limapLast week, I was invited by a friend to take a trip out to Long Island for a short visit. I thought it would be fun, so we hit the road (and the water) to spend a couple of days visiting another friend who lives out on the Island.

Long Island, of course, is the big (long) island that spans from New York City across the full length of Connecticut (creating Long Island Sound), before it forks out towards Rhode Island. To access the island, you can drive over bridges that connect the island from Manhattan and the mainland on the far west end. But from northern New England (my home base) that involves driving southwest through New York City and the densely populated metropolitan area only to head back northeast once you are on Long Island. However, there are other options, including taking one of the ferries that cross Long Island Sound to connect to more eastern parts of the island. Since my private jet was in the shop, the ferry looked like the best option.

CSFWe took the Cross Sound Ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point on the far eastern tip of the North Fork of Long Island. The huge ferry which moves people, cars, trucks and cargo across the Sound, was very comfortable and took a little more than an hour.

From Orient Point we drove west through the more sparsely developed part of the island, passing by some of the many vineyards and farms that grace the area. I made a note to come back to visit the vineyards in the future. (Read more about the Long Island wine region here.)

Likewise, passing by the charming community of Greenport Village, made me want to come back very soon to check it out.

About Greenport Village: “A working seaport since the 18th Century. The deep-water harbor in the village center includes a 60-slip marina for transient crafts. Strolling the sidewalks, you’ll find many unique shops, galleries, and museums, as well as a restored Art Deco movie theater, and an antique carrousel. Greenport’s restaurants offer a delicious variety from picnic fare to gourmet dining, complete with local oysters and Long Island wines. Our maritime haven is just steps away from the train, bus, ferry, and charming lodgings.”

I want to return for the Greenport Maritime Festival, September 20-22, 2013.

SAM_1067 (800x600)We drove an hour or so west taking in the scenery and met up with our friend. After a casual lunch we made our way to Sayville to catch another ferry, this time for the much shorter run out to Fire Island to spend the afternoon at the beach.

About The Sayville to Fire Island Ferry: “The Sayville Ferry began the Fire Island run in 1894. For over one hundred years, Fire Island – with its wide ocean beaches, natural forests, wetlands and lively downtowns – has been an attraction for people from all over the world. Fire Island’s central communities of Cherry Grove, Fire Island Pines, Water Island and Sailors Haven/Sunken Forest, a Fire Island National Seashore Park, are served by the Sayville Ferry, which is located on River Road in the South Shore hamlet of Sayville. Once on the island, the only means of transport is a hand-pulled wagon and the only rubber you burn is the soles of your shoes.”

We took the ferry out to Fire Island Pines, where there is a cluster of summer homes connected by boardwalks – meaning no streets, no cars and believe it or not, no bikes allowed.

SAM_1207 (800x600)About Fire Island Pines: “Fire Island Pines is located on the southern side of Long Island and boasts some of the most expensive real estate on all of Fire Island. Named from scrub pine trees in the area, Fire Island Pines was originally the site of a Coast Guard station. In 1952, plans were announced to sell 122 lots and build a private harbor for yachts. The 1960’s brought a new era to the Pines. Today, the Pines continues to be both relaxing and exciting. Whether you are looking to take the wagon down to the grocery store or attend one the more famous all night parties; Fire Island Pines has all that to offer and more.”

We made our way to the beach, part of the Fire Island National Seashore, and settled in for a lovely afternoon. The weather was perfect, the beach was wide open, and we had a great day. To top it off, we were treated to a stunning sunset on our ferry ride back to Sayville.

A collection of shells along the Fire Island National Seashore:

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Despite what the old adage says (red sky at night, sailor’s delight) we woke on our second and last day to overcast skies and the threat of rain. But that did not keep us from checking out Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Great River, NY.

SAM_1313 (800x599)About The Bayard Cutting Arboretum: “Bayard Cutting Arboretum was donated to the Long Island State Park Region by Mrs. William Bayard Cutting and her daughter, Mrs. Olivia James, in memory of William Bayard Cutting, “to provide an oasis of beauty and quiet for the pleasure, rest and refreshment of those who delight in outdoor beauty; and to bring about a greater appreciation and understanding of the value and importance of informal planting.” Utilizing plans conceived by the noted landscape architectural firm of Frederick Law Olmstead, arboretum development began in 1887. The site was originally wooded and many of the large oaks now seen were retained during the clearing of the land. With the cooperation of Charles Sprague Sergeant, then director of Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, Mr. Cutting several years later began to plant his conifer collection in the area just north of the Carriage House. Contained within the collection are several trees which, regionally, are the largest of their species. Also found are extensive plantings of dwarf evergreens, rhododendron, azaleas, hollies and oaks. Wildflowers and daffodils are featured in many native woodland locations. Combined with the site’s ponds and streamlets, these areas also provide opportunities to observe a broad range of land and aquatic birds and occasional glimpses of fox, raccoon and other small wildlife.”

Although it sprinkled a few time while we were walking around the Arboretum, the rain held off until we were finished and it ended up being a lovely morning. The Arboretum is full of interesting trees and plants and includes several trails that span from the main house down to – and along – the waterfront and through various groves. Walking around the Arboretum is a treat for any nature lover or photographer.

Another visitor to the Arboretum checks out the summer flowers:

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We made time to tour the sprawling Manor House, which includes the Hidden Oak Café, where we snacked out on the veranda overlooking the great lawn that leads down to the water. The Hidden Oak Café also host formal Victorian tea parties, which I am sure is quite popular in this perfect setting.

Too soon, it was time for us to leave the Arboretum and head back to Orient Point for a ferry back to the mainland.

The quick trip to Long Island was just scratching the surface and I am looking to return soon to check out all the places I already have listed in my notebook. BTW, I am still waiting for my invitation to one of the great summer events in the Hamptons. Stay tuned.