Brendan Manley

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Brendan Manley is an award-winning journalist, screenwriter and content development/marketing professional. He has extensive experience in newspaper and magazine publishing, as well as digital media, covering topics including arts and entertainment, sports, lifestyle, news, technology, travel and history. He is an ongoing contributor to Military History, Hotel News Now.com and HOTELS magazine, as well as the Long Island Press, where he formerly served as Managing Editor and Lifestyle section head. He is currently developing several of his original scripts for Hollywood, and consults on various film and scripted TV projects for studios, producers and financiers. Brendan is based in upstate New York's southern Adirondacks region.

The South Fork: Not Just A Playground For The Rich

Sea fog rolls into Southampton

Like its neighboring North Fork communities, the South Fork of Long Island — or as more popularly known, “the Hamptons” — started out as a colonial haven for agriculture and fishing, with close ties to New England, as is still seen in its surviving period architecture. That all changed in the late 1800s, though, when the region began its transformation into a summer playground for the wealthy — a distinction that continues to this day.

It’s easy to see why the rich and influential have been flocking to the Hamptons for more than a century: The area is an oceanfront paradise, with miles of exquisite coastline. And these days, there’s a wealth of other attractions too, from historical sites to fine dining to a robust local arts community.

“We’re close to New York City, we have great beaches, great schools, great theater and a summer and winter community that has supported my businesses for over 32 years,” says Elyse Richman, who owns several Westhampton businesses under the “Shock” moniker. “Raising my son in a small community where everyone knows your name is a step back in time. It’s a warm and friendly family oriented community.”

Unlike Richman, not all of us are lucky enough to live in the Hamptons, but we can certainly still visit. So, for an unforgettable South Fork experience, here are some can’t miss starting points:

A woman carries her surfboard from the beach in the Hamptons.

THE SALT LIFE

As you may have heard, the Hamptons are world famous for pristine beaches, where countless visitors and residents flock every summer. There are enough in the Hamptons area to fill an entire travel column on their own, but in Westhampton, one perennial favorite is Cupsogue Beach County Park (906 Dune Road, Westhampton Beach, 631-852-8111, suffolkcountyny.gov), a 296-acre barrier beach park ideal for swimming, sunbathing, surfing and striped bass fishing. There’s frequently live music to enjoy during the summer, as well as a tiki-themed food bar.

Also high on the list of East End beachgoers is Ponquogue Beach (Dune Rd., over Ponquogue Bridge, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-283-6011, southamptontownny.gov), known for its gorgeous scenery, clean and well-maintained public facilities and walk-up snack bar. A non-resident day parking pass will run you $25, which is a bargain, considering the cost of full-time residency.

Further down Dune Road, another popular beach choice is Pike’s Beach (765 Dune Rd, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-0143) with parking available to residents with permits or visitors who spring for a $40 day pass. It tends to be one of the quieter Hamptons beaches, since it is located past some of the more highly frequented spots on Dune Road. The beach offers only basic services (bathrooms, showers and lifeguards), but maximum relaxation.

Visitors at Montauk Point.

NATURAL SPLENDOR

The beaches aren’t the only worthy outdoor excursion on the South Fork. There’s also idyllic scenery to enjoy a little more inland, like at East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve (133 Hands Creek Rd, East Hampton, 631-329-3568, longhouse.org) a 16-acre garden with lush lawns, ornamental borders, plant collections and outdoor sculpture, planned by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, who assembled a collection of more than 70 sculptures for the gardens.

Some spots are so scenic, they’re mandatory for all visitors. Moving closer again to the water’s edge, for a truly breathtaking view of the coastline, there’s no substitute for a jaunt out to LI’s absolute eastern end, Montauk, where the Montauk Point Lighthouse (2000 Montauk Hwy, Montauk, 631-668-2544, montauklighthouse.com) has welcomed travelers since 1796, making it the oldest lighthouse in New York State and fourth-oldest active lighthouse in the nation. Its museum, gift shop and tours round out the experience.VIBRANT ARTS SCENE

The arts are alive and well in the Hamptons, too. An anchor for area development over the past 20 years is the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-1500, whbpac.org), offering a year-round program featuring world-class performers, its World Cinema series and its arts education program. Upcom-
ing performances include Josh Ritter (Aug. 12), Rufus Wainwright (Aug. 18), Arturo Sandoval (Aug. 19), John Hiatt & The Goners (Aug. 26), Eddie Izzard (Sept. 2) and Howie Mandel (Nov. 10).

In Sag Harbor, the Bay Street Theater (1 Bay St, Sag Harbor, 631-725-9500, baystreet.org) also offers year-round entertainment, in its 299-seat venue. In addition to the mainstage productions, Bay Street programs include its Comedy Club, workshops, special events and educational initiatives, like Literature Live!, theater workshops and kids theater camps and classes. The main-stage will present Evita from July 31 through Aug. 26.

A rapidly rising newcomer is the Southampton Arts Center (25 Jobs Ln., Southampton, 631-283-0967, southamptonartscenter.org), a local favorite due to its ever-changing array of exhibits, concerts, films an special events. Bring the kids for the popular puppet shows, view special film screenings and outdoor movie showings, enjoy exhibitions like “Counterpoint: Selections from The Peter Marino Collection” (through Sept. 23) or get/stay fit at one of its many wellness workshops. That’s a lot under one roof.

There’s also art that you can literally hold in your hand, such as the exquisite handbags crafted by Judith Leiber, whose creations are now dis-played in the Leiber Collection (446 Old Stone Hwy, East Hampton, 631-329-3288, leibermuseum.org) along with works created and collected by her husband, Gerson Leiber. The museum grounds and sculpture garden are equally eye pleasing.

Intersection at Main Street in Southampton.

HISTORICAL HABITATS

There’s long been an allure to the South Fork, so to immerse oneself in this rich oceanfront heritage, start at the Thomas Halsey Homestead (249 S Main St, Southampton, 631-283-2494), whose namesake cofounded Southampton in 1640. Halsey purchased the homestead in 1648; the Halsey House was built by his son, Thomas Halsey Jr. in 1683, and a two-room extension was added in 1730. The museum features historic furnishings indicative of a 1750 farm family and an exhibit on the native Shinnecock Tribe, complete with a recreated Woodland period village.

But to learn still more about the area’s indigenous Shinnecock Tribe, don’t skip past the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum (100 Montauk Hwy, Southampton, 631-287-4923, facebook.com/ShinnecockMuseum), located on the Shinnecock Reservation. The museum’s main building is a log structure containing Native American artifacts and exhibits on the Shinnecock and Woodland Indian cultures, while an adjoining living history village conveys 1700s-era life for Woodland Indians, with tribal members dressed in period garb and demonstrating aspects of Native American life before European settlement.

From there, move ahead by about a century and visit the Southampton Historical Museum (17 Meeting House Ln., Southampton, 631-283-2494, southamptonhistory.org), where its Rogers Mansion Museum Complex — featuring the Greek-revival Rogers Mansion built in 1843 by whaling captain Albert Rogers — offers 12 historic buildings focused on the area’s 19th-century development. The one-acre campus also contains a carpenter’s shop, blacksmith shop, dry goods store, paint shop, one-room schoolhouse and two barns.

Whaling was such a huge part of the region’s past, you could spend hours discovering more about it. If that strikes your fancy, there’s the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum (200 Main St, Sag Harbor, 631-725-0770, sagharborwhalingmuseum.org), housed in the 1845 home of Benjamin Huntting II and family. Explore the majestic mansion — a certified National Treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places — as well as its fine collection of historical objects from the village’s whaling past, plus contemporary exhibits reflecting the culture of the village today.

Finally, for perhaps the most unique South Fork experience, continue on your historical journey further eastward, jumping ahead yet another century, until you reach Camp Hero State Park (1898 Montauk Hwy, Montauk, 631-668-3781, parks.ny.gov). The park’s 415 wooded and beachfront acres once held a U.S. military base long rumored to be linked to mysterious research projects and a series of underground tunnels. Today you can enjoy hiking trails and world-class surf fishing there, or explore the ruins of the base, which still includes bunkers and massive radar dishes. Like the South Fork, Camp Hero has some- thing for everyone — even for us daytrippers.

Folks enjoy a casual meal at a clam shack in East Hampton

WHERE TO DINE ON THE SOUTH FORK

Starr Boggs
6 Parlato Dr, Westhampton Beach, 631-288-3500, facebook.com/StarrBoggsRestaurant

1770 House Restaurant
143 Main St, East Hampton, 631-324-1770, 1770house.com/restaurant

Rumba
43 Canoe Place Rd, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-594-3544, rumbahamptonbays.com

Cowfish
258 E. Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-594-3868, cowfishrestaurant.com

Harvest on Fort Pond
11 S. Emery St, Montauk, 631-668-5574, harvestfortpond.com

WHERE TO STAY ON THE SOUTH FORK

Aqualina Inn Montauk
20 S. Elmwood Ave, Montauk, 631-688-8300, aqualinainnmontauk.com

Bowen’s by the Bays
177 W. Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-728-1158, gobowens.com

The Drake Inn
16 Penny Ln, Hampton Bays, Southampton, 631-728-1592, thedrakeinn.com

Baron’s Cove
31 West Water St, Sag Harbor, 844-227-6672, baronscove.com

Gansett Green Manor
273 Main St, Amagansett, 631-267-3133, gansettgreenmanor.com

The North Fork: Farm Country Plus A Lot More

Since the 17th century onward, Long Island’s North Fork has been prime farm country, and today the region continues that tradition with a peaceful stretch of wineries, vineyards, apple orchards and potato and sod farms meandering eastward along the LI Sound from Riverhead to Orient Point. These days, however, the North Fork’s breathtaking natural scenery and deep-rooted agrarian lifestyle also drive area tourism, offering an East End experience entirely removed from the Hamptons scene.

Boasting more than 30 vineyards (and tasting rooms), miles of pristine coastline, fabulous dining and shopping options and a wide array of other activities and attractions, the North Fork’s allure continually grows among vacationers and LI-based weekenders. Whether you’re in Mattituck, Cutchogue, Peconic, Southold, Greenport, East Marion, Jamesport or Orient, you can expect a relaxing, yet bountiful, time like no other on Long Island.

“The North Fork is one of the sunniest locations in New York, allowing us to preserve farmland, whatever the agriculture may be,” said Diandra Petrocelli-Schultz, manager of the Raphael vineyard in Peconic. “Local produce complements local cuisine, which pairs with food-friendly local wine, for a well-balanced experience.”

In fact, there’s so much to do on the North Fork, we’ve had to split up our recommendations into a series of articles. We’ve already spotlighted Greenport (a key North Fork spot) in a previous column, and we published a comprehensive guide to area vineyards in a separate column.

That still leaves a virtual smorgasbord of other options, including:

Harmony Vineyards
Harmony Vineyards offers visitors the opportunity to experience a high-quality Long Island winery without traveling to the North Fork. (Photo: Harmony Vineyards Facebook profile)

FARM FUN

Aside from the ubiquitous wineries, there are a number of other local farms that offer “agraritainment,” especially during the fall pumpkin/harvest season. While there are too many to list each one here, no trip to the North Fork is complete without a visit to Harbes Family Farm (715 Sound Ave., Mattituck; 631-298-0800; harbesfamilyfarm.com), going strong after 13 generations, and historic Wickham’s Fruit Farm (28700 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-734-6441; wickhamsfruitfarm.com).

And if you’ve seen one North Fork farm, you definitely have not seen them all. For example, if goats (and goat cheese) strike your fancy, there’s plenty of each at Catapano Dairy Farm (33705 North Rd., Peconic; 631- 765-8042; catapanodairyfarm.com). Or, have you ever been to a lavender farm? There’s one of those, too: Lavender By The Bay (7540 Main Rd., East Marion; 631-477-1019; lavenderbythebay.com). Your nose will thank you. Love oysters? Visit Southold Bay Oysters (10273 N. Bayview Rd., Southold; 917-232-5152; southoldbayoysters.com) for an informative and delicious diversion.

A farmstand in Peconic, New York, on the North Fork of Long Island, displays a bounty of pumpkins for Halloween and Fall decorations.

EYE FOR ART

The North Fork’s visual appeal inspires a love of art that’s palpable in its communities. For one, a can’t miss stop for photography fans is the Alex Ferrone Gallery (25425 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-734-8545; alexferronegallery.com), renowned for its stunning displays of Long Island photos. The gallery exhibits and sells contemporary works by mid-career and emerging photo artists; it also hosts special events like public receptions, gallery talks and workshops.

From there, you can branch out into other media at the Old Town Art and Crafts Guild (28265 Main Rd., Cutchogue; 631-734-6382; oldtownartsguild.org), a nonprofit facility offering a gallery, historical art collection and gift shop, as well as special events like art classes, artist receptions and art fairs. Its Guild House displays member works throughout the year in juried competitions, regular shows and artist of the month exhibits.

Continue on your North Fork art adventure by visiting Jamesport, home of the William Ris East Gallery (1291 Main Rd., Jamesport; 609-408-5203; williamris.com), owned and directed by Mary Cantone, a dedicated collector of original art and supporter of local artists. The gallery showcases an extensive selection of original contemporary works by East Coast artists, particularly from Long Island.

Orient Point lighthouse at the point where the Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay meet.

A HISTORICAL HAVEN

The North Fork holds some of LI’s oldest hamlets, so historical tourism is also embraced. To delve deep into North Fork history, especially its maritime past, spend an afternoon at the Horton Point Lighthouse and Nautical Museum (Lighthouse Rd., Lighthouse Park, Southold; 631-765-5500; southoldhistoricalsociety.org/lighthouse). The 1857 lighthouse and its accompanying museum offer a unique collection of marine artifacts, like sea chests, paintings, maps, scrimshaw and photographs. The tower is 58 feet tall and once held a third order Fresnel lens; in 1990 the tower was repaired and relit.

Another splendid source of exhibits is the Oysterponds Historical Society (1555 Village Lane, Orient; 631-323-2480; oysterpondshistoricalsociety.org), home to an extensive collection dispersed throughout a number of historic buildings and green spaces. OHS’ free exhibits include art and manuscripts, as well as historical objects donated by local residents. OHS also hosts annual seasonal exhibitions, programs and community events. This summer’s displays spotlight Orient and East Marion.

The North Fork’s love affair with local history doesn’t end there, either. Stop in at the Southold Historical Society museum (54325 Route 25, Southold; 631-765-5500; southoldhistoricalsociety.org), which contains a large archival collection of original diaries, letters, documents, ledgers, daybooks, genealogies, photographs, drawings and other related historic materials. The society also maintains more than a dozen buildings in Southold, ranging in date from 1750 to 1900; it opens many of these buildings to the public throughout the year.

Star trails at Custer Observatory at the Custer Institute in Southold, NY, caused by the Earth’s rotation_ approximately 1.5 hours. Vega creates a very bright streak in the middle.

NATURAL PURSUITS

All one needs to do is view a map of the North Fork, and it’s pretty clear that the region’s extensive waterfront is one of its main charms. And fortunately, a good portion of that shoreline is still freely accessible for the public to enjoy.

To enjoy the refreshing salt air and all the picturesque scenery the North Fork has to offer, start with Orient Beach State Park (40000 Main Rd., Orient; 631-323-2440; parks.ny.gov/parks/106), with 45,000 feet of frontage on Gardiner’s Bay and a rare maritime forest with red cedar, blackjack oak trees and prickly-pear cactus. The park was dubbed a National Natural Landmark in 1980. It was also deemed an Audubon Important Bird Area due to its prevalent populations of great blue herons, egrets, blackcrowned night herons and osprey.

Another North Fork seaside favorite is Goldsmith’s Inlet Park (Soundview Ave., Southold), a relatively quiet, lengthy stretch of pristine North Shore beach with water on both sides, adjacent to a narrow inlet connecting the LI Sound to a large salt pond. Watch the small inlet become a swift-moving river as the tide changes. Bring flip-flops for walking; North Shore beaches are notoriously rocky, and this spot is no exception. A Town of Southold parking permit or day pass from town hall is required to use the parking lot.

And don’t forget a recent addition to the North Fork’s bounty of public open space: the Hallock State Park Preserve (6062 Sound Ave., Riverhead; 631-315-5475; parks.ny.gov/parks/181), a 225-acre shorefront park preserve with nearly one mile of gorgeous North Shore beachfront on the Sound. It’s a serene spot for hiking, nature walks and bird watching.

Finally, with all of the dazzling scenery in front of you, don’t forget to occasionally look up, too; one of the great unsung draws of the North Fork is its breathtaking views of the nighttime sky. You can take that stellar experience up still another notch with a trip to the Custer Institute & Observatory (1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold; 631-765-2626; custerobservatory.org), Long Island’s oldest public observatory (circa 1927). Open Saturday evenings from dusk to midnight, the staff offers tours of the facilities and allows guests to view the night sky through its powerful telescopes. It’s the perfect ending to an ideal North Fork day.

WHERE TO DINE

The Jamesport Manor Inn
370 Manor Ln, Jamesport, 631-779-3488, jamesportmanorinn.com

Legends
835 First St., New Suffolk, 631-734-5123, legends-restaurant.com

Southold Fish Market
64755 Route 25, Southold, 631-765-3200, facebook.com/southoldfishmarket

Jedediah Hawkins Inn
400 South Jamesport Ave., Jamesport, 631-722-2900, jedediahhawkinsinn.com

Touch of Venice
28350 Main Rd., Cutchogue, 631-298-5851, touchofvenice.com

WHERE TO STAY

The Duncan Inn
1399 Main Rd., Jamesport, 631-722-4024, duncaninn.com

The North Fork Table & Inn
57225 Rt. 25, Southold, 631-765-0177, northforktableandinn.com

The Blue Inn At North Fork
7850 Main Rd., East Marion, 631-496-1630, theblueinn.com

Heron Suites
61600 Route 25, Southold, 631-596-4521, poemarine.com/heron-suites

Jamesport Bay Suites
67 Front Street, South Jamesport, 631-722-3458, jamesportbaysuites.com

Hotel Indigo Long Island – East End
1830 West Main St., Riverhead, 631-369-2200, indigoeastend.com

Babylon Village: Get Down, Downtown

For seemingly countless years, many Long Island communities have worked to create a “downtown” feel within their village centers, where shopping, dining, nightlife and other enticing pursuits are all within walking distance of one or more main streets.

The Village of Babylon — part of the larger Town of Babylon — has offered this kind of experience for decades, making the quaint, upscale waterfront destination one of the South Shore hangouts of choice for locals and visitors alike.

Nathaniel Conklin moved his family to the area known as South Huntington around 1803. Discovering that their new home was next to a tavern, Nathaniel’s mother proclaimed the area to be another “Babylon,” so Nathaniel named it “New Babylon.” LI’s Babylon town was officially formed in 1872, carved from a piece of the Town of Huntington. Babylon runs along the Great South Bay and beyond, also including parts of Jones Beach, Captree Island and Fire Island.

Today, Babylon village is one of the Island’s top locations for dining and nightlife, with a dizzying array of popular and innovative eateries lining Deer Park Avenue and Main Street, as well as well-frequented bars and pubs for thirsty patrons. The perennial popularity of the serene lakefront Argyle Park and the village’s ample dock space also makes Babylon quintessential turf for families and water lovers alike.

What follows is a sampling of the ways in which Babylonians — and anyone else with a hankering — enjoy this Long Island gem.

Argyle Lake

On the waterfront

There’s no other place in Babylon that’s as iconic as Argyle Park (Montauk Hwy., 631-669-1500, townofbabylon.com), with its signature dual waterfalls and whiterailed viewing areas welcoming all who cruise along the Montauk Highway/Main Street corridor through the village. The everpopular walking/biking/jogging trail runs in a loop around the park’s large main lake, passing side ponds and the playground along the way. Argyle’s also a classic local fishing spot, for freshwater species in the lake and ponds, and brackishwater dwellers in the pool below the waterfalls, which empty into the channel at the marina across the street. Over the years the brackish pool has been home to some truly massive carp; just try and catch one! There’s a reason they’ve grown so huge.

Or, for an even saltier Babylon experience, head south on Fire Island Avenue until you reach the Babylon Docks, where you can enjoy a splendid view of the Great South Bay and Robert Moses Causeway. It’s another timehonored fishing spot for pier-based anglers (especially during snapper season), and a favorite haunt among crabbers. Dock space is also offered for rental, when available.

While there, you may also choose to grab some fresh seafood at one of the waterfront establishments near the pier, including the venerable Pier 44 (444 Fire Island Ave., 631-661-5999, pier44restaurant.com) and Babylon Fish & Clam (458 Fire Island Ave., 631-587-3633, babylonfishandclam.com). Afterwards, pop in for a drink (or several) at the Sea Breeze Café (470 Fire Island Ave., 631-669-9790, seabreeze-cafe.hub.biz), a can’t miss local watering hole since 1985, featuring live music on specified nights and a consistent lineup of great locally brewed beer on tap.

Monsoon

Arts & nightlife

One of the great things about Babylon village is that even though its downtown area has been booming for years, it still continues to evolve and grow. One of the latest and much welcomed additions to the village is the renovation and upcoming opening of the Argyle Theatre (34 West Main St., 844-631-5483, ArgyleTheatre.com), a 500-seat venue that will occupy the historic building, which most recently housed the former Bow Tie Cinema. The theatre will host concerts, plays, musicals and other performing arts events when it debuts this spring, including six annual main stage productions. This coming year’s lineup includes: Hairspray, Peter and the Starcatcher, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Spring Awakening and The Producers.

After catching a show at the Argyle Theatre, or after you’ve dined at one of the downtown area’s many restaurants, the fun doesn’t need to end there. The village also has an extensive selection of pubs and clubs to choose from, many of which are institutions among locals. In addition to its fine food, the recently renovated Post Office Café (130 Montauk Hwy., Babylon, 631-669-9224, lessings.com) is one of those nightlife staples, attracting a healthy bar crowd for nearly 40 years within the former USPS building, which processed mail from the 1930s to 1970s. Sundays during football season are an especially tempting time to stop by, so you can enjoy some cocktails and upscale pub grub while watching the games on a 135-inch drop-down projection screen.

Babylon’s penchant for converting historic buildings into dining and entertainment spaces has also given rise to the Babylon Carriage House (21 Fire Island Ave., 631-422-5161, babyloncarriagehouse.com), an upscale bar and grille that occupies the aforementioned carriage house, built just after the Civil War. Patrons flock here for great food and top-tier drinks, as well as special events and themed nights. The restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe menu for just $27.95, there’s a Thursday night wine special that includes unlimited wine by the glass with the purchase of an entrée, and Sunday is primerib night.

Or, there’s Monsoon (48 Deer Park Ave., 631-587-4400, monsoonny.com), a trendy bi-level Pan-Asian hot spot built inside a former bank and known for its surf and turf. The owners are the same folks behind other upscale LI locales such as Tellers American Chophouse in Islip and Prime in Huntington, so expect excellence.

Another classic hangout, this time with a Celtic flair, is Lily Flanagan’s Pub (345 Deer Park Ave., 631-539-0816, lilyflanaganspub.com), where you can expect quality pub fare and a lively crowd most nights, as well as a steady stream of live music and special events. Tuesday is karaoke night, Wednesday is country night, there’s a late-night happy hour from 8 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and live acoustic performers are featured on weekends. Don’t miss steak and lobster night on Thursdays.

We’d also be remiss not to mention The Brixton (111 Deer Park Ave., 631-587-2000, thebrixtonbabylon.com) a gastropub that opened last year and quickly garnered rave reviews for its relaxed ambiance, mind-blowing drink selection and fantastic food menu. Be sure to check out its assortment of original cocktails, some featuring names that are Seinfeld references, like the “Serenity Now!”, “Gold Jerry, GOLD,” and “Del Boca Vista.”

Babylon village green

The shopping scene

Babylon village’s downtown area isn’t just home to excellent restaurants and bars, either; there’s also a wideranging base of boutique shops and mom-and-pop stores that consistently attract strolling shoppers. One of the longest running of these bastions of commerce is Bunger Surf & Sports Shop (50 E. Main St., 631-661-1526, bungersurf.com), which has been outfitting area wave rider and skateboarders for decades under the guidance of owner Charlie Bunger Sr., who’s been shaping boards since 1961. The shop also includes the Long Island Surfing Museum (lisurfingmuseum.com), featuring Bunger’s personal collection of surfboards and surfing memorabilia.

The array of unique offerings doesn’t end there, either. For example, for those with a mystical and spiritual bent, there’s The Genie Within (135 Deer Park Ave., Ste 4, 631-335-8892, thegeniewithin8.com), a “metaphysical shop and healing sanctuary, where you will find all the essential tools and gifts for the body, mind and soul,” according to its website. The store carries a wide selection of incense, candles, books, CDs, aromatherapy products, essential oils, healing crystals, oracle decks, statues and more. The shop also offers services like tarot card and mediumship readings, as well as healing sessions using techniques like reiki and reflexology, all of which would be especially helpful after a long night spent crawling the village’s many pubs.

Babylon, it seems, really does have it all.Where to Dine

Argyle Grill & Tavern
90 Deer Park Ave., 631-321-4900, theargylegrill.com

Kotobuki Restaurant
86 Deer Park Ave., 631-321-8387, kotobukirestaurants.com

Glen’s Dinette
23 E. Main St., 631-669-4700, glensdinette.com

Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar
69 Deer Park Ave., 631-321-1175, barriquekitchenandwinebar.com

Post Office Café
130 Montauk Hwy., 631-669-9224, lessings.com

Swell Taco
135 Deer Park Ave., 631-482-1299, swelltacoli.com

Long Beach: The City by The Sea

The City of Long Beach is among Long Island's most popular oceanfronts come summer.

The City of Long Beach, appropriately nicknamed “The City by the Sea,” has beckoned toocean-goers for centuries, from the generations of Long Island baymen who’ve plied their trade nearby, to beach-loving vacationers from Victorian times through today.

Shoehorned within Long Island’s westernmost South Shore barrier island, the city has grown consistently over time, and Long Beach now packs an incredibly diverse range of offerings in a tight geographic space.

“The City by the Sea has always been an oasis for visitors from all over,” says Ian Danby of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. “With three-and-a-half miles of beautiful white sand beaches and more than two miles of boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, you will fall in love the minute you arrive.”

English colonists purchased Long Beach from the Rockaway Indians in 1643, but the narrow island didn’t see year-round residents until centuries years later. Much had changed though by 1880, when Brooklynite builder Austin Corbin partnered with the Long Island Rail Road to lay track from Lynbrook to Long Beach. Corbin built the Long Beach Hotel the same year — the first resort on Long Beach — and some 300,000 visitors arrived by train for the first season. Development on the island continued steadily from there, and Long Beach became a city in 1922.

Here are some of the many reasons to visit Long Beach this summer.

The City by the Sea is known for its sunsets. Photo by Matthew Clark.

THE SALT LIFE

As its name implies, the heart of Long Beach is its waterfront, so don’t miss Ocean Beach Park (300 W. Broadway, 516-431-1021, longbeachny.gov), an idyllic stretch
of sand with 2.2 miles of recently rebuilt boardwalk. Parking may be a bit tricky during peak times, so you may want to consider Pacific Boulevard Beach (Pacific Boulevard and Shore Road) as an alternate. But if you do forge ahead to the boardwalk, a rewarding excursion awaits: There are myriad ways to spend an afternoon there, whether your inclination is dining, shopping, water sports, people watching, or just enjoying a seaside stroll.

“Our shining City by the Sea has something for everyone,” says Long Beach City Council President Anthony Eramo. “After you are done surfing, swimming, or taking a bike ride, you can visit our popular food truck market, dubbed ‘The Shoregasboard,’ or try one of the great concessions along the boardwalk. After an amazing meal you can visit one of our unique shops or live music venues.”

Many of those pursuits are active, whether it be on water, land, ice or in the air. For example, one of the more unique attractions to pop up near the boardwalk is I.FLY Trapeze (Riverside Blvd., 516-640-1579, iflytrapeze.com), run by the LI flying trapeze and circus arts school of the same name. Would-be flyers ages 4 to adult, as well as all skill levels, can sign up for a session with one of I.FLY’s skilled trainers. Call ahead for reservations.

Or, test your balance on a longboard, windsurfer or paddleboard provided by Skudin Surf (1 Long Beach Ave./tents on the beach, 516-318-3993, skudinsurf.com). The company offers board rentals, private surf lessons, adult camps, summer surf camps for kids and more, staffed by professional surfers and certified lifeguards. You can also rent and learn on a stand-up paddleboard, and even store your own gear at Skudin’s Hurley Surf Club facility.

Another established beachfront instructor is Surf2Live (830 Shore Rd., 516-432-9211, surf2live.com), which runs weekly surf camps from June through August for both adults and kids, as well as surf parties and private lessons. And if you need gear, look no further than Moku Surf NY (879 W. Beech St., 516-442-6900, mokusurf.com), a virtual cornucopia of surfing swag with a collection of vintage boards available.

Perhaps all that sun and surf has you feeling a little balmy. Or you prefer your water frozen. Whatever the case, Long Beach also has one of the premier Long Island ice skating rinks — City of Long Beach Ice Arena (150 W. Bay Dr., 516-705-7385, longbeachny.gov/icearena) — which is open year-round and offers public skating, group and private lessons, youth and adult hockey programs, birthday parties and more.

And if you’re really looking to upgrade your legs, the arena is home to the Long Beach
Skating Academy (516-705-7402, longbeachny.gov), which offers professional instruction to all age groups and skill levels.

P.T. Barnum’s circus elephants famously helped build the original Long Beach boardwalk.

OCEANFRONT ARTS & CULTURE

Folks have been flocking to Long Beach for generations, for many of the same reasons visitors head there now. For an in-depth look at Long Beach history and its artifacts, take a brief Sunday afternoon beach break and visit the Long Beach Historical & Preservation Society (226 W. Penn St., 516-432-1192, longbeachhistoricalsociety.org), a local history museum housed in one of the original Estates of Long Beach summer residence villas, circa 1909. The museum is open Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. or by appointment, and Sundays from 12 to 3 p.m. in July and August.

Continue your historical journey by driving past Cobble Villa, also known as Villa Clara (657 Laurelton Blvd.). The 2.5-story, asymmetrical Mediterranean Revival-style brick and stucco dwelling — listed on the National Register of Historic Places — is Long Beach’s first home, built in 1909 for Sen. William Reynolds. Since 1976 it has been the home of the late artist Clara Steele and her family, who still open its doors to the public every December, so guests may tour the house and enjoy Clara’s artwork and unique décor.

Long Beach is also home to Arts in the Plaza (1 W Chester St., Kennedy Plaza, 516-507-8383, artsintheplaza.com), a weekly arts festival that runs from Memorial Day through Halloween. Every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., AITP features handcrafted art by Long Island artists, live music, cultural performances and a Kids Art Station, with displays of fine art, photography, custom jewelry and unique handmade gifts.

If all of that local creativity leaves you feeling inspired, pay a visit to Earth Arts Long Beach (162 W. Park Ave., 516-432-9000, earthartslb.com), where you can paint your own pottery, take art classes, book a party or attend a summer art camp. Programs are tailored for adults, children and groups, and there are periodic special events, like its Mother Daughter Tea Party and Mother’s Day Brunch. The fairer sex can also enjoy the BYOB “Ladies Night Out” event held there two Friday evenings per month.

These are just a sampling of reasons why Long Beach remains a well-traveled LI gem, for both visitors and the roughly 33,000 residents who call the city home. As any real estate expert will tell you, it’s all about location, and Long Beach’s location — plus its many attractions — simply can’t be beat.

“Long Beach will continue to be a place where people want to raise their families because it is a fun, vibrant, and tight-knit beachside community,” says state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “The Long Beach of the future must be one that is resilient in the face of severe weather and that continues to remain affordable despite the rising prices in the New York metro area. Having a dependable and safe commuter rail system is also important because it allows folks to work in the city while still living at the beach — a winning combination.”

Long Beach from the air.

WHERE TO DINE 

Grotta Di Fuoco
960 W. Beech St., 516-544-2400, grottalbny.com

Lost & Found
951 W. Beech St., 516-442-2606, facebook.com/LostandFound

Sorrento’s
255 W. Park Ave., 516-889-4800, facebook.com/pg/Sorrentos

Laurel Diner
300 W. Park Ave., 516-432-7728, laureldiner.com

Gino’s
16 W. Park Ave., 516-432-8193, ginoslongbeach.com

LB Social
62 W. Park Ave., 516-431-7846, lbsocialny.com

Swingbellys Beachside BBQ
909 W. Beech St., 516-431-3464, swingbellysbbq.com

Nagahama Sushi
169 E. Park Ave., 516-432-6446, nagahamasushi.com

WHERE TO STAY

Allegria Hotel
80 W. Broadway, 516-889-1300, allegriahotelny.com

Long Beach Hotel
405 E. Broadway, 516-544-4444, longbeachhotelny.com

New Hyde Park: A Commuter’s Paradise

New Hyde Park is one of Long Island’s oldest communities, dating back to an 800-acre land grant given in 1683 to Thomas Dongan, royal colonial governor of New York, who built a mansion overlooking “Dongan’s Farm” on what is now Lakeville Road.

Sold to provincial secretary George Clarke in 1715, the estate was then dubbed Hyde Park in honor of Clarke’s wife, Anne Hyde. Clarke eventually sold the land in 1783 and by the early 19th century, the region was a hub for cattle farming, until the mid-1800s, when ranch competitors out West began to overtake the market. When it opened its first post office in 1871 the area became known as New Hyde Park, to avoid confusion with Hyde Park further north in Dutchess County.

These days, New Hyde Park is primarily a commuter town, because of its close proximity and relatively short commute to Manhattan, with more than 75 percent of its land used for single-family residences. When residents and visitors alike are looking for some quality fun and food in the immediate area, sure-fire hotspots include:

Six-string enthusiasts are absolutely obligated to make a pitstop at the American Guitar Museum (1810 New Hyde Park Rd., 516-488-5000, americanguitarmuseum.com), which is absolutely packed with vintage, rare and noteworthy axes on display, including one of the largest known collections of D’Angelico guitars, plus vintage pick-making tools donated by D’Andrea and blueprint reproductions of Andrés Segovia’s legendary 1937 Hermann Hauser. The museum is also home to a repair shop run by master luthier Chris “Guitar Doctor” Ambadjes, as well as a studio for guitar lessons. Be sure to bow down before the wall devoted to Les Paul and his iconic instruments.

Researchers say there’s a strong link between musical ability and math skills, so when you’re done checking out guitars, head over to the Goudreau Museum of Mathematics in Art and Science (Herricks Community Center, 999 Herricks Rd., Room 202, 516-747-0777, mathmuseum.org), founded by engineer and mathematics teacher Bernard Goudreau. The museum helps visitors “gain an understanding of mathematical principles through the practical application of modeling and geometric simulation,” according to its website. Activities and features include: building a math model; games and puzzles; exhibits demonstrating the use of math in the arts and sciences; specialized programs and workshops; a mathematics resource library; and a museum store stocked with games, puzzles, books and more.

Or, if calculating the best angle to sink that game-changing putt is more your speed, you’ll love spending some time at Romeo & Juliet Miniature Golf (377 Denton Ave., 516-739-0167, springrockgolf.com), located in the Spring Rock Golf Center. There are two 18-hole mini-golf courses to choose from (one is named “Romeo,” and the other is “Juliet”), with a variety of challenging features. The Golf Center also offers a driving range, golf lessons, an indoor simulator, a repair shop and a café. The driving range is 250 yards deep and offers 100 covered teeing booths, as well as a practice putting green and sand trap.

You can also spend some quality time rolling a ball, rather than hitting one, at New Hyde Park’s local bowling alley, Herrill Lanes (465 Herricks Rd., 516-741-8022, herrilllanes.com). The family-run bowling mecca features 36 synthetic lanes, computer scoring, a full-service pro shop, coffee shop and the Chatterbox Lounge, offering drink specials nightly. There’s also Rock-N-Bowl with cosmic lighting every Saturday evening, set to music from the 1960s to the present.

Finally, after working up a sweat on the driving range and/or at the lanes, cool off on the shimmering ice at Iceland (3345 Hillside Ave., 516-746-1100, icelandlongisland.com), one of Nassau County’s top destinations for figure skating, hockey and pretty much anything that happens on a frozen surface. There are public sessions offered several days per week, as well as skating school, house hockey leagues, open “pickup” hockey, clinics and more. Check out their special “puck shoot” events, where you can alleviate all that commuter stress by teeing off against real goalies, and don’t even need to apologize.

WHERE TO DINE

Umberto’s
633 Jericho Tpke., 516-437-7698, originalumbertos.com

Luigi’s Italian Restaurant
265-21 Union Tpke., 718-347-7136, luigisnewhydepark.com

Inn at New Hyde Park
214 Jericho Tpke., 516-354-7797, innatnhp.com

Chef Wang
1902 Jericho Tpke., 516-354-2858, chefwangny.com

Tavern 18
26511 Union Tpke., 718-347-4846, tavern18.com

Farmingdale: Long Island’s Hub For Food, Fun, Flight

Adventureland in Farmingdale is Long Island’s longest-running amusement park.

Farmingdale has long served as one of Long Island’s key “hub” destinations, first for rail and stagecoach travel, and later, for all things aviation, bringing with it a steady stream  of visitors.

Countless businesses have sprung up over the years, making the greater Farmingdale area a perennial hot spot for dining, retail and entertainment. A cruise down the Route 110 corridor — especially if you’re headed to the movies or Adventureland — is a quintessential part of the Long Island experience.

“Farmingdale has something for everyone,” says Dave Saul, a spokesman for Farmingdale village. “There’s a historic Long Island Rail Road station, a thriving Main Street with all types of dining and entertainment, and we cherish our Village Green, where during the summer you can relax and enjoy music by the Village Pops, or bring the family to enjoy a classic ‘Movie on the Green.’ We also have great outside activities, like Music on Main and Cultural Arts Day, parades down Main Street, great shopping, our own breweries and speakeasy, and we’re just minutes away from the famous Black Course at Bethpage State Park.”

The region was settled in 1687 by Thomas Powell, who acquired 15 square miles from three native tribes in 1695 in a deal known as the Bethpage Purchase. Developer Ambrose George built a general store and acquired substantial acreage in what was called Hardscabble in 1841. He renamed it Farmingdale and that moniker was then cemented in 1841 when LIRR service began at a stop named Farmingdale on the Greenport line.

The Village of Farmingdale was incorporated in 1904, the future Republic Airport was born in 1927 and Bethpage State Park opened in 1932, and Farmingdale has kept growing ever since.

These days, there’s truly no shortage of reasons to spend some quality time in Farmingdale, whether for food, fun, furniture, or higher education. Some of our favorite Farmingdale hangouts include:

A B25 Mitchell on display at the American Air Power Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale.

Farmingdale classics

For those that grew up on LI, Farmingdale is basically synonymous with Adventureland (2245 Broadhollow Rd., 631-694-6868, adventureland.us), the classic amusement park you can’t help but gaze at nostalgically every time you pass it on Route 110. Since 1962, Adventureland has been the go-to place for local roller coaster riders, and there’s still plenty to love about this local gem. In addition to classic favorites like the Pirate Ship, Wave Swing and Bumper Cars, this spring the park will debut its new two-story Mystery Mansion ride, replacing the 10-year-old Ghost House. Adventureland opens again for the season on March 24.

“We’re creating a happy place for generations of family fun,” says Steve Gentile, the general manager at Adventureland. “We’re creating memories.”

Another Farmingdale institution that gives the village its unique character is the historic Republic Airport, a smaller regional field now mostly used for private flights and flying schools, but also home to the American Air Power Museum (1230 New Hwy., Hangar 3, 631-293-6398, americanairpowermuseum.com), which houses numerous heritage aircraft, many of which still fly. The museum is especially noteworthy for its deep collection of World War II planes, and hosts multiple special events and airshows throughout the year. And for the truly intrepid, there are even special ride experiences, where you can see firsthand what it was like to fly in some of the museum’s legendary warbirds.

You might also find yourself visiting Farmingdale to tour Farmingdale State College (2350 Broadhollow Rd., 631-420-2000, farmingdale.edu), a.k.a. “SUNY Farmingdale,” which seems to expand by leaps and bounds each year. The tech-focused college provides weekly tours of its 380-acre campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3 p.m., with stops at the new student activities building, campus center and bookstore, academic buildings, residence hall, Nold Hall Athletic Complex and Greenley Hall Library. Special tours of the Aviation Center are also available.

The Farmingdale street fair is known to draw a crowd.

Fun, food & drink

A popular Farmingdale hangout for food, drinks and conversation is the Library Café (274 Main St., 516-752-7678, lessings.com), housed in the former Farmingdale Public Library Main Street Branch building. Patrons flock there for the unique ambiance, but inevitably fall for the upscale pub fare and creative mixology, featuring cocktails named for famous authors and books. And don’t worry, the village still has an actual library, too: The current Farmingdale Public Library has stood at 116 Merritts R.d since 1994 (516-249- 9090, farmingdalelibrary.org).

Some beer aficionados simply can’t get enough choices, and that’s where the venerable Farmingdale hangout Croxley’s Ale House (190 Main St., 516-293-7700, croxley.com/farmingdale) truly shines. The pub offers a dizzying array of 51 brews on tap and another 33 varieties available in bottles in cans, as well as a full menu of mouth-watering food options, from wings and mussels to burgers and sandwiches, to shepherd’s pie. They even do Sunday brunch, so start early and maybe you’ll be able to drink your way through a fraction of Croxley’s suds.

Off of Main Street, one of the few brew pubs on Long Island calls Farmingdale home. Black Forest Brew Haus (2015 New Hwy., 631-391-9500, blackforestbrewhaus.com) features an extensive menu of German delicacies of both the food and beverage varieties. They also regularly host live music, dualing pianos and host a month-long Oktoberfest party.

Farmingdale is such a hub for commerce these days, it’s even home to one of just two of the Island Stew Leonard’s locations (261 Airport Plaza, 516-962-8210, stewleonards.com). The famed New England grocery store chain — born from a small dairy business — offers the antidote to the massive supermarket experience, carrying only 2,200 items, “chosen specifically for their freshness, quality and value,” according to the company, as opposed to traditional supermarkets, which sell an average of 30,000 various products. Enjoy a fresh-made Maine lobster roll, or sample the vast cheese selection and fantastic ice cream, both made with milk from Stew’s own legion of prized cows.

The PGA Tour has made a recent stop at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale in 2016 (Photo by Kevin Kane) (1)

Active pursuits

There are also great options for working off all that food and drink. Although a good portion of it is located in Old Bethpage, the 1,477-acre Bethpage State Park (99
Quaker Meeting House Rd., 516-249-0700, parks.ny.gov/parks) is officially part of Farmingdale. It is best known for its five world-class golf courses, including the legendary Bethpage Black Course, which hosted the U.S. Open Championship in 2002 and 2009. The park is also highly popular for its picnic facilities, playing fields, tennis
courts, bridle paths and hiking, biking and cross-county skiing trails. In addition, the park offers a restaurant and catering facilities, a golf pro shop and a driving range.

But hey, if a day on the links sounds too relaxing for you (or frustrating, depending on your handicap), you can make those golf cart riders eat your dust at RPM Raceway (40 Daniel St., 631-752-7223, rpmraceway.com), an all-electric indoor go-kart track and entertainment complex guaranteed to satisfy your need for speed. Drivers of all ages and ability levels can race state-of-the-art Italian-made go-karts, including no-hassle “arrive and drive” races, group head-to-head racing (by reservation), leagues and more. There are even 1-on-1 clinics and summer camps available for future racing pros.

And finally, to really travel the Farmingdale area and beyond in style, consider joining the long list of Farmingdale-based aviators, and take a flying lesson (or many) at Academy of Aviation (7150 Republic Airport Main Terminal, Room 101, 631-777-7772, academyofaviation.com) which trains students for private pilot licenses all the way up to commercial certifications. It may cost a few bucks, but soaring in the air over the Long Island Expressway — especially during rush hour — is a sure-fire way to feel like LI royalty.

That’s how they do it in Farmingdale.

WHERE TO STAY 

Courtyard Republic Airport Long Island/Farmingdale
2 Marriott Plaza, 844-631-0595, marriott.com

TownePlace Suites Republic Airport Long Island/ Farmingdale
1 Marriott Plaza, 844-631-0595, marriott.com

Hollywood Motel
400 NY-109, 631-694-7100, hollywood-motel.com

WHERE TO DINE

Vespa Italian Kitchen & Bar
282 Main St., 516-586-8542, vespaitaliankitchen.com

Vinoco East
223 Main St., 516-927-8070, vinocoeast.com

Farmingdale Diner
17 Hempstead Tpke, 516-777- 3377

The Rolling Spring Roll Shop
189 Main Street, 516-586-6097, therollingspringroll.com

Caracara Mexican Grill
354 Main St., 516-777-2272, caracaramex.com

RPM Raceway is billed as “America’s ultimate all-electric indoor go-kart and caracaramex.com entertainment destination.”

 

Port Jefferson: From Shipbuilding Hub to Tourist Haven

Dickensian characters such as Father Christmas roam the streets of Port Jefferson during the village’s annual Charles Dickens Festival. (Photo by Ron Ondrovic)

The Port Jefferson we know today is a thriving hub for tourism on Long Island’s North Shore, drawing countless ferry-goers, shoppers, diners and bar patrons to the village’s brimming enclave. For many Long Islanders it is the go-to spot for a romantic date, and few simple pleasures can match spending a sunny day enjoying an ice cream cone and a walk down its colorful streets.

Port Jefferson has changed dramatically over the last two centuries, transforming from a rural community in the 1700s to a vibrant shipbuilding town in the 1800s, to the nightlife and leisure destination of modern times. The village’s ferry line to Connecticut, as well as its Long Island Rail Road station, ensure a steady stream of visitors year-round.

“When they come for the day, they can actually stay for the weekend,” Port Jefferson Village Mayor Margot Garant says while inviting visitors to try the dining, entertainment and hotel options.

Each December, tourists descend upon the village for the annual Port Jefferson Village Dickens Festival, complete with revelers dressed in 19th-century clothing, house tours, winter-related poetry readings, caroling and booths featuring local businesses. The village also hosts an annual outdoor concert series and film screenings at Harborfront Park throughout July and August. And of course, its its own annual boat race series — the Village Cup Regatta — with proceeds benefiting cancer research.

But that’s just the beginning of the village’s many charms. Other perennial Port Jefferson draws include:

The Port Jeff ferry shuttles travelers across the Long Island Sound to and from Bridgeport, Conn.

The Back and Forth

Port Jefferson is a bustling Long Island ferry port, which means there’s a constant flow of passengers departing and arriving, especially during summer months. For a quick and easy trip across the Long Island Sound to Connecticut (and vice versa), the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company (102 West Broadway, 888-443-3779, 88844ferry.com) has multiple trips available per day. Arrive early and grab a bite at one of the neighboring eateries while you wait.

Arts & Culture

Port Jefferson is the kind of venerable waterfront community that screams maritime history, and an informative and engaging overview of that heritage — primarily geared toward kids — can be found at the Maritime Explorium (101 East Broadway, 631-331-3277, maritimeexplorium.org) overlooking the harbor. It offers hands-on exhibits devoted to the historical, scientific and artistic aspects of the area’s seagoing past and the Long Island Sound’s unique ecosystem, where children can learn at their own pace through playful experimentation. There are also several exhibits devoted to emerging nanotechnologies and their application to oceangoing life and industry.

You can also step back in time at the Mather House Museum (115 Prospect St., 631-473-2665, portjeffhistorical.org/the-matherhouse), the former home of the Mather family, circa 1840 to 1860, who were prominent shipbuilders in the area. The museum complex includes the Mather House, featuring period furnishings, fine and decorative art, model ship hulls and an early kitchen, as well as the Craft House & Museum Shop, the Country Store, the Marine Barn and Sail Loft, the Tool Shed and the Thomas Jefferson Perennial Garden. The museum is open Wednesday to Sunday, from noon to 4 p.m., from May 27 to Oct. 8. A docent guided tour is available for the main museum and complex buildings.

For theatergoers, local theater is alive local theater is alive and well in Port Jefferson at Theatre Three (412 Main St., 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com), which presents a wide range of performances through its Mainstage, Second Stage, Cabaret and Children’s Theatre productions. It also hosts Friday Night Faceoff, Long Island’s longest-running improv troupe, as well as its Dramatic Academy, offering three instructional semesters each year, plus a diverse summer concert series. Upcoming performances include A Christmas Carol, I Hate Hamlet and 12 Angry Men on the Mainstage, and Barnaby Saves Christmas, Rapunzel: The Untold Story! and The Adventures of Peter Rabbit in the Children’s Theatre.

Hundreds of performances annually grace the stage of Theatre Three in the historic Athena Hall.

Drink Me

Strolling through the village can make you work up a terrific thirst, but luckily Port Jefferson offers several renowned watering holes where you can duck in for a frosty pint and maybe even some grub, if the mood hits you. Start with the Port Jeff Brewing Company (22 Mill Creek Rd., 877-475-2739, portjeffbrewing.com), which uses a seven-barrel system to produce 217 gallons (about 86 cases) of remarkable beer per brew. The tasting room is open all year, serving up tasting flights, pints and beer to go, poured from 11 taps that change daily (check the website for the day’s selections). The brewery also hosts a free summer concert series every Wednesday night June through August.

You also can’t go wrong at the Tara Inn (1519 Main St., 631-828-5987) a bona fide Port Jeff classic adored for its friendly atmosphere, reasonable prices and massive food portions. In a world of increasingly foofoo fanciness, bask in Tara’s simple oldschool charm while ordering from its menu, displayed on chalkboards and paper plates hung on the wall. There’s no takeout offered, no substitutions or special orders allowed, and no credit cards accepted. Deal with it.

If you prefer vino to suds, you don’t need to trek all the way out to the East End for winetasting, thanks to the Pindar Vineyards Port Jefferson Wine Store (117 Main St., 631-331-7070, pindar.net), featuring a range of the winery’s incredibly popular varietals and seasonal wines. For just $10 you can sample five different wines, or if you’d like a souvenir, too, toss in an extra buck ($11 total) and you can keep the glass. The shop also sells wines produced by its sister winery Duck Walk Vineyards, although those labels aren’t available for tasting. Be sure to check out the special seasonal mulled wine, which is only offered during the winter.

No trip to Port Jeff is complete without a meal at The Steam Room.

Brain Teasers

The proliferation of “escape rooms” throughout the region has reached the shores of Port Jeff, too, where there are two options for cramped, mind-melting fun: Hour Escape (1303 Main St., 631-403-3030, hourescapeportjeff.com) and Know Escape (1518 Main St., 631-241-1239, knowescapeportjefferson.com). Hour Escape offers two different escape scenarios: Café Lorenzo, a mafia-themed challenge set in an Italian restaurant; and Exit Protocol, a hacker-themed setting in which you must locate classified documents in a top-secret government facility. Know Escape, meanwhile, takes a somewhat different approach, with one mystery spread throughout three rooms that teams must navigate. The current scenario there is called Sunderland Hollow, and focuses on the bizarre, chilling events in a mysterious town.

Harborfront Park is the hub of entertainment in downtown Port Jeff.

Shopper’s Haven

High-end olive oil shops have become a burgeoning trend on Long Island and elsewhere, and Port Jeff hasn’t been left out of the bread-dipping frenzy. The Amazing Olive (213 Main St., 631-509-4596, amazingolive.com), which also has a shop in Patchogue, is celebrating its five-year anniversary in Port Jeff, and from the looks of things, there are many more years of gourmet goodness ahead. The shop carries the finest extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, herbs, salts, rubs and seasonings in the area, perfect for luxurious gifts or your own day-to-day pantry. Stop in and sample more than 50 award-winning oils before making a decision. The shop also holds private tasting parties Monday through Thursday after closing, complete with appetizers, a balsamic-inspired drink and dessert for each guest ($20 per person, six to 14 adults). After the tasting you get the entire store to yourself to browse and buy, plus a free sample bottle of oil to take home.

And that’s just the beginning. There’s a bounty of fine shops in the village that literally offer something for everyone. If art is your forte, there’s the Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery (128 Main St., 631-642-0607, thomaskinkadehq.com), displaying and selling a compendium of the artist’s works, including his popular creations for Disney and DC Comics. Or, explore spirituality, metaphysics and New Age dogma at Breathe (116 E. Main St., 631-642-2377, breatheinspiringgifts.com), the local mecca for everything from crystals to essential oils to tarot cards. The shop also offers psychic and medium readings, guided meditation and a range of classes and workshops.

Danfords Hotel in Port Jefferson also operates a spa and marina in the heart of the village.

The Great Outdoors

While visiting Port Jefferson, don’t forget to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. A favorite spot for stunning views and photo ops is McAllister County Park (200 Cliff
Road), a Suffolk County park that runs along the beach, sometimes called “Pirates’ Cove” by locals. The only downside to this hidden gem is the limited parking, but if you’re lucky enough to find an open spot, the park offers an oasis of waterfront tranquility, perfect for a romantic walk or contemplative stroll. Amid all the fun and food in Port Jeff, you’ve also got to take a moment or two to let the simple joys soak in.

Where To Stay In Port Jefferson

Danford’s Hotel, Marina & Spa
25 E. Broadway, 631-928-5200, danfords.com

The Fox and Owl Inn
1037 Main St., 631-509-3669, thefoxandowlinn.com

The Ransome Inn B&B
409 E. Broadway, 631-474-5019, ransomeinn.com

Holly Berry Bed and Breakfast
23 Dickerson Ct., 631-331-3123

Golden Pineapple Bed and Breakfast
201 Liberty Ave., 631-331-0706, goldenpineapplebandb.com

Where To Dine In Port Jefferson

Toast Coffeehouse
242 E. Main St., 631-331-6860, toastcoffeehouse.com

The Fifth Season
34 E. Broadway, 631-477-8500, thefifth-season.com

Pasta Pasta
234 E. Main St., 631-331-5335, pastapasta.net

Slurp Ramen
109 W. Broadway, 631-509-1166, slurpusa.com

The Steam Room
4 E. Broadway, 631-928-6690, steamroomrestaurant.com

Rockville Centre: Boom Town With Shops, Eats and Pubs Aplenty

Rockville Centre firefighters protect the ninth most populous village in New York State.

The Village of Rockville Centre, located on the South Shore of Long Island in Nassau County, has been an ideal community since pre-colonial times, when it was a Reckouackie Indian settlement, and its allure for residents has continued ever since.

Over the centuries its growth as a hub for various trades, public services and transportation vaulted the modest-sized village (measuring just 3.4 square miles) into one of the county’s most successful and vibrant neighborhoods, attracting upper-middle class families and producing a lengthy and diverse list of celebrities, including Joan Jett, Sandy Koufax, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Amy Schumer and Howard Stern.

“Our mission [is] to make it the best community to live, work and play,” said two-term Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray, whose father, Eugene, held the village’s top job for a quarter century.

Dutch and English colonists settled the region in the 1600s, dubbing it “Near Rockaway,” which back then also included present-day Oceanside, Lynbrook and East Rockaway. Homes and businesses continued to spring up in the area and the hamlet was formally christened Rockville Centre in 1849, when businessman Robert Pettit named the post office in his general store after local Methodist preacher and community leader Mordecai “Rock” Smith. In 1867 it truly entered the modern era when it was connected with the Long Island Rail Road, and in 1893 it was officially incorporated as a village.

Today, the village is a retail and entertainment haven, with more than 400 shops, scores of dining options for foodies looking to explore, an abundant night life and bar scene, a generous assortment of parks and public spaces, and a palpable commitment to education and the arts. And while Rockville Centre has long been renowned as a great place to live, it’s also a fine spot to visit. Some suggestions for a rewarding RVC experience include: 

The restored 1882 Phillips House holds one of New York’s finest small museums.

Historical Leanings

Sometimes – especially in space-constrained Nassau County – great things do come in small packages. For example, take the Phillips House Museum (28 Hempstead Ave., 516-764-7459, rvcny.us/PhillipsHouse), considered one of the top small-sized museums in all of New York State. A restored 1882 Victorian home furnished with period furniture, the Phillips House (once the abode of Capt. Samuel Phillips) is now home to the Museum of the Village of Rockville Centre, which depicts life in the village during the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection includes a vast array of antique kitchen and carpentry tools, as well as numerous period items that decorate the home’s restored Victorian front and back parlors, dining room and bedrooms. It is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment.

It’s tough to cruise through Rockville Centre without noticing the towering, ever-impressive stone façade of Saint Agnes Cathedral (29 Quealy Pl., 516-766-0205, stagnescathedral.org), built in 1935 to mirror 15th-century Norman Gothic style. It’s actually the parish’s third church on the site, which has been used for service as far back as the 1890s, but clearly, the third time was the charm. Stop in to bask in the architectural and spiritual grandeur of the place, taking note of the stunning stained-glass panes seemingly everywhere, particularly the Windows of St. Agnes. There’s more eye-candy in the exterior (which was significantly restored in 2016), particularly the eerie Gothic gargoyles that peer down from the corners of the Cathedral’s tower. 

Scenic Tanglewood Preserve contains The Center for Science Teaching and Learning.

Wide Open Spaces

Aside from enjoying just the simple, natural beauty of Rockville Centre’s Tanglewood Preserve, the park is also home to The Center For Science Teaching And Learning (450 Tanglewood Road, 516-764-0045, cstl.org), which offers a range of educational activities and special events for kids and families. The center offers a year-round live animal exhibit, featuring birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates, in a more intimate and interactive setting than your standard zoo. There’s even an outdoor butterfly and hummingbird garden, which you can explore in addition to the preserve’s 17 acres of ponds, streams, forests and walking trails. Don’t miss the Sunday Science program for kids, held two Sundays per month from November through March.

Another nearby bastion of precious natural tranquility is Hempstead Lake State Park (Lakeside Dr., 516- 766-1029, parks.ny.gov/parks/31), located at the village’s western edge. This well-equipped multi-use recreation area offers 20 tennis courts, basketball courts, children’s playgrounds, bridle trails for horseback riding, biking and hiking trails, shady picnic areas and a historic, hand-carved wooden carousel. There is also a picnic pavilion, available for hosting large parties. There are three bodies of water where fishing is permitted: Hempstead Lake – the largest lake in Nassau County – McDonald Pond and South Pond, all stocked with trout, as well as wild species like largemouth bass, chain pickerel, black crappie, perch, tiger muskies, carp and sunfish. Dogs are permitted, on a leash, in a designated dog-walk area. 

Joan Jett rocked a sold-out hometown crowd at Molloy’s Madison Theatre on Apr. 26, 2013.

Arts & Entertainment

Rockville Centre’s Molloy College isn’t just a pillar of learning in the area; it’s also a strong supporter of local arts and entertainment, with the Madison Theatre at Molloy College (1000 Hempstead Ave., 516-323-4444, madisontheatreny.org) serving as the linchpin. The six-year-old, 550-seat theater regularly hosts a wide range of top-flight performers and artists, including notables from the worlds of theatre, music, dance, cabaret and comedy. Upcoming events include the 50+ Comedy Tour, The Rockville Centre Guild for the Arts/Leggz Ltd. NUTCRACKER, Billboard Live’s New Year’s Eve Concert, Sleeping Beauty (ballet) and jazz icon John Pizzarelli, who turns up in February.

One of the larger entertainment trends sweeping the nation is the rise of “escape rooms,” where you and a group of friends are (willingly) locked in an environment where teamwork, problem-solving and good old-fashioned ingenuity are required in order to secure your freedom. (At least, in the allotted amount of time.) Rockville Centre is home to one of the three local-area Challenge Escape Rooms locations (203 Sunrise Hwy, 516-888-0202, challengeescaperooms.com) featuring three different themed rooms: The Art Gallery, The Game Room and The Virus. Each room accommodates groups of up to 10 people and makes for an interactive, often head-scratching experience.

It’s crucial now more than ever to support local, independent bookstores, and you won’t have any complaints about doing your literary part at Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine (110 N. Park Ave., 516-764-6000, turnofthecorkscrew.com), owned by Borders Books expatriates Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran. The shop features an extensive wine list of small-batch vintages you can enjoy while leisurely reading in the store, as well as a café serving light meals and snacks. Turn of the Corkscrew also holds special events like concerts, talks, readings and book signings, helping to foster community and culture in the village.

Bigelow’s fried clams and seafood offer an unsurpassed taste of RVC.

RVC after dark

Finally, Rockville Centre offers plenty of options for kicking back with a cocktail or pint and some fine grub after a busy Long Island day. Try Monaghan’s Bar & Restaurant (48 N Village Ave., 516-764-6372) for a touch of the  Irish; sample the seafood chowder topped with puff pastry, the Monaghan’s Shepherd’s Pie and the lobster quesadilla, washed down with a tall Guinness, or if you’re really adventurous, a mug of hot port.

Or, if your drinking/eating desires run south of the border, stop by Cabo (3A N. Park Avenue, 516-255-0065, caborvc.net), where the frozen drinks flow and the guacamole is prepared tableside. Their massive Coronita Margaritas are an undertaking worthy of the most seasoned imbibers, and all the better to compliment the first-rate nachos, tacos and fajitas. You might run into a bachelorette party or two, but who’s complaining? The more, the merrier.

The options don’t end there, either. A favorite among the after-work crowd is Lindsay’s (59 N Park Ave., 516-442- 3344), popular for its classy, upscale ambience, friendly bartenders and fine selection of reasonably priced single-malt scotch. Or for a more laidback, hometown feel, give North Village Tavern (40 N Village Ave., 516-766-0181) a whirl, where the food and drinks are equally appreciated and the large-screen TVs are either showing sports or music videos synched with the jukebox.

The best part is, if one spot isn’t your special happy place, there are several more in the immediate area you can stumble over to and try. It may be just 3.4 square miles in size, but Rockville Centre truly does have it all.

St. Agnes Cathedral was built in 1935 to mirror Norman Gothic designs.

Where to Stay

Hampton Inn & Suites Rockville Centre
125 Merrick Rd., Rockville Centre. 516-599-5700, hamptoninn3.hilton.com

Best Western Mill River Manor
173 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre. 516-678-1300, bestwestern.com

Where To Dine

Press 195
22 N Park Ave., 516-536-1950, press195.com

Tum Thai Cuisine
274 Merrick Rd., 516-543-5078, tumthainy.com

Front Street Bake Shop
51 Front St., Rockville Centre. 516-766-1199, frontstreetbakery.com

George Martin the Original
65 North Park Ave., Rockville Centre. 516-678-7272, georgemartingroup.com

George Martin Burger Bar
209 North Long Beach Rd., Rockville Centre. 516-208-6100, gmburgerbar.com

Chadwicks American Chop House & Bar
49 Front St., Rockville Centre. 516-766-7800, chadwicksrvc.com

Tony Colombos
208 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre. 516-678-1996, tonycolombos.com

Vines and Branches
80 North Park Ave., Rockville Centre. 516-608-2200, vinesandbranches.net

Bigelow’s New England Fried Clams
79 N Long Beach Rd., 516-678- 3878, bigelows-rvc.com

Rockville Centre Mayor Francis X. Murray outside village hall.

Greenport: A Whale of A Destination

In addition to its historic harbor, Greenport has lovely, walkable beaches.

Long Island’s Greenport Village dates to the mid-1600s, when colonists from New Haven crossed the Long Island Sound and settled in Southold township. Thanks to its deep, well-protected harbor, the village has been an integral part of the North Fork’s economy and maritime tradition ever since, driving local whaling, fishing and oystering in the 19th and 20th centuries, then becoming a tourism hub in modern times.

Today, the village offers bountiful options for beachfront relaxation and activities, as well as a lengthy list of historical attractions spotlighting Greenport’s rich heritage.

Whaling became a massive industry in Greenport between 1795 and 1859, helping to also drive a shipbuilding boom. The mid-1800s also saw the zenith for menhaden fishing, and later in the first half of the 20th century, oyster harvesting hit its peak. Perhaps the most pivotal development in Greenport’s early years, however, was its selection as the first-ever LI destination on the embryonic Long Island Rail Road, which connected Greenport to Brooklyn in 1844. The new railroad line provided a turbo boost for North Fork growth, allowing local farmers to ship their products with unparalleled convenience and speed, while bringing city dwellers east for sun and respite.

Today, Greenport celebrates its history by making museums, galleries and landmarks foremost among its cultural offerings, providing an intellectually stimulating alternative to beachgoers seeking vacation variety. Wineries, brewpubs and fine dining also take center stage here. So, when you’re not lounging by the waterfront, be sure to sample the area’s top-flight cuisine and award-winning libations, while checking out Greenport’s many historical gems. 

The East End Seaport Museum is a must-see on any visit to Greenport.

The Museum Scene

To experience an intriguing component of Greenport’s long maritime tradition, spend some time at the Fireboat Firefighter Museum (Wiggins Street, Greenport Commercial Pier, 631-333-2230, americasfireboat.org), featuring the nearly 80-year-old Fire Fighter, the world’s most award-decorated fireboat. Designed by renowned naval architect William Francis Gibbs in 1938, Fire Fighter fought over 50 major fires during her career, including blazes aboard the SS Normandie, El Estero, Esso Brussels and Sea Witch, as well as several dozen major pier fires throughout New York Harbor.

Fire Fighter also led the FDNY Marine Unit response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, supplying water for three weeks to emergency crews fighting fires at Ground Zero. A National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fire Fighter is now a memorial and teaching museum, while still a fully operational vessel. She’s open for guided and self-led tours from April to October, on weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Another Greenport hotspot for oceangoing history is the East End Seaport Museum (3rd Street, 631-477-2100, eastendseaport.org), honoring the area’s longstanding relationship with the sea. Attractions include a 750-gallon saltwater aquarium featuring flora and fauna from Peconic Bay, a display of two Fresnel lenses, and exhibits devoted to subjects like LI’s

Baymen, oyster harvesting, devastating storms and artifacts salvaged from the wreck of the steamer Rye Cliff, as well as a sampling of the museum’s collection of miniature ships. Call or check the website for the latest open hours; admission with or without voluntary donation.

Fans of more terrestrial transportation aren’t left out when visiting Greenport, either. For all things pertaining to riding the rails, there’s the Railroad Museum of Long Island (440 4th St., at the LIRR Tracks, 631-477-0439, rmli.org), famous for its intricate model train layouts, restored vintage train cars and rides on its World’s Fair miniature train. Your admission ($10 for adults 13+, $5 for children 5-12, kids under 5 free) is good for guided tours of both the Greenport museum and its Riverhead sister site, as well as a miniature train ride.

Sometimes, transportation just means going in a circle. In that spirit, old meets modern to the delight of children and parents alike at Greenport’s 100-year-old antique carousel in the Jess Owen Carousel House (Front Street, Mitchell Park, 631-477-2200, villageofgreenport.org), named for Jesse Owen, the first operator of the ride.

Housed within a striking contemporary glass, steel and wood house, the 1920s Herschell Spillman portable carousel – a gift from former owners Northrup-Grumman – features 36 horses (all jumpers) plus two sleighs, including 18 hand-carved Herschell steeds, four turn-of-the-century carved Dare horses and 12 cast-aluminum horses dating to the 1930s. The carousel is open daily in-season (end of school through Labor Day) and on weekends the rest of the year, and costs just $2 for each magical spin back in time. Unless of course you catch a brass ring, which wins you one free ride. 

The Jess Owen Carousel House is home to a 1920s Herschell Spillman carousel.

Eye Candy

For a trip back into photographic history, be sure to check out Long Island’s surviving Camera Obscura (Front Street, Mitchell Park, 631-477-0248, villageofgreenport.org), housed in its own dedicated building in Mitchell Park. The view outside is reflected by a mirror through a lens, which projects the image onto a viewing table inside. The mirror can be rotated, to see in all directions. Today there are approximately 50 public camera obscuras in the world, five of which are in the United States. (Available by appointment only, and weather permitting. Admission is just $1.)

Your eyes will be equally dazzled when gazing upon the stunning creations of contemporary realist painter Isabelle Haran-Leonardi, whose work is showcased at the Nova Constellatio Gallery (419 Main St., 516-443-0242, novaconstellatiogallery.com). Haran-Leonardi specializes in large scale landscapes of Eastern Long Island’s vineyards and waters, winning multiple awards for her works in recent years. The gallery also serves as her working studio, so when you visit you may get the opportunity to witness a true artisan in action. 

Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s two owners became buddies in college.

Drink Me

Wineries are a massive draw for the Greenport area (and Long Island’s East End, in general). The 62-acre, award-winning Kontokosta Winery (825 North Rd., 631-477-6977, kontokostawinery.com) is one of Greenport’s top spots for vino enthusiasts, and is the North Fork’s only waterfront winery and tasting room. Stop in to sample the latest favorites, and/or take a winery tour, which are offered every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The tour lasts roughly 45 minutes and includes a tasting of four wines, a cellar tour and a barrel sample. Tours cost $35 per person; reservations are highly recommended. You can also enjoy their wines while sitting at one of the many picnic tables available along the winery’s quarter-mile of oceanfront.

Or, if you prefer your libations to originate from hops instead of grapes, hunker down at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. (234 Carpenter St., 631-477-1100, greenportharborbrewing.com), popular for its “flight” of five different beers, served on a Long Island/whale-shaped board. The brewery stays open an extra hour until 9 p.m. on the first Friday of every month, to coincide with the Greenport Gallery Walks event. 

The world-famous Claudio’s Restaurant.

Historic EatsIn Greenport, even the restaurants are historic. None more so than Claudio’s Restaurant (111 Main St., 631-477-0627, claudios.com), housed in a National Historic Registered Building circa 1845. Serving up fine seafood since 1870, Claudio’s is the nation’s oldest same-family-run restaurant, founded by descendant Manuel Claudio, a Greenport whaler from Portugal, who first opened the business as Claudio’s Tavern. When not gorging on shrimp and lobster, take a moment to peruse the restaurant’s Victorian bar dating to 1886, as well as its many local artifacts. 

Greenport’s downtown has been lively since the LIRR first stopped there in the 19th century. (photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr)

Other recommended spots include:

1943 Pizza Bar
Stirling Square, 631-477-6984, rollingindoughpizza.com

Agave Grill & Cantina
110 South St., 631-333-2323, agavegrillandcantina.net

American Beech
300 Main St., 631-477-5939, americanbeech.com

Bruce & Son
208 Main St., 631-477-0023, bruceandsongreenport.com

First and South
100 South St., 631-333-2200, firstandsouth.com

The Frisky Oyster
27 Front St., 631-477-4265, thefriskyoyster.com

Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market
37 Front St., 631-477-6992, northforkoysters.com

Lucharito’s
119 Main St., 631-477-6666, lucharitos.com

Noah’s
136 Front St., 631-477-6720, chefnoahs.com

Salamander’s On Front
38 Front St., 631-477-3711, salamandersonfront.com

Sterlington Deli
3 Sterlington Commons, 631-477-8547, www.sterlingtondeli.net 

NY Auto Giant
Experience all that is historic, breathtaking and fun-filled in Greenport

After Decade of Reinvention, Patchogue Once Again a Seaside Gem

Patchogue’s Alive After 5 summer street festival, which runs Fridays in July and August, attracts thousands.

Patchogue has been a destination of sorts since 1869, when the final stretch of South Side Railroad tracks were laid from Sayville and hotels and boarding houses sprang up to handle New York City residents looking to beat the heat.

The tourist boom went bust with Wall Street in 1929, however, and Patchogue retooled itself as a regional shopping destination, with scores of busy shops and restaurants complementing its traditional textile, paper and lumber industries. The malls killed that iteration of Patchogue in the 1960s, and the village went into decay for the next 30 years, cementing its reputation as the spot along Montauk Highway where travelers pressed a little heavier on the gas pedal.

The village’s current rebirth began in the late 1990s, when government, business and varied economic development agencies committed to a sustained program of renewal. Since then, the village’s acclaimed 1920s theater has been reclaimed, hundreds of new apartments have been built and downtown business has returned to levels of activity not seen since the 1950s.

If you’re spending the day or just passing through, you can’t go wrong with the suggestions that follow. 

A ferry from Patchogue filled with passengers sails on the Great South Bay to Watch Hill on Fire Island (NPS Photo)

Ferry to paradise

It’s true, one of the village’s main draws are its ferries to Fire Island, with ships departing daily from its Davis Park Ferry Terminal (Sandspit Marina, 80 Brightwood Street, 631-475-1665, davisparkferry.com) and, historically, its Watch Hill Ferry Terminal (160 West Avenue, 631-475-1665, davisparkferry.com). Fire Island’s Watch Hill Marina, however, is currently closed for repairs by the National Park Service, and will reopen for the 2018 season, along with corresponding ferry service. The Davis Park ferry takes beachgoers to its namesake on Fire Island, as well as Leja Beach and Ocean Ridge. Check the website for the latest schedule. 

Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts
The lobby of the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. (Photo by James DeLucia)

Patchogue’s got talent

A focal point of Patchogue’s downtown is the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts (71 E. Main Street, 631-207-1300, patchoguetheatre.org), a beautifully restored 1,104-seat, venue originally opened in 1923 as Ward & Glynne’s Theatre. As majestic today as ever, the theater, now owned by the village, is the largest of its kind in Suffolk County, and offers a busy slate of musicians, comedians, plays and more. Spacious seating upgrades installed in 2016 only further improved an already fabulous facility.

If you prefer your entertainment a bit louder and rowdier, Patchogue’s 89 North (89 N. Ocean Avenue, 631-730-8992, 89northmusic.com) is the village’s current contribution to LI’s proud rock club lineage, singularly so since the sudden closing of The Emporium in May. At 89 North, the venue pairs its world-class sound, lighting and staging with a well-positioned bar and an upper seating area with table service. Whether you’re watching a local band or a national touring artist, every show here is an event. 

Oozy egg taco with crab, asparagus, and arugula (Photo courtesy of Rhum)

A foodie’s fantasy

Patchogue has quietly become one of Long Island’s top destinations for dining, from posh, big-ticket eateries to authentic, roll-up-your-sleeves street food. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re craving the smoky goodness of BBQ mecca Bobbique (70 W. Main Street, 631-447-7744, bobbique.com), the delicate, mouthwatering sushi and Japanese fare at 360 Taiko Sushi & Lounge (47 S. Ocean Avenue, 631-207-6888, 360taiko.com), the down-home pub grub at Reese’s 1900 (70 N. Ocean Avenue, 631-289-1900) or a breakfast bonanza at Toast Coffeehouse (46 E. Main Street, 631-654-7091, facebook.com/ToastCoffeehousePatchogue).

We’d also be remiss not to mention the waterfront surf & turf mastery of Oar Steak & Seafood Grill (264 West Avenue, 631-207-1953, theoar.com), the bold Caribbean flavors of Rhum (13 E. Main Street, 631-569-5944, rhumpatchogue.com) and PeraBell Food Bar (69 E. Main Street, 631-447-7766, perabellfoodbar.com), which serves impressive, global-inspired cuisine in a casual pub setting. 

Blue Point Debate Beer
Blue Point Brewery debuted Colonial Ale, a beer recipe created by President George Washington, at the 2016 Hofstra Debates (Timothy Bolger/Long Island Press)

Night life: Live and liquid

In addition to its vast array of top-rate restaurants, Patchogue offers several hybrid dining/brewpub/live venue locations that are seemingly always happening. One can’t-miss spot for dinner, drinks and live music is also one of Patchogue’s most iconic businesses: Blue Point Brewing Company (161 River Avenue, 631-475-6944, bluepointbrewing.com), soon to be celebrating its 20th anniversary. Long Island’s lone commercial brewery and home of its famous Toasted Lager (among a growing array of other varieties), Blue Point’s tasting room can get a little packed with beer-ficionados, but you’ll thank yourself for muscling your way to the taps, especially since you get three 5 oz. samples just for stopping in. Cramped quarters will no longer be an issue in early 2018, when Blue Point opens its expanded new facility on the corner of West Main Street and Holbrook Road, on the current Briarcliffe College campus.

Patchogue’s beer-topia also includes The Tap Room (114 W. Main Street, 631-569-5577, patchoguetaproom.com), an upscale brewpub renowned for its wide beverage selection and ultra-tasty burgers. (The mussels are also a local favorite.) Opened in 2011, the spot is considered one of the anchors of Patchogue’s downtown revival. Specials include $4 Long Island beers on Monday nights, as well as happy hour Monday to Friday from 3 pm to 7 pm, featuring $4 drafts and wine, and $5 mussels, served one of five different styles. The dizzying beer selection is regularly updated online, in case you need to strategically plan in advance.

Another sure-fire pick, great for a leisurely lunch or relaxing waterside dinner, is Harbor Crab Co. ( 116 Division Street, 631-687-2722, harborcrab.com), a sprawling two-story boat/building berthed on the Patchogue River. Tourists and locals alike flock here for the fresh seafood and cozy ambiance, or to take in the nightly live music from one of the restaurant’s two vibrant bars.

And if you’ve got the itch for a tropical waterfront oasis, head over to Leeward Cove Marina (327 River Avenue, 631-654-3106, leewardcovemarina.com), home to Dublin Deck Tiki Bar & Grill (631-207-0370, dublindeck.com). Amid the ever-flowing food and drinks Dublin also presents live music daily on its outdoor stages, including a Calypso steel drum band on Sundays and live reggae on Tuesdays. Popular daily food specials include $6 Build-A-Burger Tuesdays and the Thursday Lobster Bake Luau. The adjoining marina also offers a host of paddle board, boat and water sport rentals if you can pry yourself away from the Deck.

No walking tour is complete without a stroll through the Archway at Roe Walkway, which
connects Main Street with Artspace and offers great murals

Shop, shoot and roll

If your idea of fun involves more than raising a pint of Blue Point lager, the whole family can try their hand with a bow and arrow at Smith Point Archery (315 Main Street, 631-289-3399, smithpointarchery.com), a full-service archery pro shop, school and indoor range. (There’s also a new crossbow range, for those would-be Daryl Dixons.) Don’t worry if you don’t travel around with your bow; you can rent one for $25, which includes shooting for the day. The range/store is open from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends.

A less lethal, but equally enjoyable option is to bowl a few frames at Bowl Long Island at Patchogue (138 West Avenue, 631-475-5164, bowllongisland.com), especially on those rainy afternoons when you’re not lounging by the water. And for evening action, the bowling alley holds a “Dollarmania” special every Sunday night from 6 p.m. until close, with each game costing just $1 per person ($5 cover, $1 shoe rental) plus $2 Miller Lites and $1 pretzels. There’s also unlimited bowling for $10 per person (shoes included) every Wednesday and Thursday from 9 p.m. to close.

The history minded can explore what’s left of Patchogue’s proud past via a walking tour, including such oddities as the former New York Telephone Co.’s switchboard operations, the Clinton Roller Skating Rink and the site of the Leroy Thurber Bottling Works, where ginger ale, sarsaparilla and soda were packaged for the hotels. The Thurber guarantee: “No dirt.” Go to history.pmlib.org/patchoguewalkingtour for a PDF guide or an audio tour you can download to your device.

Too late for this year, but those who like to walk should pencil in next year’s Alive After Five program, during July and August, when large swaths of downtown are turned into one giant street festival.

Finally, if you’re looking for something special to remember your time in Patchogue, a favorite among shoppers is The Amazing Olive (35 E. Main Street, 631-307-9092, amazingolive.com), a well-stocked local source for the finest extra virgin olive oils, as well as vinegars, herbs, salts, rubs and seasonings. At any given time you can stop in and sample more than 50 award-winning oils, selected each year from competitions like the New York International Olive Oil Competition, Los Angeles International Olive Oil Competition, Yolo County Fair Olive Oil Competition, Napa Valley Fair Olive Oil Competition and the Central Coast Olive Oil Competition.

The shop even holds private tasting parties Monday through Thursday after closing, complete with appetizers, a balsamic-inspired drink and dessert for each guest ($20 per person, six to 14 adults). After the tasting you get the entire store to yourself to browse and buy, plus a free sample bottle of oil to take home.

Artspace Lofts is a vibrant arts community in Patchogue with live/work space for artists and a resident’s
gallery. It’s also home to the Patchogue Arts Council Gallery and Plaza MAC Cinema, an independent
movie house