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Top 10 Attractions on Long Island

Ten Must-Sees on Long Island

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At 118 miles in length, Long Island has bragging rights as the longest island in the contiguous United States. Even though it's close to New York City's famed sites, Long Island can hold its own when it comes to attractions. With sugar-fine beaches, the glamourous Hamptons, famed golf courses and much more, Long Island has much to offer. It was difficult to narrow this down, but here are the Top 10 Attractions on Long Island, in no particular order.

For more family-oriented fun, please also see my Top 10 Children's Attractions on Long Island.

1. Long Island's Beautiful Beaches

Man on East Hampton beach at sunset
Mitchell Funk/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. "Dr. Beach" consistently picks several Long Island beaches for his annual list of America's Top 10 Beaches. It comes as no surprise. From Long Beach's three-mile+ stretches of powder-fine sands to the pounding surf of Montauk and the celebrity haunts in the Hamptons, Long Island features some of the world's most beautiful beaches.

2. Long Island Wine Country

Photo © Wolffer Estate Vineyard
Photo © Wolffer Estate Vineyard
Featuring a micro-climate similar to that of Bordeaux, France, Long Island's East End features one great vineyard after another. Most are on the North Fork, but you can find a few on the South Fork as well. And remember that the delicious wines don't necessarily have to be expensive. Read about affordable Long Island wines and see for yourself.

Most Long Island vineyards feature free wine tastings with entertainment on the side. Many of the vineyards are available for Wine Country weddings, set against the backdrop of beautiful acres of picturesque grape vines.

3. The Hamptons

Main Beach, East Hampton, NY
Photo © Linda Tagliaferro
One of the most famous areas on Long Island, the Hamptons are renowned as home to the rich and famous. Located on the South Fork of the easternmost end of Long Island, the area encompasses the towns of Southampton and East Hampton, with their many hamlets and villages including Sag Harbor, Water Mill and Bridgehampton --home to the annual Hampton Classic horse show. With miles of stunning beaches, museums, fine dining and celebrity watching, the Hamptons attract an annual summer crowd from other parts of Long Island and the greater New York City area and beyond.

4. Montauk

Photo © Linda Tagliaferro
Photo © Linda Tagliaferro
Although technically a hamlet within the town of East Hampton, Montauk is often billed as the "un-Hamptons" with its laid-back pace of living and surfer culture. Montauk boasts some of the best sand and surf around. In 2009, Surfer magazine named it one of the Ten Best Surf Towns in America. Montauk's legendary Gurney's Inn has welcomed visitors from Long Island and beyond since 1926 and features its elegant Sea Water Spa and more. The resort provides a breathtaking beachfront backdrop for weddings and receptions. The historic Montauk Lighthouse was commissioned by George Washington and is open to the public. There's golf, spectacular state parks, great restaurants and much more in Montauk.

5. Bethpage State Park Golf Courses

There are many private and public golf courses situated on Long Island's gently rolling landscapes. Bethpage State Park features five world-class, 18-hole courses, but the most famous one is its Black Course. In 2002 and 2009, the challenging Black Course was the backdrop for the U.S. Open. If you're not on a par with Tiger Woods or Lucas Glover, you can always play the Green, Red, Yellow or Blue courses at Bethpage. Bethpage State Park is located at 99 Quaker Meeting House Road, Farmingdale. Call (516) 249-0701 for more information.

6. Sagamore Hill National Historic Site

Photo © Linda Tagliaferro
Photo © Linda Tagliaferro
Once known as the "Summer White House," the former estate of our nation's 26th president, Theodore Roosevelt, is now a national historic site in Oyster Bay. You can take a guided tour of the impressive 23-room home and see where the former president lived with his family and entertained heads of state. You can also enjoy the Roosevelt museum and nature trails on the grounds. Each Fourth of July, there's a free celebration which includes a visit from "Teddy Roosevelt"... an actor who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late president.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site is located at 20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY. For more information, please call (516) 922-4788.

7. Nassau County Museum of Art

Nassau County Museum of Art
Photo © Nassau County Museum of Art
In 1919, industrialist and patron of the arts Henry Clay Frick gave his son, Childs Frick and his bride, Frances, a present that few today could afford: a Georgian mansion, surrounded by two hundred verdant acres. The mansion, once known as "Clayton," and its surrounding property is now the home of the Nassau County Museum of Art with a permanent collection of artwork by luminaries including Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Roy Lichtenstein, Auguste Rodin, Georges Braque and others. The grounds contain an Outdoor Sculpture Garden with works by renowned artists including Niki de Saint Phalle, Fernando Botero, Tom Otterness and others.

8. Shelter Island

Located between Long Island's North and South Forks, Shelter Island is just a short ferry ride from either tip of the Island. Walk along the beach, rent a bike or boat and explore the New England-like feel of this laid-back island. Spend a long weekend exploring Shelter Island's landscapes on your own, or take a guided walk through Mashomack Nature Preserve, 2,000-acres of unspoiled greenery owned by the Nature Conservancy.

9. Oheka Castle

Photo © Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate
Photo © Oheka Castle Hotel & Estate
Does the opening scene of the Orson Welles classic, Citizen Kane, look familiar? If so, you might have been to Oheka castle, the former estate of a wealthy financier, Otto Herman Kahn. Built in 1919 to resemble a French chateau, the castle was the scene of soirees where the likes of legendary opera singer Enrico Caruso entertained guests. The lush gardens were designed Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City's Central Park. The Gatsby era estate has been restored as a hotel and the backdrop for sumptuous Long Island weddings. There are also a golf course and tennis courts available at Oheka. The castle is located at 135 West Gate Drive in Huntington. For more information, please call (631) 659-1400.

10. Old Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Gardens
Photo © Old Westbury Gardens
The former estate of financier John S. Phipps, the mansion and 200-acre expanses of Old Westbury Gardens are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You can take a tour of the sumptuous mansion with its rich wooden panels and fireplaces, decorated ceilings and artwork. The formal gardens include statuary like the pair of 18th century French sphinxes that seem to stand guard over the entrance to the sprawling greenery. Old Westbury Gardens is located at 71 Old Westbury Road in Old Westbury, N.Y. For more information, please call (516) 333-0048.

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