This guide to Roslyn, New York focuses on the historic parts of Old Roslyn, perfect for a day trip out to this historic Long Island village that has numerous historic buildings. Roslyn is one of my favorite places to visit on Long Island for a relaxing day trip to learn about history and take a walk.
Old Roslyn has many occupied homes built before the Civil War and offers an amazing peek into pre-war Long Island. There are more than eighty historic structures within one square mile of old Roslyn.
Roslyn was first established in 1644 after settlers from Connecticut chose to settle the Hempstead Harbor (later called Roslyn). You can still see the Van-Nostrand Starkins house, which dates back to 1680. It is now a museum that sits at 221 Main Street outside of the town center. Another historic landmark is the First Grist Mill, which dates back to 1738.
The best places to visit in Roslyn
Your first stop should be the Roslyn Pond Park, Clock Tower, and Main Street where many stores and old historic homes (still occupied) are unchanged from the 19th century. The clock tower in Roslyn is 44 feet tall. It was built in the late 1800s out of sandstone and is likely to make an impression. (The independent movie theatre along Main Street often shows indie movies.)
The walk from the Pond through the entire town will provide insight to Long Island before the Miracle Mile, Roosevelt Mall, Long Island Expressway, and Levittown were built. A great time to visit Roslyn is in April when many of the historic homes are open to the public with a tour. Our family members have often been impressed with the beauty and tranquillity of Old Roslyn despite being quite familiar with New York City and Long Island.
In Old Roslyn, there is a very special place named “Cedarmere” that was the home of Willian Cullen Bryant who was a famous poet, newspaper editor, and civic leader in the 19th century. This house dates back to 1787 although it was expanded in the 1850s.
His legacy is his repurposed estate that has views of Hempstead Harbor, walking grounds, gardens, mill and a rustic environment. One highlight is the beautiful 18th-century mill built in the Gothic Revival style. The property is now owned by the Nassau County Department of Recreation, which makes for a beautiful relaxing walk through the property that will transport you back in time. (There are signs on Old Northern Boulevard directing to Cedarmere.)
We often combine a visit to Old Roslyn with a visit to the Nassau Museum of Art, which sits within a beautiful historic mansion surrounded by a lush property. This art museum often hosts art exhibitions with world-class artwork although it’s possible to enjoy the grounds on a nice day. The William Cullen Nature Preserve is nice to walk around.
Food and entertainment
Beyond the beautiful sites, Old Roslyn offers excellent restaurants including MP Taverna and Besito Mexican Restaurant. Both are well-known restaurants on Long Island. If you visit MP Taverna, a Greek restaurant, ask for balcony view since it overlooks the town. Besito is also a great choice although it’s best to reserve in advance. This moderately priced Mexican restaurant offers exceptional salads, tables avocado, and other Mexican specials. For desserts, we like to stop off at YOLO Yogurt and Desserts for fro-yo.
A new addition to the town is My Father’s Place is a club/restaurant that has hosted many up and coming acts along with legendary artists in its original location. This was a legendary club where many top acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, and Tom Petty performed. Generally, shows start at 8 pm, so do not feel the need to rush back to NYC if there’s a good show. It has recently reopened and who knows which future superstars will be appearing.
If you’re seeking more nature, the beach is only eight minutes away. The beach is called North Hempstead Beach Park and it offers excellent views of Hempstead Harbor.
Getting to Roslyn, New York
Old Roslyn is 30 minutes by car from Midtown Manhattan as well a great break from a car trip on Long Island. It’s fully possible to visit Roslyn without a car by taking the Long Island Rail Road or taking a bus from Queens. (The LIRR train station is a fifteen minute walk from Old Roslyn.)
Old Roslyn, a nearby historic Long Island village, can be visited as a day trip or added on your return from visiting the beautiful Gold Coast mansions on Long Island.
If you’re interested in staying overnight in Roslyn, consider staying at the Roslyn Hotel, a boutique hotel with a central location just footsteps from Roslyn’s best restaurants.