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Located on the eastern portion of Long Island, Suffolk County covers roughly 1,000 square miles of territory and is 86 miles long and 26 miles wide at its widest point. The area has been dubbed by Forbes Magazine as one of the 25 wealthiest counties in the United States. Together with Nassau County, it makes up the region that New Yorkers refer to as the official “Long Island”, minus the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, which are also technically located on the island.
The easternmost county in the state of New York, Suffolk is a picturesque locale, somewhat more rural than neighboring Nassau County. A lovely place to live and play, the county is chock full of beautiful sights, from winding country roads that lead to pristine sandy beaches and a stately historic lighthouse to a plethora of man-made attractions like aquariums, theaters, and breathtaking mansions.
Enjoying the great outdoors is easy in Suffolk County. World-class golf courses beckon to those who love the game while vineyards attract wine aficionados in search of a good vintage. You’ll find wonderful places to fish, water parks to entertain the whole family, and even cattle ranches that let visitors take a turn at being a cowboy for a day or two.
Suffolk County has three distinct areas. There is the mainland area of the county and The North Fork and The South Fork. These two regions are separated by the Great Peconic Bay, the Little Peconic Bay, and Gardiners Bay.
The mainland area, which stretches the island North to South covers most of the area and is similar to Nassau County in that the makeup is suburban in nature and has many small hamlets and villages, each with their own distinct attractions.
Part of Long Island’s East End, The North Fork includes the Township of Southold in the east and the Township of Riverhead in the west. Picturesque hamlets such as Mattituck, Cutchogue, Peconic, Southold, Greenport, East Marion, Orient, and Orient Point are included in this geographic area.
This part of the island is very rural in character and includes vineyards, apple orchards, and potato farms as well as stellar views of the Long Island Sound. Some 60 wineries call the North Fork home and about half of them welcome visitors to come in and taste their bounty. Farm stands and pick-your-own orchards round off the agricultural offerings.
Of course, the water is central to life on the North Fork as well, and many families who are hoping to purchase a second home make this their eventual destination. Fishing, crabbing, clamming, and shelling are popular pursuits in this region of Suffolk County. For water lovers, a stop at Atlantis Marine World is also a must and many locals visit often.
On the South Fork, you’ll find Long Island’s most renowned community, The Hamptons. East Hampton, Southampton, Bridgehampton, and the South Fork’s other quaint villages are a joy to visit and the location of some of the grandest seaside homes in the country. At the eastern end is Montauk Point State Park, with its wind-swept beaches and pretty lighthouse.
The South Fork is a home-away-from-home for a number of notable celebrities and some of America’s wealthiest business people. That means there are plenty of high-end shopping opportunities, spas, and five-star restaurants to indulge in.
Off the South Shore of Long Island is Fire Island, another part of Suffolk County. The island is about 9 square-miles in size and includes several incorporated villages, a state park, and a national seashore. About 500 people call it home.
Nestled between the North and South Forks is the Township of Shelter Island, sounded on three sides by Shelter Island Bay and the fourth by Gardiners Bay it can only be reached by ferry or private boat. The island is approximately 8,000 acres and nearly one-third is owned by The Nature Conservancy, ensure its pristine wetlands and natural beauty are protected.
Life in Suffolk County is far-removed from the stresses of the city, though many residents do indeed work at or maintain businesses that are located in or near Manhattan. The far reaches of Suffolk County are about 90 miles from NYC, so it takes a little while to get there, though the Long Island Railroad makes the trip easy.
For adults and children, a Suffolk County lifestyle means plenty of opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery, regardless of the time of year. Even for those who work all week long, weekends bring an opportunity to visit what are truly some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. These include stunning Cooper’s Beach in Southampton and Main Beach in East Hampton, both of which regularly make the list of many travel publication’s Top 10 Beaches. Other water lovers head to Long Island’s largest lake, Lake Ronkonkoma, for some fun, including fishing, swimming, and boating. (Ask the locals about “The Lady of the Lake”.)
Leisure time also means a chance to take a drive along the picturesque North Shore, a visit to the breathtaking Gold Coast mansions, a trip to Fire Island National Seashore on the South Shore, and a chance to spend some money at a huge selection of stores, from the reasonably priced Tanger Outlets to the upscale boutiques in the villages and towns that dot Suffolk County.
Restaurants in Suffolk County take advantage of the abundance of local produce that grows on Long Island. Many also pride themselves in serving the freshest seafood from the waters that surround the island and wine direct from the North Forks’ abundant vineyards, which produce some of the best wines in the state and, indeed, the country.
Restaurants range from casual and friendly to quite elegant, but all tend to have that laid-back feeling that are typical of the atmosphere in Suffolk County. Although you will find fast food restaurants and chain establishments here, there are plenty of Mom-and-Pop-owned eateries that are truly unique and often exceptional.
When you live in Suffolk County, there’s no need to travel to Manhattan to enjoy top-notch arts and cultural offerings. These include several art museums such as the Parrish Museum, offering a fine collection of American art from the 19th century to the present. There are also a number of maritime-related museums, aviation museums, children’s museums, and a several grand manor homes that are open to the public and are worthy of a visit.
There are several performing arts centers in Suffolk County as well - offering concerts and other presentations - as well as an abundance of theaters, including many with productions that feature great names of the stage and screen. In addition, Suffolk County has many of its own performing arts groups including vocal and instrumental ensembles, dance troupes, and more.
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