10 best nostalgic things to do this summer on Long Island
Some things never change. From old-fashioned ice cream shops that have been serving Long Islanders for decades to retro beach clubs that still offer families seasonal fun in their own cabanas — there’s a certain comfort in nostalgia. This summer, plan a day trip to Fire Island, where the preferred mode of transportation is your own two feet, or take the kids to a real drive-in movie.
GRAB THE BRASS RING(Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)
Built in 1912, Nunley's Carousel has traveled from Brooklyn to Baldwin to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, where it's now restored in all its painted ponies glory. Take a spin for a mere $2 in hopes of grabbing the brass ring for a free repeat ride (516-572-4111, cradleofaviation.org).
GET A CONE(Credit: Doug Young)
It's not summer without some ice cream. Old-fashioned homemade hard ice cream has been scooped since the 1950s at Snowflake in Riverhead, where flavors range from plain ol' vanilla to the more-inventive Peconic Swamp Thing (631-727-4394, snowflakeicecream.com). Meanwhile in West Hempstead, the retro sign still glows over a Carvel stand that's been serving traditional soft-serve cones for what seems like forever (516-538-3400).
ESCAPE TO FIRE ISLAND(Credit: Craig Ruttle)
The greatest thing about Ocean Beach on Fire Island? No cars. Park at the Bay Shore Ferries (at the end of Maple Avenue) and spend the day in your flip-flops. Plenty of shopping and dining await, and grab a beer or wine overlooking the Great South Bay. And, of course, the beach. The town feels like an old-time movie, despite a lot of renovations because of superstorm Sandy (631-665-3600, fireislandferries.com).
EAT AT A SEAFOOD SHACK(Credit: Linda Rosier)
As far back as the early 1700s, oysters have been shucked in the West Sayville building that hosts today's Kingston's Clam Bar. A local favorite since 1978, the eatery serves up such seafood-shack classics as steamers, fried scallops, lobsters -- plus the obligatory burger. Modern additions to the repertoire include lobster rolls and fish tacos. Eat under an awning overlooking the boats in Dutchman's Cove. Paper and plastic dinnerware are part of the casual vibe (631-589-0888, kingstonsclam.com).
SEE THE CLASSICS(Credit: istock)
Long Islanders love their classic cars -- weekly shows run in more than a dozen spots all summer long. For a one-time special hit: The Studebaker Reunion and Orphan Car Show features cars manufactured from 1902 to 1966. Besides the namesake, see Packards, Franklins, Hudsons and other relics, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. June 22 at Marjorie R. Post Community Park in Massapequa (free admission, 631-724-1382).
GET A BEACH CLUB CABANA(Credit: Newsday)
Many a family spent their summers with a key to a retro-styled cabana at one of the clubs dotting the shores of Atlantic Beach -- some, such as Catalina Cabanas, are still standing after 75 years (516-239-2150, catalinabeachclub.com). Members have the run of pools, on-site restaurants and beach chairs perched along the sandy shoreline. It's not too late to join this season -- full shares generally range from $5,000-$10,000 per unit, but you can often pair up with other families to pare the cost down.
REWIND AT ADVENTURELAND(Credit: Kevin P Coughlin)
Perpetually stuck in the '80s, Long Island's major amusement park in Farmingdale has roller coasters, arcades, kiddie rides and a ride-on train -- it's hard not to have fun. Open weekends until June 25, when it opens daily ($3-$5 a ride or $26.50 day pass, 631-694-6868, adventureland.us).
SHOP AT A GENERAL STORE(Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas)
Said to be the oldest continuously operating store of its kind in the country, St. James General Store, in one form or another, had its wares traded for more than 150 years. The Suffolk County-run shop still looks the part, complete with handsome wooden service counters and rows of glass jars stuffed with penny candy, sold these days by the quarter-pound and priced from 95 cents (631-854-3740).
GO TO A DRIVE-IN MOVIE(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)
In the era of streaming movies, seeing a flick on a big outdoor screen seems quaint. Take it a step further -- Crab Meadow Beach in Northport is hosting free drive-in movie nights July 10 ("Rocky II") and July 24 ("Back to the Future"). 631-351-3112, huntingtonny.gov Overlook Beach in Babylon is screening "Jurassic Park" June 13. $10; 631-893-2100, townofbabylon.com.
SINK A PUTT(Credit: Drosso's)
Kitschy miniature golf courses abound on Long Island -- their cheery statuary and creative obstacles make playing a round a simple pleasure, no matter your age. Around for 50-plus years (and still looking the part): Tick Tick at Drossos Motel in Greenport. $6-$8; 631-477-1334, drossosmotel.com.