Lighthouse in Long Island, NY

9 Things to Know Before Moving to Long Island

You may only know Long Island because of its famed high-end vacation spot The Hamptons or its reality TV psychic. But with four counties, two Native American reservations, two airports, and countless villages, towns, hamlets, and unincorporated areas, Long Island is a 118-mile-long stretch of diverse cultures, unique arts and entertainment, cool businesses, and white BMWs everywhere you look! If you’re thinking about moving to Long Island, there are a few things you should know before you get there!

I Heart Long Island

Gantry Plaza in Long Island, NY
Photo by Shinya Suzuki

Long Island is part of New York and consists of four counties: Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk. Brooklyn and Queens are boroughs in the New York City metro, while Nassau and Suffolk are generally lumped together and referred to as “Long Island” by locals. The island’s demographics are made up of a slightly older population and large pockets of Italian-Americans, Eastern European immigrants, Native Americans, and Asian immigrants. So if you want to be within driving (or public transit) distance of New York City and be able to experience a wealth of cultures, Long Island is a great place to settle down!

Among the Best Places to Live

Oyster Bay in Long Island, NY
Photo by Paul Aloe

Oyster Bay and Huntington, two hamlets along the North Shore, were recently rated two of the 50 Best Places to Live in America by Money Magazine. Home to Theodore Roosevelt’s summer house (which is now a museum), Oyster Bay boasts great schools and close proximity to Manhattan. Huntington is in the midst of a manufacturing economic boom and known for its picturesque views and cultural scene.

Year-Round Outdoor Activities

Seal in Long Beach
Photo by Bryan Ralphs

Summer in Long Island offers plenty of hiking, horseback riding, and fishing opportunities along white sand beaches. There are even things to do in Long Island in the winter, too! Cross-country skiing in Nassau is hugely popular, as are seal-watching cruises in Freeport. The annual Long Beach Polar Bear Splash event is also something to behold, as brave men and women jump into the Atlantic on Super Bowl Sunday to raise money for charity. Regardless of what adventures you want, Long Island definitely has them!

A Great Place for Foodies

Glen's Dinette in Long Island, NY
Photo by Gail Frederick

Although it’s often overshadowed by Manhattan, Long Island offers a rich food culture, thanks to its diverse population of Italian, Russian, Polish, Indian, and Chinese residents! Check out Asian-inspired restaurant Ariyoshi, which was voted one of the best restaurants in Long Island City by The Culture Trip. Or stop by Manducatis, a family-run Italian restaurant that’s been pleasing palates since 1977. There’s also Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor, which is run by the only Long Island chef to be nominated for a James Beard Award, and Casa Enrique, the first Mexican restaurant in Long Island City to earn a Michelin star. If you don’t know where to start, food tours like Queens Food Tours can show you everything from hidden burger joints to the best fine dining in Long Island!

A Bustling Art Scene

Sculpture at Nassau County Museum of Art in Long Island, NY
Photo by Pamela V White

There are more than 30 cultural institutions in Long Island City alone! Outside LIC, visual artists, sculptors, writers, and other creative types are celebrated from coast to coast. From LIC writer’s collective The Oracle Club to the Montauk Artists Association on the eastern side, Long Island is brimming with art! Visit the Anthony Giordano Gallery in Oakdale, which has been ranked one of the best art galleries in Long Island. If you want to view unique exhibitions, stop by the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington! Or walk through the sculpture park at the Nassau County Museum of Art. This 145-acre park has more than 40 works of art, including Fernando Botero’s quirky Man on Horseback. Whether you love classic or contemporary art, Long Island has it all!

Home of Coney Island

Coney Island ferris wheel
Photo by Bit Boy

Home of the first rollercoaster built in the U.S., Brooklyn’s Coney Island is the perfect place for a day trip in Long Island! Get your mermaid costume ready for the annual Mermaid Parade, enjoy the views of Surf Avenue and Coney Island Beach, or stroll through Luna Park. Of course, you can’t forget the amazing rides and attractions! Hop on the 115-foot Thunderbolt rollercoaster, or take a walk through the Coney Island Museum and get lost among funhouse mirrors. With plenty of restaurants, bars, and live entertainment, there’s always something to do at Coney Island.

Notable Residents

Billy Joel performing in Toronto
Photo by Samira Khan

Did you know Long Island is home to several celebrities and public figures? A few notable names include Billy Joel (Hicksville), LL Cool J (Bay Shore), Mariah Carey (Huntington), Alec Baldwin (Amityville), and Jackie Kennedy (Southampton)!

Wine As Far As the Eye Can See

Vineyard in Long Island, NY
Photo by CGP Grey

With wine councils all along the northern and southern coasts, Long Island prides itself on producing wines of all types. The cooler climate, rich soil, and ocean air produce delicious wines that are celebrated all over the island. Wine country stretches through the Hamptons to the southern end of the Island with 56 total wineries in the area and several vineyards. Family-operated Jamesport Vineyard is a local staple known for lobster rolls and sustainably-produced wines. Don’t forget to check out Winterfest, a four-week long wine and art festival held throughout the north and south wine regions. Whether you prefer white or red, there’s a wine for you in Long Island!

Variety Is the Spice of Life

Montauk Lighthouse in Long Island, NY
Photo by WalkingGeek

From the historic lighthouse in the eastern tip of Montauk to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, there’s no shortage of things to do, explore, and see in Long Island! Pick lavender in East Marian at Lavender By the Bay while enjoying the gorgeous landscape. Visit famous landmark The Big Duck, a monument to duck farming in Flanders. Enjoy a craft beer from one of 30 breweries in Suffolk County, like Great South Bay Brewing, where you can sip a famous Blood Orange Pale Ale and play a game of cornhole.

With friendly locals, gorgeous ocean views, and affordable living, Long Island is a great place to call home!

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