Of all the Long Island Gold Coast mansions, The Vanderbilt Museum and Planetarium probably has the most to offer visitors. We began with what is unlikely to be their best planetarium show, but certainly a bizarre and funny one (my whole body was shaking with laughter when it began) “Larry Cat in Space“. A slideshow more than a planetarium show that features a fat tabby with a shockingly Jack Nicholson-like voice who tells his not very informative tale of becoming a stowaway to the moon or 'meeewn', as the cats call it.
It really actually goes beyond non-informative to misleading in its claim that there are underground space stations on the moon and that making a cat-sized space suit is the kind of thing a man can whip up in about ten minutes. See, Larry Cat is trying to get to his owner, Diana Sandberg (a lesbian, I would guess, based on the clothes he stows away among), whom he has an almost uncomfortable affection for. The planetarium also offers laser light shows (of course, the 10pm show features the music of Pink Floyd) and some other options that might be a tad more enthralling for people over the age of 3.
A short distance away is the mansion itself, a sprawling beauty with contradictorary but harmonious styles of architecture. A house tour is an extra $5 (a fee two pain in the ass women “were not prepared for!”) and a kindly old gentlemen does the honors of taking you through the gorgeous rooms that the Vanderbilts spent their summers in.?My favorites were the master walk-in closet, the wife's giant bathroom, the wild trophy room dedicated to the son who died young that includes a stuffed alligator, the elegant dining room with a hand carved wood ceiling, and the organ that boasts pipes all the way down to the basement hidden behind a medieval tapestry. There is still plenty of fabulous things to see, though even if you don't want to take the time or money for the nearly hour long tour.
There's an old timey car in the basement, a hall with taxidermy wild animals, a petrified mummy, an exquisite Moroccan garden room, a dream-worthy library, and the biggest specimen of a whale shark around. Two amazing rooms are full of marine and wildlife specimens too, including tons of birds, octopuses, and giant lobsters.
Our growling tummies didn't allow us to to visit the Marine Museum, so we'll have to go back for that.