If you're looking for family fun and a cool breeze, head to Bridgeport — or head to the Port Jeff ferry, at least, for a ride across the sound.
Ferries have been plying this crossing for 128 years, and today there are three ships in the fleet: the MV Park City, MV PT Barnum and MV Grand Republic. Each can carry 1000 passengers and 90-110 cars.
You can catch Metro-North to Bridgeport — walk off the train and onto the boat in two minutes — or use the free parking near the terminal and walk on board. Foot passengers need no reservations, and this time of year the ferry leaves every 60-90 minutes for the 75 minute crossing.
Once on board, head to the upper or back deck to enjoy the sunshine and salt air, or visit the air conditioned cabin complete with snack bar and cocktail lounge.
There are even special one-day roundtrip fares for foot passengers, $26 for adults and $18 for seniors (60+). And kids under 12 are always free. No tickets are required to get on — only when you get off. After sailing, the ticket window opens and motorists and pedestrians take care of the formalities.
It's only 18 miles from Bridgeport to Port Jefferson, and as long as the weather is nice, the seas are usually calm. When the ferry docks on the New York side, you can walk off and explore the quaint shops and restaurants in this seaside village. It's a short walk to the Long Island Railroad station, but most of the action is in the harbor area which has beautiful plantings and is great for a stroll.
Pick up a pocket map for Port Jeff before you leave Bridgeport or just explore. Then, hop back on board for your return sailing.
This year they've even added Evening Music Cruises on Saturday evenings, leaving Bridgeport at 6:30 pm and returning at 9:45 pm.
There have been discussions about moving the Port Jeff Ferry's Connecticut destination to New Haven, making it more accessible to motorists coming down from New England. And there's some chatter about a high speed ferry from Bridgeport to NYC with a stop in Stamford, just for passengers. But my money's on the current run lasting more than a few more years.