Long Island’s close proximity to Manhattan makes it an ideal location from which to day trip to Connecticut, New York or Pennsylvania. By train, by car, or by ferry, there’s a destination for everyone. Explore the Atlantic coast, beaches and harbors, or head inland for everything from the big cities to countryside villages of America’s northeast. Long Island itself offers several quaint destinations full of history and charm.
1. Atlantic City, NJ
Atlantic City offers more than casinos, dining and nightlife. The coastal city is home to a world famous boardwalk that dates back to the 1870’s. Take an ocean-front stroll and enjoy shopping and attractions to one side, and the ocean to the other side. Lucy the Elephant is a 6-story tall historic landmark located along the boardwalk. Built in the 1800’s, you can take a spiral staircase through her insides to enjoy 360-degree views from the top. Stop by the Abescon lighthouse, New Jersey’s tallest, and the nation’s third tallest. Climb the 228 stairs to the top for a close-up look at the 1854 lens. Galleries and museums include the African American Heritage Museum, the Atlantic City Arts Foundation and the Sea Life Museum.
Atlantic City, NJ 08404
2. Beacon, NY
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Beacon is a historic mill town located along the Hudson River. After falling into disrepair, the town has recently been revitalized and is now home to the contemporary art facility DIA: Beacon, boutique hotels, hip retailers, and fine restaurants. The 30,000 square foot DIA is located in an old paper factory and hosts contemporary installations too large for Manhattan’s Guggenheim or MoMa. An architectural award winning kayak shed is located along the river, where you can rent a boat or simply enjoy the park. Visit the many surrounding galleries and creative shops, many influenced by the draw of DIA. Enjoy a craft brew at Two Way Brewing Company or end the day at Denning’s Point Distillery.
3. Bethlehem, PA
Historic Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is a National Historic District and a nominee for the UNESCO World Heritage list. Begin your visit at the visitor center and museum store for maps and information about the many historic sites in town, most are within walking distance of the visitor center. Take a self-guided tour or join up with a guide. Sites in town include the 1750 Smithy House, where you can learn about blacksmithing and see a live demonstration. At the 1869 Luckenbach Mill grain was ground into flour well into the 1940’s. A Moravian Museum educates on the history of the Moravians, the 14th century Protestant sect that was largely responsible for founding the town in the 1700’s.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
4. Cape May, NJ
Cape May is a small island off the New Jersey coast that was named a National Historic District for its large collection of 19th century wood framed Victorian buildings. The walkable island is divided into three municipalities, West Cape May, Cape May Point and Cape May. A welcome center offers island information, maps and guides. Dining options range from casual seafood shacks to fine cuisine. The small island is free from national chains and franchises. Explore the outdoors with a trip to the beach, a hike through the nature trails, or guided whale watching trips. Visit art galleries and shops in town, located in historic buildings, or take a ghost tour. The Wildwood Aviation Museum includes a hangar filled with historic naval airplanes.
Cape May, NJ 08204
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5. Coney Island
New York City’s Coney Island features over 50 independently operated rides and attractions, beach and boardwalk. During the summer months, a fireworks show takes place every Friday night, many rides remain open until the early hours of the morning. Visit Nathan’s Hotdogs, and the Coney Island Brewing Company. Coney Island’s Circus Sideshow is among the last in American with a permanent home. The Coney Island Museum features exhibits related to the circus and the history of the famous boardwalk attractions. June’s Mermaid Parade has been running consecutively for over 35 years. The event was founded in 1983 by the non-profit arts organization Coney Island USA.
Brooklyn, NY 11224
6. Cornwall, NY
Cornwall, New York is located in the Hudson Valley. Founded in the 1600’s, the picturesque town was named for its resemblance to Cornwall, England. It’s been a destination for outdoor recreationalists since the early 19th century, and is beloved for it’s Hudson River access, the surrounding fields and mountains, fresh air and scenery. Cornwall’s Hudson Highlands Nature Museum offers outdoor programs, wildlife and nature tours. A Saturday farmer’s market features cheeses, baked goods and produces from area farms. Enjoy the river via a kayak tour, or hike into the surrounding Black Rock Forest. Downtown Cornwall is full of eclectic shops, galleries and cafes.
Cornwall, NY 12518
7. Eisenhower Park
Larger than Central Park, Eisenhower Park offers over 930 acres of outdoor space. The park was once privately owned by the Salisbury Country Club, and is has been open to the public since 1944. Swim at the nationally-famous Nassau County Aquatic Center where many of the nation’s top swimmers have competed in events. Enjoy tennis courts, a golf course, miniature golf course, baseball, soccer and football fields, and basketball courts. The Northwell Health Ice Center is home to two indoor and one outdoor skating rinks. An outdoor fitness trail offers two miles of paved jogging or walking paths, dotted with fitness stations. Three playground areas offer climbing and playing equipment for children.
Merrick and Stewart Avenues, East Meadow, NY 11554, Phone: 516-572-0347
8. Fire Island, Long Island
Fire Island is the only federal wilderness preserve in New York State. The National Seashore spans 26 miles of Long Island coastline, conserving maritime forests, dunes and over 250 years of history. Visit the William Floyd Estate to learn about this New York signer of the Declaration of Independence. Join a park ranger for a guided walking tour to learn more about the importance of the barrier beach. Canoe tours take place during the summer months. The 1858 Fire Island Lighthouse is open year-round. Climb the 182 steps to the top for a panoramic view of the park. Seasonal visitor centers at Sailor’s Haven and Watch Hill provide opportunities to learn more about the cultural history of the park.
120 Laurel St, Patchogue, NY 11772, Phone: 631-687-4750
9. Freeport, Long Island
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The Village of Freeport is a Long Island Neighborhood and home to the Freeport Nautical Mile. The mile-long stretch of scenic waterfront parallels the Woodcleft Canal. A reminder of the island’s maritime past, a wide promenade is lighted with antique lamp posts with shops and restaurants to one side, and a marina to the other. Enjoy fresh seafood at a casual clam shack, or an upscale oyster bar. Visit the fish market, or stroll the boardwalk with an ice cream. Sea Breeze is a four-acre waterfront park offering benches and views of the water. Board a luxury yacht for a local Long Island sunset cruise, or rent a kayak to explore the water on your own.
Freeport, NY 11520
10. Governor’s Island
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The 172-acre Governor’s Island is located in New York Harbor, and is easily accessible by ferry. Begin your visit at one of two visitor centers for maps and information, or join a guided tour. Walking tours take place daily, and multiple times on weekends. Summer events on the island include outdoor film festivals, art exhibits, and musical performances. Recreational opportunities include cycling, jogging, kayak rentals, miniature golf and slide hill, which offers slides for all ages. Bring a picnic or reserve your own grilling station for a full day at any one of the island’s picnic tables. Food vendors and food trucks are also scattered throughout.
Governor’s Island, NY 10004
11. Hempstead Lake State Park
West Hempstead, New York’s Hempstead Lake State Park offers several options for outdoor recreation across close to 750 acres. Three ponds are each open for fishing and stocked with trout. Hempstead Lake itself is the largest in Nassau County and is accessible by car-top boats only. Enjoy hiking, walking and horseback riding trails. Facilities include children’s playgrounds, tennis courts and basketball courts. Shaded picnic areas are available throughout. A large picnic pavilion may be rented for groups. Among the park’s most popular attractions is the historic carousel with 36 hand-carved wooden horses. The 1919 carousel was donated to the park in 1931 and was recently restored.
Lakeside Dr. West Hempstead, NY 11552, Phone: 516-766-1029
12. Kerhonkson, NY
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Kerhonkson is a small neighborhood within the town of Rochester in New York’s Catskills region. Things to do include visiting the region’s many farms. Tours are available at Arrowhead Farm and the Sugarbrook Maple Farm, where they sell authentic maple syrup year-round. Pick your own pumpkins or strawberries at Burd Farm. At Kelder’s Farm, take a photo with the giant garden gnome, and visit the petting zoo or play a round of mini golf. Several diners, small country inns and pizzerias offer classic American cuisine. Shop for Americana, collectibles and antiques at the Old Brick House.
Kerhonkson, NY 12446
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Montauk is a small village located on the east end of Long Island. It’s best known for the beaches and surfable Atlantic waves. The Montauk Point State Park is within Montauk, and is home to the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1796. Among the history exhibits at the lighthouse museum are historic documents signed by George Washington. The popular summer destination offers shopping and dining, nightlife and theatrical events. Join The East Hampton Trails Preservation Society on a guided Montauk hike, visit one of the many beaches, or ride a horse at the Deep Hollow Ranch, the oldest working ranch in America.
Montauk, NY 11954
14. Mystic, CT
Mystic is a small seaside town in Connecticut offering a charming historic downtown and ocean front attractions. Eat and shop in historic downtown Mystic, or attend the August Outdoor Art Festival or the Summer Concert Series at the Mystic River Park. Popular attractions include the Mystic Seaport Museum, the leading maritime museum in the United States. Board a historic whale ship, learn about blacksmithing and boat making in the age of sail, or cruise the Mystic River on the Museum’s steamboat. The Mystic River Park offers an Oceanside boardwalk for strolling or fishing. William’s Beach Park, at the Mystic YMCA, is the area’s only public beach.
Mystic, CT 06355
© North Port Historical website
Northport, New York is a historic village within the greater town of Huntington on Long Island. Once named Great Cow Harbor, the maritime village was founded by English colonists in the 1700’s. The Northport Historical Society maintains a museum in town that houses historical documents, photographs and memorabilia. A permanent exhibit offers an overview of the town’s history. A charming, walkable downtown district is located across from a deep water harbor. Enjoy viewing the boats docked along shore, or take a tour of the 19th century architecture, shop and dine. In the summer, enjoy a lie music from the bandstand in the waterfront park.
Northport, NY 11768
16. Oheka Castle
The Oheka Castle Hotel and Estate was built in 1917, and at the time was America’s second largest private residence. What was once a summer home for Otto Kahn and his family fell into disrepair over the years. The 115,000 square foot home with 117 rooms was restored in the 1980’s. The Gold Coast home resembles a classic French chateaux and is surrounded by elaborately landscaped gardens designed by the famed Olmstead brothers. Now open as a luxury hotel, day guests can visit the bar or restaurant, or take a tour of the estate. Several tours are available, some including champagne and strawberries or a two course luncheon.
135 W Gate Dr, Huntington, NY 11743, Phone: 631-659-1400
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17. Philadelphia, PA
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The City of Brotherly Love is offers a rich history, parks, museums and the famous Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Essential day trip stops include a visit to the Liberty Bell and take a tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Run up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art as Rocky did in the 1976 movie, and visit the recently restored love sculpture at the John F. Kennedy Plaza. For a day of museum hopping, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway offers over six cultural centers including the Rodin Museum and Drexel University’s Academy of Natural Sciences. Along the newly revitalized Delaware River Waterfront, you can shop, dine and drink.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
18. Port Jefferson Village
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Port Jefferson on the north shore of Long Island has a rich maritime history. Visit by boat or by land. The deep marina with calm waters provides access for boaters looking for a stop over to enjoy shopping, dining and attractions in the harbor town. The Port Jefferson Village center offers educational activities and exhibits on the history of the village, while the Maritime Explorium offers family-friendly exhibits on history, science and nature. Enjoy retail shops, restaurants and cafes. Stroll through the Harborfront Park for views of the harbor and marina. Village events include a 4th of July parade, Boater’s Maritime Festival and the Charles Dickens Festival.
Port Jefferson, NY 11777
19. Rockefeller State Park Preserve
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Pleasantville’s Rockefeller State Park Preserve offers over 1750 acres of pastoral fields and forested hills, donated to New York by the Rockefeller family in 1983. 45 miles of trails lined with crushed stone were laid out by John D. Rockefeller Sr. and his son in the early 1900’s. Historic features within the park include the rock walls that surrounded the original homestead, Rockwood Hall, and the 13 bridges spanning Gory Brook. Natural features of the preserve include the 22-acre Swan Lake, hardwood forests of maple, oak and beech trees, wetlands and streams. Over 200 species of native and migratory birds have been recorded in the area, as well as more than 100 species of bees.
125 Phelps Way, Pleasantville, NY 10570, Phone: 914-631-1470
20. Sag Harbor
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Sag Harbor is a small seaport on Long Island that flourished over 150 years ago when whaling was at its height and ships would dock up to 6 deep at the Sag Harbor port. Today, recreational sailboats, yachts and fishing boats utilize the harbor while Main Street offers shopping, dining, yoga studios and cafes. Havens Beach is popular for swimming and beloved by families while the white sands of Foster Beach are perfect for beachcombing. Enjoy kayaking, paddleboarding or fishing on the waters of the harbor, or stay on land to experience live music, art galleries and more in the historic downtown district.
Sag Harbor, NY 11963
21. Stony Brook
Stony Brook is a quaint college town, home to Long Island’s Stony Brook University. The north shore village offers a vibrant downtown area, historic attractions and year-round events. Most attractions are within walking distance of the hamlet’s center. Stony Brook Village features Federalist-style wood framed shops overlooking the harbor. Browse the shops, dine at the many restaurants, and enjoy live music and other outdoor events in the warmer months. Explore the waterfront by renting a bicycle, or get closer to nature and wildlife with a Discovery Wetlands cruise. The area’s Long Island Museum is spread over several buildings and includes a collection of historic carriages, art gallery, blacksmith shop and one-room schoolhouse.
Stony Brook, NY 11790
22. The Hamptons
The Hamptons is best known as a summer getaway for New York’s elite. The group of Long Island villages offers history, museums, shopping and dining, and miles of calm, protected beaches. Historic sites include the 17th century Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island and the 18th century Montauk Point Lighthouse. To learn more about the area’s ecology, visit the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center. Take a walk through the 16-acre arts and sculpture garden, LongHouse Reserve. Get on the water with a surf lesson at the Sunset Surf Shack, or take a cruise with Sailing Montauk. The Wolffer Estate Vineyard offers live jazz on Friday nights throughout the summer, or keep it more casual at Zum Schneider’s outdoor beer garden.
Southampton, East Hampton and Bridgehampton, NY
23. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point
The historic West Point military academy is open to the public for sporting events, concerts and other live performances. Visitors may tour the campus via guided bus tour. Attractions within the academy include the West Point Museum, which has preserved the academy’s history since 1843 and keeps over 60,000 historical artifacts related to the U.S. Army. The West Point Cemetery is the final resting place for those who have dedicated their lives to national service. Tours visit these sites as well as the Cadet Chapel, Battle Monument and Trophy Point. Tours begin at the West Point Visitor’s Center.
2107 New South Post Rd, Highland Falls, NY 10928, Phone: 845-446-4724
24. Vanderbilt Mansion
The Vanderbilt Mansion is a National Historic Site in New York that’s representative of the gilded age of the roaring 20’s. The sprawling country estate was one of several homes built by Frederick William Vanderbilt. The 54-room Beaux-Arts style home was built in 1896 and at the time, was a marvel of mechanical systems, infrastructure and landscaping. American renaissance interiors are a blend of salvaged items and period reproductions. To see the mansion’s interior, you must join a guided tour. Tours begin at the park’s visitor center. The 1-hour walking tour involves approximately 100 stairs. Outside the home, the grounds are open from sunrise to sunset and feature walking trails, formal gardens, and summer concerts on the lawn.
81 Vanderbilt Park Road, Hyde Park, NY 12538, Phone: 845-229-7770
25. New Canaan, CT
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Southwestern Connecticut’s New Canaan is a picturesque small town that’s perfect for day trips. Attractions include the Carriage Barn Arts Center, a non-profit gallery and performing arts venue located in a historic stone barn from the 19th century. At the New Canaan Nature Center you’ll find easy trails throughout 40 acres of woodlands and meadows. A boardwalk takes visitors through marshlands and ponds. Climb the observation tour for a bird’s eye view of the land. Visit the historic Glass House, built by Philip Johnson between 1949 and 1995. A permanent collection of sculpture and painting fills out the 49 acre property. The New Canaan Historical Society offers exhibits that explore the history of both Connecticut and America.
New Canaan, CT 06840
What are the 25 Best Day Trips from Long Island?
The 25 Best Day Trips from Long Island according to local experts are:
- Atlantic City, NJ
- Beacon, NY
- Bethlehem, PA
- Cape May, NJ
- Coney Island
- Cornwall, NY
- Eisenhower Park
- Fire Island, Long Island
- Freeport, Long Island
- Governor’s Island
- Hempstead Lake State Park
- Kerhonkson, NY
- Mystic, CT
- Oheka Castle
- Philadelphia, PA
- Port Jefferson Village
- Rockefeller State Park Preserve
- Sag Harbor
- Stony Brook
- The Hamptons
- The U.S. Military Academy at West Point
- Vanderbilt Mansion
- New Canaan, CT