6. Port Washington
Execution Rocks lighthouse
Port Washington, consisting of the four villages — Baxter Estates, Manorhaven, Port Washington North and Sands Point — is one of the most affluent communities in Nassau County. It has a lively downtown, numerous marinas and parks, and beautiful scenery. Baxter Estates acted as a homestead settlement in 1673 known as “Cow’s Neck,” and in 1741, Oliver Baxter purchased the property, which at the time was believed to have been the location of a Matinecock Indian village. During the Revolutionary War, Hessian troops were quartered at the Baxter house.
Hempstead House at Sands Point Preserve
By the 1870s, Port Washington became a significant sand-mining town with easy access to Manhattan, and figures like the Vanderbilts and mining magnate Daniel Guggenheim built properties in Sands Point. The area quickly became a wealthy, historic community with a number of buildings now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, Port Washington offers scenic views of both the water and a number of historic sites like the John Philip Sousa House, where the famous composer lived for the last 20 years of his life, and the Thomas Dodge Homestead, dating back to 1721. Other notable sites on the NRHP include Execution Rocks Lighthouse, Sands-Willets Homestead, and the Monfort Cemetery, containing the graves of some of the earliest Dutch settlers of Cow’s Neck.
Port Washington is home to a number of parks like Blumenfeld Family Park, Bay Walk Park, and Bar Beach. Sands Point Preserve also houses the Hempstead House, consisting of two castle-like buildings. Sunset Park, right by the Tugboat Museum, is a fantastic place to eat ice cream and watch sunset on the marina.
Port Washington’s Main Street is one of the longest and most built-up in Nassau County, with a few dozen restaurants and shops. For a taste of Italy, Salvatore’s Pizza on Shore Road offers classic pies and other casual options, while DiMaggio’s Trattoria has a rustic feel with traditional Italian fare. Seafood options range from Butler’s Flat to Louie’s Grill & Liquors to French eatery La P’tite Framboise. Port Washington houses a number of Japanese eateries like Restaurant Yamaguchi, Hana, and Bonsai, as well as Thai eateries like Port Thai Place and Chinese options like Dynasty and New Garden Restaurant. Other notable spots include Bosphorus Cafe Grill, Indian restaurant Diwan, and Wild Honey on Main.