While typically thought of as a weekend summer getaway for Manhattanites, Long Island has enough to offer to make it a destination in itself. Start by spending a day on the North Fork, littered with farm stands, antique shops and cellar doors offering guided wine tastings and farm- to-table bites. Summer and fall are especially great times to go, as country and harvest festivals abound every weekend.
If you enjoy the beach and water activities Long Island is full of them, with some top stretches of sand being Jones Beach, which puts on numerous events; Gilgo Beach, known for its many water sports and Cupsogue Beach, home to wild seals. Head farther east to Montauk State Park to go on a guided seal walk and learn more about these adorable creatures, or take off from this point on a whale-watching cruise. There’s also a popular scuba spot known as Wreck Alley, home to hundreds of sunken ships.
If you're into craft beer, Long Island houses over 15 breweries, many of which offer the chance to tour the facilities and learn more about the brewing process. While Brickhouse Brewery pairs craft beer with live music, Southampton Publick House is historic, having brewed beer on site since the 1800s.
For those wanting to get active in the outdoors, a number of parks and preserves offer trails and wildlife, like the Bayard Cutting Arboretum with its historic manor house and themed paths like the Holly Walk, Paradise Island Walk and River Walk. Heckscher State Park is also great for picnicking, deer spotting and bird-watching with over 280 bird species to see. From here, those with lots of energy can embark on the 31-mile (50-kilometer) flat and scenic Greenbelt Trail.
With the option to stay out east in the country or to explore the mini cities of this giant island with their walkable streets and great restaurants, bars and shops, Long Island is sure to provide a diverse array of activities.
From New York City, you can head to Penn Station in Manhattan or Jamaica Station in Queens to access the Long Island Railroad, which has lines running all over the island. Depending on how much of Long Island you want to explore, it's a good idea to either rent a car or book a tour, as taxis are very expensive. If exploring the wineries, it can be fun to bring a picnic basket for a meal among the vines.