Written by Ishtar on 23 Sep, 2001
If you've ever visited Great Neck, you'll agree that the words "plaza" and "village" are hardly appropriate. Great Neck Plaza is one of the few upper-middle class shopping areas that doesn't have its nose up in the air. Its main artery is Middle Neck Road,…Read More
If you've ever visited Great Neck, you'll agree that the words "plaza" and "village" are hardly appropriate. Great Neck Plaza is one of the few upper-middle class shopping areas that doesn't have its nose up in the air. Its main artery is Middle Neck Road, both sides of which are celebrated by mostly independent store owners, except for maybe Starbucks and Omaha Steaks. The sidewalks are all red brick, and plants are everywhere, and wherever possible, flower baskets are hanging from street lanterns or bow gracefully to the sidewalks from concrete planters.
I chose to show my foreign students Great Neck Plaza today, as they had scheduled, and postponed, their annual autofest and street festival. Despite the disappointment of the cancellation, we all decided to explore on foot anyway. Parking here is a challenge; when you tire of going around the block eight times, you can always settle for the municipal parking lot where it costs you $0.25/hour, a bargain considering where you are.
All roads lead to Middle Neck Road, which is the busiest and most populated in the village. We strolled up one side of the street, and when we approached the Great Neck Railroad Station, I suggested we walk over and look around. This is home to the Long Island Railroad, one of the ways Great Neckers link to Manhattan and the rest of Long Island. The station has an early 1900s look, right down to the waiting room, where you can also purchase tickets. A newspaper vendor has a stall right by the stairs leading down to the Manhattan bound trains, and I'm sure he has stories to tell. There is still a romance to riding the railroad in my heart, even if you are not traveling a great distance. By express, you can reach Penn Station in about 20 minutes.
There are innumerable restaurants in the area: quite a few kosher, shish kabob, Italian, Japanese, and a recent Thai, which we tried a couple of months ago and was a must on the hit list.
Making a right on Bond Street, there are some benches, which look very inviting, that have been permanently fastened to the sidewalks. Farther up the street was a Hagen-Dazs, a children's shop (there are many, and a shop with handmade pottery and kitchenware. So what makes this such a ritzy place? Well, for one, I dare you to find a price tag on anything you see in any window in Great Neck Plaza. There are none, and as the old adage goes, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. Also, the village of Great Neck was home to some of the most famous millionaires: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Groucho Marx, and W. C. Fields all lived here at one time. This is one of the few New York places that are litter- and graffiti-free. Many of the region's top doctors live or practice here: most of my physicians are in this area, and I don't mind the ride, as it's always enchanting. My favorite international food store has been here as far as I can remember, and I can go in at any time for soft white Syrian cheese, Turkish halvah, Greek olives (both green and black), bulk spices, hennah, dried fruits, teas, and a great variety of nuts. It's called the Five Continents, and if you're in the area, pop in. When the bread is freshly delivered, there is no better pita on the face of the earth. Stay tuned.
Written by PassingBy on 28 Jul, 2004
Ah, the joys of driving to or from Long Island. Who among us hasn't experienced it? What's your favorite now? Is it that stop and go section of I95 around Co-Op City? It's charming, isn't it? What better way to spend an hour staring at…Read More
Ah, the joys of driving to or from Long Island. Who among us hasn't experienced it? What's your favorite now? Is it that stop and go section of I95 around Co-Op City? It's charming, isn't it? What better way to spend an hour staring at the license plate of the car in front of you.
Or maybe you prefer the Southern State Parkway? That adrenaline rush of entering 65MPH traffic... absolutely exhilarating. If you're more the sedate type, the Long Island Expressway will be your road of choice. The construction zone in Nassau County is a great place to catch up on your sleep.
Yes, making frequent trips between Long Island and Massachusetts, I'm intimately familiar with the ins and outs of car travel. Sometimes when it all gets too much for me, I'll throw the budget to the wind and opt for the ferry. OK I'll be honest. Too often, I'll throw the budget to the wind. If you're planning a trip across the Long Island Sound, here are the ins and outs of the two main routes; The Cross Sound Ferry and The Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry.
The Cross Sound Ferry
New London, CT -- Orient Point, NY
I'll admit to an emotional preference for The Cross Sound Ferry, as it was often a halfway meeting point for my husband and I when we were dating. That highly personal bias out of the way, this ferry line has some truly beautiful boats in the fleet. Of the six boats, my personal favorite is the Susan Ann. This sparkling clean and modern vessel has airline and booth seating and a comfy movie theater. History buffs will find the Cape Henlopen of interest, as this boat participated in the D Day Invasion of Normandy. Most of the boats do show a movie during the ride, providing some entertainment during inclement weather. If the weather is good however, you'll want to be outside during your trip, as both the Sound and the sky are beautiful and relaxing, day or night.
The trip takes anywhere from 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 30 minutes, depending on sea conditions and the speed of the boat. One exception, the Sea Jet passenger-only ferry will make the run in 40 - 45 minutes. The ride itself can get a little rough halfway through, so those prone to motion sickness should be prepared for this part of the ride. Thankfully it's rather brief. "Silence of the Lamb" fans take note -- the famed Plum Island Animal Disease Research Facility that was promised to Dr. Lecter is passed by during this trip, and you're guaranteed to overhear at least one Jodi Foster impersonation during this part of the ride ("You can walk on the beach... underheavilyarmedguardsupervision...")
The web site states the fleet makes the trip year round at conveniently staggered times, but I've found the line to close during the winter months. The schedule changes with the season but you shouldn't have any trouble finding a boat that matches your schedule. Reservations are mandatory and during the summer season it is often necessary to phone at least a week in advance. For the high volume tourist weekends such as Memorial Day and Labor Day, be sure to make your reservations as early as possible. A major credit card is required to hold your place.
Finding the ferry from the New London site is a breeze, with well-marked signs directing you from I95. The same really can't be said, however, for the Orient Point ferry, as it's located far off the last exit of the Long Island Expressway at the end of a long, narrow and winding Route 25. Those unfamiliar with the area can easily find themselves confused, as there seems to be some strange ban on signs at the end of Long Island (except for the wineries). If you get off at Orient Point at night, the trip to the Long Island Expressway can be disorienting and confusing, as the road itself is pitch black with very few lights on the road. Be sure your car has plenty of gas, as there's only one lonely gas station open at night, far from the ferry terminal itself.
Pack a snack for the trip, especially when traveling with children. The food on the boat is horrifying, and more frightening is the prices. One notable exception is the baked goods that are rather tasty, but the price is still prohibitive.
Once in Connecticut, the New London/Mystic area has plenty to do for all ages. In Orient Point, there are wineries to visit, beaches, and Splish Splash water park, however these are a bit of drive from the ferry terminal.
The price is a pocket draining $38.00 car + driver one way fare. Additional charges apply to others in your car.
The Bridgeport - Port Jefferson Ferry
Bridgeport, CT -- Port Jefferson, NY
An oftentimes-overlooked fleet, the smaller Bridgeport-Pt. Jeff line has some attractive plusses missing in The Cross Sound Ferry. This fleet also sails year round with a smaller offering of three large boats. Not as spacious and clean as the Cross Sound vessels, the view from the top is still as breathtaking.
The ride across the sound can take anywhere from 50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, again depending on sea conditions. As the ride is Sound only, opposed to a brief segment where you hit ocean currents with Cross Sound, there is no fear of motion sickness as there is rarely more than a slight rock. On calm days I generally feel no motion at all. As this travels a smaller distance, you can see each shore during your entire ride. The view is still just as stunning.
For the directionally challenged, the opposite rules apply to this fleet from Cross Sound. Finding the Port Jefferson terminal is a breeze, with Route 112 North off the Long Island Expressway running almost to the loading dock itself. Bridgeport, however, is another story. While I feel equally safe in New London, Port Jefferson and Orient Point, I will not drive in Bridgeport after dark. The endless construction and tiny signs pointing to the ferry complicate matters.
Once again, the same rules apply to packing a snack for the trip, as the food is tasteless and overpriced.
In Port Jefferson, you can drive off the ferry and park your car in an adjacent parking lot if you wish to explore the village (and I hope you will!) One of my favorite villages in Long Island, Pt. Jeff is charming and packed with stores and restaurants, yet not too large to be overwhelming. In Bridgeport, there are a number of quality museums to visit in the area, but they will be a small drive from the terminal itself. The Bridgeport - Pt. Jeff line offers an added plus of arranging various day trips and tours so be sure to check out the website to see what's being offered at different times.
Another budget busting fare, the one way car + driver is $39.75 with the Bridgeport tax included. Note again additional passengers will be extra. Overheard on a June, 2000 trip from a boy appearing about 11 to his dad, "It was $55.00 for us just ONE WAY?!?! That's ridiculous!!!" I tend to agree.
While I am sure the expense of running a fleet must be staggering, I view both ferries to be rather overpriced. However, as I justify to myself upon forking over the debit card, sometimes the mental health aspect overcomes the desire to save money, as unless you are driving early in the morning or late at night, the traffic at various points to and from Long Island can be extremely brutal.
Not to mention, you can't view the stars reflecting on the Sound from your car. Happy Sailing!
This is an older article I wrote for Epinions on the Long Island ferries. It was written back in 2000, but I think still applies today. I've updated the cost of the trip, but all other information remains the same.
Written by naomi on 14 Jul, 2000
Northport is one of those story-book places, where houses are painted in curious colors (one is a beautiful lavender and turquoise--I'm not kidding) and are turn-of-the-century with front porches and rocking chairs. But for all its nostalgia-making, it has a modern twist too, which means…Read More
Northport is one of those story-book places, where houses are painted in curious colors (one is a beautiful lavender and turquoise--I'm not kidding) and are turn-of-the-century with front porches and rocking chairs. But for all its nostalgia-making, it has a modern twist too, which means Main Street has a Gap now (or some store like it) where my favorite wood-planked 'Everything' store used to be. It was like an old 5&10-cent store and you could find thread, patterns for non-descript A-line dresses and cheap plastic dolls. It was quirky, but in a good way, not a Norman Bates kind of way. That place is long gone, but it's remembered by the old-timers (and some middle-aged timers) so I guess it's not really forgotten. Northport is where you bring your out-of-town relatives when you can't stand them another minute telling you where to put your utensils for the best efficiency. It's a great place to walk around, sit in the park's gazebo (it has a gazebo! and some nasty history too, but we won't go there). And in the summer, the town's band plays! It's right out of, 'The Music Man,' (which is a fine Broadway play, despite the lack of chemistry between Craig Bierko and Rebecca Luker). Just think of Northport as Iowa-east Close
This is an old-world kind of place and has gotten a tad touristy in the past 5 years. But it still has many charms, among them an old-fashioned toy store with inexpensive doo-dads and candy to please any discerning palate. There's a educational toy store,…Read More
This is an old-world kind of place and has gotten a tad touristy in the past 5 years. But it still has many charms, among them an old-fashioned toy store with inexpensive doo-dads and candy to please any discerning palate. There's a educational toy store, specialty antique stores and an animal-lovers store. If you're into classic snob-clothes, there's a Talbots, which is popular among residents. I'm more of a vintage clothes lover. We don't call them thrift stor clothes anymore, now they're "Vintage Classics." Whatever the nomenclature, I like a quality bargain and I'll let you in on a secret. I have dressed my kids in creme-de-la-creme sturdy overalls, playclothes and the occasional dress-up outfit only because I'm thrifty. Some call it mendacious, frugal. Whatever. I'm talking Osh Kosh, Gap, Old Navy, stuff that has natural kid-puke resistance. You get the picture. How did I manager this on my meager salary? By frequenting the best thrift store in the world, Holiday House, technically in Huntington (74 Huntington Road, (631)427-2944, but spiritually in Cold Spring Harbor, one of the weathiest suburbs on Long Island. Evidently, people of wealth deign to wear things very briefly and don't sweat much and people like me benefit. And the best part--all the proceeds go towards transforming this oddly shaped antiquey homestead into a summer camp for underprivileged youth! So you're getting some Donna Karan and a kid goes to camp at the same time! I've helped outfit school plays, bought umpteen Halloween outfits and have a number of classic suits I'm still waiting to wear. But they'll never go out of style so there's no need to worry!
Now you know. Open October through May, some of the best stuff goes for a mere $1 when Mickey and Linda are absolutely sick of it all and are ready for vacation. Tell them Naomi sent you and maybe they'll tell you about the midnight-madness sale. (I'm making that part up. Or am I?) Close
Walking around Huntington is not an exciting ephiphany-inducing activity. It's one of those 'I don't feel like doing anything strenuous' type of ways to spend a day, that appeal to me more and more since I've seen my 30s disappear. Which doesn't mean it's a…Read More
Walking around Huntington is not an exciting ephiphany-inducing activity. It's one of those 'I don't feel like doing anything strenuous' type of ways to spend a day, that appeal to me more and more since I've seen my 30s disappear. Which doesn't mean it's a boring place to visit. It's more a way of looking back, reveling in the small pleasures of life and appreciating the little things. Now that I'm capitalizing on my so-called wisdom (after all, if I'm this old, I must have learned SOMETHING, right?) I notice that it's the smaller things in life that count most. The strolls through friendly neighborhoods (that don't have to be in Italy, although that's nice, too), the waving 'hello' to the familiar faces. I don't know if a place like the one I'm about to describe exists near yu, but in Huntington (and in other towns on Long Island) we have what are called, "Dairy Barns." Now, to mothers (and fathers) of toddlers, the local Dairy Barn is a blessing. It's essentially a drive-through dairy-product store where you get served via car window. The first time I encountered this, it was miraculaous to me. I was saddled with a 9-month old, having just moved to New YOrk from Florida, and forever running out of bread, eggs and the basics. Did I mention you can buy these staples of life there as well? Anyway, Long Islanders lover their Dairy Barns, because you don't have to get dressed up (sweats, pajamas, anything that covers is acceptable) unlike a trek to 7-11, where you have to actually get OUT of your car to buy coffee. But I digress (as I am wont to do, sorry). Check out the tiny little picture opn the site and you'll even see what they look like:tiny, red barns! What genius.
Back to Huntington, where even the local homeless lady has been written up. I'm not joking, or trying to be mean. She apparently comes from a family that has repeatedly tried to bring her home. She'd rather hang out in Huntington (once I saw her in Greenlawn, a nice walk!). She's may be homeless, but she has good taste. Of course, that's not the only reason to go to Huntington. I have a favorite thrift store nearby (another journal will offer details), I know which health-food store to go to--and there's a few to choose from. There's even a pet shop that usually has a kitten or two to ogle. And once, I saw Billy Joel eating sushi at the Kura Barn, a Japanese restaurant on New York Avenue. And no one bothered him because he used to live here. Huntington packs a nostalgic wallop for me, because I remember bringing toddlers to a Memorial Day Parade here, and now those toddlers are taller than me. Well, at least one is. But this is the place I bring all my out-of-town friends (when they tire of the beach--which is also nearby). This is where I'd bring you. Close
Written by VegasLover on 30 Aug, 2005
On a hot summer day, anyone from Long Island and New York City knows that the place to really cool off is Splish Splash water park in Riverhead. Named no. 5 on the Travel Channel’s world’s best water parks, it is Long Island’s gem.…Read More
On a hot summer day, anyone from Long Island and New York City knows that the place to really cool off is Splish Splash water park in Riverhead. Named no. 5 on the Travel Channel’s world’s best water parks, it is Long Island’s gem.
Getting to the water park is really easy; it’s right off the Long Island Expressway. The prices are reasonable for admission ($27.99 for adults, $8 for parking). A real helpful hint: go to any McDonald’s or Wendy’s and they have coupons for $3 off admission.
The park is beautiful. They left most of the trees in place, so the waterslides are built into the surrounding area. There are 13 major slides and attractions, all ranging in thrill levels, with the Lazy River being on the low level of thrills and Cliff Dive being the highest. Side note: Cliff Dive is an 8-story-high slide that has you drop down to earth in 3 seconds. It is also the slide you can see for a mile before you arrive at the park from the Long Island Expressway, so this ride is not for the faint of heart. Most of the other rides the majority of people will love, without the I’m-going-to-throw-up factor.
The water park has plenty of eateries to choose from, but you might want to consider having food out in your car in a cooler, because it will be cheaper and they allow you to leave the park with just a hand stamp to get back in.
If water parks are not your thing, right next to Splish Splash is the Tanger Outlet with over 100 stores in two shopping complexes. Any shopaholic will find there nirvana here. There are great deals and a mix of high-end stores with low- and middle-end stores and funky eclectic stores. There is a place for anyone’s tastes and budget.
Down the road from the outlets are some chain restaurants (Fridays, Applebee’s, etc.), but the best addition to Riverhead is Krispy Kreme. If you’re reading this and have never heard of Krispy Kreme, it is a doughnut shop that makes the best doughnuts in the world. They make their doughnuts fresh throughout the day and tell you when fresh ones are coming out with the lighting of the NOW HOT doughnut sign outside the shop. If you take nothing else from this travel review, eat at Krispy Kreme. Trust me, you will love it.
Written by macytank on 08 Jul, 2005
Besides the wineries on Long Island, there are plenty of other attractions to fill your itinerary. The winding drive to the tip of the island has breathtaking views of the ocean and coves and has several stopping points for travelers to get out and take…Read More
Besides the wineries on Long Island, there are plenty of other attractions to fill your itinerary. The winding drive to the tip of the island has breathtaking views of the ocean and coves and has several stopping points for travelers to get out and take pictures.
At the very tip of Long Island is New York State’s first lighthouse, which was funded by George Washington. Tours of the lighthouse, including climbing up the steep, narrow staircase to get to the top of the watchtower, can be purchased at the door. Once at the top of the tower, you can see magnificent views of the ocean and Montauk, New York’s easternmost city.
Montauk is worth the drive out to the edge of the island. Its quaint shops line the main highway that goes through town, and once parked, the beach is a short walk from just about anywhere.
Written by naomi on 12 Jul, 2000
Long Island has often been the butt of many a joke. And with ample reason--what with 'Long Island Lolita' for one (let's not go there again, Joey, My Joey) to its endless strip malls and big-hair references. But it's also about middle-class families quietly trying…Read More
Long Island has often been the butt of many a joke. And with ample reason--what with 'Long Island Lolita' for one (let's not go there again, Joey, My Joey) to its endless strip malls and big-hair references. But it's also about middle-class families quietly trying to raise their children into productive human beings (ok, the kids with purple and white hair ARE a little scary) but didn't you ever wear elephant pants in the 60s? Long Island has been my home for the past 18 years--longer than I've lived anywhere. And I've lived all over this country. Except Washington State, mainly because I try to avoid nuclear reactors. Like that's possible anymore. But I digress. Which I will do frequently, so I'm warning you here and now. That's how I write. Kind of stream-of-conscious sarcastic. With some hard information buried underneath the posturing. So, if you want to know about Long Island, the good, the bad and the ugly (and there's no shortage of any of those), keep looking for my entries. If you're faithful, I'll tell you about the REAL Amityville horror... Close
Written by kr1st3g on 29 Oct, 2003
Fortunately for the urban surfer, Long Beach is very accessible by public transportation. The Long Island Rail Road runs a train to Long Beach that leaves from Penn Station. The Long Island Rail Road's Long Beach line ends about 1/2 mile from the beach, and…Read More
Fortunately for the urban surfer, Long Beach is very accessible by public transportation. The Long Island Rail Road runs a train to Long Beach that leaves from Penn Station. The Long Island Rail Road's Long Beach line ends about 1/2 mile from the beach, and it is an easy stroll down to the boardwalk. You can also carry your surfboard onto the train without any extra charge. Train tickets to Long Beach cost $8.75 for one-way on the peak schedule, and $6 for one-way, off-peak. Trains generally run at least once an hour on weekends, and more frequently on weekdays. For train schedules, fares and other public transportation info, go to mta.info and click on the Long Island Rail Road link. Close
Written by summerbabe819 on 15 Nov, 2013
If you are wondering where to go for a weekend in the summer, there is no place like the Hamptons. Sure, it is a little pretentious, but that's half the reason we all love it. Wear your best sundresses, espidrilles and floppy hats, its an…Read More
If you are wondering where to go for a weekend in the summer, there is no place like the Hamptons. Sure, it is a little pretentious, but that's half the reason we all love it. Wear your best sundresses, espidrilles and floppy hats, its an area you want to look your best. There are great restaurants, bars, shopping and even a few vineyards. Beach, sun, beautiful people: It's all there. Close