Another harbor town, located just beyond Stony Brook, is Port Jefferson. Once a thriving shipbuilding community, and then home to several lace factories and gravel pits, Port Jefferson today caters mostly to the tourist trade and is the main destination for visitors to the north shore. It has a rawer and more windswept feel than does Stony Brook. Witness the town’s many visiting Harleys—Port Jeff has long been a favorite stop among touring motorcyclists.
Downtown offers several small tourist-oriented malls as well as some one-of-a-kind shops, including Village Chairs & Wares (402 Main St., 631/331-5791), which specializes in handmade reproduction chairs and tables.
Also downtown are a number of historic homes. Most are privately owned, but one that is open to the public is the Mather House Museum (115 Prospect St., at High St., 631/473-2665, 1–4 p.m. Tues.–Wed. and Sat.–Sun. June–Sept., suggested donation $4), once owned by a shipbuilder. Inside, find an eclectic collection of 19th-century garments, Native American artifacts, and model boats, while out back are herb gardens, a marine barn, and a crafts house.
The ferry (631/473-0286) to Bridgeport, Connecticut, leaves from the Port Jefferson docks. For brochures and a map of the village, stop into the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce (118 W. Broadway/Rte. 25A, 631/473-1414, www.portjeffchamber.com, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Fri. year-round, noon–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun. June–Sept.).
Wildwood State Park
Just northeast of Wading River, off Route 25A along Hulse Landing Road, is Wildwood State Park (631/929-4314, dawn–dusk, $6–8 parking). Surrounded by farm country, Wildwood is blissfully empty during the off-season, but crowded during the summer. Within its 737 acres are nearly 1.5 miles of beach, 10 miles of hiking trails, bathhouses, picnic areas, ball fields, refreshment stands, and a 322-site campground. For campground reservations, call 800/456-CAMP.
Accommodations and Food
The large and always bustling Danfords Hotel and Marina (25 E. Broadway, 631/928-5200, www.danfords.com, $159–389 d) serves as a de facto anchor for downtown Port Jefferson. Most of the rooms have balconies and views of the water. The inn’s upscale restaurant, Wave ($22), also overlooking the water, serves seafood and contemporary New American fare. During warm weather, an outside deck is opened up.
The casual, laid-back Village Way (106 Main St., 631/928-3395) is a Port Jefferson institution. On the menu are seafood and pasta entrées, sandwiches, and burgers.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition