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The sleepy village of Port Jefferson comes to life during the warm summer months as seasonal residents and tourists flock there to enjoy all it has to offer. Its location on the Long Island Sound along a sheltered harbor, just a short commute to either New York City or Connecticut's Fairfield County, makes it a popular place to spend a quiet afternoon or long weekend enjoying the water or shopping at some of the charming boutiques that dot the village. This affluent community covers only 3 square miles of the city of Brookhaven along Long Island's north shore, yet has a population of roughly 8,000 full-time and seasonal residents, providing a small-town feel in a setting that's just a stone's throw from the largest city in the United States.
As of August 2017, the average apartment rent in Port Jefferson, NY is $1,631 for a studio, $1,850 for one bedroom, $2,576 for two bedrooms, and $2,063 for three bedrooms. Apartment rent in Port Jefferson has increased by 8.1% in the past year.
With the exceptions of the obligatory McDonalds and Subway, you won't find chain restaurants in Port Jefferson. The villagers pride themselves in frequenting an eclectic mix of small eateries featuring everything from fresh seafood to classic comfort-food favorites with a modern twist. Take a stroll along Main Street to find just the right cozy restaurant or coffee shop to suit your tastes.
For breakfast, stop at the Toast Coffeehouse for fresh Belgian waffles topped with pecans and whipped cream. Later on, try a signature martini at Z-Pita while you wait to nosh on classic Mediterranean cuisine. The Tiger Lily Cafe showcases art from up-and-coming local artists in a space that can only be called quirky and has a menu that includes plenty of vegan and vegetarian fare. For a light and refreshing change, choose one of the cafe's natural juices or healthy smoothies, such as its East Hampton smoothie, made with soy milk, peaches, bananas and strawberries.
To feel like a true local, spend some time at the Portside Bar and Grill. From clams on the half shell to a classic New England-style lobster roll, this little restaurant serves fresh seafood caught by local fisherman. It also offers a bevy of creative burgers for those who are looking for some prime beef. At happy hour, enjoy lively entertainment including an open mic night every week and live bands during the summer months.
When the sun goes down, Main Street lights up with pubs and bars that are filled to capacity during the high tourist seasons. Try the classic wings while sipping a local brew in chunky mason jars at Junior's Spycoast, or head to The Arden to savor some hand-crafted spirits while experiencing the best of the local music scene in an intimate setting.
Legend has it that P.T. Barnum was responsible for putting Port Jefferson on the map when he intended to make it the home for his circus in the late 1800s, but the village has a rich history prior to that. The first European residents purchased the land from the Setalcott Indians in 1655. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that the shipbuilding industry helped the village blossom and become an integral part of the Suffolk County economy.
The area was originally known as Drowned Meadow, but officially became Port Jefferson in 1836. As the shipbuilding commerce waned, it slowly transitioned into a tourist mecca, with much of its economic resources depending on seasonal residents and summer tourists. Visitors can get a taste of the village's history at some of the local museums, such as the Maritime Explorium or the Mather House Museum.
Numerous small music and craft festivals take place throughout the summer. In July and August, head to Harborfront Park for the annual outdoor concert and film concert series. Full-time residents enjoy the annual Port Jefferson Village Dickens Festival, celebrating the work of novelist Charles Dickens as well as the clothing and culture of 19th century England. Port Jefferson also hosts the Village Cup Regatta boat race series to benefit cancer research.
For the best in local theatre, visit the historic Athena Hall were the Theatre Three makes its home. This non-profit troop stages two plays and four musicals each season. They also perform "A Christmas Carol" every year for the Dickens Festival.
Like many Long Island towns, Port Jefferson has significant car traffic during the summer months, making trains the easiest way in and out of the village, especially for commuters. The train station is located on Main Street at Oakland Avenue, and you can hop on the LIRR to the rest of Long Island or into the city. Parking also becomes difficult during the high tourist season, so many locals opt to bike instead. Many of the main thoroughfares, including Main Street and Barnum Avenue, are bike-friendly and easily walkable.
The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company provides daily ferry service between the village and Bridgeport, Connecticut. Park your car right on the ferry and head to the top deck to watch as the ferry crosses Long Island Sound, or head to the on-board cafe to enjoy a quick snack or a beverage. The ferry connects village residents and visitors to all that Connecticut's famous Fairfield County and the rest of New England have to offer.
Taxis are plentiful during the summer to accommodate tourists who traveled in via ferry or train, but a simple phone call will secure a cab during any time of year. Uber also operates in the Port Jefferson area, making it even easier to find ground transportation.
The overall cost of living in Port Jefferson sits at almost 33 percent higher than the rest of New York state and almost 62 percent higher than the national average. A tank of gas costs 11 percent more than the average price for the rest of the country, and even a simple cup of coffee will set you back 14.4 percent more. At the Port Jeff Brewing Company, one of the locals' favorites, a pint of beer will set you back $15 or more.
Rent for a one-bedroom apartment costs anywhere from $1,300 to $2,000 per month or more. Those who work in New York City can expect to pay over $360 per month to take the train into Penn Station, while those who work in Connecticut's Fairfield County pay $235 per month to take the ferry across the sound.
Port Jefferson houses many boutique shops that sell everything from antiques to knitting supplies and clothing. Though they are scattered throughout the village, you'll find most of them in the center of town along Main Street and East Main Street, where you won't have to pay for street parking. The area includes some name-brand retailers, such as Gap and Gap Kids, but not many.
Town residents head to Lavender Fields when shopping for gifts or items for the home, and the store welcomes leashed dogs on the premises. Women in the know frequent Max & Millie when shopping for clothes before heading to You, Me and Tea to sip on an iced mango ceylon tea while deciding what blends and flavors to bring home. Tourists flock to the Harbor Square Mall where they can load up on silk-screened shirts, salt water taffy and the kid-favorite souvenir, hermit crabs.
For an authentic Italian grocery store experience, visit Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace. This Port Jefferson tradition features homemade pasta, sauces, mozzarella cheese and desserts as well as fresh produce and seafood. For local specialties including bread and baked goods, honey, seafood, produce, plants and flower bouquets, head to the Port Jefferson Farmers Market on Sundays from 9 am to 1 pm starting in May.
Outdoor enthusiasts and families with children will find no shortage of activities in Port Jefferson. The village's East and West Beaches offer everything from sunbathing to fishing, as well as playgrounds, walking trails and a picnic area to keep everyone busy on warm summer days. Parking is free for village residents, while visitors must pay a fee. Harborfront Park houses the Village Center, home of the summer concerts and events, as well as a 350-foot pier, walking trails and a small water playground.
Beach Street Park, Roosevelt Avenue Park and Texaco Avenue Park have playgrounds and picnic areas for families. Caroline Avenue Park, Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park and the Spring Street Rec Center all offer a variety of sporting activities, including soccer, baseball and basketball. Most of these parks offer free parking, although some charge fees for non-residents. Unfortunately, none of the parks in Port Jefferson qualify as dog-friendly, so if you brought your pet with you on vacation, you may want to check out the The Social Hound Dog Park and Hotel in nearby Setauket, which provides doggie daycare options.
Apartments for Rent Under $1,500 in Port Jefferson, NY
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