Looking for a quick day trip out of Manhattan? Maybe something a little less NYC and a little more Cape Cod? Well, City Island is a 1.5-mile-long island neighborhood in the Bronx that is full of Victorian homes, a picturesque coastline, a marina full of boats and some of the freshest lobster and seafood in the city.
Where to Eat
Lobster Box delivers a classic seafood experience surrounded by wooden cabana decor and a friendly staff. The cash-only restaurant Johnny Reef offers a cafeteria-style eating experience with an affordable fresh catch menu and a modest bar all facing large windows overlooking the water. This popular spot is usually packed, so come early to get some of the best steamed seafood and make sure to grab some outdoor seating right on the dock. If you’re looking for some old-school Italian surf ‘n’ turf, Artie’s Steak and Seafood is going to be your happy place. From Chardonnay poached salmon to wood-grilled T-bone steaks, the menu has several seafood and meat combinations in addition to a variety of traditional pasta dishes. So put on your Sunday best and come hungry, these plates are stacked high.
Where to Shop
In addition to serving up a New England seafood experience, the small beach town offers shops with eccentric vibes and old-time treasures. Jack’s Bait and Tackle was established back in 1945 and has remained family-owned. The modest fishing supplies outpost offers boat rentals, chartered trips and gear. If you’re more of the antiquing type, Early Ruth Art and Antiques is run by Ruth Markowe, the namesake and proprietor of the antique shop, and a genuine lover of art and ephemera. She has quite an unusual collection of furniture and decor that’s definitely worth a look. Millennial nostalgia runs wild at the little shabby chic shop 239 Play! The house-turned-storefront is full of 1980s and 1990s toys, records and knickknacks. Head to the back room for a huge selection of hard-to-find vinyl and pick up a few eclectic souvenirs.
Where to Drink
Drinking in City Island is reminiscent of a small-town experience. City Island bars are truly where everybody knows your name, and friendly locals and strong drinks make for an unforgettable evening. Paddy’s on the Island offers an affordable bar menu and features weekly live entertainment. Also, it requires its patrons to be over 23 years old to enter the bar area, but the restaurant is accessible to everyone. The Black Whale is a quaint bistro with a large outdoor garden patio that's open for seating. The light fare embraces Italian flavors, seafood classics and American staples along with familiar cocktails. What’s a beach town without a classic Irish pub with a large draft selection? Visit the family-owned, no-frills bar The Snug—it’s that neighborhood bar where you can relax and end the night with affordable drinks and bar bites.
Things to Do in City Island
City Island is full of rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War so grab a coffee (or tea) and go explore the town’s extensive shipbuilding history. City Island Nautical Museum, curated by Cheryl Brinker and Ron Terner, celebrates the nautical history of City Island with artifacts and photos of the island and its boating history including vintage model boats. Starving Artist Café and Gallery offers a safe space for artistic expression along with a large selection of coffee and loose teas; it showcases all genres of visual arts and occasionally has live musicians. Spanning across 2,772 acres, Pelham Bay Park is more than three times the size of Central Park, making it the City’s largest park property. It also boasts its own man-made beach called Orchard Beach that delivers a 13-mile saltwater shoreline that hugs the Long Island Sound estuary.