Exploring Long Island: Sands Point Preserve

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably already know that I love exploring the areas near New York City and obviously sharing these tips with you guys afterward. We’ve been to some places in Upstate and some days ago we decided to explore the Long Island area. For those unfamiliar, it is on Long Island that the Hamptons are located. In one of my tireless searches on the internet, I found information about Sands Point Preserve. I liked the photos I found and decided to spend a Saturday at the place.

The Sands Point Preserve on the original Guggenheim Estate embodies the grandeur and elegance that define the Gold Coast period of the early 20th century, when prominent American families built great mansions on large estates as summer retreats along the Long Island Sound. Sands Point was the famed “East Egg” of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Today, the magnificent 216-acre park, including its historic mansions and the Phil Dejana Learning Center, is owned by Nassau County, NY, and is maintained and operated by the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, formerly the Friends of the Sands Point Preserve. The Conservancy provides year-round educational and cultural programs, seasonal celebrations, mansion tours, fitness activities as well as private/corporate event services and film/TV location facilities.

Hempstead House and Castle Gould are the two historic mansions located in the area. They are part of the Guggenheim Estate, and the first one served as a summer residence for the family where they hosted grand parties, performances and exhibitions by world-class artists, and gatherings of the powerful elite of the time. Designed by architects Hunt & Hunt in 1912, it has three floors and 40 rooms. After Daniel Guggenheim’s death in 1930, his wife Florence closed Hempstead House and built the fourth mansion on the property, Mille Fleur, a smaller waterside home for herself. Hempstead House’s furnishings were sold in 1940, and Florence opened the mansion to children evacuated from the war in Europe until foster homes could be found for them. In 1942, she donated 162 acres of the estate to the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. The U.S. Navy purchased the property in 1946 for a Naval Training Device Center, and, in 1971, the property was acquired by Nassau County, NY.

Castle Gould was bought by Howard Gould and his wife, actress Katherine Clemmons, in 1900 and 1901. It was the first of four mansions built here, designed by architect Augustus N. Allen in 1902, modeled after Ireland’s Kilkenny Castle. Completed in 1904, this impressive 100,000-square-foot limestone building was intended to be the main residence on the estate, but, when Katherine decided that it did not suit her, Howard proceeded to build Hempstead House. Castle Gould then served as the stable, carriage house, and servants’ quarters and now houses the Visitor Center, Great Hall, and a 7,000-square-foot New York State-certified sound stage – a.k.a. The Black Box.

Because of the amazing architecture, beautiful gardens and wonderful views, Hempstead House is the perfect location for wedding celebrations. Even while we were there, there was a celebration going on. There are guided tours every Wednesday, starting at 2 p.m. and also on most Saturdays and Sundays, at 11 p.m. – 2 p.m. but it is always good to contact beforehand to confirm and schedule a tour, as they often run private events.

In addition to the mansions, it is worth highlighting the huge green area of the Sands Point Preserve. There is plenty of room for kids to run, as well as picnic areas. In addition, the region sits on an elevated area with incredible views of Hempstead Bay. It’s amazing, breathtaking! To top it all off, you can still hike exploring the trails – take a map at the entrance to locate yourself in the area. We explored the area of the trails a bit and left in the bay beach. So beautiful! We really like to explore this place! I think it is a great idea for anyone who lives in New York and wants to take a different tour or even for veteran travelers looking for different and not obvious itineraries!

How to get there: we use the ong Island Rail Road, departing from Penn Station. You can buy round trip tickets to Port Washington. We spent $35 for two people and the trip os about 50 minutes. The train arrives at Port Washington Man Street and we had lunch there. After lunch, we ride a taxi – the company Deluxe Transportation is located next to the train station – to Sands Point. The ride is $9, it takes about 5 minutes and the path is beautiful and charming. The tickets to Sands Point is $4.

Check out more information about the place.

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