Anyone traveling to Long Island by car needs to know the three letters that will demand your attention during your visit: L-I-E. They stand for the Long Island Expressway, otherwise known as Interstate 495 and the artery that carries the lifeblood of this region.
You should treat the Long Island Expressway with respect. It can whisk you off to your destination or stop you cold with bumper-to-bumper traffic. But before you begin your journey, here are three things to know as you head to the island.
Take a Car Trip Via Interstate 495
Under the proper circumstances, Interstate 495 can take you from one end of Long Island to the other. It offers entry points to just about everywhere in between. Avoid it during the morning and evening rush hours. In addition, steer clear of it entirely on any Friday or Sunday evening during the summer.
Seven bridges and two tunnels will get you out of New York City and heading in the proper direction for Nassau and Suffolk counties. From either way, you can reach the eastern tip of Long Island, home of the Hamptons, Shelter Island, and the North and South Forks.
As an alternate method, ferries may increase your travel time, but they are likely to reduce your stress and anxiety. Long Island is served by a pair of year-round ferries that span the Long Island Sound, connecting Port Jefferson to Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Orient Point to New London, Connecticut.
Choose the Scenic Route With Long Island Rail Road
Image via Flickr by Emmanuel Nicolas Transit Photography
More than just a means to an end for commuters, the Long Island Rail Road can also provide a relaxing and scenic opportunity to enjoy Long Island from a unique vantage point as you stay off the Long Island Expressway.
If you are visiting Long Island from a galaxy far, far away, JFK and LaGuardia airports are both located in Queens. Not to be overlooked is Long Island MacArthur Airport, a public aviation facility in the Town of Islip, Suffolk County. Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Frontier Airlines fly out of MacArthur Airport, which is located 50 miles east of Manhattan.
Explore the Scenery, Enjoy the Entertainment
Once you arrive at your destination, you can unwind and relax by enjoying a range of offerings, beginning with your accommodations. Many visitors will want to take advantage of staying in hotels close to beaches, cultural attractions, and entertainment.
Jones Beach in Wantagh offers the sand, the surf, and live music by national headliners, while the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett hosts bands just a short drive from the Hamptons.
The Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island offers walking paths through more than 2,000 acres of lush plant and animal habitats. Belmont Park in Elmont, which hosts the final leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, has been a destination for the sports world for more than a century.
Yet more ferries, from Patchogue and Sayville, will take you from Long Island proper to Fire Island National Seashore for a day of exploration and opportunity for stunning photography. Once on the “island with no roads,” you can enjoy 26 miles of high dunes, maritime forests, and desolate beaches.
From New England or New York, by train, plane, or automobile, Long Island is the strong island when it comes to access and options.
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