Relatively narrow in radius, Long Island small towns have a charm that can be difficult to find in New York. The mom-and-pop shops feel refreshing in a world of big box retailers. The Main Streets are bustling yet strangers seem friendlier, as if the small town vibes put everyone in a gentler state of mind. Even as the weather cools, a stroll through these three Long Island small towns will warm your heart.
A name fitting in every sense of the word, Love Lane is a mirror of merriment. There are folksy restaurants, novel shops and North Fork country elegance at every doorstep. Among those is Love Lane Kitchen. The modestly-sized gem adorned in white walls and rustic blue furnishings prepares all its gourmet meals from scratch. The place smells of fresh coffee and shares its specials on a handwritten blackboard. But nothing is sweeter than Love Lane Sweet Shoppe. Filled with fruit spreads, chocolate and personalized trinkets, it’s like wandering into grandma’s kitchenette and never wanting to leave. Once off the street, guests can head to wineries like Macari, where the award-winning vinos are creating a noteworthy buzz.
Within its small circumference (basically an intersection), the village of Brightwaters has something for every palate: an Italian restaurant (Mamma Santina Pizza), a deli (Brightwaters Village Deli), a Chinese kitchen (Spring Chinese Kitchen), a gastropub (Henley’s Village Tavern) and a bakery (Dulce de Leche Cake Shop). The owners are welcoming, the food delicious and the storefronts look like they could be out of a storybook (especially around the holidays). Around the lakes, visitors can take a leisurely stroll, ride their bikes or even feed the ducks. Those looking for some friendly competition, Wohseepee Park has two tennis courts and a wide open field perfect for races.
Known as the victorian village by the sea, Sea Cliff sits atop a 120-foot bluff on the Gold Coast. Memorial Park (also regarded as Hippie Park and Sunset Park) provides beautiful views of Hempstead Harbor, the Long Island Sound and the New York and Connecticut shorelines. The dining scene for this two-square-mile town is quite charming. Musu is a cozy spot that offers playfully named sushi rolls like the Foxy Lady along with beer, wine and sake. And K. C Gallagher’s has been a local watering hole for years. The friendly environment and personable staff make for a great time—the 8oz burgers and Sunday brunch don’t hurt either.