This Family-Friendly New York Town Is A Beautiful, Uncrowded Alternative To The Hamptons

If you read anything about celebrities, you've almost certainly heard about the Hamptons on Long Island. This famous getaway from New York City is full of pretty-but-pricey restaurants, bars, galleries, and shops. However, if you plan on heading there as an alternative to Manhattan's touristy Times Square and giant skyscrapers, you should expect a very crowded train trip of almost four hours and lots of fellow tourists when you arrive.


If you'd like something closer with the same charm as the Hamptons but far fewer crowds, the historic town of Northport on Long Island's Gold Coast is the perfect spot to visit. This vibrant area is much closer to the big city (about 50 miles from Manhattan's Pennsylvania Station), with plenty to do and see. 

Northport has delicious restaurants, a new boutique hotel across the street from an early 20th-century theater, one of the best bakeries you'll ever experience, and historic trolley tracks running right through the town. Within a couple of miles, you'll find a wonderful vineyard, great museums, and even a restaurant in a trolley. A family-friendly gem, Northport has it all.

What to do in historic Northport

You can take the Long Island Railroad to Northport Station or drive from Manhattan. Just over 2 miles from the station is Northport Village, which was part of the 1656 Eastern Purchase from the Matinecock tribe. It was originally called Great Cow Harbor in the 17th century, and you'll see that referenced everywhere. History is all over Northport, from the old trolley tracks down Main Street to Northport Sweet Shop from 1929, where you can still get chocolate egg creams. 


Down the street is the John W. Engeman Theater, which opened in 1912 as a theater and silent movie house. It still draws a crowd, leading to a brand new boutique spot called The Northport Hotel, which opened in 2023 with 26 rooms and an upscale dining facility on the ground floor. It's pricey, with rooms around $550 a night, but the brunch alone is worth a visit.

A short walk down Main Street will take you to the harbor, with benches on the grass surrounding the water and the piers (pictured above). It's often lit up at night and is a great spot for pictures. Next to it is Northport Village Park, the perfect place to have a picnic, as many of the restaurants and shops offer food to-go. If you visit in the summer, check out the free Summerfest Concert Series and other performances in the evenings, and bring a chair or a blanket to sit on. 


Main Street and beyond in Northport

Northport has great galleries, restaurants, and bars, including The Wine Cellar on Main, which has tapas and frequent live music with a warm and friendly atmosphere. You can also check out the Northport Shipwreck Diner, located in the same spot since 1924. It's actually a former trolley car that was put in place that same year. A 0.3-mile stroll from Main Street will take you to the astonishingly good Copenhagen Bakery, where you must try a raspberry kringle. They also serve soups, sandwiches, and burgers for lunch.


Another spot to understand the history of the place is the Northport Historical Society on Main Street, which is open from Wednesday through Sunday. The society is free to visit, though there is a suggested $5 donation, and it has events like the Prohibition Pub Crawl and Sip & Paint nights. A 10-minute drive from Main Street will take you to a wonderful piece of history in the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium. You can wander the grounds and 1910 mansion, see the collections of creatures and artifacts William K. Vanderbilt II found during his travels, and enjoy a planetarium show perfect for kids. 

Two miles away from Main Street is Del Vino Vineyards. The Giachetti family has been making wine since the early 19th century, originally in Italy but now on Long Island. You can visit the tasting room (make reservations here) and sample their delicious food. It's absolutely worth the trip.