Exploring City Island, The Bronx

At the beginning of this week I had a day’s holiday to use as I turned my 4th of July three-day weekend into a four-day weekend.

Since it was a scorcher of a day, we had thought about heading to The Hamptons area to lounge on some beaches and explore the little town areas around there.

Related: Thanksgiving in The Hamptons

But since we didn’t want to spend $100 renting a car for the day or $70 on a return bus ticket (we’d spent all of our money over the weekend), we decided to look a little closer to home.

HAVE YOU HEARD OF CITY ISLAND?

On Monday morning, we Googled a map of New York city to see where we would go and explore. We thought of heading up to Yonkers or Woodlawn as there used to be a lot of Irish immigrants that settled in those parts.

However, it was a bit of a trek and we didn’t know if there would be much to see.

We zoomed out of the map a little and saw a small peninsula of sorts, just off to the side of The Bronx, called City Island. Having only heard of Coney Island, we investigated a little further.

A few YouTube clips later and we were getting ready to head off to The Bronx in search of seafood, sea air and cocktails.

ARE WE EVEN IN NEW YORK?

There are so many places in New York City that would really make you question whether you’re really in New York at all. City Island is one of those places.

We took the subway for just over an hour to Pelham Bay Park and then had to get a bus to the island. Because of COVID-19, you can’t step onto the bus near the driver so can’t actually pay for your ticket. Hello, free shuttle bus.

It was like stepping into a different place completely. We hopped off the bus at the beginning of the island, choosing to walk the main street to the end where the two famous seafood restaurants are located.

At the first bus stop there were fishing tackle stores, seaside stores that sold everything and anything, kids toy shops, antique stores and lots of seafood restaurants.

We browsed a few but for the most part, a lot of them were closed and didn’t look set to be reopening any time soon. I don’t know whether City Island relies heavily on tourism as we’d been living in New York ten months and had never heard of the place.

The Island seems to be very residential as there are a lot of houses dotted around the main street with the ends of the streets leading to the water and a lot of fishing boats.

I SEE SEAFOOD

Having done our research prior to arriving at City Island, we knew where we were heading to have seafood. There’s nothing I love more than fresh seafood right on the water, especially when you can still taste some of the salt-water too.

We first tried Johnny’s Reef and shared some fried shrimp and fries. It was a very busy spot with a lot of outdoor seating and a lot of people with very large trays of food.

Note, both seafood eateries only accepted cash payment.

We then crossed the street to Tony’s Pier and shared some oysters. This was only my second time having oysters as the first was during my placement year in London and they were washed down with champagne. That definitely wasn’t the case in The Bronx.

We watched as the chef shelled the oysters and presented them to us. I really enjoyed them and you could very much still taste the salt-water in them too.

Like Johnny’s, this too had a lot of outdoor seating which was very busy.

BEFORE THE STORM CAME

We’ve been having a lot of good weather in New York recently, every day consistently in the 30s – not great for my skin, I know. But with the good weather comes a lot of thunderstorms.

While having the oysters, we could see the thunder clouds rolling in, so thought it the best time to go and grab a cocktail in a bar nearby. Naturally.

We walked along the main street to Sammy’s Fish Box and had some fruity mojitos while covered from the rain. The rain continued and didn’t ease up any, so we had to leg it back to the bus stop and head home.

We didn’t get down to the marina to see all of the boats, but all the more reason to make a trip back!

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