Day trip: Find a piece of paradise in Fire Island's Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach is often dubbed the capital of Fire Island. Hop the passenger-only ferry from Bay Shore (631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com) for a 30-minute jaunt across the Great South Bay.
Set yourself up for the day on the sand — spread out your blanket, pitch your umbrella and claim your piece of paradise.
After a swim, take a walk. Charming, weathered homes line the ocean, and the community’s concrete paths let you take in quaint bungalows decorated with sea shells and driftwood.
Ocean Beach’s main square is dotted with shops. Searching for the perfect Ocean Beach T-shirt? Try Kline’s (631-583-3333). Looking for decorative nautical décor? Browse through The Gallery, often referred to as the General Store because of the sign above its front door (631-583-9724). If you need a treat, stop into the Ice Castle Sweet Shoppe (631-583-0225), which sells ice cream, fudge, and shelves and shelves of candy.
You can’t eat or drink on the beach (except for water), so lunch at your choice of more than a dozen restaurants, many with al fresco seating. Island Mermaid, for instance has a deck on the bay where diners can watch the ferries pull in and out (631-583-8088; islandmermaid.com). If you want an alcoholic beverage in the shade, pull up a seat at the covered bar at Matthew’s Seafood, which is at the east end of Ocean Beach. (631-583-8016; matthewsseafood.com).
If you’re lucky, you’ll be delighted during your wandering by one of Fire Island’s ubiquitous four-legged year-round residents: Deer roam the island and often cross the community paths, coexisting with beachgoers (as with outings to any grassy and wooded areas, you'll want to carefully check yourself for ticks).