From the restaurant and tavern row along Bay Walk in Ocean Beach to the LGBT-friendly parties that bring massive crowds to Cherry Grove, Fire Island is a magnet for summer visitors — by day and by night.
Here’s a breakdown of what to do beyond the beaches and sharehouses:
FERRY FROM Bay Shore, with last trip back around 12:50 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, 11 p.m. Sundays THE SCENE Expect packed ferry rides with visitors ranging in age from just-21 to 40s and 50s. Ocean Beach is the hub of Fire Island, offering the most restaurants, shops and sightseeing. Day-trippers come to roam the wide walkways that run through town down to the sand. By night, open-air bars stay busy until the last ferry pulls out.
STANDOUT NIGHT Try Thursdays. The Landing, pictured, hosts "Dueling Pianos" (pictured) which kicks off at 8:30 (every other Thursday, starting July 5) with drink specials (631-583-5800). Hungry? The most bang for your buck is Maguire's "Lobster Palooza" special of a 1 1/4-pound lobster (or prime rib) with soup, salad, corn on the cob, baked potato and bread; 2018 price yet to be announced. (631-583-8800, maguiresbayfrontrestaurant.com).
FERRY FROM Sayville, with last trip back at 1 a.m. Friday nights, 2 a.m. Saturday nights and 11:30 p.m. Sundays THE SCENE As is true in the neighboring hamlet of The Pines, the LGBT community makes up a significant portion of the population here—and although the night life is targeted to that demographic, it’s an upbeat, inclusive atmosphere that welcomes and receives all.
STANDOUT NIGHT The weekend gets in full swing on Tuesday nights, when celebrity comic Hedda Lettuce takes the corner stage at the Island Breeze (631-597-9111, theislandbreeze.com) at 11 p.m. and the dockside Cherry’s on the Bay will be firing up its popular calendar of drag shows (631-597-7859, cherrysonthebay.com). The drag shows, says Copiague accountant Jim Richardson, are a “great time, a lot of fun. . . . I would absolutely recommend it to anybody.” As for the iconic Ice Palace, it continues to host DJ-driven parties and drag performances, as well as special events that may not launch until after midnight, so you'll need to take a water taxi if you want to get back across the bay before dawn (631-597-6600, icepalacefi.com).
Pictured: Kari Kerning, performing for the crowd at Cherry’s On The Bay.
Ocean Bay Park
FERRY FROM Bay Shore, with last trip back at 10:50 p.m. Friday, around 11 p.m. Saturdays and 9:50 p.m. Sundays THE SCENE The small, walkable enclave is anchored by Flynn’s, a busy marina and restaurant, but residents and day-trippers can find mellower options, too.
Ocean Bay Park
STANDOUT DAY Sunday afternoons at Flynn’s are overwhelmingly popular—a long-standing tradition kept charged by its sunny deck, two large bars, live reggae from outdoors with a disc jockey inside by the dance floor. ”It’s popping,” says Lindsay Liudan, 22, of Babylon, who emerged from the immense crowd to grab a cup of gratis water from the self-service coolers planted around the venue. “And the Rocket Fuels [think pina coladas with high-proof rum] are delicious.”(631-583-5000, flynnsfireislandny.com).
Elsewhere in town, there’s the Schooner Inn, a relaxed nautical-themed restaurant and bar with a courtyard (631-583-8498, schoonerinnfireisland.com). If you want to venture to the Atlantic side of Ocean Bay Park, the Fire Island Hotel has a small but busy bar from which you can people-watch as guests lounge around the deck and pool (631-583-8000, fireislandhotel.com).
FERRY FROM Patchogue, with last trip back at 11 p.m. Fridays, midnight Saturdays and 10:30 p.m. Sundays. THE SCENE Its 200-slip marina is popular with beach-loving day boaters who come to this neighborhood on the eastern side of Fire Island for its long, sandy stretches. There's only one game in town for socializing: the Casino Cafe, a busy oceanfront restaurant and bar open daily in season.
STANDOUT DAY/NIGHT Sunday afternoons bring fun vibes to the dancefloor and deck of Casino Bar (1 Trustee Walk; 631-597-9414, casinobarfireisland.com), where you can see both the bay and the ocean. There's a live band or DJ that keeps things lively well past dinnertime.
Pictured: The Naked Truth band plays at Casino Bar