Hop on the ferry to Fire Island and spend the...

Hop on the ferry to Fire Island and spend the day at the beach, have a bite at a restaurant or go shopping.   Credit: Johnny Milano

When it’s time to get away, you have several options: bridge, tunnel or boat. Setting out by sea, of course, is by far the more adventurous choice, especially when you’re looking for a quick one-day getaway.

Here are day trip ideas for “vacations” that start once you set foot on a Long Island ferry.


Take a guided tour with a park ranger and explore...

Take a guided tour with a park ranger and explore Sunken Forest on Fire Island. Credit: Linda Rosier

With no cars, Fire Island offers visitors a different mindset just a 25-minute ferry ride away. Eight communities can be accessed from Bay Shore ferries: Kismet, Saltaire, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Atlantique, Ocean Beach, Seaview and Ocean Bay Park. From Sayville, catch the ferries to Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, Sailors Haven and Sunken Forest. LGBTQ communities are centered in Cherry Grove and The Pines. Most other hamlets have their own identities, from insular to family-friendly. Most beaches of Fire Island National Seashore are accessible to the public and are considered to be among the most pristine beaches in New York.

The ferry port at Saltaire Marina on Fire Island.

The ferry port at Saltaire Marina on Fire Island. Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

Parking in Sayville is $12 per car per day Mon-Thur., $19 Fri.-Sun. Parking in Bay Shore is $15 per car per day Mon.-Thur., $25 Fri.-Sun. The Bay Shore ferry round trip is $25 per person; $13 ages 2-11, cash only; the Sayville Ferry round trip is $20 per person, cash or credit cards accepted.

More info: fireislandferries.com; sayvilleferry.com


The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk includes 75 live exhibits featuring...

The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk includes 75 live exhibits featuring over 7,500 animals. Credit: Maritime Aquarium/The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

Ride the Port Jefferson-Bridgeport ferry with your car, and you’ve got options. A 20-minute drive from the Bridgeport Ferry Landing brings you to Norwalk, Connecticut, where you’ll find museums and restaurants.

At the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, you’ll see over 7,500 animals of hundreds of species including seals, sea turtles, sharks, rays and meerkats. During your visit, you can touch a variety of creatures that live in Long Island Sound and learn about conservation efforts in the area. Plus, you can enhance your experience with a fully immersive 4D movie. Open daily, maritimeaquarium.org.

Railroad fans can visit “Signal Station 44,” which has been restored to create the SoNo Switch Tower Museum. Climb narrow iron stairs to the burnished third floor for a chance to pull the disengaged Armstrong levers — so named because you needed a strong arm — that once moved track switches on the mainline. Open weekends May-Oct., sonotower.org

The award-winning Stepping Stones Museum for Children was built with an eye to what excites and stimulates a child’s mind. Geared toward children ages 10 and younger, this small but active center engages even the youngest crawlers. Open daily, steppingstonesmuseum.org.

Great Norwalk restaurants include Public Wine Bar (open daily) and the small but delectable Knot Norm’s (closed Mon. and Tues.).

Guests enjoy a concert at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.

Guests enjoy a concert at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Credit: Credit: Mohegan Sun

If you’re the gambling kind, visit Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun. Beyond the tables and slots, there's a full schedule of entertainment, restaurants and plenty of hotel rooms should you want to make it an overnight getaway. 

More info: 88844ferry.com 


Block Island is 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and...

Block Island is 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and offers scenic beaches, lighthouses and more.  Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

Bring your bikes on the round-trip Viking Ferry from Montauk to Block Island — there’s a lot of ground to cover in a day, especially if headed to a remote beach or to the island’s two lighthouses. Hours Fri.-Sun. May 24-June 13 (plus Memorial Day), daily June 14-Sept. 16, Fri.-Mon. Sept. 20-Oct. 14. Fee $45, $30 ages 5-12, bikes $5, fares are one way when booked online. Parking $15 per day; reservations recommended.

The ferry leaves you off at Champlin's Marina in New Harbor. Get your bearings at The Visitors Center, located at 1 Water St., in Old Harbor. Block Island Historical Museum and Gallery (open 10 to 5 p.m. daily, admission $10, blockislandhistorical.org) is also stocked with artifacts from first settlers, photos of offshore boating disasters and plenty of island history. Then start with a 7-mile loop — south from Old Harbor to top sights including Southeast Lighthouse and the steep stairs down to Mohegan Bluffs beach. Most restaurants can be found right in Old Harbor, where you catch the ferry back home.

More info: vikingfleet.com


Take the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient to New London,...

Take the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient to New London, Connecticut for a day trip or weekend getaway. Credit: Morgan Campbell

Take your car on the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient Point to New London ($66 each way for standard car and driver, discounted for advance reservations; fuel surcharge may be added). 

Learn about the fate of the ship Amistad at the Custom House Maritime Museum (closed Mon.-Tue., nlmaritimesociety.org), where in 1839, the ship was towed after captive Africans aboard mutinied.

Across the Thames in Groton, find the home of the first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, berthed within the Submarine Force Library and Museum (closed Tue., ussnautilus.org). A free tour, complete with audio guide, takes you through the sub’s cramped quarters.

The Fort Trumbull State Park visitor’s center (open weekends, Memorial Day-late June, open Wed.-Sun., late June-Labor Day, portal.ct.gov) features an introductory movie about the fort and interactive exhibits ($6, $2 ages 6-12). 

New London also has the Lyman Allyn Art Museum (closed Mon., lymanallyn.org), featuring permanent collections “Tiffany in New London,” explores the life and career of artist, designer, and glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany through the lens of New London. The museum also features an outdoor sculpture garden to roam ($12 for ages 12 and older).

For an authentic New London dining experience, order the chowder, lobster rolls and crab fritters at Captain Scott's Lobster Dock. Plan a coffee break at Muddy Waters Café or head a bit out of town to On The Waterfront Restaurant (closed Mon.) for fresh seafood with Thames River views.

More info: longislandferry.com

The Cross Sound Ferry passes by the Orient Point Lighthouse,...

The Cross Sound Ferry passes by the Orient Point Lighthouse, off of Orient Point, known as the Coffee Pot, built in 1899. Credit: Randee Daddona


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