Just because winter is coming on Long Island doesn’t mean you have to close your doors and hide for the rest of the season. There are still plenty of things to see and do.
From a weekend getaway to nature hikes, ice skating, cultural events, and wine tasting events, we’ve got lots of ideas to share.
Pool Party Weekend
Why not make a plan to get together with family and/or friends for a ‘Pool Party Weekend.’ You don’t have to go far to find a hotel with an indoor pool and restaurant where you can shut out the idea of the cold and snow and relax in comfort. Order in, watch a movie, take a swim, enjoy the hot tub.
You can even find some great Getaway Deals. Want to get away with some friends? Book a Spa-jama Getaway at the Inn and Spa at East Wind that combines a facial, massage, spa lunch and a round of cocktails.
Or consider a Wine Country Getaway at the Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead and you’ll receive luxury transportation to visit three select wineries, complimentary tastings at each location, boxed lunch or a food voucher at a local vineyard, and a farm to table breakfast.
If you’re booking a stay with your family or children, you could also consider a hotel that includes a visit to local attractions like Spring Hill Suites Aquarium Experience, which includes admission to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead; or the Hampton Inn Garden City Family Fun Package for Four, including four tickets to the Long Island Children’s Museum.
Want to bring your pet along? The Andrew Hotel in Great Neck has a special ‘Pampered Pet Package,’ which includes luxury accommodations for you and your pet, a special welcome pet amenity, complimentary dog walks and turn-down service with treats for you and your pet.
A Brisk Winter Hike
Not afraid of a little bit of brisk weather or snow? Maybe you even like to get outside when there’s a bit of a chill in the air. If so there are plenty of nature hikes organized by NYS Parks to keep you active all winter. Go along with a naturalist guide who will show you parts of our parks you might never have seen otherwise, and who will offer insight on the wildlife, trees and flora that make these parks the gems that they are.
NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation also runs children’s programs all winter. These indoor and outdoor programs include craft-making and nature education.
Or you could venture out to the top of a lighthouse. Perhaps one of the most famous New York lighthouses is Montauk Point lighthouse, commissioned by George Washington in 1796. It is one of three Long Island lighthouses that permit a climb to the top of the tower, along with Fire Island Lighthouse (the tallest) and Horton Point.
Or you could take part in a guided walk or cruise to see Long Island’s winter seal population.
Visitors to Long Island can experience ocean life up close through several organizations and charters offering seal watching excursions. Seal watching walks in the winter are offered at various locations, including Montauk Point State Park and Jones Beach State Park, along with educational guided tours at Cupsogue Beach by the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI).
Seal watching cruises and charters can be found at Montauk and Freeport. The primary months for seal-watching are January to April. Never approach wild animals.
If you want to head out on your own quiet adventure outdoors, take a look at our full list of Hiking and Biking Trails. You can explore the rare Dwarf Pines in the Pine Barren region; set out on a bird-watching tour or discover the bluff-top hiking trails on the north end of the Greenbelt Trail system.
Explore the 588-acre Blydenburgh County Park in Smithtown, with richly forested hills and valleys at the headwaters of the Nissequogue River. Explore the historic mill district featuring the 1798 “New Mill”, the 1802 Miller’s House, the c.1860 Farm Cottage, and the c.1820 Blydenburgh Farmhouse. Features bridle paths and hiking trails. Dog friendly on leash.
Or hike the 423-acre Massapequa Preserve, representing the largest single acquisition by Nassau County of a New York City watershed property. The southern section, from Merrick Road to Sunrise Highway, contains the most diverse and ecologically valuable lands. Freshwater swamps, marsh, stream, lake and sandy-bog area provide habitat for many rare and endangered Long Island plants. The longest hiking trail in Nassau County, the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail, begins at Merrick Road and Ocean Avenue and continues through the length of the preserve, ending at Cold Spring Harbor.
Outdoor Ice Skating
What would winter be without ice skating. There are several indoor locations, but to truly get a feel for the season, bundle up and head out to one of Long Island’s many outdoor ice skating rinks. You can always have a nice cup of hot chocolate afterwards to warm you up.
The Town of Oyster Bay operates three ice skating rinks, conveniently located in Bethpage, Massapequa and Syosset. Massapequa’s outdoor rink is located at Marjorie R. Post Community Park, Massapequa. Syosset’s outdoor rink is located at Syosset-Woodbury Community Park, Woodbury. The Town’s new indoor rink, the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center, is located at Bethpage Community Park, Bethpage
Several of the Island’s villages and parks, including Port Jefferson Village, Greenport Village, Christopher Morley Park in Roslyn, Grant Park in Hewlett, Bethpage Community Park, Marjorie Post in Massapequa Park and Syosset-Woodbury Park welcome skaters of all levels to their outdoor rinks. Indoor rinks are located at Cantiague Park in Hicksville and Freeport Recreation Center, among other public and privately operated facilities.
Cultural Events (Indoors)
If you’re the type who really does not want to be out in the cold, there are a lot of events still going on at our local museums. There’s a Norman Rockwell era exhibit at the Heckscher Museum, a Long Island in the 60s exhibit at the LI Museum and a photography exhibit at the Nassau Museum of Art. Or plan an evening out at one of our local theaters and music halls where you’ll find everything from ‘Mary Poppins’ at the Engeman Theater and ‘9 to 5’ at the Bayway Theater, to Kenny Rogers at NYCB Theater in Westbury and Jefferson Starship at the Suffolk Theater.
And most people might not realize it, but our wineries, breweries and distilleries are open year-round for tastings and tours. Many feature live music during the winter months. You can arrange for transportation or a tour. Or, why not make a weekend of it and spend a winter getaway at a charming B&B.
Attend a VIP Wine Maker for a Day Blending Session at Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard, where you’ll have the opportunity to be a winemaker for a day. With this exclusive session, you and your guest will have the chance to learn how to blend a custom bottle of wine as you learn about life as a vintner.
There are a lot of other things to see and do on Long Island, even in the heart of winter. Find more at: www.discoverlongisland.com
ABOUT DISCOVER LONG ISLAND:
Discover Long Island was established under the name Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau & Sports Commission in 1979 as the official tourism promotion agency for the destination’s travel and tourism industry. The organization contributes to the economic development and quality of life on Long Island by promoting the region as a world-class destination for tourism, meetings and conventions, trade shows, sporting events and related activities. For more information, please call 631-951-3900 or visit www.discoverlongisland.com.
PHOTO: RONNIE SCHNEPF