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Spirit of Gatsby: Sands Point

Photo Courtesy of James Robertson

Step back in time and explore the real-life locales that echo the extravagance and elegance of the era F. Scott Fitzgerald so famously depicted. We’ve mapped four different Great Gatsby tours through Nassau County – home to East Egg (Sands Point) and West Egg (Great Neck).

These curated itineraries take visitors from the artistic sanctuaries of the Nassau County Museum of Art to the storied halls of the Planting Fields Arboretum, allowing you to experience the grandeur of the 1920s on Long Island’s Gold Coast. Each itinerary offers a new glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle and iconic settings that inspired one of America’s greatest novels, making it an ideal escape for those enchanted by the allure of the Jazz Age. Enjoy the first in the series…

Sands Point Preserve Conservancy on the Guggenheim Estate

The Sands Point Preserve, situated on the original Guggenheim Estate, captures the affluence and sophistication of the early 20th-century Gold Coast era. This period, characterized by the construction of grand mansions along the Long Island Sound, saw the creation of magnificent structures and grounds that still stand today. Crossing a century-old bridge, you step into another time. The historic “allée” of trees and gardens guides you to the Preserve’s Gate House. Here, the air is thick with the scent of privilege, the mansions looming as monuments to wealth and lineage. Entering East Egg is like entering a secret society, where status is etched in stone and measured in generations. Here, the pursuit of the American Dream takes on a new form, one of old money and entrenched hierarchy.

In “The Great Gatsby,” East Egg symbolizes inherited wealth, old money, and social status. Here’s a quote that encapsulates the significance of East Egg: “Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water…” – F. Scott Fitzgerald. This quote emphasizes the opulence and grandeur of East Egg, portraying it as a place where the elite reside in luxurious mansions. The “white palaces” represent the extravagant homes of the old-money aristocracy, highlighting their privilege and status in society. Among them is the Guggenheim Estate, developed by Howard Gould, son of financier Jay Gould, who acquired the land in 1900 and 1901.

One of the estate’s notable features is Hempstead House, nestled alongside Castle Gould, Falaise, and Mille Fleur. Built in 1912 by architects Hunt & Hunt, this Tudor-style castle served as a summer retreat for the Guggenheim family, hosting extravagant gatherings and displaying world-class art. 

Castle Gould, the estate’s first mansion, was constructed in 1902 by Howard Gould and actress Katherine Clemmons. Designed by architect Augustus N. Allen, the limestone building spans 100,000 square feet and now houses the Visitor Center and Great Hall. Although not open for tours, visitors can enjoy cultural events in its magnificent space.

Photos Courtesy of The Sands Point Preserve Conservancy

Falaise, built in 1923 by Harry F. Guggenheim and Caroline Morton, is a well-preserved historic house on Long Island’s North Shore. Modeled after a 13th-century Norman manor house, Falaise features architectural elements like a cobblestone courtyard and carved stone fireplaces, transporting visitors to a medieval era.

Mille Fleur, also part of the Sands Point Preserve, was initially constructed as a waterside home for Florence Guggenheim. Managed by the Sands Point Preserve Conservancy, the estate offers access to its historic homes, gardens, and trails for recreational and educational purposes. For detailed information and access to Mille Fleur, visitors are advised to contact the Conservancy directly.

Visit the Welcome Center in Castle Gould, the Great Lawn, Hempstead House Garden, Forest, and Pond area as well as the Woodland Playground and Dog Run, which are open for play. Check the Mansion page for special events and updated tour schedules for Hempstead House and Falaise.

Photos Courtesy of The Sands Point Preserve Conservancy

Day Trip Itinerary: Sands Point Preserve & An Evening in Port Washington

Note: Please check the Sands Point Preserve’s operating hours and availability of attractions in advance and consider making reservations where necessary. We suggest, you book Mansion Tours. You will also want to check for special events such as The Fairy Festival in May and the new Wilderness Survival Skills workshops for adults and teens. 

Tour of Hempstead House

Begin your exploration with a tour of Hempstead House, the Tudor-style castle that epitomizes the lavish lifestyle of the Gold Coast elite. Marvel at the architecture, opulent furnishings, and grandeur of the roaring 1920s. You can almost hear the sounds of tinkling laughter and the notes of jazz floating across the grounds. Note: Tickets are available for the day of purchase only as the schedule is so unpredictable.

Visit Castle Gould & Welcome Center

Explore Castle Gould, the first mansion on the estate property now repurposed as the Visitor Center and Great Hall. Wander its corridors and marvel at the impressive architecture, a testament to a bygone era of wealth and privilege.

1:00 PM: Bring a picnic or enjoy the “Power Lunch” at Louie's Oyster Bar & Grille

Head to Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille in Port Washington for a waterfront dining experience with the new and old charm of a Long Island staple since 1905.

Afternoon: Explore Nearby Attractions

You can return to the Sands Point Conservancy and walk the grounds and along the shoreline. You’ll see locals walking their dogs and enjoying picnics. You may also choose from several nearby attractions to continue your day… 

Nassau County Museum of Art: Drive to the museum for rotating exhibitions of contemporary and historic art.

Garvies Point Museum and Preserve: Ideal for families, explore Native American archaeology and natural history exhibits. Kids love this place and can easily manage the hike through the woods. 

Manorhaven Beach Park: Relax by the waterfront, and enjoy picnicking, fishing, and boating.

Optional Activities

If time permits, consider:

Sands Point Golf Club: Play a round at the scenic Sands Point Golf Club.

Sands Point Lighthouse: Take a stroll along the shoreline to view the historic lighthouse.

Shopping in Port Washington

Explore charming shops and boutiques for unique finds. Take a leisurely walk along the waterfront and treat yourself to a magnificent view of Manhasset Bay. Summer comes alive with free concerts in the parks. Enjoy top-notch restaurants offering fresh seafood and a variety of cuisines. Explore charming thrift shops for vintage treasures and unique finds, or satisfy your sweet tooth at local ice cream parlors. For those seeking adventure on the water, rental shops await, ready to equip you for your next aquatic escapade. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Tugboat Museum, adding a touch of maritime history to your coastal experience.

Evening: Enjoy the buzz of Port Washington

Some recommendations for your evening in Port Washington include… 

The Wild Goose: Nestled in the heart of Port Washington, The Wild Goose offers a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere perfect for enjoying a casual meal or drinks with friends. This gastropub is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike to unwind and enjoy good company.

La Petite FramboiseA local favorite in Port Washington serving classic French Bistro Fare. Nominated Best French Restaurant, Best French Toast, Best Appetizer, Best Brunch, and Best Martini in the 2024 Bethpage Best of L.I. That must be a record and worth checking out!  C’est délicieux.

Harbor Q: Harbor Q offers a unique waterfront dining experience in Port Washington, combining breathtaking views with mouthwatering barbecue cuisine. Located on the marina, this restaurant boasts a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, perfect for enjoying a meal with family and friends. Dive into a menu featuring slow-smoked ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and an array of homemade sides. 

Want more ways to experience the Spirit of Gatsby?  Share your pics with @VisitNassauCountyLI and be entered to win some Nassau County faves!

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