Jonathan Adler first fell in love with Shelter Island 20 years ago via an accidental detour. “I was on my way home from Providence [Rhode Island], from East Hampton, and I stopped here and thought WTF this place is paradise,” Adler explains, “It’s totes chill—it’s like the anti-Hamptons.”
Since meeting his now-husband Simon Doonan, the Creative Ambassador-at-Large for Barneys, Adler began renting on the island, and eventually built their own house five years ago. Now, Adler and Doonan are longtime locals who have embraced the 27-square-mile island’s casual, quiet vibe. “Our biggest challenge here is to remember to refresh our wardrobes every once in a while. We’re pretty feral,” Adler jokes. “I actually think [Simon’s] worse than I am. Which is a high bar.”
Here, Adler shares his favorite low-key places to be on the island.
Marie Eiffel Market
“My favorite place is Marie Eiffel market,” Adler says. “It’s so delicious and cute and great, and Marie Eiffel is an inspiring local entrepreneur.”
André Balazs’s hotspot—which is home to a hotel, bar, and restaurant—is, as Adler says, “a delight.”
Vine Street Cafe
Adler and Simon are regulars at this local haunt. “It’s heaven on earth,” he says. “It’s like the best restaurant in the Hamptons and on the planet.”
As a designer, Adler has, of course, created a customized, peaceful oasis. “I wanted it to have a sense of place,” he says of his home. “Shelter Island is about a rustic modernism and being outdoors, so the house has a real indoor/outdoor feel and blends in with the landscape. I wanted it to be very quiet, peaceful and rustic.”
Unlike Sunset Beach, Hay Beach is an actual sand-and-water destination. “It’s right around the corner from our house, so we often hop on our paddle boards and go over there, which is really nice. We feel like pirates coming up on our paddle boards, like we should plunder the beach and then come back home with our spoils. We haven’t done it yet, but we might.”
Beall and Bell in Greenport, New York
Although not technically on Shelter Island (Greenport is a short ferry ride away, on Long Island), Adler loves this antique store. “I love Beall and Belle because it is a throwback to the time when chic antiques were not tens of millions of dollars. Now everywhere you go everything has too many zeros, but Beall and Bell has an eclectic mix of stuff without too many zeroes.” Adler even included it as a destination on the road trip itinerary he created for Icon 50, Ford's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mustang.