The Northeast,  The Over 50 Lifestyle,  Travel for Boomers

Why You Must Take a Fire Island Day Trip

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Head to Fire Island, for a day trip! I visited Fire Island for the first time in my 20’s with my best friend whose family ran a share house. The island always intrigued me due to its unique character so I always wanted to go back. Fire Island is a barrier island located off the coast of Long Island originally named Whalehouse Point in the 1600s. If you are in New York you need to take a Fire Island Day Trip!

Facts about Fire Island

Fire Island is the largest island in a chain of islands that border Long Island. Fire Island is a part of Suffolk County, NY. There are only 292 permanent residents on the island full time. During the summer thousands of people reside on the island for their summer vacation. Its length spans 32 miles and it is known for its quaint and quiet villages and it has a rich history with tales of pirates and shipwrecks.

Getting There!

We crossed the Great South Bay to get to Fire Island from Massapequa. The marsh and the wildlife are beautiful as you make your way through the channels of the bay. The boat ride from Massapequa was about an hour and a half to Fire Island.

The Fire Island Light House, established in 1825 and open for visitors to climb the 104 steps to get to the top. This was the first site for many European immigrants coming to America. It was vital for the ships coming into New York Harbor.

Fire Island Lighthouse pictured from a boat.
Fire Island Lighthouse

There are larger towns like Ocean Beach where you find shopping, clubs and fine dining restaurants. The ferry services will take you to the island’s areas where cars are not permitted. There are two ways to access Fire Island by car and are at opposite ends of the island. I have only accessed the island from a boat or ferry for a day trip. I recommend this so you can access the best parts of the island.

Jack relaxing on the trip to Fire Island.
Jack relaxing on the trip over.

How to Get Around on Fire Island

Primarily on foot if you are visiting for the day! Most of the island is navigated with bicycles, golf carts and wagons for those residing there for the summer. Cars are not permitted on much of the island give the island a quaint feel while visitors and residents tote their children, supplies and groceries in wagons. There are grocery delivery services for the island as well.

Article on why you must visit Fire Island for a day trip.

Great Architecture and Historical Homes

The homes are unique. Many are still original small bungalows with a mixture of Modernist style architecture. Many homes have been in the same family for multiple generations. Rents are high and many vacation homes carry a heavy premium like most places in the northeast.

Fire Island is heavily wooded, Fire Island is at risk for exactly that…. fires. I learned on this trip that grills are no longer allowed on the island due to an accidental explosion from a grill in past years. No one really knows where the name Fire Island originated but I was told that it was from the high risk of fire on the island. Deer roam around and have no fear of humans as you will see in the picture below. I did not zoom in for this photo. I was literally right there to take the photo.

Deer eating grass on Fire Island.
There are many deer roaming in the yards on Fire Island

Fire Island really took off in the 1950s when New Yorkers developed the land for vacation homes and made Fire Island into a summer hot spot for the creative types coming over from the city. You can tell that Fire Island is very eclectic and has a totally different feel from other vacation spots in New York.

Things to Do on Fire Island!

We decided to check out Maguire’s and have some libations and lunch. Maguires is located right on the bay and offers fresh seafood and cocktails. Maguires is also near the ferry!

Toasting glasses at Maguire's on Fire Island.
Maguire’s Fire Island
Eating lunch Ocean Beach, Fire Island.
Eating Lunch in Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Maguires 
One Bay View Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770

This Bayfront restaurant features lunch and dinner as well as the late-night crowd. It makes for a perfect destination to enjoy the sunset while dining to dishes like lobster, clam chowder, and late-night drinks since it’s right on the bay.

Michael’s Ristorante and Pizzeria 
786 Evergreen Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770

Italian cuisine from seafood pasta, chicken steaks, to pizzas of different varieties at this restaurant. It is family-friendly!

Albatross 
320 Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770

Enjoy the food offerings from Burgers to Seafood! They are known for their steamers! Enjoy the nightlife at this American bar and grill restaurant.

Matthew’s 
935 Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770

Outside seating is available as well as a full bar, so enjoy lunch or an early dinner, and come back for nightlife music fun.

CJ’s 
479 Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770

This landmark bar is located at the Palms Hotel. They are open for lunch and dinner.

Rachel’s Bake Shop 
325 Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770
A great place to catch breakfast, brunch, or dessert. Find everything from muffins, pancakes, chicken tenders, omelets, to brownies, cookies and cakes.

The Sandbar 
470 Bay Walk, Ocean Beach, NY 11770

Head here for live music and entertainment. The pub and grill offer theme nights and you can order up wraps, sandwiches, and burgers.

Downtown Ocean Beach

Jack and I enjoying the day on Fire Island.

Ocean Beach incorporated as a village in 1921. You will find pizza shops, ice cream and bakeries lining the streets on Ocean Beach. Fun touristy shopping abounds! Plenty of Fire Island branded clothing and souvenirs for loved ones waiting at home. Be sure to bring cash as many of the businesses in Ocean Beach only accept cash.

Off the main areas, the island has wide sidewalks that create a grid system. You can enjoy a stroll and see many of the beautiful homes located on the island using this genius system!

Fire Island bike cop out on patrol.
Fire Island Bike Cop

Head to the Beach on Fire Island!

We walked to the beach which is pristine and well kept. There are rules that you need to follow while at the beach like no coolers or food. Not even a water bottle according to someone we spoke with! I am not sure if that is true but we did see someone getting a ticket for having a cooler. They are serious about preserving the island’s environment and for good reason. The areas we visited were pristine and this is why they call Ocean Beach the Land of No!

Day Trip to Fire Island
Ocean Beach Fire Island

Click here to see a detailed map of Fire Island

Fire Island was pretty much exactly the same as 30 years ago. I would love to go back and rent a home next time and spend a week exploring more of the island. The natural landscape is beautiful and a nice change from the manicured lawn look of other areas. With a long trip back to Massapequa, and storms threatening we had to cut our trip short.

See our visit to Long Island Wine Country next!

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Tricia worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years before deciding to divorce the corporate world in 2018. Tricia retired early so she could travel with her husband Jack (the Boomer) and Bo, their German Shepherd. They enjoy finding new experiences together and spending time with their family.

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