Just under 3 hours from Manhattan and a quick ferry ride away, Shelter Island is perhaps the perfect summer escape for any family craving some laid-back sun and sand, pretty shallow beaches and serious local eats, far away from the crowds that invade the Hamptons this time of year.
We made the trip with our 2 year old toddler last weekend, and despite spending the entire journey to Greenport on the LIRR’s double-decker train climbing and descending stairs and waving to fellow passengers, and enduring a good five minutes of sideways glances on the return trip Jitney during a quick but resonant meltdown, we are already planning our return.
Stay: La Maison Blanche
Beautiful 9-room hotel La Maison Blanche is a recently renovated property with a brand new backyard pool and petanque court out front, strung up with fairy lights that glow at night. A Francophile’s dream, from the tres chic decor to the on-site patisserie that stays open until noon, for guests who can’t manage to drag themselves out of their oversized fluffy white beds before then. With Cote Bastides bath amenities, free wifi, complimentary bikes to borrow and a great location around the corner from the beach, this is the best place to stay on the island.
Gourmet market Reddings makes a mean bacon, egg and cheese that you can enjoy with an equally impressive cup of coffee and a harborfront view from their outdoor seating area around the back. They also sell fine cheeses and meats, prepared salads and sandwiches, good-looking pastries, a LaFrieda burger on a pretzel bun and two different types of truffle oil. Weekenders with access to a kitchen or a grill of some sort should stop in and fill up one of their signature red and burlap totes with upscale provisions to stock the pantry with.
Shop: Bliss’ Department Store
Before heading to the beach, pick up some mini Havaianas, sunscreen, pails and shovels for the kids at Bliss’ right next door. This is also the place to get your Shelter Island souvenir tee shirts, coasters, Christmas ornaments — they really do have a little bit of everything.
Lunch: Sunset Beach
Soak up their afternoon tunes for free on adjacent Crescent Beach, but once you’ve worked up an appetite, look both ways and head directly across the street to grab a bite for lunch. Cheery and bright with retro furnishings, you wont be the only one dining barefoot on peppery shredded brussel sprouts, crispy long stemmed artichokes with addictive aioli for dipping, and a few glasses of their own locally produced light copper colored rose.
Dinner: Vine Street Cafe
Shake the sand from your hair before heading to dinner at Vine Street Cafe, for what is sure to be a truly memorable meal. Thoughtfully prepared dishes are delivered to your table in a stylish dining room with rustic wood beams — or outdoors in the garden at one of their family-style picnic tables if you prefer — each one more beautifully presented and tastier than the last. Standouts include a carefully cubed beet salad finished with hazelnuts and aged goat cheese, juicy grilled skirt steak with gorgonzola sauce and spring pea crusted fluke with crispy fingerlings, fennel, and mint. A superstar menu keeps diners coming back all summer with something new to try each time.
Ferry from Greenport runs every 10-20 minutes during the day, full schedule here
Address: 184 N Ferry Road, Shelter Island Heights
Phone: (631) 749-0003
Bliss’ Department Store
Address: 186 N Ferry Road, Shelter Island Heights
Phone: (631) 749-0041
Address: 35 Shore Road, Shelter Island
Phone: (631) 749-2001