City Secrets: The Eastern Seaboard

Lauren Goodman caught the travel bug with her first plane ride to Ireland's emerald hills and steel blue seas in County Cork. She travels regularly to France, Italy, and UK for work as well as inspiration. Seeking out and indulging in local cuisine, culture, language and beauty are permanently on her agenda. Here she shares her recent experiences on the Eastern Seaboards? treasure chest of private Islands.

Lauren Goodman caught the travel bug with her first plane ride to Ireland's County Cork.  Working as a young fashion editor for Conde Nast Traveler, Marie Claire, and W, many shoots in  exotic locales came in quick succession including: Mongolia, Zanzibar, Thailand, Moscow and Australia's Red Centre. As a Fashion Editor for LVMH's site, she travels regularly to France, Italy, and UK for work as well as inspiration. Seeking out and indulging in local cuisine, culture, and shopping are permanently on her agenda.   Here she shares her recent experiences on the Eastern Seaboards? private Islands.


East Coast summers are magical. These fleeting months are hot and synonymous with leisure. And the whole place does a costume change for the occasion: flirty dresses, suntans, sunglasses, bikinis. Even the menu changes: lobster, corn, oysters, clams and ice cream. The Dark and Stormy, my favorite drink, is in high season. The firefly lights up the night. With a move to the singular climate of the West Coast in the Fall, I am soaking it up.


In this New Englander?s opinion, the crown jewels of summer fun are found on the remote and under-inhabited islands of the Eastern Seaboard. Nantucket! Martha?s Vineyard! Shelter! Vinalhaven! On the itinerary? Three of the most primitive and secluded such examples, for maximum pleasure. First up:


Fishers Island


This nine mile long green strip with the Fishers Island Sound on one side, and the Atlantic on the other, is accessible only by ferry from New London, CT or if you care to risk it, a small, Cesna-esque prop plane. Fishers island has been  a discreet getaway for Manhattan-ites for over a century. The place has a barren, unfussy feel, which is decidedly NOT cutesy. This rough-around-the-edges look reflects its past as a military base?chain link fences and barbed wire are de riguer. There are no hotels or restaurants, unless you count the Pequot Inn, which is legend in prepster party circles for its light up dance floor slippery with vodka tonic. There are rooms, but not much rest to be had in the wee hours. Look out for the occasional off-duty US Senator moving in like sharks on young pretty blue bloods.





There are about seven stores (grocers included) on island, which makes my beloved Nantucket seem like a mall. Beach Plum sells your requisite preppy-wear?Fishers Island belts, flip-flops, and go cups emblazoned with an outline of the island make for the best souvenirs. Also in stock, Roberta Roller Rabbit, whose Indian print tunics are the ne plus ultra worn at neighborly cocktail parties. I picked up one of her string bikinis there in a pinch. A few doors down, The Pickett Fence has similar, though slightly more sophisticated offerings, with chic cocktail napkins and divine French children?s bathing suits, priced prohibitively.


The best and true vernacular fashion (and home stuff) is at Hit or Miss Rummage at Our Lady of Grace Church. I picked up a pair of embroidered Stubbs & Wooten?s there for $20, and some printed Brooks Brothers high-waisted pants for $5, perfect with a double-breasted navy blazer. Also, fantastic home things?madras napkins can be yours for a song. Weekend hours are Saturday, 10am to noon only, so do not miss it. Cash only.





The joy of every day: Topper?s Ice Cream. The canine themed flavors and menu will keep you entertained (and guessing?do I want ?fleas? on my sundae?) while you wait?it?s always packed.


Buy lobsters cattycorner from the playing field in the garage of the local lobsterman (look for the handmade sign white washed with chalky blue lettering) and oysters fresh from Fishers Island Oyster Farm.  Fast becoming a brand name on and off east coast shores. Started by two enterprising brothers who have seeded the brackish lagoons with the native specimen.


Rent (or buy!) bikes at the airport. The no-frills landing strip has new and used bikes ready to be snatched up for a song. My husband found a neglected vintage marigold Raleigh. With a little wheel straightening, it?s his summer pride. The gentle bluffs and soft green hills of Fishers make it perfect for laid-back, or serious, cycling.





Best beaches: Isabella. Chocomount.


Henry L. Fergueson museum: A personal project based on the bird collection of a Fishers summer resident (now run by his grandchildren), this rainy afternoon delight is a mish mash of Fishers artifacts. My favorite of which is the cast iron pirate treasure chest (actually found on Gardiner?s Island), and pirate maps. The diaramas of the local eco-system with native fauna taxidermy are also a highlight. Admission is free. 


Best invitation to wrangle: The Summer blowout at the ?Big Club? (officially, the Fishers Island Club). The most exclusive of three members only clubs on island.





What to wear there: Vintage Lili Pulitzer, of course.


Fun fact: The landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed Central Park, was hired by developers in the early nineteen hundreds to demarcate plots of land on half the island for maximum aesthetic yield (views, wind, etc.). Contiguous plots can be adjoined, but the same lines are still used today in buying and selling property. Talk about designer real estate!


Second stop: The Island Not-to-Be-Named, off the coast of Wood?s Hole. A private island has a lure like no other. On this 8-mile, virtually uninhabited one, there are no cars, no stores, bikes were just permitted this year, and the electricity flickers and fades with the generator. Old fashioned telephones are housed in telephone rooms, and summer is to be enjoyed in its lo-tech purity. There are stables for riding, antique wooden boats for cruising. All activities end in -ing.  On my most recent trip, I heard the new-to-me, turtling (this involves catching painted turtles at the pond, and avoiding snappers).


There are 19th century rambling mansions in exquisite states of decay. Long since fashionable paint colors like lichen green and peach-tinged pinks are faded and peeling to perfection on drawing room walls. Massive sets of amber and white China from the turn of the last century are displayed in ceiling high glass paned cupboards. It?s a history-buff and an aesthete?s paradise. I once encountered the decorating visionary, John Derian, in the foyer of the house where I was staying. He was taking pictures?we were both ecstatic, the whole isle an au-de-la of his signature threadbare grandeur.


Getting there: requires an invitation.





Once you do, dress the part. Which means, wear extremely practical clothing. See below.


Dress-code for rugged islands of the Eastern Seaboard:





Sportiness is always smiled upon amongst the New England gentry: polo shirts, oxfords, bathing suits, shorts. At night it?s chilly: jeans,  an Irish fisherman sweater, or old Barbour jacket will cure the chills on the beach . The preferred perfume is Off. Or Badger for minimal impact to the environment (and your manicure?is it  scary that bug-spray and sunblock melt nail varnish?).


Dressing up at night means adding jewelry to the above: heirloom-style or something ethnic is the way to go. And a little eyeliner never hurt anyone.


Frowned upon: Anything quilted with double c?s, other logos, bling in general, too tight clothing (unless they are white jeans).




This ?island?, actually a finger of land barely connected to Martha?s Vineyard, is infamous for the so named scandal that took place there half a century ago (a Kennedy?s consort met her watery grave off a bridge). But, until this summer, it barely even occurred to me that it was real. Lady Gaga did the math. She is currently building a house there on the water. Meg Ryan has had one for a while, and allegedly once ?made eyes? at my now husband who has been going there since he was a kid.





Will be hopping the thirty-second ferry there across the ?wicked?, as locals say, currents the Kennedy was told swam across to seek help, in mid-August. Will send dispatches of Quahogging, the local ping-pong championship, and surf-casting for blues and stripers on Wasque with fluorescent lures (how chic!). Celeb sightings, perhaps.


Happy summer!