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. Sand Bar, pictured, hosts a one-hour happy hour at 7 that includes a free buffet. There’s live music until 10, then a “GLOW” party at which the bar staff hands out markers and body paint for patrons to draw on themselves and become art under the blacklights (631-583-0388).
For something a bit more subdued, head to The Landing for “Dueling Pianos,” which kicks off at 8:30 with drink specials (631-583-5800). Hungry? The most bang for your buck is at 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 for $31.25 (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 Friday nights, when celebrity comic Hedda Lettuce takes the corner stage at the Island Breeze (631-597-9111, theislandbreeze.com) at 10:30 p.m. and the dockside Cherry’s on the Bay fires up its weekly “Gurlesque” drag review at 11 (631-597-7859, cherrysonthebay.com). The drag show, says Copiague accountant Jim Richardson, is “a great time, a lot of fun. . . . I would absolutely recommend it to anybody.”
As for the iconic Ice Palace — badly damaged in a 2015 fire — it continues to host DJ-driven parties and drag performances nightly, 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, a player in the "Gurlesque" show
Ocean Bay Park
FERRY FROM Bay Shore, with last trip back at 10:50 p.m. Friday, 1 a.m. Saturdays and 11 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 piña 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 Casino’s clubby bar and deck, 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