Instead of blowing up your summer travel budget on one extravagant weekend in the Hamptons, use this guide to the best free and cheap things to do on Long Island that won't leave you high and dry. From yoga on the beach to shucking your own oysters, check out these 29 activity ideas -- all for $15 or less.
Eat Long Island's best grilled cheese at the North Fork Food Truck
The North Fork Table & Inn’s truck delivers on a Grown Up Grilled Cheese ($11.50, plus an extra buck for bacon) with fontina, Taleggio, and marinated mushrooms that will be the highlight of your weekend.
Bring the kids to Catapano Dairy Farm
There’s nothing like strolling through a charming family-run farm filled with baby goats, llamas, and horses to make you forget your existential woes. It’s free to roam the grounds and pet the animals, but the shop’s fresh handcrafted herbed chèvre ($12) pairs well with any wine you’ll be tasting in the North Fork.
Travel to France at Lavender by the Bay
This lush lavender field is the closest thing to Provence that New Yorkers have, and it’s free to pop by for a fragrant whiff and a selfie with the almost-French-looking landscape behind you. If you want to pick your own bunch, it’ll cost $5 to enter the field.
Pick your own strawberries at Wickham's Fruit Farm
Excluding Billy Joel and outrageous property values, there are at least three things Long Island is good for: great wine, beautiful beaches, and low hanging fruit. Enjoy a pick-your-own outing at Wickham’s, be it for strawberries in June, cherries in July, blueberries in August, or peaches and apples in the fall (prices range from $4.50-$6.40 per quart container).
Indulge in a Harbes cider donut
If you find yourself on the North Fork -- or really, anywhere on Long Island -- head to Harbes for the best cider donut ($1.25) you’ve ever had. Even better, if you arrive early in the morning and the fresh ones aren’t ready yet, you can score a bag of day-old (and perfectly delicious) donuts for free.
Share a pie (or don't) at Pizzetteria Brunetti
Skip the pricey lobster rolls and get a whole classic margherita pizza for $15 from Pizzetteria Brunetti in Westhampton Beach.
Pedal and pour with a wine country bike rental
The best way to explore the North Fork -- and burn off the booze -- is on two wheels, and it only costs $10/hr to to pedal between the vines with a Bayview Bike Rental from Eagle's Neck Paddling Company.
Cool off at Parrish Art Museum
While the façade of this Water Mill museum is itself a work of art, the East End-inspired exhibits, ranging from large-scale installations to nature-driven photography, are well worth the $10 admission fee.
Get away from it all at Lieb Cellars
Daily bonfires, live music, and a beautiful backcountry setting make the Oregon Road outpost of Lieb Cellars the best place to wine away an afternoon on the North Fork. Take a flight ($12 to $20) or a glass of the Bridge Lane Rosé ($8) onto the terrace, and watch cyclists and the occasional tractor go by.
Put away a pint at Greenport Harbor Brewing
A trip to the North Fork isn’t complete without a pint of Summer Ale at the brewery’s spacious new Peconic location, or a generous flight of eight beers ($10) at the original Greenport loft -- though a true beer hound will undoubtedly do both.
Expand your horizons at Montauk Point Lighthouse
This National Historic Landmark ($10 admission) is more than just a great selfie backdrop. After a dip at Ditch Plains, step inside the lighthouse, where fascinating exhibits about wildlife, history, the environment and surf culture are always on point.
Take a hike in the Sunken Forest
Board the Sailors Haven/Sunken Forest ferry ($13/roundtrip) for a relaxing stroll under a canopy of 300-year-old trees in a rare Maritime Holly Forest that’s nestled against Fire Island National Seashore’s most treasured beaches.
Tone up with yoga on the Beach
After an early morning surf session in Montauk, float down the beach to Atlantic Terrace hotel for an oceanfront vinyasa yoga class ($15 for drop-ins).
Taste a local delicacy at The Candy Man
This 75-year-old candy shop is a staple out on the North Fork’s far east end. Its giant, chocolate-covered strawberries (around $5 for a box of four) are made with fruit from nearby Latham Farms, and are sure to hit the sweet spot.
Kickstart the day at Joni’s
If you start your day with the breakfast wrap ($6.95) -- a classic combo of bacon, egg, and cheese -- and a 24oz “I’m not your monkey” smoothie ($6.95), you’ll be well energized for a day of play in Montauk.
Order a flight at Montauk Brewing Company
Take a flight of six beers ($12, with a free tasting glass) out onto the sun-drenched patio and let the cold suds -- like the rare Pineapple Mango Wit or Double IPA -- roll down the back of your throat.
Have an art-venture at the Pollock Krasner House
For just $10 you can visit the East Hampton home & paint-splattered studio of the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. Come for the art, stay for the lingering smells of Ed Harris' aftershave.
Finally visit The Big Duck
Built by a duck farmer in the 1930s, this free roadside attraction in Riverhead -- with eyes made from a Ford Model T's taillights -- is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is well-worth ducking into (hahaha).
Enjoy the free beaches
Throughout the island
Take advantage of free parking at state-run beaches (including a few we've already written up), most of which stop charging at 4pm on weekdays and 6pm on weekends. Also check out popular sandy shores like Georgica Beach and Long Beach that are free before 9am and after 5pm. Seaside picnics at sunset are way more romantic without the obnoxious crowds.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at The Dough Hut
The next best thing to surfing a long clean wave in Long Beach is eating a light and fluffy s’mores or maple bacon donut (from $1 to $3) at The Dough Hut.
Channel your inner Gatsby at Sands Point Preserve
Step into The Great Gatsby during a visit to the original Guggenheim Estate on the tip of the North Shore’s Cow Neck Peninsula, where F. Scott Fitzgerald took inspiration for the famed “East Egg.” Marvel at Castle Gould and the Hempstead House, and get lost in the 216-acre park filled with thousands of red roses and numerous hiking trails. Entry is $10/car.
Salute the president at Sagamore Hill
The summer home of Theodore Roosevelt recently reopened in Oyster Bay after undergoing a $10 million renovation. While it’s $10 to tour the “Summer White House” where the 26th president lived from 1885-1919, ranger-guided walks and hikes along the nature trail to Cold Spring Harbor are free of charge.
Shuck your own at Little Creek Oysters
At the end of Bootleg Alley in Greenport, feel the satisfying thrill of shucking your own oysters ($1.50 each) while drinking a local brew and nibbling on homemade pickles as you overlook the peaceful docks.
Imbibe at Brix & Rye
On a hot summer day, when Greenport’s tiny streets are teeming with tourists, sneak away into this chill speakeasy for inventive, seasonally inspired craft cocktails like the “Fort Defiance Style Barbados Buck” ($10) or the Northside Collins ($11).
Celebrate what summer's all about at Twilight Thursdays
It’s worth playing hooky on a Thursday to experience this free summertime fête at the picturesque 55-acre Wölffer Estate Vineyard, where live jazz from 5pm-8pm, farm-fresh bites, and a premier tasting ($15) are the perfect antidote to a stressful work week.
Discover a hidden gem at Nassau County Museum of Art’s Sculpture Park
Take a whirl through the new “Glamorous Graffiti: Basquiat, Crash, Haring & more” exhibit, then head out into one of the largest publicly-accessible sculpture gardens in the Northeast. The 145-acre former Frick Estate has 40 impressive outdoor pieces, including works by Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, and Fernando Botero. Admission to both the museum and grounds is $10.
Why pay a gajillion dollars for a crummy motel room in the Hamptons when you can have private waterfront accommodations for $15/night? Of the more than 20 public and private campgrounds on Long Island, book a campsite at 600-acre Wildwood State Park and enjoy a night under the stars while overlooking the Long Island Sound. Outdoor movies are screened on Wednesdays and Saturdays in July and August, while Fridays are for, what else, square dancing.
Get around the Hamptons for free
Skip the pricey cab fare in predictable stop-and-go traffic in favor of a fun, free ride in an electrically powered shuttle imaginatively called The Free Ride, which operates in Southampton, East Hampton, and Montauk. Newcomer Hampton Hopper also offers transportation around the East End for $12/ride.
Sign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.
1. Harbes Family Farm715 Sound Ave, Mattituck
2. Pizzetteria Brunetti103 Main St, Westhampton Beach
3. Parrish Art Museum279 Montauk Hwy, Watermill
4. Lieb Cellars13050 Oregon Rd, Cutchogue
5. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company42155 Main Rd, Peconic
6. Sunken ForestFire Island National Seashore, Fire Island
7. The Candy Man23045 Main Rd, Orient
8. Joni's Montauk34 S Etna Ave, Montauk
9. Montauk Brewing Co.62 S Erie Ave, Montauk
10. Pollock-Krasner House830 Springs Fireplace Road, East Hampton
11. Dough Hut891 W Beech St, Long Beach
12. Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market37 Front St, Greenport
13. Brix & Rye308 Main St Unit A, Greenport
14. Nassau County Museum of Arts Sculpture Park2 Museum Dr, Roslyn
Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck offers apple picking, fresh produce and plenty of family-friendly events such as seasonal festivals and barnyard visits. They even have their own vineyard and tasting room on the premesis. Their cider donuts are a North Fork favorite, and if you arrive early in the morning and the fresh ones aren’t ready yet, you can score a bag of day-old (and perfectly delicious) donuts for free.
This traditional Neapolitan pizzeria is one of the best in Long Island and well worth stopping by for their signature pies. Brunetti's uses small batch ingredients including freshly yeasted dough, mozzarella, and house-made tomato sauce. The interior may be pint sized, but the flavors are big. New Yorkers, be sure to check out their location in the West Village!
This renowned Long Island museum is dedicated to showcasing important works of American Art ranging from Impressionist paintings to modern and contemporary pieces. The natural, bucolic setting also hosts a massive outdoor sculpture garden. Art buffs of all stripes will find the extensive collection and the $10 admission fee well worth the trek.
This local LI winery is known for their insanely quaffable, North Fork bottled and bred vino. It's best place to wine away an afternoon on the North Fork. Take a flight ($12 to $20) or a glass of the Bridge Lane Rosé ($8) onto the terrace. The setting is picturesquely rural; watch cyclists and the occasional tractor go by.
A trip to the North Fork isn’t complete without a pint of Summer Ale at this craft brewery’s spacious new Peconic location. Get comfortable with their selections of American Pale Ales, and seasonal Saisons and rye ales; there's certainly something in store for every kind of beer drinker here. Try them all! $10 gets you the great deal of a generous flight of eight beers.
The magical and mystical sounding Sunken Forest at the Fire Island National Seashore's state park is certainly a sight to see. Check out this picturesque, beachside walking path and nature preserve and prepare to be wowed-- canopies of over 300 year old trees dot the lush, stroll-worthy grounds.
This well-known Orient candy shop has been a neighborhood go- to for decades with its house-made dark chocolate candies and fudge clusters. Its massive selection ensures something sweet in store for every tooth; we especially love the giant, chocolate-covered strawberries (around $5 for a box of four), made with fruit from nearby Latham Farms.
This quirky, casual cafe in Long Island offers up healthy breakfasts and lunches, from fresh fruit smoothies to wholesome sandwiches and salads. Vintage surf photos and postcards line the sunny walls in the hip, bohemian counter-service space. Take your eats to the beach or park it on one of the outdoor picnic tables.
The easternmost microbrewery on Long Island boasts a taproom displaying work from local artists alongside a hand-built bar with a copper top and blow-torched base that houses four taps.
On the sleepy side of East Hampton, you'll find the Pollock Krasner House and Study Center. Operating out of the modern artist couple's cozy cabin residence, you can stop by the historic center and learn about the duo's contributions to art during their prime. Just $10 gains you access to Pollock's iconic paint-splattered studio.
The Donut Hut is a homey and low-key neighborhood haunt serving up some of the best donuts on LI. What could be better than a light, fluffy donut? Eating one of these delectable confections on the beach! This donut shop in downtown Long Beach is a hop, skip and a jump from picturesque East Atlantic Beach.
Greenport's seaside Little Creek Oysters is worth the trek because where else are you can you shuck your own bivalves and eat 'em too? Feel the satisfying thrill of going DIY and shucking your own oysters ($1.50 each) while drinking a local brew and nibbling on homemade pickles as you overlook the peaceful docks.
Brooklyn comes to Long Island via Brix & Rye. This hip cocktail bar, with its boozy, bespoke craft libations and wood fired pizzas wouldn't feel out of place in Williamsburg or Bushwick. The wood paneled bar room is cozy and welcoming. Play shuffleboard or chill out on the patio with friends.
The Nassau County Museum of Art is a local art collection that's a great place to spend an afternoon. Located on the site of a former mansion owned NYC industry scions the Fricks, the 145 acre museum and grounds houses one of the Northeast's largest collections of public modern and contemporary sculpture. Admission to both the museum and grounds is only $10.