The new year is abuzz with excitement—we can feel your resolutions from here. You’re making all sorts of promises to reinvent yourself: Because you want to be healthier, because you want to be a better person, because you want to take care of your family… But how about you make a few just because they will make you happy? This year, go out and do the one thing you’ve always wanted to do, just because. Need a little inspiration? This super seven is a heart-pumping, adventure-loving, art-hounding, foodie-indulging, easy-Saturday-loving go-to for things you can do right here on Long Island. Go ahead, indulge a little. And leave the swimmies at home.
1. Test Drive a Supercar
Getting behind the wheel of a lush ride is an exercise in exhilaration, control and bold, evocative moves. You want to own the road, not simply follow it. The Aston Martin Rapide will do more than just get you there. The British sports car maker’s 100-year tradition of high-performance and dashing vehicle design is exemplified in this latest model. The elegant form, pitch-perfect performance and responsiveness are designed to sharpen the senses and make car and driver one. Despite being a four-door sedan with room for four adults, the Rapide lives up to its moniker with a 0-60 time of 5 seconds flat and a max speed of 183 mph. It has a race-proven, hand-built 470 hp 6.0-liter V12 engine along with the super-smooth “Touchtronic 2” automatic transmission. Ergonomic functionality is paramount in both the interior and exterior, with a logical, elegant flow to all structures and components from the front grill to the tip of the rear bumper. But this is no stripped-down speed machine—seats are fine leather (anyone worth his salt should get them in red), walnut trim shines throughout and the displays utilize organic electroluminescent technology. In other words, the ultimate combination of luxury and sport. It’s time you lived out that spy movie fantasy.
Fly Like an Eagle
The sportier approach? How about piloting a jet down the LIE? The driver-oriented cockpit design of the 2012 Audi R8 GT connects a flat-bottomed steering wheel to an engine that doesn’t top out until it’s just shy of 200 mph. This limited edition supercar has a 560 hp 5.2-liter V10 engine optimized for maximum fuel efficiency and driving response. And only 333 will be sold worldwide. If you can find one, a ride in this beast is a glorious indulgence sure to inspire awe and envy wherever you go.
2. A Day at the Races
Summer is not complete without a day at the track. And none is bigger or more bacchanalian than Belmont Stakes Day. Every June, the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing concludes with a roaring crowd and thundering hooves at Belmont Park in Elmont. This is the event where dreams are dashed and history is made, sometimes by the length of a nose. While the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes draw larger crowds, Belmont is the only Triple Crown race where horses become legends. And there are few places or events where one can witness such ascension to greatness. Why? The 1.5-mile race, still run on a classic dirt track, is the oldest, longest and most grueling of the Triple Crown races. Expect free-flowing cocktails and the smells of both glory and fear as spectators (both the uptown and downtown variety), gamble for big wins or crushing losses.
There’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the prestigious French endurance race driven by some of the most finely tuned and constructed vehicles in the world—and then there’s 24 Hours of LeMons, being held in April at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, NJ. It’s an endurance race for cars valued at $500. Max. Needless to say this is a loud, messy, but oh-so-entertaining happening.
3. Live the Arts
The arts are the thread that weaves the tapestry of our social history together. And when it comes to the visual and performing arts, our region’s cache is an embarrassment of riches. East Hampton’s Guild Hall has been at the vanguard of supporting the arts by providing a venue brimming with music, dance, film and visual installations of all kinds. For those who are ready for more than just “art for art’s sake,” this is the place to take in cutting edge, relevant and inspired works from both the East End and the farthest reaches. The programming is first rate, plain and simple. Three visits, even in the same day, can lead to completely different discoveries.
Huntington’s Cinema Arts Centre is the best movie theater on LI, period.Pick up a bucket of organic popcorn and take in an indie flick you won’t find at your neighborhood multiplex.
4. Weekend Adventure
Any self-respecting Long Islander spends at least part of the summer on the water. But Circumnavigating LI by boat takes the commitment to a whole new level—it will take at least four days, and while this is no Odyssey, the task is as challenging as it is rewarding. Whether you chart your course clockwise or counterclockwise, the vistas will be stunningly beautiful, the stops at our port communities will be fun, whimsical peeks into our region’s past and the time aboard your vessel with the one(s) you love will likely become a lifelong memory. Suggested stops: Fire Island and its quiet, chill atmosphere is the South Shore destination that requires no introduction. Friendly, artsy Greenport is the easternmost stop where craft beer, unique restaurants and Bruce’s Cheese Emporium & Café easily fill out the day. And the North Shore’s historic Northport is a strolling, Rockwellian village where you’re likely to stumble upon a concert in the park.
5. Restaurant Crawl
Our fair island is pulsed by a restaurant culture and some communities thrive in it. Spend an evening with friends that starts with drinks at one spot, dinner at another and wrapping it up at a third, all within walking distance. Long Beach’s proximity to the city, the airports and the legendary surfing means local denizens are as diverse as the collection of restaurants, cafés and lounges. Everyone is here: From academics to aviation professionals to musicians to beach bums. Which usually makes for a good time. And the food keeps up: Nagahama Sushi and Nick’s Tuscan Grill for casual dining on the East End, Lola’s Kitchen & Wine Bar and Sugo Café for upscale on the West End. Sutton Place, Swingbellys BBQ and Meson Iberia are just a few others that hail from this City by the Sea.
6. Motorcycle Diaries
Motorcycles have long been a symbol of straight up, badass cool. You’ve always wanted one—and not that beat up thing your brother had in college. You want that wild, Hunter S. Thompson time machine upon which to forge your own rebel road stories. Go see Copper Mike. Equal parts artist and master motorcycle builder, Michael Cole, founder of Gravesend Cycles, collaborates with cycle lovers to create aesthetically and mechanically superior one-of-a-kind motorcycles and choppers. The process itself is part of the journey—one that ends with you cruising the streets on a bike that will live up to this undisputed king’s award-winning repertoire. The shop boasts a Lindenhurst address, so he’s homegrown, but you’ll have to get in line for his time: Lady Gaga used his “Precious Metal” motorcycle for an appearance promoting her Born This Way tour, and his work has been featured in Playboy, Forbes, The New York Times and on Discovery Network’s Two Wheel Thunder.
7. The Great Escape
No matter how much our sandbar has to offer, and how much you love it, sometimes you need to get away. Montreal is Quebec’s multifaceted jewel of a city, with entertaining happenings year-round. This is French Canada, meaning classic, European architecture, arts, music and wine-sipping, baguette-buttering culture are in high supply. Downtown buzzes with modern city life and a thriving university. Sainte-Catherine and Crescent Streets feature luxury boutiques, haute couture showrooms, art galleries, restaurants and nightclubs aplenty. And Old Montreal makes for a perfect evening stroll amid dramatically-lit historic buildings. Points of interest include the Underground City and internationally revered Musée D’art Contemporain de Montréal, while Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (the largest in the world) and Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada are among the lauded annual events. Away from the city center, the likes of Mount Royal and Mont Tremblant provide gorgeous four-season escapes into the wild for snow sports, hiking, canoeing and endless vistas. Best part? Montreal is only a short flight (or scenic car ride) away.