As someone who commuted to Stony Brook University for college and worked nearly full time, I looked at Stony Brook as a necessary place to go to learn, but not truly a place to spend time in and enjoy. Now that I am a number of years removed from college and have a little more dispensable time and income, I truly see Stony Brook in a new light.
It’s now exciting to take the relatively short drive to Stony Brook Village and make a day or weekend out of it. Many of the shops and restaurants in the area are Mom and Pop, family-owned shops with friendly folks, and tasty food. The fall is a great time to sit at the harbor with a book, a friend, or some coffee (or all three!) as you watch the boats go by and the fishermen casting off the dock. Below is just a small sampling of some of my current favorites in the area. I hope you’ll consider spending a weekend in Stony Brook if you’ve never been, or just want to see it through new eyes like I have.
Perfectly situated on Main Street in Stony Brook Village, The Stonybrookside is the quaint B&B experience I’ve been waiting for. The home was turned into a bed and breakfast by owners Elyse and Marty in 2016 and allows guests to enjoy one of their three beautiful and modern rooms while having window views of the Stony Brook Grist Mill, Mill Pond, and the Village shops. The owners are avid cyclists and they provide guided or self-guided tours to guests based on their comfort and ability. Marty is a history teacher and loves providing historical tours of the area. They can help you with bike rentals, or you can bring your own. If biking isn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy being walking distance to all of Stony Brook Village, their extensive library, and doing some morning yoga on their outdoor yoga platform (they offer classes – just ask). An added bonus – eating a complimentary European breakfast each morning and sharing the home with their two cats. I wish they were around 5 years back because I would have definitely used it as a background for wedding photos and stayed there with my bridal party!
This restaurant is a few miles down the street in St. James, but the short drive or Uber ride is worth it. Purchased and renamed The Trattoria in 2013, the restaurant is home to chef Stephen Gallagher, who makes rustic Italian cuisine for guests in this cozy space. The restaurant’s kitchen is open and you can watch many of the cooks prepare your meals, which I really appreciate. They offer a three course Prix Fixe menu (highly recommended!) or a five-course Chef Tasting menu. The typical go-to at many Italian American restaurants may be pasta with a type of sauce, but the best way to enjoy this atmosphere and meal is to select some authentic and inventive dishes, like the Brasato over Creamy Polenta, and the Bronzini with Salsify & Garbanzos. As someone who would rather avoid a drink or just get one to save money up for dinner, I appreciate that the Trattoria is BYOB, so you can bring your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy with dinner! A heads up that this restaurant does not accept credit cards, so it’s cash or check only, and you should consider making a reservation since the dining space is small.
Crazy Beans is truly making sure you live your best food life now, regardless of the weather. You’ll definitely want to indulge in one of their inventive iced and hot lattes, adding one of their unique flavors like toasted almond mocha, apple pie, rainbow cookie and butterscotch. The whipped cream, syrup, and cookie pieces piled high over the glass mugs are the definition of decadence (with maybe a touch of gluttony buy hey, #treatyoself , right?) Once you walk into this retro and eclectic eatery, you’ll want to stay for one of their breakfast or lunch offerings, like their Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, Gluten-Free Pancakes, and Pulled Pork Panini. This is actually the second of three Crazy Beans that are on the island—the first was opened in Miller Place by owner Callie Martino in 2012. If you’re out on the North Fork, check out her third location in Greenport!
As if the aforementioned Callie Martino of Crazy Beans and her husband Tim weren’t busy enough, they opened up Brew Cheese in 2015. Now owned by Dave Striffler, he works to pair cheese and beer in perfect harmony. Located right in Stony Brook Village, this tiny shop offers customer favorites like the Baked Brie, which wraps brie, jam and marcona almonds up in a puff pastry and baked until warm. They offer beer flights and boast a number of beverages from locals, like the seasonal Watermelon Session Ale and Waver Chaser IPA from Montauk Brewing, First Bite Pale Ale from Spider Bite in Holbrook, and hard cider on tap from Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue for the gluten-free folks. Everyone who works there is very knowledgable and will work to help you create the perfect cheese boards to pair with your drink flights. For something a little more substantial to nibble on, they also have speciality grilled cheese sandwiches. The crowd favorite is the Brew Cheese Cubano—welsh cheddar cheese, blended with brown ale and stone ground mustard, Brooklyn Brine pickles, and Proscuitto on 7 grain bread. Run, don’t walk my friends.
This cute little cottage restaurant is always my first stop. Whether you are stopping in for tea and a scone, a light lunch, or their special High Tea service, it’s an experience you wouldn’t expect. If you have the time and can make a reservation in advance, go for their High Tea service, where your table is graced with a beautiful three-tiered spread of scones, sandwiches, and sweets and beautiful teacups. Try their house Yorkshire Gold tea with a cinnamon scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam.
Avalon Park and Preserve
Avalon Park is a wonderful place to spend a few hours, especially in the morning and early evening when the light is golden. With the entrance located just behind the duck pond, the ark and preserve offers 80 acres of walking paths, and is a home for all sorts of wildlife. Children and adults alike will enjoy the labyrinth area, wildflower fields, and ducks and turtles playing in the ponds. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on leashes at all times, so it is a perfect place to go as a family. Located in the wildflower fields is the Avalon Barn, where yoga and meditation classes are held.
Don’t be fooled by its location in Stony Brook University—Staller Center has entertainment for you, regardless of your age. Enjoy musical, dance and acrobatic performances this season!
Late tides for Thursday and Friday. Take advantage of our sunset paddle!!! There are only a handful of sunset paddles each month! Thursday: renting at 5:30pm. Rentals in at post sunset. Friday: renting at 6:00pm. Rentals in at post sunset. Call 631 834 3130 for reservations!! #paddleboarding #sunset #watersports #stonybrookvillage #dontmissout
I love combining exercise, water, and sightseeing, and get to do all three on a kayak! The staff of the rental get you set up with basic instruction if needed, and then you get to enjoy up to three hours paddleboarding or kayaking. My husband loves to fish, so he brings a rod along so he can fish while he kayaks, while I just take in the sights of the beautiful harbor. Rates are $45 for three hours for a single paddleboard or kayak, or $60 for a double kayak. Rental times are based on tides, so check the website and give them a call to make reservations and ensure the time slot you’d like is available.