The Village of Babylon on Long Island's south shore looks like a quaint waterfront town from another era while offering all the conveniences of modern life. Located approximately 25 miles from New York City and 40 miles from Manhattan, Babylon feels far removed but offers an easy commute.
Three villages and 11 hamlets make up the town of Babylon, with the Village of Babylon at its center. The village borders the Great South Bay to the south and Sunrise Highway and North Babylon to the north. To Babylon's east lies West Islip, and to its west sits West Babylon.
At just 2.2 square miles, Babylon makes it easy to feel at home. In the downtown area, flower baskets dangle from antique lampposts, and barrel planters decorate the brick sidewalks. Median strips and the railroad station parking lot contain gardens and white picket fences. Daily street sweeping keeps the area looking neat and clean. Locally owned restaurants, shops and small businesses line the downtown district along Main Street and Deer Park Avenue, where only a few chain stores and restaurants reside.
Water plays a big part in the lives of Babylon residents. Lakes, creeks, marinas and fingertip canals dot the landscape. Not surprisingly, residents spend their leisure time fishing and playing water sports. Babylonians also enjoy a residents-only swimming pool on the edge of the Bay.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Don't let Babylon's small-town feel fool you. It boasts a vibrant restaurant scene with flavors for every palate. Find pockets of eateries along Main Street in the village and on Deer Park Avenue.
Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar features seasonal outdoor seating and exceptional service. The restaurant focuses on small plates made for sharing, so bring a group, and try lots of different dishes. Don't skip the melt-in-your-mouth tuna tartar tacos and the fall-off-the-bone short ribs. If you manage to save room for dessert, try the heavenly key lime pie.
When you crave Italian cooking, head over to Ristorante Gamelli on Main Street. The atmosphere manages to be rustic yet elegant, and the food gets you thinking about your return visit. Start your experience off right with the plump, juicy seafood in the mussels appetizer or the Antipasta Calda made with grilled, herb-marinated shrimp, baked clams, grilled artichokes and fried calamari topped with garlic and crushed red pepper in a basil white wine lemon sauce.
Move on to the unforgettable Penne con Carne featuring sautéed filet mignon tips over penne pasta with portobello mushrooms and baby spinach. The lobster risotto, filled with chunks of succulent lobster and vegetables, also makes a good choice. For dessert, indulge in the cannoli's flaky shell and sweet creamy center.
For south-of-the-border flair, Del Fuego can't be beat. The convenient location, reasonable prices, sizable portions and great food make Del Fuego worth returning to again and again. The works of local artists decorate the walls along with more standard Mexican restaurant decor, such as iguana figurines. From the pulled pork tacos to the veggie burrito, the meals at Del Fuego satisfy. If you like tequila, enjoy perusing the vast selection of tequilas available at Del Fuego.
While not known for its wild nightlife, Babylon is an ideal place for having a few drinks with friends in a neighborhood pub; several choices beckon, including Lily Flanagan's Pub. If you want to hear live music, head over to Bartini on North Carll Avenue. Bigger than it looks from the outside, Bartini hosts live bands every Friday and Saturday night.
History & Culture
Babylon came by its old-fashioned feel naturally. First settled in 1670, Babylon became a hub of activity by the 1800s. Travelers used it as a stopping place on their way from New York City to Southampton, farmers harvested salt hay for their livestock here, and seafood, grain, lumber and paper industries flourished.
The arrival of the railroad in 1867 turned the town into a resort. Following World War II, Babylon grew as a suburb of New York City and a good place to raise a family.
Babylon offers cultural events through the Babylon Village Arts Council, which hosts exhibits and live performances locally. The Suffolk Theater, not far away in Riverhead, provides another venue for live performance, or top acts can be caught at the 15,000 seat Nikon Theatre in Jones Beach.
Many small museums throughout the larger area feature art, local heritage, maritime history and more.
The railroad remains an important part of life in Babylon today, covering the distance of Long Island's 118-mile length and 20-mile width. The Long Island Rail Road takes passengers into New York City in a little more than an hour. It also goes out to Montauk Point on the east end of the island and provides access to towns in the center and on the north shore of Long Island.
As in most suburban areas, driving plays a key role in getting around. Seven bridges and two tunnels connect Long Island to New York City. From there, the Long Island Expressway, the Southern State Parkway and Sunrise Highway run east and west and provide easy access to the towns and villages on the south shore. Montauk Highway, just north of Babylon, continues to the end of the island. Deer Park Avenue lies to the east of the village and runs north and south, and Robert Moses Causeway takes travelers from Babylon south to Captree State Park and Fire Island.
If you don't have a car, several taxi companies serve the Babylon area. Uber drivers pick you up and take you where you need to go, and an extensive bus system provided by Suffolk County Transit runs Monday through Saturday and offers limited service on Sunday.
The Village of Babylon and surrounding streets are walker friendly with sidewalks on most streets. Although there are no bike lanes in the village, the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit in most places ensures a safe ride for bicyclists. If you do drive, pay to park at meters on the streets of the village, or obtain a resident parking permit to park at some meters without paying.
For times when your travel involves flying, three major airports serve Long Island: JFK International, LaGuardia and MacArthur Airport. Located a short distance from Babylon in Islip, MacArthur Airport provides service via Southwest Airlines and USAirways Express.
Babylon comes with a higher-than-average price tag for living expenses due to its proximity to New York City. The cost of living in Babylon is approximately 67 percent higher than the national average and 37 percent greater than the New York state average. In general, you can expect to pay $1,400 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.
If you commute to New York City, a one-way ticket on the Long Island Rail Road costs roughly $15 during peak time if you buy your ticket in the station, and $21 if you purchase your ticket on the train. Getting around to nearby towns by bus on the Suffolk County Transit system costs $2 to $2.25 for the full fare.
On average, expect to pay approximately 11 percent more for gas than the national average. If you go out for a beer after work, prices run about $6 per bottle.
Great one-of-a-kind shops characterize the village streets of Babylon, furnishing everything from gifts, arts and crafts, flowers, toys, antiques, shoes, and more. When shopping for women's apparel, head to Ooh La La or Pandemonium Boutique on Deer Park Avenue.
The sales staff at Pandemonium supplies you a drink or a snack when you arrive. The boutique's individual attention continues as you shop, and the staff makes helpful suggestions. The attention to detail stands out in every visit to this shop, even down to its hand-painted shopping bags. The shop stocks a wide variety of styles and sizes from teenagers to older adults.
A Babylon staple, Lo-Man Outdoor Store started as an army-navy surplus store in 1947 and later expanded to include sportswear, work clothes, footwear and more. Lo-Man outgrew its original location and now occupies a 10,000 square foot space with its own parking lot. The store boasts one of the largest inventory of UGG foot ware, carrying more than 200 styles in season.
Although a few chain stores reside in downtown Babylon, you have to venture a few miles to the Great South Bay Shopping Center in West Babylon for a wider variety of national stores. Browse for a new outfit at Ann Taylor Loft or Marshall's, or pick up home goods at Bed Bath & Beyond or groceries at Aldi.
Tanger Outlet Center in Deer Park, about 15 minutes north of Babylon, features more than 165 outlet stores, including a variety of high-end designers.
Babylon residents have a choice of grocery stores, including Stop & Shop on Montauk Highway or specialty shop Sherry's The Healthy Gourmet on Deer Park Avenue. Just a few miles away in West Babylon you find other options in Pathmark and ShopRite.
Long Island yields an abundance of fresh produce and seafood. The Babylon Village Farmers Market sets up in the train station parking lot every Sunday morning from 8 am to 1 pm from June to November. Make sure you check out Steve the hot sauce man and Blind Bat Brewery's stalls.
Babylon's waterfront location encourages outdoor adventure, and parks in the area provide venues for walking, biking, picnicking, swimming and more. Within the Village of Babylon lies picturesque Argyle Lake Park. Its distinctive white balustrades surrounding three cascading waterfalls make Argyle Lake Park a popular spot for weddings, wedding photos or romantic walks. The park also provides fishing and a temporary home to migrating birds. A small garden and September 11th memorial make for a peaceful escape. Feel free to bring your dog here for a walk.
Each September, the Annual Country Fair in Argyle Lake Park attracts thousands of visitors who enjoy food, entertainment, craft vendors and small rides for children.
Belmont Lake State Park in North Babylon features boating, fishing and horseback riding. It also offers basketball courts, playgrounds and bike trails. Follow a bike trail from the park to the Village of Babylon.