After 29 years of knowing Long Island, we finally took a trip that allowed us to enjoy it for more than just a place where family lives. We stayed with family for a few days and took it upon ourselves to discover what Long Island has to offer. We both grew up on the island, and as kids and teenagers, we felt there wasn’t much more to do (to our knowledge) than the beach, mall, and movie theater. Now that we can explore Long Island as adults, we figured out why people come here to vacation, and we have a new appreciation for the place that is our second home.

Long Island is about a 2.5-3 hour drive without traffic from Philadelphia. If you’re not a fan of driving, we’ve taken the bus and then the LIRR from Penn Station. Either way has its perks. (The tolls to get on and off Long Island are crazy, so the cost may or not be better to take the bus and train, depending on how many people.)

One of the key words associated with Long Island is probably ‘wine’. Being that when we lived on the island we were between the ages of 0-18, wineries are a newer experience to us. We’ve done them in California and once on Long Island a few years ago, but this day, we decided, would be used to really explore the wineries. Good choice! (I must add, however, that when I asked my aunt for recommendations and told her we were looking for somewhere pretty, her reply was, ‘you need to go out of state for that.’ She was right – the beauty of these wineries don’t hold a candle to the ones we’ve visited in California, but they were still lovely, and we still drank wine so it was a good deal.)

The first stop was Bating Hollow Farm Vineyard (2114 Sound Avenue, Calverton).  Most of the wineries on Long Island are out east, on the north fork. To my knowledge, this is the western-most vineyard on the fork and therefore where we stopped first. We are certainly not wine connoisseurs, but still enjoyed sharing three tastings and a glass of wine each. This all came to about $30, but we brought our own lunches so it wasn’t too bad. A pretty good first stop!

From Bating Hollow, we drove for about 20-30 minutes and passed tons and tons of potential tasting rooms. We decided on Raphael (39390 Route 25, Peconic), and we went here because we were on our way to a more commercialized place for which we saw signs. While following these signs we came across Raphael, and it was smaller and closer to what we were looking for. It was beautiful! We got three tastings and a plate of brie cheese with apricot (or peach?) salsa and crackers for under $30.

We ate and drank some at our table, and about halfway through brought our food down to standing room tables on the lawn overlooking the vines. Here we ate, drank, chatted, and had a mini photo shoot.

This will most certainly be our first choice for a wine tasting if (when) we go again.

The next day we ventured out to Stony Brook. Our family doesn’t live too close (about 30 minutes southeast) so I had never really ventured out there. A hidden gem that I actually went to twice in this trip (only one time dragging Matt with me, another time with my mom and aunt) is Robinson’s Tea Room. I didn’t take pictures (and I’m kicking myself now) but they have scones with clotted cream and jam. So delicious. And the tea was phenomenal, too. (Blueberry vanilla with milk and sugar is oh-so-good.) I probably won’t go back to Long Island without visiting this tea room ever again…

This beautiful lake (pardon the terrible photo!) and the Grist Mill are just across the street from Robinson’s Tea Room. On a beautiful day, it’s a perfect and lovely walk. (The Grist Mill is also open for demonstrations, which we missed due to the day of the week.)

Just past the lake (or maybe it’s a part of it?) is Avalon. Avalon is a privately owned park open to the public. This was an amazing park, and one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen on Long Island. My favorite part was, without a doubt, the wildflowers.

IMG_2193IMG_2195IMG_2209I hope the photos capture some of the beauty of this area. I was in awe the entire time I was walking through. So beautiful.

I couldn’t resist adding more photos…

Tea and wildflowers… A perfect day.

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