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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Projection of a Tourist Town: Port Jefferson

    Never thinking of it as more than just a quaint summer shopping district, I was shocked to find that Port Jefferson Village had so much to offer. From casual to refined eateries, contemporary stores speckled throughout streets lined with older, traditional ma and pa shops, an exciting nightlife and a beautiful view of the harbor, this town has much more to offer Long Island as a hub of commerce, dinning and fun than a typical tourist pit stop.

    In autumn, the foliage over the harbor is vibrant, and stores still buzz during the day with customers who are mostly locals during this time of year. ‘Foot traffic is definitely seasonal’ says Tyler of Port Jeff Motorcycle. ‘We’ve only been open for six months now, but you can tell that there are a ton of tourists in the summer.’ The store owner of a toy shop called Miss Kitty and Friends, insists however that there are two major seasons. ‘Well summer is one thing,’ she says ‘but the Christmas season is getting more and more popular here too.’

    As a matter of fact, Port Jefferson Village, with its well-developed sense of community among shopkeepers who have remained there for decades, stays festive all year round. Merchants support a plethora of festivals, including an annual September American Music Festival with concerts and traveling musicians who entertain throughout the village and’ arts and crafts festivals throughout the year. This year, there is the’ eleventh annual Dickens Festival on December 1, 2, and 3, an attempt to recreate a Victorian England Christmas setting, with actors, musicians, dancers attending a ball, Victorian Tea times, and carolers who attempt to bring the village back to the mid-nineteenth century. During the summer, there is a comedy festival that prides itself as the largest one ever presented on Long Island, plenty of Fourth of July celebrations, and Harborside Concerts that charmingly occur on the village green.

    Shopping is surely the pervading activity. There are souvenir shops, fine jewelry stores, a Gap, several little chocolatiers, a large confectionary and ice cream shop, art galleries, such as the Soundview Gallery, and a motorcycle paraphernalia and clothing shop. For rainy days, the Harbor Square Mall offers thirteen boutiques, an indoor version of the outside shopping district, with store fronts similar to the ones throughout the village, including a crafting center, Sea Creations: Gifts from the Sea, an Indian product emporium, and various beach, clothing, and toy stores. And of course, with the holiday season so soon upon us, the year-round Christmas shop, Once Upon a Christmas fills an old fashion, intimate space with the sights of late December and with the smells of pine and sweets.

    For history buffs, there is the Mather Hours Museum tucked away on East Main Street where you can learn of the Indian settlements that used to be in the area, its early European colonists who termed the town ‘Drowned Meadow,’ because of the constant high tide and marshland, the 1836 renaming of the village after Thomas Jefferson, and its 1963 incorporation.

    There are so many options for dining. Along Main Street, there are tiny pizzerias and delis, the more contemporary Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, as well as Kimi, a modern-looking Japanese restaurant. But what I suggest, in keeping theme with this historical maritime town, is a seafood lunch or dinner, in order to truly experience the flavors of this harbor side Long Island district. For a casual weekend brunch, lunch or anytime dinner, there is the Village Way Restaurant, with indoor seating and bar, and outdoor seating in warmer weather. Lunch there runs at about ten dollars on average, and dinner entrees range from thirteen dollar chicken dishes to lobster and steak for upwards of twenty dollars. There is live musical entertainment every Friday and Saturday night, as well as karaoke on selected weekends.

    To accommodate a more formal outing, Danfords is an enormous restaurant located right on the harbor at Broadway and East Main Street. This venue offers three floors of dining areas, the top most being a deck area for outdoor dining. In addition, along Main Street is a strip of bars as well as the tiny PJ Cinemas ensuring an exciting nightlife on weekends in Port Jefferson.

    The town has a touristy feeling to it, but the local people who work and shop there love the way it exemplifies Long Island living. Lisa Malone, a young student who works year round in the village at an ice cream vendor says of Port Jefferson’s ambiance, ‘It’s a very close knit community, and its amazing to me, being a local, that it’s so well known outside the New York area. It’s like a vacation spot in our own back yard.’

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