Block Island in Rhode Island is a quick getaway from...

Block Island in Rhode Island is a quick getaway from Long Island via ferry. Credit: Getty Images / Scott Eisen

When it’s time to get off the island, you have several options: bridge, tunnel or boat. Setting out by sea, of course, is by far the more romantic 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:


Fire Island is the less glittery Hamptons. With no cars, it offers visitors a completely changed mindset just a 25-minute ferry ride away. Eight communities can be accessed from Bay Shore ferries: Kismet, Saltaire, Fair Harbor, Dunewood, Atlantique, Robin’s Rest, Ocean Beach, Seaview and Ocean Bay Park. From Sayville, catch the ferries to Point of Woods, Cherry Grove, The Pines, Sailor’s Haven and Sunken Forest. While Fire Island was once seen as a retreat for "alternative lifestyles," the LGBTQ communities are centered in Cherry Grove and The Pines. Most of the 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 widely considered to be among the most pristine (and chill) beaches in New York. A favorite with day trippers is Ocean Beach, which has a boutique hotel and plenty of restaurants and shops. Eateries range from clam shacks to pizza parlors to sports bars. Parking in Sayville and Bay Shore is per car per day — $12 Monday-Thursday, $20 Friday-Sunday. The ferry round trip is $21 per person — cash only. Yes, you read that correctly. Going back to a simpler time begins at the ferry dock.



Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn. offers slot machines and...

Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn. offers slot machines and resort amenities. Credit: Getty Images/Mario Tama

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.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk has reopened with admission by advance reservation. You'll see live sharks, loggerhead turtles, seals, rays, jellyfish and a cast of other aquatic creatures — some you can touch, others best left behind glass. With an IMAX Theater, traveling exhibits and Marine Life Study cruises on Long Island Sound, you can spend all day learning about our maritime environment.

Norwalk has much more to offer. "Signal Station 44" 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 main line. Norwalk restaurants include Public Wine Bar and the small but delectable Knot Norm’s.

If you’re the gambling kind, Foxwoods Resort and Casino and Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino have reopened after pandemic shutdowns, although with reduced capacity and changes to areas such as spas, pools and gyms where patrons congregate. Beyond the tables and slots, there's a limited schedule of entertainment, restaurants (some restricted to takeout only) and plenty of hotel rooms should you want to make it an overnight getaway.



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: May 28-June 13 Fri.-Sun, June 18-Labor Day Thurs-Mon., Sept. 10-Oct. 11 Fri.-Sun. and Columbus Day. Fee: $90 adults, $60 ages 5-12, bikes $14 round trip, Parking $15 per day; reservations recommended

The ferry leaves you off in Old Harbor, the only "bustling" town on this seven-mile long, four-miles wide chunk of land out in the Atlantic Top sights include Southeast Lighthouse (where you’ll find the fantastic Southeast Light Delights Food Truck), 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: Eli’s (fine dining with a good vegetarian section) and Kimberly’s (New American fusion), Poor People’s Pub (elevated pub grub) and Aldo’s Bakery (breakfast, pastries, ice cream).



Motorists can take their vehicles on the Cross Sound Ferry...

Motorists can take their vehicles on the Cross Sound Ferry to New London, Conn. Credit: Alamy / Ian Dagnall

Take your car on the Cross Sound Ferry from Orient Point to New London ($61 each way for car and driver, although discounts available for advance reservations). Learn about the fate of the ship Amistad at the Custom House Maritime Museum (closed Monday-Tuesday,) where, in 1839, the ship was towed after captive Africans aboard mutinied and drifted to nearby waters.

Across the Thames in Groton, find the world’s first nuclear propelled submarine, USS Nautilus, berthed within the Submarine Force Library and Museum. A free tour, complete with audio guide, takes you through the sub’s cramped quarters.

The Fort Trumbull State Park visitor’s center has interactive kiosks, allowing history buffs to build their own forts, and a real periscope through which you may detect submarines coming into or leaving the Thames River right outside. Literary fans will want to walk through the boyhood summer home of playwright Eugene O’Neill, Monte Cristo Cottage.

New London also boasts the 70-year-old world-class Lyman Allyn Art Museum (closed Mondays,) 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; "American Perspectives" celebrates the arts of America from colonial times through the 20th century, often through the lens of Connecticut and specifically New London County; "Playthings of the Past" for ages 3-10, includes hands-on play with toys, books, games and dolls from many cultures and many eras of history.

There are plenty of meal options, but for an authentic New London dining experience order the chowder, lobster rolls and crab fritters at Capt’n Scott’s Lobster Dock. Plan a coffee break at Muddy Waters Café or head a bit out of town to On the Waterfront Restaurant for fresh seafood with Thames River views.


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