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Things to Do

Where to eat & what to do when exploring City Island, Bronx

Before the heat dissipates, make sure you spend a day in the city’s own little island in the sun. City Island is a doable day trip: Barely 1-and-a-half miles long and a half-mile wide, you can easily stroll the length of the island. Adding to its ideal nature are a host of shops, stands and seafood stops along City Island Avenue, the main drag.

Native City Islanders refer to themselves as “clam diggers,” while non-natives are affectionately called “mussel suckers.” The island was home primarily to oyster harvesters and shipbuilders in the 1800s, and in 1896 residents voted to leave Westchester County and join New York City. During World Wars I and II, the island was a hub for the fabrication of minesweepers and tugboats. The ship-making legacy would eventually lead to the construction of seven America’s Cup-winning yachts, according to

We spent the day wandering City Island to bring you some can’t-miss spots for your first (or next) visit.

Find your sealegs at City Island Nautical Museum

Start your tour at the City Island Nautical Museum,
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Start your tour at the City Island Nautical Museum, which features much of what you would expect in the way of artifacts and seaworthy models of all types of vessels. The museum also offers guided walking tours, which highlight 25 locations important to City Island's history -- many off the beaten path. It's only open Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m., but they might pencil you in on an off day if you call ahead. (190 Fordham St.)

If you're feeling inspired, go for a sail. Jack's Bait & Tackle (551 City Island Ave.) rents four-seat fiberglass boats ($69.99/weekdays, $89.99/weekends and holidays) for fishing or just touring the waters. New York Sailing Center (231 Kirby St.) offers a range of sailing and boating classes (learn to sail over three days for $795), and Island Current (551 City Island Ave.) offers partyboat chartered fishing (starting at $850 for up to 12 people).

Cool off at Lickety Split Ice Cream

This shack-in-the-shade would fit right in almost anywhere
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

This shack-in-the-shade would fit right in almost anywhere in middle America. Complete with a white picket fence and covered "patio," stop in for a scoop of more than a dozen choices. While we wouldn't dare tell die-hard ice cream fans what to order, a single strawberry scoop is great for satisfying your sweet tooth without needing a rest to digest afterward. (295 City Island Ave.)

Antique at Early Ruth

Antiques lovers, you're welcome. Early Ruth is an
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Antiques lovers, you're welcome. Early Ruth is an eccentric dreamscape of every size, shape and color knickknack you can imagine. Even if you're not in the market for a faded psychedelic painting by an unknown artist, at least stop by to chat with the management. They'll be more than happy to share stories of the island, and might have additional tips for touring the area. (312 City Island Ave.)

Make sure you hit up the landmarked Schofield Street House (65 Schofield St.), which dates back to the 1860s and is the oldest standing house on City Island. Additional dedicated NYC historical landmarks include the Samuel H. and Mary T. Booth House (30 Center St.), and the Stafford House (95 Pell Pl.).

Get nostalgic at 239 Play

Whether you enjoy the nostalgia of perusing rusty
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Whether you enjoy the nostalgia of perusing rusty collectibles or you're looking for that hidden gem buried under a pile of stuff, 239 Play is worth your while. Record collectors: Make sure to venture all the way to the back -- the small stack up front is only the beginning. For "Star Wars" fans, this shop may be your only hope to find that old toy or lunchbox you've been looking for. Baseball fans will have plenty to browse as well, from old matchboxes and unopened card packs to framed photographs. (239 City Island Ave.)

Clam it up at Johnny's Reef

You won't find anything but local action at
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

You won't find anything but local action at Johnny's Reef (other than yourself, of course). This cash-only joint is the place to get that fresh seafood you came to City Island for. While we recommend grabbing a plate of six massive, fresh, raw clams for $6, feel free to go the fried route if that's more your style. All fried items should be ordered with a basket of fries, and tack on a cold Budweiser for just $3. If the weather's nice, Johnny's outdoor patio features dozens of picnic tables with great views of Kings Point across the water. (2 City Island Ave.)

For a more formal experience, head to The Original Crab Shanty (361 City Island Ave.), another decades-old restaurant, with oversize booths and oceanic decor that specializing in abundant, family-style feasts for cheap. Think multiple varieties of seafood (whole lobsters, jumbo shrimp), plus starters and sides for $80 to feed at least four.

Party with the seagulls of Belden Point

Once you've made it to the southern-most end of
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Once you've made it to the southern-most end of City Island Avenue, you'll be rewarded with this lovely lookout point. From here, just past Hart Island, you'll see the beaches of Sands Point to the east, Fort Totten Park due south (just barely visible), and likely dozens of sailboats to the west in Eastchester Bay. This spot is also the gulls' favorite hangout, so keep an eye out for falling you-know-what.

Dinner and drink(s) at Sammy's

Wrap up the day with a proper seafood
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

Wrap up the day with a proper seafood smorgasbord. The atmosphere at Sammy's Fish Box, which has been serving saltwater delights since 1966, is fit for fishermen and landlubbers alike. The joint is also open until 3 a.m., so take your time. Start off with a signature colada -- cognac, pineapple juice and cream of coconut -- or a City Island Iced Tea -- basically a Long Island tweaked for geography. For dinner, go big by splitting the broiled seafood combo, complete with shrimp, scallops, fillet of fish, baked clams, baked mussels and half a lobster tail. (41 City Island Ave.)

Cap the night at Starving Artist Cafe

What better way to end your day than
Photo Credit: Colter Hettich

What better way to end your day than with some live jazz and a glass of wine? Guitarist and jewelry designer Elliot Glick opened the Starving Artist Cafe in 1997 as place for himself and other local artists to sell their work, according to its website. In 2004, he relocated to a bigger space that could accommodate musical acts as well. Fridays through Sundays, expect to hear live performances ranging from jazz or glam-rock to open-mic nights and poetry readings. (249 City Island Ave.)


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