Three scenic drives around Long Island
There's nothing like taking a drive on a beautiful day to make you feel transported from the everyday. Here are three Long Island routes that are perfect for a leisurely afternoon drive.
From Oyster Bay, head north on West Shore Road into Bayville. At Bayville Avenue, in the heart of downtown, make a left and drive past the Scream Park. Make another left and follow Bayville Road, watching for a sharp left that will take you past Bailey Arboretum. At Feeks Lane, turn left again and keep going as the street name changes to Cleft Road. You'll see spectacular water views, plus egrets, ducks and swans, as it winds back to West Shore Road (45 minutes, with stops).
With a mix of shoreline and wooded areas, this drive makes you feels like you've been transported to Vermont. There are views of the bay along West Shore Road, charming houses in Bayville and winding, two-lane roads in Mill Neck.
If it is the right Sunday morning, consider turning right from Cleft onto Frost Mill Road and tour Mill Neck Manor ($25, Nov.6, Dec. 4, reservations required). The views along Frost Mill are seldom broken by houses, allowing drivers to lose themselves in wooded charm.
Shu Swamp Preserve (free) and nearby Planting Fields Arboretum ($8 parking) are open daily.
Route 27A from Eastport to Southampton
If you're tired of the LIE or the strip malls of Sunrise Highway, you'll love slowed-down, two-lane Montauk Highway. It meanders through towns and countryside interspersed with water views, farm stands and wooded areas. If you stop near Little Seatuck Creek in Eastport, watch for waterfowl diving for fish.
Nearly any right turn will take you near the water. Or, stay on the path and hop from farm stand to farm stand or hunt for antiques.
The scenery ranges from Hampton Bays' mix of commercial and quaint (a UA theater across the street from the ancient Good Ground Cemetery) to the antiquing gold mine of Eastport. Enjoy the stately houses and the magnificence of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Roman Catholic Church as you get into Southampton.
STOP FOR A BITE Treat yourself with chocolate chip or coconut macaroon cookies at Tate's Bake Shop (43 North Sea Rd., Southampton, 631-283-9830, tatesbakeshop.com). Blue Cactus Mexican restaurant (122 E. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays, 631-728-0000, agavesbluecactus.com) has a signature creamy flan and does interesting riffs on margaritas and mojitos.
Route 114 from the North Fork to the Hamptons
THE ROUTE Route 25 to Route 114 in Greenport, then the ferry ($10-$15) to Shelter Island, where you'll make the short drive south to board another ferry ($10-$15) to North Haven. Continue to Sag Harbor, ending in East Hampton (three hours, with stops).
What could be cooler than hopping from island to island? In addition to a scenic drive, you can enjoy a couple of 15-minute ferry rides. On Shelter Island, you'll see lush landscapes marked by turn-of-the-century churches, houses interspersed with walking paths, woods, and stores that cram everything into display windows.
Park in Sag Harbor and walk Main Street from end to end -- the village is a treasure of small shops. The drive from Sag Harbor to East Hampton is busier but no less attractive, with expanses of open space and many beautiful homes.
STOP FOR A BITE Kyle's (27N. Ferry Rd., Shelter Island, 631-749-0579) is a friendly spot for fresh, imaginative sandwiches, salads and excellent breakfast fare.