Welcome to Port Washington, Long Island, New York. Located on a peninsula on the North Shore of Nassau County, Port Washington was once the home of the Matinecocks who called it "Sint Sink," which means "place of many stones." Later, Dutch traders and English farmers moved to the area and called it "Cow Neck."
By the mid-nineteenth century, sand mining became a big industry in Port Washington. The area's sand, deposited here by the last glacier, was known as "Cow Bay Sand," and noted for its exceptionally fine qualities, and prized as an ingredient in concrete. When New York City skyscrapers began to soar on its skyline, many of them were made with the important addition of this local sand. So the next time you pass by the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, remember that the addition of sand from Port Washington is one of the reasons why they stand tall.
Today, Port Washington's waterfront is a lovely area to visit. There's much to see here, but a good place to start is the waterfront. Stroll down the town dock, sit in Sunset Park to listen to the free summer concerts, stop in one of the great restaurants here, or just enjoy the view of Manhasset Bay. If you're driving here, there's plenty of free parking at the Town Dock.
Stop for a Meal at Louie's Oyster Bar & Grille
While you're walking along the waterfront, stop by a Long Island culinary legend: Louie's Oyster Bay & Grille at 395 Main Street. Louie's serves a variety of seafood dishes, but their menu also includes steak and poultry. Sit inside, or during the warmer months, ask for a table on the deck, where you'll be treated to an up-close-and-personal view of Manhasset Bay.
Louie's is one of Long Island's oldest restaurants, and the original restaurant opened in 1905 as Louis Zuerlein's "Kare Killer." Built on a barge that was anchored in the bay, the first incarnation of Louie's was only accessible by boat.
Today, Louie's Oyster Bar & Grille stands on the Main Street waterfront. Enjoy their raw bar, seafood cocktails, crab cakes, hearty clam chowder, tuna, salmon, sea scallops and more. Louie's also features a celiac-friendly menu.
Shop for Hidden Treasures at the Twin Pines Thrift Shop
Diagonally across the street from Louie's Oyster Bar & Grille, and just across from the Town Dock, the Port Washington Twin Pines Food Cooperative and Charitable Thrift Shop is located at 382 Main Street (entrance on Prospect Avenue.) Search for vintage and modern clothing for men, women, and children at bargain prices, find books for a fraction of their original cost and decorate your house or apartment with the hidden treasures that you may find here.
Twin Pines is open from Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Thursdays, it's open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
If you're interested in more bargains on Long Island, there's a handy Long Island Thrift Shops guide.
Stroll Through Inspiration Wharf
As you walk down the waterfront, you'll see a picturesque, quiet space that leads down to Manhasset Bay. Here, you'll find an ice cream shop, spa, places to eat, a store that rents kayaks and sells sailing gear, and more. Parking is conveniently located at the back of Inspiration Wharf.
Inside Inspiration Wharf, at 405 Main Street, #2, Atlantic Outfitters rents kayaks, offers kayaking classes, and sells sailing gear, bait and tackle and much more.
Dynasty Chinese Restaurant, Inspiration Wharf, Port Washington
Almost hidden from view, Dynasty, an excellent Chinese restaurant, comes as a surprise to many visitors to Port Washington. Despite its modest facade, Dynasty is an amply-sized restaurant with high ceilings and beautiful decor. Stop by for lunch or dinner and then continue exploring Inspiration Wharf and Port Washington's waterfront.
Stop by the Port Washington Farmers' Market
If you're strolling down the Port Washington waterfront on a Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, stop by the Town Dock and wander through the Port Washington Farmers' Market. The fruits and vegetables for sale are organic, and you can also buy baked goods, goat cheese, coffee, honey, flowers and much more. The market is open from June to October.
The Tugboat Museum
At the entrance to the Port Washington Town Dock, you'll see what looks like a tugboat on dry land. Although you won't see it sailing in Manhasset Bay, this little tugboat has an important function: it serves as a small museum. There's no admission fee because you can't go inside. Just walk around the structure and gaze into the portholes and you'll view changing exhibits.
Port Washington Town Dock & Walkway
For an expansive view of the water, stroll down the town dock and watch boats sail in and out of Manhasset Bay. At the pier, you'll find children and adults hoping to hook fish on their lines.
Visit Sunset Park
Right on the waterfront, you'll find Sunset Park. Sit on one of the benches and breathe in the fresh air. Walk through the grass or sit under the trees. During the summer, there are free concerts in the park's John Philip Sousa bandshell.