The best way to make history come alive is to step back in time and dive into Long Island's rich cultural history by signing up for a guided tour of a local century-old home, lighthouse, or mill. Many of us would typically not get to experience the luxury and grandeur of these mansions and other historic locations, but through a guided tour, you can experience what it was like back in the Gold Coast days. There are numerous estates that have been preserved or renovated that offer informative docent-led tours, including the Vanderbilt Estate, the William Floyd Estate, and Otto Hermann Kahn's Oheka Castle. Many estates may also offer combination packages with food and drink, such as pastries and baked goods at the William Bayard Cutting Arboretum and Oheka Castle.
Due to the atmosphere of these estates, some tours require that visitors arrive in business casual dress. Resverations are encouraged at most locations, so make sure to call ahead to guarantee a spot for on the tour. Also, be sure to bring cash or check to pay for your ticket, as not all of these historic groups are set up to receive credit cards.
Learn something new about Long Island's history and relive its golden years at one of these great educational tours!
Living History Tours at the Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium
180 Little Neck Road, Centerport, NY 11721
Every Saturday and Sunday through September 6, every 45 minutes starting at 12:30 PM and ending at 4:00 PM
$7 per adult, $6 per student or senior, $3 per child under the age of 12
Take a time machine tour to the Vanderbilt home in 1936 to meet family guests like gold champion Sam Snead and author Dorothy Parker. Visitors are encouraged to take a tour, bring a picnic lunch, and stay for a Shakespeare play in the mansion courtyard.
Old Mastic House at the William Floyd Estate – FREE!
245 Park Drive, Mastic Beach, NY 11951
Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through November 8, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Stroll the 25 rooms and 250 years of history in the Old Mastic House, the ancestral home of William Floyd, who was one of the four signers of the Declaration of Independence from New York State. This hour-long guided tour is offered every half hour, and is limited to groups of 10 people or fewer.
Van Wycks-Lefferts Tide Mill Tour
Lloyd Harbor Southdowns Road, Huntington, NY 11743
Wednesday, August 12 at 9:45 AM and Thursday, August 27 at 9 AM
$10 for members, $15 for non-members
The Van Wycks-Lefferts Tide Mill is the only remaining mill in Huntington, and was originally used to turn oats, wheat, and corn into flour. These private tours are accessible by boat only. Advanced registration required.
Otto Hermann Kahn’s Home at Oheka Castle
135 Westgate Drive, Huntington, NY 11743
August 7 – December 5, Tours begin at 11:00 AM daily, and are by reservation only
$25 per person for adults, $20 for seniors, $15 for students, and $5 for children ages 12 and under
Oheka Castle stands on the highest point on Long Island, and was built at an estimated $11 million, which equates to $110 million in today’s currency, and was used as a summer home to entertain, royalty, Hollywood stars, and heads of state. Tours at the beautiful Oheka Castle include tea, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, and homemade cookies from the pastry kitchen.
The William Bayard Cutting Manor House at Bayard Cutting Arboretum
440 Montauk Highway, Great River, NY 11739
August 7 – November 30, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
$8 parking fee, $10 per person for the tour, cash or check only
Tour William Bayard Cutting’s Tudor-style manor house, which has been restored and partly used for art exhibits. Private house tours for ten visitors or more can be scheduled at any time with advanced request. Take a visit to the Hidden Oak Café, which was built into the home and offers tea, coffee, and pastries for purchase.
Harry F. Guggenheim’s Home at Falaise on Sands Point Preserve
127 Middleneck Road, Port Washington, NY 11050
Tours offered through November 22, Thursday-Sunday 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM every hour on the hour
$10 per person, additional $10 parking fee
Harry Guggenheim’s luxurious home, Falaise, was built in 1923 for him and his wife, Catherine Morton. It offers extraordinary architecture and art collections, all within a jaw-dropping French eclectic-style manor house.
Theodore Roosevelt’s Summer Home - Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
20 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, NY 11771
August 7 – December 31, every half hour from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
$10 per person
Theodore Roosevelt lived at Sagamore Hill for over 30 years, and all of his belongings have been preserved to ensure that Teddy’s legacy continues to inspire generations to come. Tickets generally sell out between 10:00 AM and noon, so be sure to stop by early.
Robert Leftwich Dodge and Lillian Sefton Dodge’s Home – Mill Neck Manor Mansion
40 Frost Mill Road, Mill Neck, NY 11765
September 13, October 18, November 15, December 6, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
$25 per adult, $20 per senior, $15 per student, $5 per child, $20 per person in groups of 10 or more
Mill Neck Manor is a Tudor Revival-style mansion with over 34 family rooms, 16 bathrooms, and many more guest and service rooms. You can also study the many stained glass windows that depict five Shakespearean plays.
The Phipps Family Mansion at Old Westbury Gardens
71 Old Westbury Gardens, Old Westbury, NY 11568
Tours every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday through October 31, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
$9 per adult, $7 per senior, student, and child. Old Westbury Gardens only takes cash or check.
This Charles II-style mansion is furnished with fine English antiques and decorative arts, and is situated on 200 acres of formal gardens, landscaped grounds, woodlands, ponds and lakes.
Evening Seaside Stroll: Lighthouse To Kismet
Fire Island Lighthouse, Fire Island, NY 11770
Friday, September 5, 6:15 PM – 7:45 PM
$5 per person
Explore the natural and cultural history of the lighthouse tract as you walk from Field 5 to Kismet. Parking fees may apply, and reservations are required.