Summer Almanac 2012: Summer Activities

imageSea Cliff

If you want to take your favorite four-legged friend on an outing, this is the place. S/he’ll enjoy strolling the pretty, hilly residential streets and you’ll appreciate the postcard-perfect homes. Simple, stately residences feature widow’s walks, interesting peaks and artistic façades. The three-block downtown has a general store where the two biggest buildings are libraries. But the real draw is “the Boulevard,” a shoreside promenade. Lovers of scenic, fresh air walks will adore Sea Cliff, it’s like a New England hideaway—relaxed and quiet with a decidedly artsy underbelly. To say you want to slow down as you enter from Sea Cliff Ave is an understatement. Take your foot off the gas and roll with it. Sweet.

“Sea Cliff is filled with an eclectic group of people; lots of artists reside here and it is one square mile of visual delight. There is something cultural going on all the time; from Shakespeare in the Park to live music and art exhibits down at Sea Cliff Beach. My kids have a sense of freedom here that I think is lost in most places.” Artist Sharyn Bradford, Sea Cliff resident for 11 years and counting.

Emoting in Oceanside

Poetry is alive and well on Long Island and there is no shortage of places to grab a mic, stand up and read out loud. Among the best are the Summer Gazebo Readings on Monday nights at the Schoolhouse Green. What started as a small, intimate group has turned into a multi-tiered, interactive community event. Join poetry/Oceanside/Monday night-lovers and all variations in between (music/family/comedy-lovers make appearances, too). It’s about you, your lawn chair, your basket of vittles and relaxing beneath the canopy of stars.

Things you need to know about poetry readings before you go to a poetry reading:
1. It is not just for angry people with bad hygiene (some actually aren’t angry).
2. Yes, you can be clean-shaven, just please do not include shaving as part of your “performance poem.”
3. You can bring something of your own to read, but if you’re not ready for that and just want to get rid of your stage fright, feel free to read someone else’s work. Just make sure you name the author.
4. You don’t have to be “good.”
5. No one knows what “good” is anyway.
6. Channel your inner Shakespeare and remember that brevity is the soul of wit—if you get a three-minute slot, you’ll score more points at 2:56 than at 3:02.
7. Everyone started somewhere—no one is going to laugh at you.
8. Relax.
9. Have fun, dammit.
10. Repeat.

Secret Garden

Discover the transcendent feeling of yamazato at the Japanese Stroll Garden along Oyster Bay Rd in Locust Valley. The four-acre site captures the feeling of a remote mountainside hamlet. For best results, bring tea to the cha-shitsu (tea house) and experience a wabi-cha (tea ceremony). For details call (516) 676-4486 or email

imageAhoy Kiddies

You’ve met Oyster Bay, now meet her slightly quieter little sister, Bayville. What do you get? Bayville Adventure Park, a cute arcade and outdoor pirate-themed action park the short ones will love. What else? Places like Beaches & Cream Soda Shoppe, Shipwreck Tavern and Tiki Bar and Cafe. Where? All right across from Ransom Park, where else? Yeah. You get it. Pirates. Pirates. Pirates. Bonus: Gorgeous, wide open views of opposing Connecticut. On the western edge of this happy hamlet, your car might compete for right of way with a golf cart driven by a guy in tank top and crooked shades, smoking a butt and carrying a pair of tennis racquets. Is this where yuppies and pirates meet? Who cares? There’s clean, fresh, blue salt on either side.

“My love affair with Bayville began as a toddler, visiting Aunt Edith & Uncle Clem summer weekends, and sustains because though they are long departed, my cherished Bayville remains the same.” Jackie “the Jokeman” Martling, Bayville resident since 1976.

They’re Going Crazy at the Lake

If Long Island had a Central Park, Hempstead Lake State Park would be it. Twenty tennis courts, playgrounds, b-ball courts, trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, three ponds for fishing and Hempstead Lake, the county’s largest, allows for the use of car-top boats with a permit. And it’s dog friendly, with a leash. Everything is happening here (or you can bring your own). The grand slam is a daily tennis tourney starting July 2 for men and women, singles, doubles and mixed. Registration required, but not difficult at (516) 766-1029. You can get there via

imageLooking for a Sheep to Shear?

Or not, but you’d be game for a little agri-tainment? Believe it or not, deep in the heart of Nassau, technically Queens, technically a NYC site, is the longest continuously operating farm in the state. Queens County Farm Museum (Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park) is open for your agrarian pleasure. Programs abound for all ages, including quilting, honeybees and horticulture—no, not all at once—and they make for an incomparable change of pace. July 27-29 will see more than 40 Indian nations represented at the 34th Annual Thunderbird American Indian Mid-Summer Pow Wow, where dance competitions, art, crafts and all things Native American await your participation. September 9 is slated for the 32nd Annual Antique Motorcycle Show, drawing bikes that have been out of production for 10 years or more, plus early fall farm activities (think hayrides).

Get Down, Low Down

Every once in a while, you need to have a good time, lowbrow style. Find your way to a Knights of Columbus hosting Radio Bingo. It’s sort of like bingo, only a little trashier: You bring your own food, your own drink (there might be a cash bar) and your own friends. The card features songs instead of numbers and the “caller” will randomly DJ the night’s selections. Every time a song plays that matches one on your card, you mark off a square, until you get B-I-N-G-O! What do you win? More liquor, of course. How do you find it? Google or ask around. It tends to be one of those cult-like things that you know if you know. Please drink responsibly.

Bang All Day

What if, for just one day, your house was located on the steeps of the Sound, boasting expansive grounds and unobstructed views of the water? And what if you were a cool, modern-day Gatsby who collected the Island’s fun party-going socialites and then threw wild festivals? And, when they came, you beat a drum and everyone loved you for the hip shaking, no mistaking, good time they were having?

You can live this in August when the Live Art Drum & Dance festival comes to Vanderbilt Museum (Centerport). A drum circle of 30 hand-drummers, dancers and “speed painters” (interpret as you choose) will gather to spend an afternoon basking in the primal, earthy and ancient rhythms of man’s first instrument. Vanderbilt also has a summer series that will knock your flip-flops off. And tango nights, car shows and other events abound.

While there, the Vanderbilt Museum may open your eyes to a few things. The Gold Coast mansion was home to William K. Vanderbilt II during the first half of the 20th century. “Eagle’s Nest” was, and still is, the place that houses his eclectic collection of artifacts gathered during his travels around the world (especially Africa), documents and things from the guy who started the Vanderbilt Races (insane early 20th century street races in “vehicles” that were more souped-up go-karts than cars). FYI: Event rentals are available if you really want to “own it” for a day. Call (631) 854-5568 or visit for more on the museum. is your man for more on the festivals mentioned here.

“Northport is a great place for a day trip. Go visit the Lewis Oliver Farm, rent a kayak and explore our beautiful harbor. Shop the unique stores, indulge in a great lunch or dinner and take in a show at the Engeman Theater. It is truly a place for all seasons…from free summer concerts to our great Christmas tree lighting with all the trimmings (Santa and live reindeer).” Jean McNeill, owner of The Window Shop Jewelers since 1976, resident since the early 80s.