When visiting NYC, many tourists overlook visiting nearby Long Island that offers a relaxing day away from the Manhattan crowds but offers many interesting sites and great restaurants. If you are a fan of The Great Gatsby, the book or the film, this is the locale where the fictional lives of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan took place. This guide will show you Gatsby’s Long Island along with tips for making a weekend (or a day) out of visiting
Whether or not you know the story, it is still worthwhile to visit while in New York City to see homes of the famous gilded age. Whether or not you appreciate their vast wealth or not, the repurposed usage makes for an amazing visit year round.
The locations described in this blog about Long Island are about thirty minutes by car from Midtown Manhattan on a weekend. It is possible to visit these sites by public transportation via the Long Island Railroad although a car offers the most convenient means of seeing these Gatsby-inspired mansions.
Do not feel pressured into seeing everything in one day since these sites offer many hours of fun, education, and relaxation. I’d recommend making a weekend out of seeing the Gold Coast and some other historic Long Island towns (like Roslyn). Click to check prices at a cozy B&B near the Gold Coast.
West Egg / East Egg: the real locations of the Great Gasby
The fictional town of West Egg in the Great Gatsby does not actually exist. The author of the Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald was originally from Minnesota. He lived on Long Island in Great Neck for a period shortly after his daughter was born.
Although Great Neck is lovely, it was the inspiration of West Egg, where new wealth lives. East Egg is where the wealthy old wealth lives in the Great Gatsby and it is said to be inspired by several areas across Long Island’s North Shore. Some of these homes have since been converted into museums, so you don’t need
Nassau Museum of Art / Frick Estate
In Roslyn, the Nassau Museum of Art formerly the home of Frick Estate (Carnegie associate) is a beautiful 145-acre property. The Museum offers many world-class artists including Kandinsky, Picasso, and Warhol. The exhibits rotate every few months. Check the museum website for detailed information about the current exhibit, docent tours, hours.
If you are a real art aficionado, there are docents offering detailing tours. The grounds are massive and I encourage you to take a walk around the property to see the sculptures, or simply enjoy nature.
It’s hard to ignore Oheka Castle in Huntington as it’s supposed to have been a source of inspiration for the Great Gatsby. Oheka Castle was built by Otto Kahn, an investment banker. This spacious home built in the 1910s is one of the largest private homes in the United States. Notably, shots of the exterior were used in Citizen Kane, which was primarily shot elsewhere.
Today the property serves as a luxury hotel and wedding venue, making it harder to visit without a little planning. You can visit the grounds of the estate on one of its tours, which are held daily at eleven am. Reserve ahead.
One of my favorite towns is Oyster Bay since there is so much history here from Gold Coast mansions to Presidential History. Anyone could spend several hours at the Theodore Roosevelt House in Sagamore Hill.
This property was President Roosevelt’s home and it provides a great glimpse into his life. If you intend to visit, book your tour in advance. Beyond the house, there’s also trails and beaches…
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park
One of the biggest secrets on Long Island is Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park in Oyster Bay. (Many locals have never heard of it!) It was the home of William Coe, of Standard Oil. The house itself is extremely beautiful, but much of the appeal lies in the abundant gardens and greenhouses with tropical plants, even in winter.
The first house built on the property burned down, but it was replaced with the sprawling 68-room mansion built in the Tudor Revival style with limestone. Now, the house can be toured as part of the state park.
Many concerts and events take place at Planting Fields, so check the schedule before visiting! If you plan to visit, consider having a nice lunch at the Garden Cafe on the property, which has burgers and salads. This cafe is located in the former horse stable and the view is really nice.
Other tips for visiting Oyster Bay
There are many great restaurants in Oyster Bay. (Yes, it’s named after oysters!) I love
Many years ago I spent one day during a Memorial Day weekend at Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and absolutely love it! Also the views of the Long Island Sound from the North Shore were gorgeous. I agree that more travelers should take the time to visit Long Island and the town of Oyster Bay when in metro NYC.