The best local historic places to visit this summer


Marianne Dominguez

Every week, journalist and history buff Mariana Dominguez visits a historic site on the South Shore or attends a local conference on historical topics. This week, she decided to round up the best places for families to visit this summer if you’re looking to explore history.

School is officially over and the kids are home. For those looking for fun things to do, I decided to round up the best historical places I’ve visited that are perfect for a family day out.

Fire Island Lighthouse

Visiting the Fire Island Lighthouse is a great experience as there really is something for everyone, from history buffs to the little ones. When you make the trip, head to the Robert Moses 5 parking lot and walk down to the end of the parking lot. From there it is about a 20 minute walk on the boardwalk to get to the lighthouse. I recommend wearing trainers and bringing water as on my first visit I underestimated the length of the walk. The lighthouse is also a great day trip because after exploring the place you can head to the beach to cool off and relax. At the lighthouse itself there is a large informative museum and gift shop, and if you’re feeling daring you can climb the 182 steps to the top for great panoramic views. Importantly, according to the Fire Island Lighthouse website, the National Park Service is requiring masks in all buildings due to Suffolk County’s high COVID numbers. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the tower open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

William Floyd estate

Continuing with the beach theme, the William Floyd Estate is another great place for a day trip. Under the management of the Fire Island National Seashore, the 613-acre estate makes a great walk for nature lovers and a great slice of the past for history buffs. Unfortunately, the Old Mastic House is currently closed for preservation work, but visitors can still view the house from the outside and walk through the grounds. William Floyd was Suffolk County’s sole signer of the Declaration of Independence, and during the Revolutionary War British forces actually occupied the house when the Floyd family was forced to flee to a safer location. In 1976, Floyd’s great-great-granddaughter donated the house to the National Park Service so it could be preserved. The William Floyd Estate is a great place to visit due to its proximity to Smith Point County Park on Fire Island. After exploring the historical places, it is only a short drive to spend a day at the beach. The William Floyd estate is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sagtikos Manor

SAgtikos Manor in West Bay Shore is another great place to visit. This beautiful property owned by Suffolk County is one of the best historic places I have been to on Long Island. The 10-acre property includes the mansion itself, a beautiful walled garden, a butterhouse, a shed and a cemetery for the Thompson Gardiner family. The historic site is also directly across from Gardiner County Park, which is one of the best parks in the area. One of the park’s trails leads directly to the Great South Bay, with a great view of the Fire Island Lighthouse.

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Patrick F. Williams