A Local’s Guide to Bay Shore

Bay Shore has been getting a lot of press these days and it’s no wonder why. Our town is one the best comeback stories we’ve heard in a long time. But while the town has been getting rave reviews as being the “latest, greatest foodie destination,” locals know that we have so much more to offer. Of course, we all need to eat and we all love eating well, but our town is also rich with history, green space, culture, and a fantastic school district.

Walking through the tree-lined, bustling downtown area, it’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t always like this. But really, it wasn’t. Growing up, I remember Bay Shore as having so much promise, but empty storefronts loomed in every direction. To be honest, I only remember coming here to sneak into the pool hall when I cut class. (Sorry, Mom.)

Fast forward twenty years or so and now downtown Bay Shore is hopping with plenty of pedestrian foot traffic to keep everyone happy. “Currently, only 17.6% of the downtown storefronts are still vacant,” estimates Ellen Saganic Ammar of Greenview Realty. “But, don’t expect that to last long. There are close to 400 more units slated for development over the next few years.”

With a strong Chamber of Commerce and a summer full of street fairs like the Summer Arts Festival and the new Alive by the Bay series, our town continues to get more interesting. Additional restaurants like Fatwood Southern Kitchen, Toast Coffeehouse, and Coastal Kitchen & Daiquiri Bar are on the way and a brand new bed and breakfast, The Ocean Bay House, is slated to open this summer.

So, if you’re planning to take a day trip here (you really should!), here are some of my favorite local places to eat, drink, and play in.

To Do

Bounty by The Bay Farmers Market

From the middle of May on, this is where you’ll find me every Friday afternoon. Whether I’m picking up a peach coffee cake for my husband or homemade soap for the kids, my market bag is always full. Situated at the band shell on Main Street, this farmer’s market made its debut appearance last year and has had great success.  

Gardiner’s Park

When you want to get back in touch with nature, this 231-acre scenic county park is your answer. Our kids love walking the dogs down to the Great South Bay and letting them take a dip in the salty sea water. Nature and fitness trails wind all through the shady trees making it an ideal place for us to find some respite from the sun.

The YMCA Boulton Center

I cannot say enough about the performances that are held here! I’m still giddy over the time I got to hug Lisa Loeb back stage and I continue to get all starry-eyed when I think about watching Kevin Bacon perform with his brother! No matter whether I want to have a date night with my husband or a fun afternoon with the kids, the Bouton Center always has what we’re looking for.

Sagtikos Manor

History buffs, take note. This estate used to serve as the headquarters for the British Army on Long Island for a brief time during the Revolutionary War. Even more amazing? In 1790, President George Washington spent the night here! Take a guided tour and come see the room that he slept in.

Drew Patrick Spa

Whenever I’m feeling a bit worn down, I book myself a customized aromatherapy massage at this beautifully appointed day spa and fitness center. Or, I get my eyebrows tweaked just right with my favorite esthetician, Bonnie!

Willy Nilly Trading Company

No matter who I’m shopping for, I can always find something special here. From the Alex & Ani turtle bracelet that I bought for my daughter to the local map of Bay Shore that hangs on my gallery wall, I can always find exactly what I need—or want.

Shipwreck Cove Splash Park

This splash park is a really great place for kids, especially the younger ones. It’s right next to a small beach, so you can jump in the bay and take a swim if you want to. As many locals know, there aren’t many umbrellas there, so go early, wear lots of sunscreen, and bring sunglasses!

Nalu Dry Goods Store

If you’re on Main Street and head South, you’ll be at the Great South Bay in just a few seconds. So it makes perfect sense that we have a boutique skate and surf shop right in the center of town. My kids ask me to take them to the store every time we walk by and no matter what they leave with – stickers, chapsticks, tee shirts – they’re always pleased as punch.

To Eat & Drink 

Tula Kitchen

Tula is our go-to place for “Good Clean Eats.” Everything on the menu is healthy and delicious. My kids swear by the garlicky buttered pasta and the Earth Moving Dream Bar. My husband and I are obsessed with the Tula Cobb Salad and the Turkey, Feta & Roasted Tomato Burger.

The Lakehouse

This is my favorite place to have a quiet, romantic lunch with my husband. We go while the kids are at school, so they purposely can’t come with us. Then we get a table out on the outdoor deck and order a glass of red wine. We politely look at the menu, but we always order the same thing: their amazing Butcher’s Blend Burger with Herb Frites. Cue the wind blowing through my hair. 

Salt & Barrel

When we’re looking for a “grown-ups only” meal, we like to hang here. This elegant, upscale bar and restaurant is the perfect spot to meet up with friends. Happy Hour is your best bet for deals at the raw oyster bar, but we prefer the dining room with the comfy turquoise chairs and a peek into the kitchen.

Verde Kitchen & Cocktails

When only a Margarita and street corn will do, come here. I am madly in love with the plant-filled back atrium and highly recommend sitting here for brunch or lunch to see it in its full glory. My favorite drink on the menu is the Lavender Mint Mojito made with Caribbean White Rum, lime, and fresh mint and lavender from the greenhouse.

Local Burger

Whenever we want a quick bite to eat, we end up here. The kids’ menu has everything they want—crustless grilled cheeses, hot dogs, burgers, and hand-spun milkshakes—and the regular menu is full of wacky burger concoctions, craft beer, and specialty cocktails. I’m a huge fan of the Barbecue sundae with baked beans, coleslaw, and a corn muffin!

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The Pie at Salvatore’s

Sometimes, you just want pizza. Okay, fine—I always want pizza, which is why we’re regulars here. We can’t get enough of their thin crust pizza and pie-shaped garlic bread. But they only sell whole pies, so bring your whole family and chow down! P.S. It’s cash only.