Growing Up on an Island

Taking your home area for granted.

As someone who absolutely loves traveling to new places far and wide, experiencing new and different cultures, and getting just away from home, I often forget to appreciate how much there is to experience at home right here in my own backyard.

I grew up on Long Island, which is a lovely spot east of continental New York. Long Island is an incredible place, and I am so grateful to have grown up in such a beautiful spot. The town I grew up in was located a little less than an hour from Midtown Manhattan and about I don’t know maybe 8 minutes from the beach, which is perfect for some summer Long Island fun. Summertime is the best time on Long Island, and living that close to the beach gave us the chance to enjoy our summers even more than we already were!

Sore Thumb, Long Island, NY

When I was younger, my family basically lived at the beach. During those sunny summer days, my mom her and friends would grab all of us kids and head down to Sore Thumb, which was the 4×4 drive-on beach. On the weekends, it was a whole family affair and our group would be 15 – 20 (maybe more) people sometimes! We’d all make sand castles, explore the beach, dig for sand crabs, and swim in the ocean while my aunt blew her lifeguard whistle yelling “MOVE DOWN YOU’RE GOING TOO FAR!” about every 3 minutes. Looking back these are probably some of my favorite memories as a kid, but in the moment being that this was such a regular occurrence, it lost its special feeling. Soon enough, as we grew up it felt like a bit of chore to go to the beach, but you know what always came after the beach and added some excitement for us? Pool time. We would always head back to someone’s house and go swimming in their pool for the rest of the night while our parents barbecued (and probably had a few cocktails 🙂 ). The perfect ending to a perfect summer day enjoying all of that Long Island fun.

As we all got even older, these big beach trips and pool parties became less and less frequent, which actually made them become even more enjoyable when they did happen because we all would appreciate them that much more. I was starting to go to the beach less with my family and more with my friends from school, and the beach became a whole new experience as we started to become adults. Less sand castles and sand crabs and more just laying around soaking in the sun, which is still pretty great (as long as my pale self was slathered in like 100 SPF). We also started to use the beach as an escape from any problems we were having. It was a regular and completely normal thing to receive a “beach drive?” text at least once a week. Driving down Ocean Parkway at night is magical. The stars glistening over the sand dunes, the wind blowing on your face as you roll your windows down, and the sound of crashing waves all around you. You really can’t beat it. Again these became so regular, they started to lose their magic pretty quickly.

A few years ago, my mom was watching one of those HGTV shows where people buy property on islands all around the world (sorry I am not an avid watcher, so I don’t know the name). She called me in the room, and was like “look! these people are buying a house on Long Island!” My initial reaction to that was “on this show?…why?” and then I realized how special of a place Long Island actually was. It might sound silly, but I never really thought about that fact that we lived on an island; it was just where we lived. There were no palm trees and the ocean doesn’t quite look like the Caribbean here, but it was still an island nonetheless. Piecing this very simple and obvious thought together made me appreciate my home SO much more than I did before.

Driving down Ocean Parkway a few years back for some Long Island fun at Jones Beach State Park!

That night, I got one of those “beach drive?” texts, and my best friend and me took a trip down to Ocean Parkway like we would any other week. I mentioned to her about Long Island being on that TV show, and we went into an entire deep dive about how fortunate we were to grow up where we did and how we shouldn’t take it for granted any longer. From that moment on, I made sure I valued every moment I could while doing “normal” things and going to “normal” places I never appreciated before.

I may have focused this entire post on the beaches of Long Island in the summertime, but I promise there is so much more to do to enjoy some Long Island fun (winter is bitterly cold here, so we’re still going to focus on summer and fall. Here are just a few other quick things that I adore doing living on Long Island.

Wineries

There are so many wineries to choose from, and I feel like more are popping up every single year. The drives out east are full of amazing views and amazing food stops along the journey to your destination winery. Whenever I drive out east I can never resist some roasted corn that they sell on the side of the road… it’s so tasty.

Enjoying the wineries with Stephanie a.k.a. Wandering Why Traveler and our moms!

Farms

Along with the wineries, there are a million different farms you can visit. You can go apple picking and pumpkin picking in the fall or berry picking in the summer! Plus, the scenery at these farms is usually insta-worthy; so make sure to take lots of pictures. You have to share all of that Long Island fun with your friends back home!

Having some fun while apple picking!

Montauk & The Hamptons

Everyone I know from Long Island loves going out to the Hamptons and Montauk. They’re close enough to make a day trip out of or even have a quick weekend with your friends and family, but it always feels like a vacation far away from home. Even though it is a very popular area you never feel overwhelmed there. Montauk’s small fisherman’s town feel will never fade away.

Montauk Lighthouse

Fire Island

Hop on a ferry and head over to Fire Island during its peak season, of course in the summer! Fire Island is made up of a bunch of different beach towns. Each and every one of them has its own unique atmosphere and it is easy to bounce from one to the next using the water taxis (or your own personal boat if you have one). Whether you’re going there for a day of relaxation on the beach or a wild day drinking fest, you’re bound to have an amazing time while you’re there and make some of the best memories!

A stroll to the Fire Island Lighthouse

I’ll keep the list to those four activities for now to avoid overloading you with info about all the Long Island fun we can offer.

Me and Mom hanging at the wineries. This was one of the last stops (can you tell?)

I moved out of my childhood home during quarantine, and this time has been the perfect time to re-reflect on how special of a place my home is. Technically I still live ON Long Island, but I am as far west as you can go and my area is considered part of New York City, which is still incredible don’t get me wrong, but it is nothing like Long Island. I can’t lie; I have been out to Long Island almost every weekend this summer, because like I said, summer is the best time to be on Long Island.

Never forget to appreciate your home and local area just because you’re use to it and it is part of your normal everyday life. There is always something new to see and a new place to explore nearby!

Where are you from? What is the best thing about your hometown? Comment below!

5 Replies to “Growing Up on an Island”

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