Weather or not, enjoying Long Island
Long Island stretches east from New York City, with different densely packed residential neighborhoods as well as an impressive string of popular Atlantic beaches. On the South Fork is the Hamptons, a scattering of small seaside towns known as a top summering spot for moneyed New Yorkers. Whether you're headed to Long Island to play in the sand, like most visitors, or to tour the North Fork wineries or other attractions, you'll need to know what to expect from Mother Nature. Be warned: Long Island definitely has seasons in the sun, but snow flies in winter, and rain is never too far away either.
Long Island seasons
Long Island is, in fact, quite long. It averages 1.5 miles wide, but stretches for 60 miles. Weather can differ from north to south and coast to coast. But generally, the area can be counted on to have warm summers with rain and cold winters with snow. The proximity of the Atlantic Ocean tempers both heat and thunderstorms. Sea breezes reduce heat and thunderstorms in summer and keep coastal regions warmer than inland. For example, a winter snow might bring snowflakes inland but raindrops on the beaches.
July highs can get into the 90s, but average in the low 70s. January lows dip to 12 degrees F, but average 25 degrees F, both well below freezing. If you visit in winter, you may experience intense storms called nor'easters that bring several feet of snow and near-hurricane-force winds.
Overall, if you're trying to decide when to go, spring and fall are good choices. Both May and September offer average temperatures of between 60 and 70 degrees F and lows in the 50s. The big tourist season is summer, although Long Island is not overrun with visitors like some other east-coast beach areas.
Packing for Long Island adventures
Some people use Long Island as a place to stay while visiting NYC. If you're going to be one of them, you may need an entirely different wardrobe for nights out in the Big Apple. But Long Island itself is upscale casual, even in swanky suburbs like the pricey Hamptons.
You'll need beach wear, sandals and sundresses in summer. Don't forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and hats to keep those rays at bay. Take comfortable shoes and summer slacks for cooler evenings, as well as a rain jacket, umbrella and waterproof footwear in case of a downpour. May is the month with the most rain, but those drops may well fall throughout the summer.
Packing for spring and fall should include layers, warm weather cottons and slightly heavier sweaters or jackets, as well, for when the sun goes down. Winter requires serious cold-weather gear, from warm boots to a heavy coat.
Special event considerations
If you're heading to a special event in Long Island, like the Belmont Stakes horse race, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, you'll need to pack for it. You'll want to arrive at the Belmont in stylish, elegant dress and, of course, a fancy hat. If your special event is private, like a wedding in the Hamptons, your best bet is to follow the dress code suggested by the person sending the invitation.