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Long Island’s Gold Coast: Explore Gatsby at Old Westbury Gardens

Photo Courtesy of Old Westbury Gardens

Gatsby’s Spirit lives on in the grand estates, mansions, and castles of New York’s wealthiest families, constructed during the early 20th century. Everyone from Guggenheim, Vanderbilt, Morgan, and Phipps to the Duke of Windsor built their summer homes on Long Island’s North Shore also known as Long Island’s Gold Coast. Today, approximately one-third of these houses still stand in various states, offering a glimpse into a life of luxury rarely experienced even today. This place and the people who lived here inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel “The Great Gatsby,” captivating audiences worldwide with its promise of boundless opportunities and the pursuit of a brighter future.

Old Westbury Gardens: A Wedding Gift Embodying Gilded Age Opulence and English Elegance

Nestled in Old Westbury on Long Island’s Gold Coast lies a charming slice of Old England known as Old Westbury Gardens. Its rich history dates to the early 20th century, rooted in a heartfelt pledge from John Schaffer Phipps, son of industrialist Henry Phipps. Acquiring the property in 1905, Phipps, having married Margarita Celia Grace in England in 1903, promised to recreate her English home on American soil, envisioning a haven where they would raise their children. Today, the magnificent Charles II-style mansion stands proudly amidst 200 acres of meticulously landscaped grounds, including formal gardens, woodlands, ponds, and lakes. Westbury House’s unique preservation of over fifty years’ worth of family history still adorns the mansion with fine English antiques and decorative arts. Welcome to a piece of history waiting to be explored. 

The Gardens

Once a modest Quaker farm, the estate’s 160 acres, graced with 70 acres of English-style gardens, were carefully crafted by the renowned English architect, George Crawley. Today, you will find yourself charmed by the lush beauty surrounding the stately manor. The garden’s spell is undeniable, with carefully trimmed hedges, delicate rose bushes, and the delightful Italianate walled garden.  From April to November, the estate blooms in its full glory, though its charm enchants visitors year-round. Whether amidst the blossoms or basking in the manor’s serene presence, Old Westbury Gardens promises a delightful journey through the elegance of 18th-century England—a gift as precious as the bride it was once intended for.

There are many events for you to check out on the Old Westbury Gardens Upcoming Events page, but there is a special new behind-the-scenes tour called Secrets of the Service Wing. For many years visitors to Westbury House asked what was beyond the first-floor corridor. Now they can go beyond the door and discover the “secrets of the service wing.” 

The tour lasts a little over one hour and because of its physical demands, it is not recommended for individuals with limited mobility or children under 8 years of age. Please check the website for available tours and activities.

Where to Eat, Explore and More:

When hunger strikes and you want the Gold Coast Experience to continue, consider the following for excellent food, shopping, and charm:

Roslyn: Roslyn is a charming village located on Long Island’s North Shore, just a short distance from Old Westbury Gardens. Steeped in history, Roslyn’s downtown area features well-preserved historic buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, lending it a quaint and picturesque atmosphere. Gatsby’s Landing Roslyn offers an extraordinary dining experience with serene views of Roslyn Pond and beautiful outdoor seating. Reservations are recommended.

Port Washington: Situated along the shores of Manhasset Bay, Port Washington offers a breathtaking waterfront setting with a vibrant downtown area. Just a short drive from Old Westbury Gardens, Port Washington provides a delightful blend of coastal charm and urban amenities.

Overall, both Roslyn and Port Washington offer unique and charming experiences that complement a visit to Old Westbury Gardens, providing opportunities for shopping, dining, cultural exploration, and scenic waterfront enjoyment.

Notes for the Savvy Traveler

Plan ahead to ensure the best experience for you and your family at Old Westbury Gardens

Visit the Plan Your Visit page for the best times to visit and how to book a private tour. 

10:00 am: Arrive at Old Westbury Gardens 

Begin your day exploring the enchanting gardens, manicured lawns, and historic landscape architecture. Take your time wandering through the various gardens, enjoying the beauty and tranquility of the surroundings.

12:00 pm: Head to Westbury House

Take a guided tour or wander through the opulent rooms at your own pace, marveling at the elegant furnishings and exquisite decor. 

1:00 pm: Lunch

Westbury House closes for lunch. Take a break and enjoy a leisurely lunch either at the CAFÉ IN THE WOODS on the grounds or at one of the nearby dining options such as: 

Bar Frites – 400 Wheatley Plaza, in Greenvale, NY: a hip urban bistro located in an upscale shopping center on the North Shore of Long Island.

Rothmann’s Steakhouse – 6319 Northern Blvd, East Norwich, NY: classic steakhouse fare and elegant atmosphere.

Mim’s Restaurant – 235 Roslyn Rd, Roslyn Heights, NY: featuring American and Mediterranean-inspired dishes in a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

Spuntino Wine Bar & Italian Tapas – 1002 Old Country Rd, Garden City, NY: offers a modern twist on traditional Italian cuisine, with a focus on small plates and a curated wine selection.

1:30 pm: Westbury House Re-opens

Resume your exploration of the mansion and its grounds. Take time to appreciate the architectural details and historical significance of this Gilded Age estate. Spend your remaining time strolling through the gardens or browsing the gift shop for souvenirs.

4:30 pm: Depart Old Westbury Gardens 

Head to Roslyn for some post-garden exploration. Enjoy a scenic drive to this charming village. Take a walk along the historic streets lined with beautifully preserved buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Consider dining at Gatsby’s Landing Roslyn for an extraordinary experience with serene views of Roslyn Pond. Please make reservations in advance.

6:30 pm: After Dinner

Explore the boutique shops and art galleries in Roslyn. Discover unique clothing, gifts, and works by local artists as you stroll through the village. If you are a real history buff and have the time, visit the Roslyn Landmark Society website and learn more about the history of this captivating village.

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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