Take a day trip to Cold Spring Harbor.
Ah, Long Island – the burbs to some locals, and an extension of Brooklyn and Queens to others. Whatever you recognize or assume about Long Island, New York, there’s no denying the quaintness of its towns and the allure of its landscape. One charming hamlet on Long Island’s North Shore is Cold Spring Harbor – an easy day trip and about a 40-mile drive from Midtown Manhattan.You won’t find anything terribly exciting in the former whaling village located in the town of Huntington, but you will find peace and quiet, and picture-worthy scenes of fisherman at work and native islanders milling about.
Cold Spring Harbor” refers to the freshwater springs that run through the area and into the harbor. You might recognize the name as home of the world famous genetics lab, but if you intend to visit, you’ll want to spend a little time browsing the whaling museum and fish hatchery, where you’ll find the largest living collection of New York State freshwater reptiles, fish, and amphibians. And, of course, save time to take in the great outdoors in Cold Spring Harbor State Park.
One afternoon, I spent a few hours on the way back to the city from Connecticut, mostly because I was curious, and also because I had read that it’s a lovely place. Cold Spring Harbor also happens to be the title of Billy’ Joel’s first solo album, released in 1971, and I wanted to understand the significance of this town. Huntington dedicated Cold Spring Harbor State Park to Joel in 1991, so even though his first record wasn’t the biggest hit, he remains connected to the area, which boasts a plaque in his name.
Beyond the museum, hatchery, and park, on the main drag you’ll find Cold Spring Harbor Antiques, a smattering of specialty shops, a few decent eateries such as the Gourmet Whaler, and a fantastic wine store. When I visited on a weekend, The Wine Shoppe was offering free tastings inside, as well as a guitarist outside on the front porch.
Cold Spring Harbor has a small-town-America feeling, and offers spectacular water views, lovely Victorian architecture, and a pleasant escape from the chaos of Manhattan when you’re in need of a quick recharge without the commitment of a weekend getaway.
And if you’re new to the New York City area and have yet to explore Long Island, I promise you, an excursion to Cold Spring Harbor might be your first time, but it won’t be your last.
Billy Joel plaque photo via FourSquare.
And Escaping New York with a car is so easy. Take a road trip!