City Island, Bronx
Good for: New England fishing village vibe
Transportation: Bx29 bus to City Island
Say no thanks to your friend’s boyfriend’s mom’s lake house two hours outside the city (before traffic) and get acquainted with this 253-acre island in the Bronx that rivals any seaside Maine town.
To get private beach access on this bridge-connected fishing island, book a room or entire cottage on Airbnb, or commute to nearby Orchard Beach (a 10 minute drive or bike ride off the island). If you’re ready to work for your dinner, book a fishing charter with Island Current ($850 for 12 guests, including crew fees and materials) and head out to the ocean to lure the East Coast catch of the day -- think porgy, fluke, and more filets you’d typically see sold upwards of $30 on Manhattan menus.
After the beach, leisurely stroll along suburban blocks with historic Victorian homes, shop for antiques and collectibles (at both legit stores and summertime stoop sales) on City Island Avenue, visit the Nautical Museum to catch up on up City Island history -- and, of course, eat. At the far end of the island, treat yourself to fried seafood at Johnny’s Reef, which overlooks the Long Island Sound. Save room for dinner at the Original Crab Shanty where, after a bit of a wait, you can sidle into a booth flanked by nautical decor and order a feast off a crab-shaped menu (four $80 varieties of the classic gluttonous spread include options like whole lobsters, crab legs, shrimp, scallops, baby back ribs, and more). For additional seafood cravings, head to City Island Lobster House for lunch (before 3pm) when you can enjoy a whole lobster (broiled or steamed) and plenty of other seafood dishes along with sides and dessert, for under $30.
Bronxites commute to City Island to party at clubby waterfront restaurant Don Coqui at night, but if you’re in the mood for something a little more mellow, head to beloved dive bar Fella’s, where you can work up an appetite for one more plate of fried shrimp with darts, pool, and dancing to the jukebox with the help of some cheap beers.