One of the perks of being a New Yorker is the convenient proximity between fast-paced urban living and nearby escapes offering some fresh air within picturesque scenery. And for LGBTQIA+ people especially, NYC living not only provides a sense of safety and community unlike anywhere else in the world, but the region also boasts a number of well-known queer enclaves with idyllic landscapes just hours away.
While many make the pilgrimage to the popular spots like Fire Island, a sandbar off the southern coast of Long Island, for those in search of a quieter scene, tucked away just west of the Hamptons is Bellport.
Here, whether it’s via a (pain-free) drive from the city or even easier LIRR ride, visitors can expect the perfect balance of Long Island beach town, queer enclave, and low-key chicness. A panoply of charming local businesses, many of which are queer-owned, include a snazzy general store, regenerative farm, vegan dosa stand, and more. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a coastal Long Island town without spectacular wildlife and plentiful beach access.
For your next local getaway from NYC, here are 9 reasons to drive to Bellport, Long Island.
Located just outside the main center stretch of Bellport, Mama Farm is a bed and breakfast founded by actress Isabella Rossellini and run by her daughter, Elettra Weidemann. This full-house rental can accommodate private groups of 6-8 people and includes a nicely stocked breakfast pantry and a kitchen available for light usage (aka coffee and reheating food). The grounds are home to heritage breeds of chickens, geese, sheep, and goats, as well as an operational farm that offers a pickup-only CSA program. In addition to lowkey weekend stays, the property is an awesome venue for events like intimate weddings, just as long as you don’t mind sharing the spotlight with some extremely sociable roaming sheep.
The actual farm portion of Mama Farm is operated by Patty Gentry of Early Girl Farm. Gentry is a former chef and one of the co-founders of Hampton Chutney in East Hampton. True to its name, you’ll find her slinging vegan dosas on Saturdays from 8 am until noon—and her farm stand is committed to using regenerative, no-till farming practices to support the area’s biodiversity and ecological health. Also, discover all manner of seasonal produce alongside local kombuchas, cheeses, and soaps.
Down the street from Mama Farm, The Gateway playhouse hosts a surprisingly credible roster of shows considering Bellport’s off-the-beaten-path vibe. Born out of a converted farm in the 1950s, past productions here have included programming like an Elton John cover band, a one woman show by theater benefactor Isabella Rosselini, or even a student production of A Chorus Line.
Take a stroll through downtown before dinner at a must-try restaurant
Bellport’s main stretch of South Country Road is host to most of the town’s main attractions, including Copper Beech, an uber-fancy boutique, and The Storefront, which is a multi-functional space selling books and more while showcasing a rotating set of artists and makers. Afterwards, wind down at The Bellport, a cozy neighborhood haunt that’s frequented by all manner of clientele including salt-of-the-earth locals and artsy Bushwick residents. The restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner and brunch is only on Sundays. When it comes to the menu, expect eclectic offerings with touches of French, Italian, and Indian inspiration.
The origins of this tastefully curated shop dates back to the summer of 2020, when designer Stefan Beckman ran a successful pop-up with his brand, Lateral Objects, at the store before eventually taking over the space fully in January of 2021. At Bellport General, expect housewares, clothing, and pantry items, not to mention a great coffee shop tucked in the back. This place has everything you need for an extremely chic Long Island visit, and it’s hard to find something here that isn’t oozing with style.
A bit on the outskirts of Bellport, this sanctuary offers a huge range of activities for those who love the outdoors (but want non beach-centric options). At the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge—whose original inhabitants were the Unkechaug peoples—visitors can enjoy year-round offerings like guided tours, hiking trails, boating, and cross country skiing across the reserve’s 2,500 acres.
Some consignment shops can often give over-cluttering vibes, forcing shoppers to sift through endless piles of goods just to discover a precise gem. But Good Merch is certainly not one of those places. Housed at the Bellport Brookhaven Historical Society, this little shop feels a lot more expensive than it actually is and from furniture and earrings to glassware, it packs a pretty chic punch at fairly accessible price points.
If you are indeed looking for bargains in an impossibly cluttered thrift store setting, you’re going to love the Thrift Shop at Bellport United Methodist Church. It’s easy to lose hours rifling through a massive selection of housewares, clothes, books, and more (there might even literally be a kitchen sink tucked away somewhere). Part of the shop’s mission is to employ staff “willing to lend an ear when someone simply needs to share their life’s ups and downs with another,” which is something the world definitely needs more of. Just one warning, they’re cash-only.
Go for a quick jaunt to nearby Fire Island
For many LGBTQIA+ people, the lure of The Pines and Cherry Grove at nearby Fire Island is impossible to resist. Fortunately, Bellport is a quick drive to the Sayville Ferry that services those infamously debaucherous destinations. After you’ve explored and eaten to your heart’s desire, continue with the good times by heading to one of the country’s most popular queer havens.