The Great Gatsby's great escape

New York State's Long Island provided inspiration for F Scott Fitzgerald – and it's been doing the same for visitors ever since.

What's the attraction?

One of the most hotly anticipated films of the year, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, is released on Friday. Long Island's Gold Coast and its enclaves of Cow and Great Neck provided the inspiration for East and West Egg – the mansions where much of F Scott Fitzgerald's depiction of the Roaring Twenties are played out.

But this 122-mile long and 20 mile-wide island that trails east of Manhattan has plenty to offer beyond the Gatsby-era mansions. There are windswept beaches, fashionable seaside resorts and quiet, rolling countryside. For more information see iloveny.com, discover longisland.com and discoveramerica.com.

Manhattan transfer

Long Island is a popular weekend retreat for Manhattanites who want to escape the city. If you are visiting New York, it's also possible to spend a day on one of Long Island's many beaches – get there on The Long Island Railroad (001 212 878 7000; mta.info) from Penn Station, which serves Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island from about $21 (£14) return.

Jones Beach (nyparks.com) is one of the most popular – a six-mile strand with good facilities and lifeguards during the summer season. It is also home to the Jones Beach Theatre (001 866 558 8468; jonesbeach.com), a concert venue that sits right in front of the harbour. Highlights for this summer include Fleetwood Mac's 30th anniversary Rumours concert.

Stay in Gatsby style

When it was built for financier Otto Hermann Kahn, the 127-room, French chateau-style Oheka Castle (00 631 659 1400; oheka.com) was the second largest private residence in the United States after the Vanderbilt's Biltmore House in North Carolina. Kahn was also an owner of the Metropolitan Opera, and his parties in the 1920s were legendarily lavish.

The Castle also featured in Orson Welles's Citizen Kane in 1941. Several years ago it was rescued and renovated by its current owners and is now a 32-room hotel and venue. Doubles start at $550 (£367) or, if you can check in to one of its two quietly elegant Gatsby Suites for $660 (£440), including breakfast.

Modern-day Daisies

Modern-day Daisies are probably more likely to be found living it up in The Hamptons, the string of picturesque towns and villages of greying cedar wood shingled houses and wide beaches on Long Island's south eastern extremity. Although you might still see Coldplay's Chris Martin catching the waves, Montauk is the most unshowy of The Hamptons' seaside communities. One of the newest places to stay is The Montauk Beach House (001 631 668 2112; thembh.com), a hotel and beach club that hosts a number of special events including a Saturday Poolside Frolic, which was presided over by the likes of DJs Mark Ronson last season. Doubles start at $332 (£221) including breakfast.

Who Said That?

"The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God...and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented...Jay Gatsby...and to this conception he was faithful to the end" F Scott Fitzgerald

"Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes – a fresh, green breast of the new world" The Great Gatsby

"That's all a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool" Daisy Buchanan

"The wild unrest, the snowy, curling caps – the inbound urge and urge of waves, Seeking the shores forever" Walt Whitman, "On Montauk Point"

All that glitters – a Gatsby tour

There are still plenty of landmarks and attractions that offer a flavour of the grandeur of the Gold Coast in its heyday – the 30-mile stretch of Long Island's north coast that became a favourite weekend destination for old money and Wall Street street types in the 1920s.

Once there were about 1,200 mansions, although only 200 survive, and there is still debate about which one was the inspiration for Gatsby's house. The sprawling Sands Point Sands Point Preserve (001 516 571 7900; sand spointpreserve.org) is home to two mansions, Falaise, inspired by a Normandy manor house and the castle-like Hempstead as well as miles of trails and beach walks. The Muttontown Preserve (001 516 571 8500; nassaucountyny.gov) is a large nature reserve where the Chelsea mansion was built in 1924 – the scene of some of the Gold Coast's most glamorous parties.

The verdant surroundings of Planting Fields State Historic Park (001 516 922 9200; planting fields.org) is home to more than 400 acres of woodland, formal gardens, paths, greenhouses and the elaborate Tudor revival mansion, Coe Hall. Another imposing estate is Old Westbury Gardens (001 516 333 0048; oldwestburygardens.org), built in English country house style.

Finally, the recently opened Planetarium and Vanderbilt Museum (001 631 854 5579; vanderbiltmuseum.org) at the Spanish revival-style mansion Eagle's Nest, was the former home of William K Vanderbilt. For more information see historiclongisland.com.

Neighbourhood watch

One of New York's hippest neighbourhoods is on Long Island. Williamsburg, in north western Brooklyn. One of its newest hotels is The Wythe (001 718 460 8000; wythehotel.com), which is housed in a turn-of-the- century warehouse with fabulous views of the Manhattan skyline. Doubles start from $335 (£223), room only. Don't miss The Brooklyn Flea (brooklynflea.com), a market held every Sunday between now and Thanksgiving at the East River State Park with more than 100 stalls. Between 11am and 6pm on Saturdays the park also plays host to Smorgasburg (smorgasburg.com), a food market filled with vendors from all over New York and beyond.

Island life

If The Hamptons sounds too high-maintenance, Shelter Island offers a low-key alternative. Tucked between the north and south forks of Long Island and reached by a ferry from Greenport, it's a peaceful spot. One third of it is protected as the Mashomack Preserve, with its myriad bird species, woodland, fields and creeks as well as 12 miles of coastline. Virgin Holidays (0844 557 3870; virginholidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night fly-drive from Heathrow to JFK on Long Island from £499 per person, departing in June. Stay at the stylish Maison Blanche (001 631 749 1633; maisonblanche hotel.com) close to the island's pretty Crescent Beach. Doubles start at $205 (£137), room only.

Raise a glass

Long Island's North Fork is one of its most unspoilt and least-visited areas, consisting of a pretty patchwork of villages, coastline and vineyards, with a strong agricultural tradition running throughout. Winemaking has taken off there in the past two decades and many of the region's 40 or so wineries are well worth a visit.

Around Mattituck some of the top small-scale wine producers include Macari (001 631 298 0100; macariwines.com), Paumanok (001 631 722 8800; paunamok.com) and Shinn Estates (001 631 804 0367; shinnestatevine yards.com). All of them have tasting rooms and tours for visitors – and most also have outdoor picnic areas.

Insider Information

"When you visit Coe Hall at Planting Fields Arboretum, take a peek inside the room to the left when you come in the entrance. The stained-glass windows were purchased from the family estate of Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn" Kristen Matejka, director of marketing, Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (discoverlongisland.com).

News
Mickey Rourke celebrates his victory against opponent Elliot Seymour
people
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
people
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

    £31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game