A Peaceful Day Trip from NYC: Long Island's Port Jefferson

by  Michele Herrmann | May 13, 2015
Port Jefferson office
Port Jefferson office


Once a shipbuilding center, the Village of Port Jefferson on Long Island's North Shore has become a community enclave full of dining, shopping, and outdoor exploration. It's perfectly located for those who want to escape the city during a visit to New York City. It's just sixty miles from the city, and thanks to a summer ferry service launching this month, now is the perfect time to make a day trip. Once there, many attractions are within walking distance from the waterfront, particularly along Main and East Main Streets. Here's how to ditch the steamy city streets and explore this picturesque harbortown.

Getting There

This summer, weekend ferry service offered by Seastreak launches May 22 through September 7, leaving from Highland in New Jersey and sailing to East 35 Street in Manhattan before stopping at Port Jefferson in Long Island. Catamarans depart every morning and afternoon Fridays through Sundays as well as holidays, with the exception of July 4. After the summer, travelers can take the Long Island Railroad from NYC's Penn Station to the Port Jeff station, then transfer via jitney to get to the village. It takes about two hours and 15 minutes. (From Connecticut , take the The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Ferry.)

What to Do

Take a stroll around Harborfront Park.
This multi-purpose park is built on the site of a former shipyard, bringing public access to what was once a private area of the waterfront. Visitors can stroll a 350-foot pier and admire the seagrass landscape from the promenade. At the western end of the park, there's a playground and picnic area.

Browse the stores in Chandler Square or Harbor Square Mall.
Shoppers won’t feel disappointed on Port Jefferson's East Main Street or in its two mall areas, filled with boutiques that sell everything from antiques to clothing to food and gift items. In Chandler Square, House of Bleu Boutique carries high-end labels at reasonable prices. A few doors down, shoppers can create signature scents with custom blend lotions, gels, oils, or washes at The Soap Box.

Sample beers at Port Jefferson Brewery.
Within the Chandler Square Mall, this small-batch brewery uses a seven-barrel nano system to produce seasonal suds like the malty Starboard Oatmeal stout. Year-round porters and IPAs round out the list, and the tasting room serves up five flights of beers. Tours are conducted on Saturday afternoons. (We suggest calling ahead to confirm availability.)

Where to Eat

Get a bite at Toast Coffeehouse. If you’re hungry for a fun and filling meal, head to this eclectic eatery with an artistic vibe on East Main Street. Its walls serve as a rotating gallery display of local works, while its inventive menus provide a canvas for well-portioned meals. Morning choices include assortment of omelets, burritos, French toast, and scrambled eggs. For lunch, find wraps, salads, and burgers -- alongside in-house specials like The Bad Larry, a grilled turkey and avocado combo on toasted flatbread. During evening hours, don't miss the fondue.

Try pairings at C’est Cheese.
This artisanal cheese shop on Main Street puts together an assortment of delicious tastings. Try a sampling of three or seven staff-selected cheeses paired with beer or wine -- after deciding whether you'd like mild, moderate, or intense flavors.

Enjoy fine dining at Graceful Rose.
This West Broadway establishment has a lovely harborfront view featuring prime Italian, meat, and seafood dishes. The wine list is extensive, too. From Tuesday through Friday evenings, there's a $19.99 pre-fixe sunset menu featuring two courses and dessert.

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