Drive-in movies and concerts are a great new way to spend the day, but Long Island offers a wide variety of other outdoor attractions within driving distance. From art exhibits to historic homes to lighthouses, here are some day road trip suggestions, that'll take you along a path driving from the west and heading east.
Roslyn Harbor: The Sculpture Park
Not all works of art are kept indoors. Sculpture Park at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn offers 40 outdoor sculptures, some dating to the early 1900s, set amid nearly 150 acres of gardens, wooded area and ponds. The indoor museum is now open. After viewing the exhibits, take in more fresh air by heading down one of the trails within the William Cullen Bryant Preserve.
INFO One Museum Dr.; 516-484-9338; nassaumuseum.org
Sands Point to Huntington: Gold Coast Mansions
Read (or reread) “The Great Gatsby” to get a Roaring Twenties vibe and head to the Gold Coast to visit the mansions and setting that inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book. Sands Point — aka “East Egg” — is home to the Hempstead House, one of four mansions on the grounds of the former Guggenheim Estate. Long Island’s famed mansions are not limited to the North Shore. Also be sure to visit Old Westbury Gardens in Old Westbury, the Vanderbilt Museum & Planetarium in Centerport and Oheka Castle in Huntington.
INFO Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, 127 Middle Neck Rd.; 516-571-7901; sandpointpreserveconservancy.org
Hicksville: Billy Joel’s childhood town
Throw on “Piano Man” and take a ride by the town where Billy Joel lived when he “wore a younger man’s clothes.” The Hicksville native grew up in a Levitt house and as a kid was photographed standing on the sidewalk outside the home. Turn the day into a Billy Joel Long Island tour by hanging out at the village green or cruising the miracle mile.
INFO Meeting Lane
Huntington Station: Walt Whitman birthplace
Billy Joel isn’t the only famous Long Island product. “Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,” wrote renowned poet Walt Whitman of his Long Island roots in his late-1800s poem, “Song of Myself.” The farmhouse where Whitman was born in 1819 still stands in Huntington, having been restored and filled with 19th-century furnishings and Whitman artifacts. Tours have resumed. Registration is required on the website.
INFO 246 Old Walt Whitman Rd.; 631-760-6216; waltwhitman.org
Lattingtown to Amityville: Famous houses
Long Island has famous residents, but also famous houses and locations that have made cameos on the big screen. There’s the Lattingtown house that Tom Hanks and Shelley Long attempted to renovate in “The Money Pit.” The Old Brookville house where Robert De Niro first met Ben Stiller in “Meet the Parents.” And plenty of others, including the area at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale where Sonny was killed in “The Godfather,” and, of course, the “Amityville Horror” house.
Fire Island: Fire Island Lighthouse
It’s Long Island’s tallest lighthouse, with 182 steps needed to get to the top of the 168-foot structure. From there, walk the beach or the boardwalk to Robert Moses State Park, or bring some golf clubs and head to the park’s Pitch and Putt Course.
INFO Burma Road
Great Neck to Port Jefferson: George Washington Spy Trail
Stretching 50 miles along Route 25A — from Great Neck to Port Jefferson — the George Washington Spy Trail provides a glimpse of Long Island’s role in the Revolutionary War. Washington himself in 1790 traveled the route, used as part of the Culper spy ring, which was organized in Setauket at Washington’s request to have Patriots work undercover. Portions of the AMC series “Turn: Washington’s Spies” take place along the trail.
INFO 631-751-2244; longislandheritagetrail.com
Stony Brook: Hercules Pavilion
The USS Ohio in 1820 became the first ship to launch from Brooklyn Navy Yard. The figurehead and anchor from that ship now sit inside a pavilion along Stony Brook Harbor in Stony Brook. Also on site is a Polaris whaleboat dating back to 1870. While in the area, take a pontoon tour of the wetlands, rent a kayak or paddleboard and head into the Harbor, or visit Mill Pond and Avalon Park & Preserve.
INFO Main St.; 631-751-2244; Stonybrookvillage.com
Farmingville: Bald Hill
Jutting out from one of Long Island’s highest points is the Vietnam Memorial, an obelisk-shaped structure topped with an American flag mural. The Long Island Community Hospital Amphitheater at Bald Hill is a 7,000-capacity venue that last summer hosted Ringo Starr.
INFO 1 Ski Run Ln.; 631-676-7500; licommunityhospitalamp.com
Calverton to Mattituck: Sunflower Maze
Catch some sun in a field of sunflowers. People — and bees — have flocked to Sidor Farm’s sunflower maze in Mattituck, an Instagram hot-spot offering rows of sunflowers across nearly 25 acres of farmland. Get there just before sunset in August for peak bloom. Rottkamp's Hollow Farm in Baiting Hollow has a new sunflower maze which will reopen mid-September. Leave some time to visit Long Island’s wine country on the North Fork.
INFO 8632 Wickham Ave.; 631-298-5907
Flanders: The Big Duck
The Big Duck is … well, a big duck. Originally built in 1931 by duck farmers as a roadside attention-grabbing shop, the 20-foot tall, duck-shaped structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Now a park-front gift shop, museum and tourism center, the Big Duck is a local landmark alerting those headed points East that the Hamptons are near.
INFO 1012 Flanders Rd.; 631-852-3377
Montauk: The Montauk Light House
THE END. Just drive east until you can’t go any further.
INFO 2000 Montauk Hwy.