Guide: Where to spend a photogenic ‘Perfect Day’ in and around Rockville Centre


Whether you’re seeking a place to dine, unwind, work or play, a great atmosphere is essential. From the gorgeous outdoors to trendy eateries, people crave exciting backgrounds for selfies and other Insta-worthy snapshots.

GreaterRockvilleCentre sought five of the most photogenic spots to capture a day spent with friends or family, or even enjoyed flying solo. Here is the scoop on a scrapbook-worthy day from a morning cup of coffee to last call.

Ground Central Coffee Company – Lynbrook

One cannot start a “Perfect Day,” as one of the island’s most infamous songwriters wrote, without that first cup of coffee.

The chorus of Lou Reed’s 1972 track adorns the wall inside Ground Central Coffee Company. Beneath the inscription are racks lined with vinyl records awaiting purchase and a spin.

Reed, who graduated from Freeport High School in 1959, joins other Long Island music icons, such as Dee Snider and LL Cool J in a mural at the back of the coffee house.

Customers can plop on the couches and large armchairs and open their laptops with a coffee, tea, beer or wine at their side. They can also bite into baked goods, sandwiches, flatbreads and more from the shop’s long list of menu items.

The shop is lined with several bookcases, filled with good reads and providing a sophisticated photo backdrop.

The only Long Island location of the New York City-based coffee company’s six locations is located in Philips Plaza at 659 Sunrise Hwy. in Lynbrook.

Meet Bar and Izakaya – Rockville Centre

Meet Bar and Izakaya offers popular Japanese eats and drinks, including yakitori skewers with various meats, ramen and sake.

The Japanese word “izakaya” translates to “stay-drink-place” — essentially a Japanese tavern or casual hideaway for friendly get togethers.

The small-plates centric eatery serves such unique appetizers as lobster pancakes, fried octopus, shishito peppers, Asian street corn and ginger squash bisque.

Wall-to-wall, the restaurant at 216 Sunrise Hwy. in Rockville Centre boasts shodo, or Japanese calligraphy, and dramatic and elegant black, white and red paintings of men and women wielding swords.

Hempstead Lake State Park – Hempstead

Hempstead Lake State Park offers the perfect scene to unplug, relax and reflect. The park offers picnic areas, playgrounds and basketball courts. Visitors looking for something a little more reclusive may consider lingering around the South Pond.

The South Pond area is more remote, accessible via narrow dirt paths through wooded areas. North of the trails on the west end of the pond is plenty of open field space for children and dogs to run free, and the latter often enjoy going for a dip.

South Pond, as well as McDonald Pond and the main Hempstead Lake, are all loaded with trout each fall.

Burger Shack – Lynbrook

Burger Shack is no ordinary hamburger joint; it is a perfect afternoon hangout spot for those who self-identify as nerds.

Owner Pasquale Rao lined shelves with super hero toys of all sorts, from classic action figures to Funko Pops.

Anyone passionate about sci-fi will have to order a signature milkshake honoring Star Wars legends and snap a selfie in front of a mural overflowing with cartoon and video game characters.

Fans of old school games will delight in the opportunity to play their favorites from Super Mario to Pac-Man, right in their their booth while munching on burgers, dogs and waffle or disco fries.

Dirty Taco and Tequila – Rockville Centre

Dirty Taco and Tequila, one of the island’s most popular taco joints, has four highly photogenic locations, including this restaurant at 201 Sunrise Hwy. in Rockville Centre.

As the name suggests, Tom Cataldo Jr.’s restaurant offers a menu drawn from global influences, from the Asian-infused creations that include the Korean short rib and kung pao chicken tacos, to such Mexican and Spanish delights as Mexican street corn and churros. There’s also variety of tequila brands, making this the perfect spot to end a “Perfect Day” with a couple of drinks.

The eatery is draped in lush calavera art with some green scenery and candles thrown in for at least a dozen photo opportunities.

The Tap Room – Rockville Centre

The Tap Room brunch

If a “Perfect Day” Friday ends with one too many drinks, and bloody Marys are in order, the Tap Room has Rockville Centre covered for the morning after.

The institution’s fourth location in 10 years offers Saturday morning brunch. Guests can perk up with a plate loaded with pound cake French toast, chicken and waffle sliders or the hangover burger topped with topped with smoked bacon, a fried egg, cheddar, sliced avocado, smashed and fried potatoes and chipotle aioli and wash it all down with bottomless mimosas.

Of course, when James Bonanno and Dave Johnson started the first Tap Room in Patchogue in 2011, they envisioned the joint a nightlife staple with craft beer bar with top-notch food. This holds true of the Rockville Centre incarnation, which offers burgers, tacos, craft sandwiches and 25 beers on tap to cap a “Perfect Day” any night of the week.

You can read Bonanno and Johnson’s transformation from two broke bartenders to rulers of an expanding empire here.

The Tap Room Rockville Centre
The Tap Room founders on Long Island
Dave Johnson with his daughter, Payton, with James Bonanno and his son, Jack, at The Tap Room’s 10-year anniversary block party in Patchogue in October 2021