Long Island Main

longisland-main

Long Island is, one might say, two islands. Of the four counties that share the island, two (Brooklyn and Queens) are part of New York City, emotionally as well as politically. But beyond the boroughs and the nearby commuter suburbs is a world far from the Big Apple. This landscape of working farms, quaint villages, lush vineyards, and fine beaches has been a not-too-far getaway for New Yorkers for more than a century

The nearest stops are the North Shore (mansions straight out of The Great Gatsby, and colonial history) and the South Shore (the beaches where endless convoys of New Yorkers go to escape the summer heat). Keep driving through the forests (and outlet stores) of central Suffolk County and, about two hours or so from downtown Manhattan you arrive at, so to speak, another fork in the road. Long Island's North Fork is a pastoral quilt of vineyards and farms, where roadside stands and pick-your-own fields are a long-standing tradition. Ahh, but turn south...

The South Fork's string of seaside villages (Westhampton, Hampton Bays, Southhampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton among them) are collectively known, logically enough, as The Hamptons - a celebration of the celebrity lifestyle. (Yes, Martha Stewart is still a resident.) This is a summer place, a haven of long days at dune-sheltered beaches, sophisticated village shops, fresh seafood restaurants, fine golf courses (time-honored Shinnecock Golf Club will host the 2004 U.S. Open), galleries, and stellar museums. In short, it's the good life, in a New York state of mind.