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The seaside village of Port Jefferson is a gem on the North Shore. There is ample to do in the scenic downtown from skating and dining to shopping and theater — and all the attractions are within walking distance from one another. Leave the car in park for a while to spend the perfect day in Port Jeff.
Take in the waterfront
Harborfront Park was designed to make the most of the waterfront and offers a little something for everyone to enjoy. If you’re looking for unobstructed views of the harbor, walk the promenade for relaxation. In search of a fun spot for the kids, Chandlery Waterfront Playground, complete with a picnic area and sprinklers, will keep them entertained. The park is also a hub of seasonal activities. During the summer there are outdoor concerts and family movie nights and in the winter there is an ice skating rink. The rink reopens for the season on Friday, Nov. 23 this year.
Sample it all
Going down port — as the kid’s say — is an excellent opportunity for sampling many top provisions in one town. Pindar and Duck Walk vineyards have a Main Street outpost that offers tastings and wines by the glass for days when you don’t feel like driving all the way out east. There is also Port Jeff Brewing Co. and Craft (located in artisanal cheese shop C’est Cheese), which has several rotating taps featuring many Long Island brews. At the Amazing Olive you can taste test some seriously delicious extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegars from award-winning producers around the world.
Learn the history
The history of Port Jefferson is filled with interesting tidbits — George Washington’s Culper Spy Ring, for one. Take some time to learn more about it at the Village Center near Harborfront Park. The Village Center is home to the archive room of Port Jefferson’s digital history, and is free to the public. There is also the Long Island Explorium Children’s Museum, which has fun and educational activities geared toward kids.
Hit the shops
There is a lot in the way of food and drink in Port Jefferson that it’s almost easy to overlook the killer shopping. Fame + Rebel, a boutique for fashionistas, has styles from rocker chic to beachy boho while Lavender Fields is a home décor lover’s dream.
Fit for food
Danford’s Hotel & Marina is worthy of adding to your Port Jeff itinerary. Its restaurant Wave Seafood & Steak is tops for waterfront dining with a refined and delectable menu. If you’re interested in Italian, it doesn’t get better than Pasta Pasta for, you guessed it, pasta dishes as well as other traditional fare. Old Fields Restaurant, tucked away on Wynn Lane, will impress your date and Slurp Ramen has an almost cult-like following, if you’re in the mood for something quick and satisfying. For lunch, try some of the vegetarian options at Tiger Lily Café. Kilwins, which opened in Port Jeff last fall, has already become a go-to for desserts. The ice cream is worth every calorie.
Consider the calendar
Strolling the downtown, popping into shops, dining on the waterfront and relaxing in the park makes really any day a good day to hang out down port, but the village always seems to have a special event planned that enhances the whole experience. Here are a few to consider if you’re planning a trip this year.
If you’re reading this article on the date it was published (Sunday, Oct. 28) there is still time to get to one of the best Port Jeff events of the year, Harvest Festival. There are fun events happening all day like the chowder crawl starting at noon (yum), a dog costume parade at 2 p.m., and spooky crafts for the kids until 4 p.m. at the library.
Saturday, Nov. 24 (“Small Business Saturday”) is the village’s annual Holiday Shopping Crawl from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is a great way to get a jump on the season and it ends with a Santa parade.
People come from far and wide to attend the annual Dickens Festival when the streets come to life in charming Dickensian era fashion. Characters such as Father Christmas, Dickens Mayor, Scrooge and the Town Crier roam the village, plus there are plenty of activities and performances. This year’s event is on Saturday, Dec. 1 and Sunday, Dec. 2. More information at portjeffchamber.com.
Lastly, if you can’t imagine a perfect day without your pup, you’re in luck because Port Jefferson is a dog-friendly town. Dogs are welcomed at a handful of restaurants including the Steam Room and Portside. Roger’s Frigate even serves dog — and people — friendly ice cream.