North Shore Long Island Guide – What it’s Like Living on the North Shore [Beaches, Things to Do, North Shore Towns & More]

Are you considering visiting or moving to Long Island? You’ll often hear people referring to not only Nassau and Suffolk counties to divide Long Island but also the North Shore and South Shore. Like Suffolk and Nassau, the South and North Shore of Long Island have very different lifestyles, beaches, and amenities.

The North Shore of Long Island is known for its affluence, picturesque and rocky beaches on the Sound, forested parks, and vineyards. It rose to fame when it became known as the Gold Coast during the turn of the 20th century as New York socialites and America’s wealthiest families built expansive mansions in the area. The Gold Coast is famous as the setting of the novel The Great Gatsby. Today, North Shore Long Island is a popular tourist destination and a great place to live for families and retirees alike.

Here’s what you need to know about visiting or moving to the Long Island North Shore.

Long Island North Shore History – The Gold Coast of Long Island

The North Shore area was settled in the 1600s and originally part of New Netherland, a Dutch colony that included modern-day New York City and stretched to Cape Cod. It became part of the Province of New York in 1664.

Early Long Island history was dominated by agriculture and whaling. The Gilded Age brought massive change to the North Shore. As America’s economy shifted from agriculture to industry and great wealth was made in industries like steel and transportation, the wealthy flocked to North Shore, Long Island. Between 1890 and the 1930s, more than 1,200 mansions and castles were built on the North Shore along a region that became known as the Gold Coast.

Some of the most famous Gold Coast residents who built estates (many of which remain) include Astors, the Vanderbilts, J.P. Morgan, F. W. Woolworth, Daniel Guggenheim, Theodore Roosevelt, and Otto Kahn, the “King of New York.”

While there are many remaining Gilded Age mansions on the Gold Coast of Long Island, most were demolished after WWII and the large estates were transformed into subdivisions.

Where Is the North Shore of Long Island?

The Long Island North Shore refers to the northern coast of Long Island along the Long Island Sound. Historically, the “North Shore” includes coastal communities stretching from the Town of North Hempstead in Nassau County through the Town of Huntington in Suffolk County.

The North Shore region also includes the Town of Smithtown in Suffolk County east of Huntington and the North Fork portion of Long Island. The North Fork is the 30-mile peninsula in northeast Suffolk County known for its rural environment and vineyards.

Gold Coast Long Island Map

Below, you can see a map of Gold Coast mansions and gardens with over 700 tags!


What’s it Like Living on the Long Island North Shore?

Living on the North Shore is a dream come true if you love the outdoors with rocky beaches on the Long Island Sound and forested, hilly state parks to explore. The area is known for its affluence with a population that’s older and more educated than the norm for New York and the rest of Long Island. Popular North Shore activities and hobbies run the gamut from the equestrian and tennis to golf, swimming, and visiting North Fork vineyards and wineries. It isn’t as bustling as the South Shore with fewer bars and entertainment districts with a more suburban atmosphere.

The North Shore Long Island region is home to many retirees, but it’s also a family-friendly place to live. Many families flock to North Shore communities for the low crime, greater privacy, outdoor recreation, and great schools.


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North Shore Long Island Towns

Before moving to the North Shore, you’ll want to narrow down your options to decide where to live. Do you envision life close to the water? Do you want more space? Are you looking for the best schools? There’s something for everyone!

There are six North Shore Long Island towns and one city, each with a different vibe.

Glen Cove – Exciting Waterfront Community

Glen Cove is the only city on the North Shore. It’s known for its stunning waterfront vistas, multi-family living options, quiet residential neighborhoods, and central business district.

Town of Brookhaven – North Shore & South Shore Amenities

This central Long Island town is the only town stretching from the North Shore to the South Shore. It offers ferry services, beaches on the ocean and Sound, top attractions, and excellent job opportunities.

Town of Oyster Bay – Tons of Entertainment & Cultural Attractions

One of the best places to live on the Long Island North Shore, and one of the most affluent, is Oyster Bay. It’s home to some of the best museums, parks, beaches, and cultural attractions with excellent schools.

Town of Huntington – Affluent Suffolk County Town on the North Shore

Huntington is the most affluent town in Suffolk County known for its mansions and five harbors. It’s a popular bedroom community for NYC commuters.

Town of Smithtown –More Affordable Home Prices

Want to stay on the North Shore but enjoy more reasonable home prices? Look to Smithtown. It’s farther out from New York City and close to the North Fork.

Town of North Hempstead – Great for NYC Commuters

This North Shore town is home to many of the most iconic Long Island mansions, excellent medical centers, and it’s close to the Queensborough Community College and Adelphi University. It’s in western Nassau County bordered by Queens and perfect for commuters!

Town of Riverhead – Farms, Vineyards & Beaches

Riverhead is part of the North Fork of the North Shore area. It’s known for its golf courses, vineyards, orchards, and farms with many great beaches and even an aquarium. It’s an affordable place to raise a family!

Town of Southold – Small, Rural Community

Southold is one of the most rural areas of Long Island on the North Fork. It’s a great place to live if you want a close-knit community, quiet beaches, and many wineries nearby.

Best Places to Live on the North Shore

Here are some great North Shore Long Island neighborhoods you’ll want to check out.

  • Old Westbury (North Hempstead & Oyster Bay) is a great choice for staying close to NYC and amazing attractions like the Long Island Children’s Museum and botanical gardens.
  • Roslyn (North Hempstead) is one of many villages collectively known as “the Roslyns.” Enjoy a short commute to Manhattan and the walkable Downtown Business District with fun boutiques.
  • Muttontown (Oyster Bay) is a popular, family-friendly community with golf courses and preserves. Parts of Muttontown are in the desirable Jericho school district, one of the best Long Island school districts and top three nationwide!
  • Bethpage (Oyster Bay) has many excellent schools to choose from.
  • Hicksville (Oyster Bay) is home to great shopping!
  • Cold Spring Harbor (Huntington) was recently named the best place to live in Suffolk County with a picturesque harbor, marinas, restaurants, and state parks.

North Shore Long Island Real Estate

Long Island North Shore living doesn’t come cheap. Overall, the median home price on Long Island is $623,000, up more than 60% over a decade. Excluding the Hamptons and the North Fork of the North Shore, the median price drops to $560,000.The North Fork region has even outpaced the Hamptons in home price appreciation over the last decade with prices almost doubling to a median $800,000.

You’ll pay more to live in Suffolk County versus Nassau County with median sales prices of $490,000 compared to $640,000 respectively. Of course, coastal communities are more expensive than inland North Shore neighborhoods.

Here are median home prices for popular North Shore areas.

  • Muttontown: $3.86 million
  • Lloyd Harbor: $2.8 million
  • Cold Spring Harbor: $1 million
  • Dix Hills: $1 million
  • Melville: $850,000
  • Great Neck: $710,000
  • Glen Cove: $613,000
  • Smithtown: $554,000
  • Oyster Bay: $532,000

North Shore Long Island Things to Do

Ready to explore fun things to do on the North Shore? Here are top attractions from beaches and parks to museums!

Gold Coast Mansions

The Hempstead House at Sands Point Preserve

There are hundreds of remaining Gold Coast mansions of Long Island. Many claim to have been the inspiration for Gatsby’s estate in The Great Gatsby. Here are some of the most iconic Long Island Gold Coast mansions, many of which have been turned into museums.

  • Hempstead House, also known as Sands Point Preserve, the Guggenheim Estate, or the Gould-Guggenheim Estate, is located in Sands Point, Nassau County. This 216-acre preserve has two Long Island Castles: the iconic Hempstead House and the smaller Castle Gould.
  • Old Westbury Gardens is one of the best preserved examples of Gilded Era mansions. The Charles II-style mansion sits on 200 acres of manicured grounds and gardens with a hedge maze. Guided tours are offered along with events like the Scottish games and Rise of the Jack-O-Lanterns.
  • Oheka Castle is a French Chateau-style castle that was the second-largest private home in the U.S. when it was built in 1917. It’s now an upscale hotel and wedding venue.
  • Vanderbilt Mansion. The Vanderbilt estate is a Spanish Revival-style mansion named Eagle’s Nest by William Vanderbilt II. It’s now the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium.
  • The Mansion at Glen Cove. This Georgian-style mansion on a 55-acre estate is now an elegant hotel and spa.
  • Planting Fields Arboretum. The former estate of the Coe family, Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park sprawls across 400 acres in Oyster Bay with a century-old Tudor Revival mansion, two greenhouses, and several gardens to tour.

Long Island North Shore Beaches


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  • Wading River Beach is a small Long Island Sound beach in Riverhead popular with families.
  • Crab Meadow Beach is an iconic North Shore beach with a kayak launch, boardwalk, and restaurant.
  • North Hempstead Beach Park is one of the most picturesque Port Washington beaches with a fishing pier and boating.
  • Hobart Beach Park offers a boat ramp, beach volleyball, swimming, and a park area with a playground.
  • Orient Beach State Park is at the end of the North Fork with over 45,000 feet of shore frontage and 363 acres of park to explore.
  • Cedar Beach Town Nature Preserve in Mt. Sinai, Brookhaven is one of the best North Shore beaches with a fishing pier, swimming, and park with a playground, basketball courts, and walking paths.

North Shore Parks

The North Shore is home to some of the best state parks on Long Island plus picturesque community parks in its many towns and villages. Here are some of the best North Shore, Long Island parks you’ll love after moving to the North Shore.

  • Sunken Meadow State Park (Kings Park) is one of the most popular New York state parks. Covering almost 1,300 acres in the Town of Smithtown, it’s home to a 27-hole golf course, beautiful beaches, and launching for kayaking, windsurfing, and paddle boarding.
  • Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve (Lloyd Harbor) is one of the top North Shore attractions with an historic mansion to tour, a working farm, horse riding facilities, a beach, and recreational facilities.
  • Cold Spring Harbor State Park is a gorgeous 47-acre state park with scenic harbor views and forested, hilly hiking trails.
  • Hempstead Lake State Park (West Hempstead) is a huge state park known for its great amenities. One of the top Nassau County parks, it’s home to the large freshwater Hempstead Lake plus playgrounds, game courts, and other recreation.
  • Wildwood State Park (Wading River) is a great choice for enjoying Long Island camping at its finest with undeveloped hardwood forest on a bluff overlooking the Sound plus a swimming beach.
  • Heckscher Park (Huntington) is one of the best Long Island parks for community events, picnics, summer concerts, and more. It offers fun things to do on the North Shore with kids thanks to its shaded green areas, pond, and small art museum.

Long Island Museums on the North Shore

Along with the many Gold Coast mansions that have been transformed into museums, you’ll find many museums on Long Island in the North Shore area.

North Fork Wineries & Vineyards


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Restaurants on the North Shore

Whether you’re visiting or planning on living on the North Shore, you’ll find a bounty of amazing restaurants ranging from family-friendly diners and upscale steakhouses to waterfront seafood restaurants serving local oysters, scallops, bass, flounder, and more. Here are the best North Shore restaurants to visit!


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Does the North Shore of Long Island sound like a dream come true? If you’re ready for moving to the North Shore, Long Island, give us a call today at Zippboxx for a free estimate and a stress-free experience!

Rob Marchese
Rob Marchese is one of the founders of Zippboxx Moving and Storage. Since the start of the company it's been Rob's mission to change the way the moving industry is perceived.  The number one goal is to make the moving and storage process as stress free as possible for each and every customer. "The way we do this is by honesty, transparency, and providing a high quality of service."
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