One of the most obvious car-free getaways from New York City is the one that doesn’t even allow cars: Fire Island National Seashore. This 31-mile long barrier island stretches along the southern coast of Long Island, offering easy access from multiple LIRR stations. Once you arrive on the island you’ll understand why this has long been a getaway for the famous, from John Lennon to Tina Fey. Quiet streets and small bungalows create an intimate environment and the lack of cars communicates the slower pace of the island.
Fire Island is a perfect place to grab a bike and explore. Head to the Ocean Beach Hardware Store to rent bikes for a day of cruising around the island ($30/day, bring your ID).
Or set your sites on the eastern end of the island where you’ll find Sunken Forest, home to hiking trails and 300-year old American Holly trees. Note: since there are a few private communities between Ocean Beach and Sunken Forest you won’t be able to bike directly, instead head to the beach for an hour-long walk on public land.
Eat & Drink:
For the best views and delicious garden-to-table eats, head to Maguires where the seating offers direct views of the water and the epic Fire Island sunsets. Their set menu options range from clam chowder to lobster, or sample their rotating specials of fresh creations made with produce from their own garden. If you can’t manage to snag a reservation at Maguires, head to The Hideaway for a casual atmosphere, a myriad of local seafood options, and live music.
While Fire Island does have traditional hotel options such as historic bed & breakfast Clegg’s (starting at $160/night), renting directly from the owner keeps the authentic, small town vibe. Most homeowners will list their spaces on VRBO, where you can rent everything from a full house to a cottage to a bungalow. Plus, local rentals usually include bicycles.
How to Get There:
Take the LIRR to Bay Shore ($26.50 round trip). From there you can walk directly to the Fire Island Ferry that goes to Ocean Beach ($19 round trip). Once you arrive on Fire Island you can walk or bike everywhere.
Note: It is notoriously difficult to arrange for your bike to travel on the Fire Island Ferry so plan to rent or borrow one on the island.
Photos by author and Kurt Bauschardt