Visiting City Island, the Bronx
If you long to get away to a small New England-style fishing village and eat fresh seafood, you can head for City Island instead. Set at the tip of the Bronx and surrounded by Long Island Sound, Eastchester Bay and two historic lighthouses, it's connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge.
City Island is an active, year-round nautical community. Only 11/2 miles long and a quarter-mile wide, it's an easy walk down City Island Avenue, the main drag, and side streets, where you'll find restaurants, shops, galleries, yacht clubs, boat yards and marinas. Now is the right time to go, as summer winds down and the Orchard Beach crowd dwindles.
WHAT TO DO
Ride the trolley
The first Friday evening of each month (5:30-9:30 p.m.), you can hop on and off an old-fashioned trolley at stops from the Pelham Bay subway station to the end of the island. Besides a free ride, you'll score giveaways and good discounts at participating shops and restaurants with your trolley card (cityislandchamber.org).
Take a step back
Housed in an old schoolhouse and manned by volunteers, the nonprofit City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum displays archival photographs of the island and its founders, America's Cup memorabilia, antique nautical gear and artwork. The exhibit "City Island by Islanders" will run through September, 1-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays (190 Fordham St., 718-885-0008, cityislandmuseum.org).
Board the 90-foot party boat Riptide III for the last sunset sightseeing cruise of the season at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 6. You'll see the Long Island Sound and the Statue of Liberty ($40). Full day and night fishing trips available through December (701 Minnieford Ave., 718-885-0236, riptide3.com).
Browse for treasures
At least 50 artisans will line the main street selling artwork and handmade jewelry at The City Island Avenue Arts and Crafts Fair, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 12-13, cityislandchamber.org.
WHERE TO EAT
City Island Lobster House
691 Bridge St., 718-885-1459, cilobsterhouse.com
The giant neon Maine lobster on the roof shows you this restaurant's signature dish. Dine inside, or outside on the covered deck overlooking Long Island Sound and the marina. Lunch and dinner entrees include garlic bread and sides. The Lobster Clam Bake includes clam chowder and dessert for $26.95. The special "Feast" meals feed up to three for $69.95-$74.95.
Artie's Steak & Seafood
394 City Island Ave., 718-885-9885, artiesofcityisland.com
With its leather booths and brick walls, this casual 50-year-old restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner. The menu includes surf, turf and Italian dishes, plus jumbo martinis. Free parking.
Johnny's Reef Restaurant
2 City Island Ave., 718-855-2090
Open daily March-December, this no-frills, no-waiter-service cafeteria-style spot is at the southern end of the island. It's a local favorite for the baskets of steamed or fried seafood and water vistas. Buy your meal (try the clams or lobster tails) from the counter and eat inside or outside at a picnic table as you view the boats, Stepping Stones Lighthouse and Throgs Neck Bridge.
The Black Whale
279 City Island Ave., 718-885-3657, dineatblackwhale.com
Open daily, this restaurant with 1970s decor and patio serves seafood, steak, chops, pasta, wraps and sandwiches. Go for the all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet for $12.95.
WHERE TO SHOP
Starving Artist Café and Gallery
249 City Island Ave., 718-885-3779, starvingartistonline.com
This place is a combo gallery and coffeehouse, with live music on weekends. Shop for fine art, handmade crafts, T-shirts and one-of-a-kind jewelry by 30 artisans.
Exotiqa International Arts
280 City Island Ave., 718-885-3090, themagicofgifts.com
Look here for unusual jewelry, kids' toys, candles, books and lotions.
321 City Island Ave., 718-885-1403, focalpointgallery.com
This gallery and artists' workshop offers photography, paintings, and etchings. Owner-artist Ron Terner will celebrate the 30th anniversary in September with the opening of his new exhibit featuring self-portraits by 30 artists.
Early Ruth Antiques
319 City Island Ave., 718-885-0228, earlyruthantiqueart.com
Peruse five galleries of 20th century paintings.
310 City Island Ave., 718-885-2820
This shop sells 17th through 20th century furniture, reproductions and jewelry.
Calico Juno Designs
310 City Island Ave., 718-855-4823, calicojunodesigns.com
Artist Bonnie Riconda's new boutique features original jewelry designs with precious and semiprecious stones.
Pelham Bay Park
Spend some time in the Bronx's scenic Pelham Bay Park on your way to City Island. This is New York City's biggest - three times the size of Central Park - with lots to do. Nature fans may enjoy its Kazimiroff Nature Trail and Thomas Pell Wildlife Sanctuary. For sports fans, there are tennis, basketball and volleyball courts - plus baseball, soccer and hockey fields and riding stables. Relax on public Orchard Beach. Tee off on the 18-hole Pelham and Split Rock Golf Courses (pelhamsplitrock.americangolf.com). Tour the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion (bartowpellmansionmuseum.org).
BY CAR Take the Long Island Expressway west to the Cross Island Parkway North, crossing the Throgs Neck Bridge. Merge onto Interstate 295 North, continuing on Interstate 95 North (Bruckner Boulevard) to Exit 8B. Cross the drawbridge and exit onto City Island Road, then City Island Bridge to City Island Avenue.