Long Island Gilded Coast

Day 1. Explore Long Island’s Castles – Just a short ride from New York City on Long Island’s north shore is a place of uninhibited wealth and opulence immortalized in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby. Many of the mansions on the “Gold Coast,” so-called for its huge concentration of fortunes here, are open for the public’s viewing and enjoyment. Visit Sand’s Point Preserve where you’ll see three mansions: Castlegould, modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle; Falaise, a Normandy mansion filled with historic artifacts; and the castle-like Hempstead House. Spend the night in a nearby castle or mansion at Oheka or Glen Cove Mansion.

Day 2. Spectacular Gardens and Gilded Halls – Visit Planting Fields Arboretum/Coe Hall, a Tudor Revival mansion where you can view the family’s original furnishings, including the completely restored Louis XVI reception room and the spectacular grounds and gardens (created by the Olmstead Brothers). Then explore the stately halls and meandering gardens of nearby Old Westbury Gardens. This elegant estate, which features a 70-room English manor house and traditional English formal gardens, sprawls over 100 acres. Dine in nearby Oyster Bay, where you’ll also explore Sagamore Hill, the home of President Theodore Roosevelt.

Day 3. More Than a Mansion -The Vanderbilt Mansion, besides being the magnificent home of railroad tycoon descendent William Vanderbilt, is also a planetarium and natural history museum. Explore the amazing dioramas of magnificent creatures from around the globe including a truly astounding marine exhibit showcasing a full-length whale shark; and a cultural exhibit including a mummy, weapons and a shrunken head. Spend the late afternoon on a stroll the quaint village of Northport before dining at a waterfront, Prohibition-era inn in Centerport.

Day 4. Former Mansions, Now Museums – Visit two of Long Island’s Gold Coast mansions converted to public use as museums. Clayton was the home of Henry Clay Frick, co-founder of U.S. Steel. Today, the Georgian mansion in Roslyn houses the Nassau County Museum of Art, which features a permanent art collection as well as changing exhibits and a 145-acre sculpture garden. Then explore Welwyn, now the Holocaust Memorial and Education Center of Nassau County. This estate was one of the many Pratt estates that formed the Pratt compound in Glen Cove. Charles Pratt, one of the founders of Standard Oil, settled in the area in 1890. The recently renovated facility includes both indoor exhibits and outdoor sculptures.