Located around 28 miles southeast of Manhattan, the town of Hempstead is comprised of 22 individually incorporated villages. A village within the town also has the name Hempstead.
Locals cite the access to New York City’s jobs, culture and activities as a primary reason to live in the area as well as proximity to Jones Beach, one of the most popular beaches on Long Island.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Most of Hempstead's restaurants can be found along Route 24. Given its diverse nature, the neighborhood offers different kinds of cuisines, from Colombian, steakhouses, Latin American and Filipino to soul food, Chinese and pizza.
Mi Tierrita Restaurant brings a taste of Colombia to the neighborhood, serving arepas, maduros and yuca fritas. Locals love the simple yet tastefully prepared foods with fresh ingredients in a family-style atmosphere. It can get a little crowded, though, so leave a little extra time to get a table or enjoy a glass of sangria before dinner.
The name Sushi Palace accurately describes the tantalizing cuisine waiting to be tasted at this Hempstead Turnpike restaurant. Regulars praise the straight-from-the-ocean freshness of dishes that include tekka don, an elegant plate of sliced tuna over avocado sashimi and rice. Assortment dishes give you the freedom to sample a diverse spread, so share a Rainbow Roll plate with a date or enjoy tuna-wrapped crab and cucumber, salmon, shrimp, yellowtail, and white fish.
La Hacienda draws large families with kids for Mexican and Salvadorian classics, such as flautas, pupusas and tacos. It's always packed, so people are clearly happy with the results, which come out from the kitchen quickly. It helps if you speak Spanish or have a working knowledge of the language, because this place is as authentic as it gets.
In Hempstead, nightlife falls into two categories: bars for dancing and bars for relaxing and sports. From Thursday nights through the end of the weekend, things can get pretty lively. As with area restaurants, most nightspots can be found along Route 24.
Scorpion Hookah Lounge & Café has a chill vibe and trendy music to relax and hang with friends, while McHebes draws local college kids for hard drinking, dancing and meeting new people. Obsession Restaurant & Bar brings the salsa, merengue and bachata for a Latin flair and dancing all night.
History & Culture
Hempstead was settled in 1644 after English colonists signed a treaty with the Lenape Indians. Many of the early settlers were Puritans seeking a safe place to worship.
Hempstead grew as a trading center during the 19th century. Many wealthy families, including the Belmonts and Vanderbilts, had homes here, establishing it as a center of society.
Recently, Hempstead has welcomed shopping centers in an effort to revitalize failing businesses. The LIRR terminal has been renovated, and more affordable housing units have been added. Culturally, the area continues to develop as its diverse population grows.
Hempstead hosts the African-American Museum of Nassau County for art, culture and traditions of African Americans. Other places to experience art include the Gloria Eve Performing Arts Foundation and Dance Space for children’s performances. Though Hempstead hosts no annual events, nearby Westbury has The Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns in October.
As part of suburban Long Island, Hempstead requires a car to get around. Though some locals take public transportation, the neighborhood is very spread out, making it tough to cover it solely by bus or train.
If you choose to take public transportation, you have many options, including NICE (Nassau Inter County Express) buses, Amtrak, Greyhound and the Long Island Railroad among others. For most local use, NICE buses should get you there.
You may find it tough to hail a cab on the streets in Hempstead unless you’re at a train or bus station. However, you can easily arrange a taxi pickup with one of the local services or have Uber pick you up. The Southern State Parkway and Meadowbrook State Parkway are both nearby, making connections in all directions very simple.
At most destinations, you’ll find that parking is abundant and cheap. Since Hempstead is pretty spread out, you may find it tough to walk it all, but many areas are walkable for errands or quick tasks. Hempstead has some bike lanes scattered throughout, making it safe for cyclists.
Hempstead’s cost of living is higher than the New York average and the national average. A typical one-bedroom residence rents for about $1,200 per month.
It costs around $13 to get from Hempstead to Manhattan by bus or $11 by train and subway. A beer at a local pub will run you around $5, and gas prices sit at around 17 percent higher than the national average.
Recent development means that Hempstead’s primary shopping options are big box stores located in malls, including Walgreen’s, Home Goods, Macy’s and the Home Depot. The area doesn’t have much in the way of high-end or luxury shopping, although nearby Garden City has an upscale mall with stores such as Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
You can find smaller boutiques if you’re willing to venture off Fulton, Peninsula and Front, some of the area’s main shopping areas. Goldis Jewelry is the perfect place for that special gift or giving yourself a little encouragement. Fulton Avenue Pharmacy also affords the area with a personal touch, no matter what’s ailing you, with a convenient central location and plenty of parking.
Though Hempstead has many large chain stores for groceries, such as Waldbaum’s, Stop and Shop and Trader Joe’s, smaller stores like Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace and JNJ Caribbean Foods appeal to some of the ethnic communities in Hempstead while providing tons of charm.
Hempstead doesn’t have its own farmers market, but nearby Hyde Park has a market on Sundays, while Garden City offers fresh produce, homemade foods and baked goods on Tuesdays.
Hempstead seriously gets it when it comes to its parks. The town oversees more than 1,400 acres of parkland in more than 90 parks located across the township, including the Lido Beach Golf Course and Baldwin Park with a huge array of fitness and other activities, including basketball, handball, soccer, softball, baseball, bike paths and a roller rink.
Many others host Little League baseball games, picnics, playgrounds and other activities, making them kid and dog friendly. Hempstead’s parks are free, and most have tons of free parking. Most park programs are free to residents, but visitors may have to pay a small fee.
Hempstead provides outdoor fun with its free movie and concert series in summer. Lots are family friendly, making this the perfect outing for everyone.