Port Washington’s Main Street business district stretches more than a mile from Port Washington Boulevard to the Town Dock on Manhasset Bay. About 170 businesses — including independent gift shops, clothing boutiques, hair salons and ethnic restaurants — line the historic village shopping area. The village is also known for its public library and scenic shoreline.
“It’s a beautiful town for a walk,” said Alison Packer, owner of Painting With Flowers (298 Main St., 516-883-4164, paintingwithflowersltd.com), a women’s clothing and home boutique inside a former 19th century U.S. post office. “The architecture on lower Main Street is really charming,” Packer added.
Packer’s brightly lit shop is a treasure trove of gift ideas, from wool shawls imported from India and CozyChic cardigan sweaters to pillar candles scented with apple, cinnamon sticks and dried flowers.
In downtown Port Washington, shoppers can stroll for hours shopping for unique and thoughtful gift ideas. Many shops display merchandise behind storefront casement windows.
Wit & Whim (6 Carlton Ave., 516-944-9200, wit-and-whim.com) is an independent gift store in a building just off Main. Owners Krissy Harper and Jacquelyn Conte’s shop specializes in handmade, fair-trade, vintage and antique items.
Many of the shop’s gifts fit into the “shopping for the person with everything” category. For instance, a soap terrarium, made by an artisan in Queens, is a small Mason jar packed with colorful mini-soaps and a sea-wool sponge. “It’s a great secret Santa gift,” Harper said. On Small Business Saturday, Wit & Whim will offer free gifts and discounts.
Port Washington, believed to be the inspiration for “East Egg” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” is also home to one of Long Island’s oldest independent booksellers. The Dolphin Bookshop & Cafe (299 Main St., 516-767-2650, thedolphinbookshop.com), in business since 1946, sells toys, serves panini, soups and hot drinks, and hosts poetry readings and concerts.
Mary Stendrini of Glen Head, a retired telecommunications professional, was attending a book signing event at the Dolphin Bookshop on a recent Saturday.
“There is so much variety in the stores, and the proximity to the water is a magnet,” Stendrini said of Main Street, where she often shops for clothing or enjoys a stroll at the Town Dock.
Town Dock Park, open 7:30 a.m. until sunset, is around the bend just beyond where Main Street meets Shore Road. Visitors can stroll the shoreline for beautiful views of Manhasset Bay. Or they can bring fishing gear and cast from the pier.
Port Washington also offers world-class entertainment venues. The Landmark on Main Street and its Jeanne Rimsky Theatre are inside a historic 1908 building that was Port Washington’s first high school. Among upcoming shows, “The Nutcracker” ballet will be performed at the theater Nov. 24 and 25.
The Port Washington Public Library, another Main Street landmark, offers free art exhibitions, music programs and lectures. (Port Washington library cardholders receive priority seating, said reference librarian Richard Hausdorff.)
There will also be plenty to do on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24), when area merchants and organizations are sponsoring a Port Holiday Magic promotion. Visitors can park free in metered spaces from 1 to 5 p.m. Carolers will roam Main Street, and shops will offer sales and free refreshments. A trolley will be providing free rides up and down Main Street.
“Santa will ride the trolley and give out candy canes and Hanukkah gelt to the children,” said Bobbie Polay, executive director of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce.
First-time visitors may notice that Port Washington is undergoing a face-lift. Trees, sidewalks and the drainage system are being replaced on Main Street between Port Washington Boulevard and the Long Island Rail Road station. Polay said that although construction may be ongoing during the holiday shopping season, the majority of Main Street from the train station to the bay will not be affected.
Here are some other shops worth popping into:
S.F. Falconer Florist, 8 S. Maryland Ave, 516-767-0866, falconerflorist.com. Established in 1924, the family-owned florist has a gift department with decorative holiday items.
Port Salt Cave, 403 Main St. (Inspiration Wharf), 516-439-4820, portsaltcave.com. Relax in the salt cave, and shop in the small boutique for jewelry, dish towels and salt lamp air purifiers.
Bluetique, 25 Main St., 516-734-1002, bluetique.com. One of the newer businesses in town, Bluetique offers casual fashions for women and children.
Impulse Boutique, 29 Main St., 516-439-5055, impulseboutiques.com. Women’s clothing, dresses, jewelry and accessories.
Sands Point Shop, 15 Main St., 516-767-2970, sandspointshop.com. This all-around gift shop sells fine jewelry, handbags, personalized leather goods, glassware and luggage for your holiday sojourn.
Bareburger, 42 Main St., 516-708-9920, bareburger.com: Burgers, sandwiches, shakes. Bosphorus Café & Grill, 138 Shore Rd., 516-321-9999, bosphoruscafegrill.com: Mediterranean, mainly Turkish, kebabs, falafel. iDiner, 87 Main St., 516-883-9920, idinerny.com: Sandwiches, wraps, sushi. Korean-Japanese fare. Pepe Rosso 24, 24 Manorhaven Blvd., 516-944-9477, peperosso24.com: Antipasti, pastas, salads, familiar Italian.