the National and New York State registers of historic places and is a New York State Revolutionary War Trail site.
Cross the street to Avalon Park & Preserve (631-689-0619, avalonparkandpreserve.org) for a short hike to the intriguing labyrinth. Watch the ducks paddle in the 11-acre Mill Pond (feeding them bread is harmful; purchase duck feed in nearby Fratelli’s Italian Eatery).
Stroll to the Stony Brook Village Center for the next historic location (631-751-2244, stonybrookvillage.com). Look up at The Stony Brook Post Office — the mechanical eagle perched at the top has flapped its wings every hour on the hour from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. since 1941. You can also window shop at the Village Center’s more than 30 stores.
Have lunch at the Three Village Inn's Mirabelle Tavern, one of seven restaurants at the Village Center (631-751-0555, lessings.com); the building dates from 1751. Next door to the Three Village Inn is The Jazz Loft, a museum specializing in jazz memorabilia and performances ($10 adults, free younger than 12: 631-751-1895; thejazzloft.org).
Within a short walk is The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, also known as The Long Island Museum. It has a collection of more than 200 carriages as well as paintings, sculptures and prints ($10 adults, $5 ages 6-17, closed Mon.-Wed.; 631-751-0066; longislandmuseum.org).
In nearby Setauket, reserve a guided Tri-Spy Tour via bike, hike or kayak that covers locations critical to the Culper Spy Ring, a Revolutionary War espionage group formed by George Washington to help defeat the British (631-751-3730; culper.com).