Snap Your Holiday Card Photos at These Beautiful Long Island Landscapes
It takes time and planning to achieve the picture-perfect winter holiday photo for your family Christmas cards or other season's greetings. One of the most important decisions you'll make is the location you choose for your backdrop. With so many beautiful Long Island landscapes, the biggest challenge you'll face is whether to pack up the kids and head to the beach, a lighthouse, vineyard, or even the aquarium. These 13 Long Island landscapes make for stunning and memorable backdrops for your holiday photos.
Best Destinations to Take Holiday Photos on Long Island
The stark contrast between holiday clothing and a secluded beach in fall/winter makes for a visually stunning photo. Lido Beach is usually quiet and less crowded than other Long Island beaches and features a boardwalk and miles of clean sand. Schedule your photo shoot for early morning or late afternoon, otherwise known as the magic hour, for the beautiful light you'll catch.
If you're going for a less sandy vibe this year, consider the Lido Beach Marine Conservation Area. This secluded 40-acre area features indigenous plants, a scenic overlook, and tidal wetlands. If you're lucky, you might even capture some of the area's popular waterfowl in your holiday photos. Unlike many other parks on Long Island, this one is nearly always deserted in the fall and winter, and its dramatic and untouched wild scenery can't be replicated.
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Or walk out to the Curtis E. Fisher West Marina Fishing Pier in Point Lookout, which faces the Reynold Channel for a seascape backdrop.
Lido Beach is easily accessible by the Long Island Railroad. Take the Long Beach branch to Island Park and hop a 5-minute cab ride to Lido Beach. In 2021, the beach is open only to Town of Hempstead residents, but you can replicate the magic of a beach photo shoot at one of these other family-friendly Long Island beaches.
An illuminated Montauk Point Lighthouse makes a charming backdrop for holiday photos. Photo courtesy of the Montauk Lighthouse
2. The Montauk Point Lighthouse — Montauk
As the oldest lighthouse in New York State, the Montauk Point Lighthouse is a classic historical Long Island landscape that serves as a dramatic backdrop for holiday photos. Be sure to scout the many locations surrounding the lighthouse (including Turtle Cove, the beach just west of the lighthouse) and experiment with taking photos in a few places to see which one caters to your holiday card dreams. There is an $8 fee to park in the Montauk Point State Park parking lot from 8am to 4pm. This does not include admission to the lighthouse. The nautical flag porthole wall at Navy Beach offers another Montauk photo-op.
3. Hicks Nursery — Westbury
If your goal is to incorporate as many elements of the holiday season as you possibly can, one of your biggest challenges might be nailing a location that decorates early enough in the season. Hicks Nursery is one of the best spots on Long Island to score plants, flowers, and garden accents for your home—and that includes winter flora. But it's so much more than that: Hick's Nursery also offers Christmas events throughout November and December and is so festively decorated you'll have no problem snapping a gorgeous holiday card photo in the nursery.
4. Long Island Aquarium — Riverhead
Searching for a truly original holiday card backdrop? Consider posing your troops in front of the Long Island Aquarium's colorful coral reef exhibit. Or if you've hired a professional photographer who has serious skill, pose beside the shark tank or inside of the butterfly exhibit. Although this popular family attraction is buzzing with visitors during the summer, it's a lot quieter in autumn, particularly after 1pm on weekdays.
Looking for a nostalgic photo? How about the old railroad station at the Wantagh Museum. Photo by the author
5. Railroad Museum of Long Island — Riverhead
Pose in front of historic train engines and give your photos a bit of nostalgic appeal that makes for amazing conversation starters. If you or anyone in your family is a history buff or is simply fascinated by locomotives, this is the ideal spot for your non-traditional holiday card photos. The museum is open on Saturdays only, 10am-4pm, through December 18, 2021. Note: It is closed on Saturday, November 27.
Further west, the Wantagh Museum grounds house a old railroad station, Jamaica Parlor car, and a recreated 1904 Wantagh Post Office. Step back in time for some old-fashioned fun with photography.
Add a splash of color with the rainbow backdrop at The Market Cafe. Photo by the author
6. RGNY Vineyards — Riverhead
Kids and pets are welcome at this vineyard, one of the East End’s most family-friendly wineries (formerly known as Martha Clara Vineyards). So, if you want to include Fido in the family holiday photo and enjoy a glass of wine, this is a great option. Futher east, White Flower Farmhouse in Southold has a flower-arched All You Need is Love exterior wall. There's also a rainbow-themed wall of windows on The Market Cafe in Greenport. Of course, there's also the nostalgic carousel at Mitchell Park across the street as well!
7. Captree State Park — Bay Shore
This 340-acre state park offers a world of nautical possibilities for photo backdrops—from a fishing marina to a picnic area that overlooks the Fire Island Lighthouse. Make plans to take photos right before and during sunset to capture this park's landscapes at their most colorful.
Conjure up an old-fashioned card at the red barn at Old Bethpage Village Restoration. Photo courtesy of OBVR
8. Old Bethpage Village Restoration — Old Bethpage
Step back in time and capture a slice of 19th-century America in your Christmas card photos by planning your photo session at this 209-acre village, which features rural homes, farms, and businesses from that era. Possible locations include the front of the historic Manetto Hill Church, which dates to 1857. Visit during its 1863 Thanksgiving Celebration for some extra flair. Old Bethpage Village Restoration is currently open Fridays through Sundays, 10 am to 4pm. Last admission is sold at 2:30pm.
9. Northport Village Park — Northport
Located at the foot of this charming community, Northport Village Park has many wonderful spots for the perfect holiday photo, including a picturesque gazebo and a gorgeous harbor. Plus, the village’s Christmas tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving, offering another great backdrop. After picture taking, take a stroll around Northport and visit the many shops and restaurants that line the very walkable Main Street.
The grounds of Planting Fields Arboretum offer expansive landscapes. Photo courtesy of the park
With 409 acres of manicured lawns, woodland paths, a sensory garden, and meticulously landscaped grounds exceeding your fairytale dreams, this former Gold Coast estate provides a breathtaking landscape for photos. Tour the arboretum beforehand and get a sense of the mood you want to evoke in your photos—if that's natural and serene the sensory garden is hard to beat. Be sure to read the Planting Fields Foundation's photo policy: A permit is required for professional and posed photography, including family photos.
Hop on the holiday train for a festive photo at Bayville Winter Wonderland. Photo courtesy of the venue
11. Bayville Winter Wonderland — Bayville
With an arcade, holiday train ride, ice skating, and daily visits from Santa, there is no shortage of great winter wonderland landscapes to serve as your holiday card scenery. Purchase tickets early and plan your trip at the start of the season to avoid heavy crowds and to give yourself enough time to create cards from your photos.
Andaluz The Artist showcases 151 Pokemon in his playful mural in Greenlawn. Photo by Efren Andaluz
12. Pokemon Mural — Greenlawn
For a holiday card backdrop that appeals to children, go to Andaluz the Artist's playful mural of 151 Pokemon characters in Greenlawn. Featuring bold and colorful first-generation Pokemon, you will have no issues getting the kids to smile from ear to ear, although they might get distracted by playing Pokemon Go; this is a Pokestop. If your family is not a fan of Pokemon but wants a unique backdrop for your holiday card this year, Andaluz’s murals brighten walls all over Long Island and New York. For the artistic family, pose with Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol in Andaluz’s Art Legends mural at Riebe’s Artist Materials. Also in Huntington, Sundae Donuts has a graffitied wall of hearts that makes for a psychadelic backdrop. The Shed has a set of bright red wings ripe for photos!
The setting sun glistens on Caumsett State Park’s vast meadow and lush trees. Photo courtesy of NYS Parks
13. Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve — Lloyd Harbor
Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve spans more than 1,500 acres of holiday photo backdrop bliss. Located in the Village of Lloyd Harbor on a peninsula that extends into Long Island Sound, the preserve’s bountiful trees, lush, manicured lawns, rocky shores, historic cottages, and stately houses offer beautiful backdrops for an eye-catching holiday card. With more than 200 species of birds and a variety of wildlife, your holiday card might have unexpected, but welcome, photobombers. Discover when all foliage is at its picture-perfect best by checking I Love New York's Fall Foliage Report. Bring your bikes to take full advantage of the park after the holiday shots are done. The park’s extensive trails are predominantly flat and smooth, perfect for the new or learning-to-ride bike rider. Parking fees vary depending on the day, time, and season; check the website for details. Photography permits are required for any commercial photography, including more than one camera, additional staff, or props. Permits are obtained by calling the New York State regional permit office, 631-321-3515.
This post has been updated for 2021. Writer Lisa Fogerty contributed additional reporting.