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Why North Fork, Long Island, Is the Coastal Escape You Need

By Sarah Buder

Jul 29, 2020

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Sound View Greenport sits on a quarter-mile beach on Long Island’s North Fork.

Photo by Read McKendree

Sound View Greenport sits on a quarter-mile beach on Long Island’s North Fork.

Wine country and beach life are only a couple hours from Manhattan.

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Though COVID-19 has stalled many travel plans, AFAR continues to cover the world; there’s always room for inspiration. Note that, due to the virus, some of the following venues may be closed or only open for delivery or takeout. Please check each venue’s website for the latest.

Local wineries. Bucolic pastures. Farm-to-table food scenes. Oysters up and down the coast. Long Island’s North Fork feels worlds away from the concrete jungle of New York City, though it’s just 90 miles and a couple hours (traffic gods willing) out to the northeastern peninsula.

Its largest town, Greenport, offers a laid-back alternative to Long Island’s flashier summer escapes like Montauk and the Hamptons. Vintage shops and independent restaurants line the 19th-century village’s downtown avenue, and the roads that connect Greenport to the North Fork’s nearby towns are dotted with family-owned farm stands and vineyards. If this sounds like your speed, use this guide to plan your weekend getaway from the city on Long Island’s North Fork.

Where to stay on North Fork, Long Island

The interiors of Sound View Greenport’s 55 guest rooms are inspired by modernist beachside homes.

Sound View Greenport

Book now: from $325 per night, expedia.com

This former 1950s motel Sound View Greenport received a Brooklyn makeover courtesy of design firm Studio Tack and Eagle Point Hotel Partners; it is now the design lover’s choice for a North Fork weekend. The 55-room waterfront hotel, set on a quarter-mile stretch of the Long Island Sound, mixes New England modernist with coastal minimalism (think crisp, clean lines everywhere).

The ocean-facing lobby lounge at Sound View Greenport overlooks Long Island Sound.

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The area’s freshest seafood is a mainstay on the menu at Sound View’s restaurant, the Halyard. For drinks, head to its poolside bar called Jack’s Shack or grab an Adirondack chair in the sand at reservations-only Lowtide Beach Bar. After a restful night, start your morning sipping freshly roasted La Colombe coffee at the hotel’s divine ocean-facing lobby lounge.

American Beech

Book now: from $295 per night, expedia.com

Closer to town but farther from the shore sits the stylish American Beech Hotel, a former horse stable turned hotel with a farm-to-table restaurant. It’s a great option for guests who want to be within walking distance of the town’s restaurants, bars, and boutiques, set in Greenport’s historic Stirling Square. Dog parents: Good news, this place is also pet friendly.

The Lin Beach House

Book now: from $350 per night, airbnb.com

The Lin Beach House is an intimate, check-yourself-in-and-out guesthouse featuring its own cocktail bar, Days Like These, where you can sip custom-blended gins and botanical-infused spirits from Matchbook Distilling Company, a craft distillery in Greenport. Each room at the Lin Beach House is listed separately on Airbnb and starts from $350 per night. Check out Edie’s Room, Jane’s Suite, and Debbie’s Room.

Where to go winetasting near North Fork

Long Island’s terroir has drawn comparisons to France’s Bordeaux region and the Napa Valley in California because all of these wine countries sit on approximately the same latitude. But Long Island’s saltwater sea breezes and moderate temperatures give the North Fork’s wines their own appeal, and to sip the best of them only requires a quick trip around the peninsula.

Kontokosta Winery

Greenport

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Kontokosta Winery in Greenport is the North Fork’s only waterfront winery. Featuring 62 acres of coastal farmland, this family-owned sustainable vineyard includes a wind-powered tasting room, which is open to the public seven days a week.

Macari Vinyards is located near Greenport in Mattituck on Long Island’s North Fork.

Macari Vineyards

Mattituck

The nearby towns of Mattituck and Cutchogue are also abuzz with some of the region’s top wineries. In Mattituck, taste wines and munch on charcuterie at the family-owned Macari Vineyards. The Macari family started making wine in the 1930s and ’40s in the basement of their home in Queens, New York. Today, the family runs this 500-acre vineyard that produces award-winning wines. Tastings are $30 per person.

Castello di Borghese, Lieb Cellars, and McCall Wines

Cutchogue

In Cutchogue, visit Castello di Borghese Vineyard and Winery, Long Island’s oldest vineyard (though it only opened in 1973). Lieb Cellars, known for its reserve pinot blanc, and McCall Wines, renowned for its pinot noir and merlot varieties, are also notable stops.

Things to do in North Fork, Long Island

Beyond the Long Island Wine Trail, day-to-day North Fork activities include leisurely bike rides, boat tours, and farm excursions. Below are some of the best things to do in North Fork, Long Island.

Visit 8 Hands Farm

Outside Greenport, Cutchogue’s 8 Hands Farm is an absolute must-see. The 28-acre family-run farm sells fresh eggs from pasture-raised hens at its on-site market, where you’ll find hand-woven rugs and knitted clothing made using wool from the farm’s Icelandic sheep. The sustainable farm also features an outdoor food truck that serves breakfast and lunch from a seasonal menu.

Fish, kayak, paddleboard, or jet-ski with Peconic Water Sports

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For a day on the water, call Peconic Water Sports, Long Island’s leading water sports company located in Southold and Sag Harbor (with pickup service on Shelter Island). Charter a boat, take a fishing tour, rent a kayak, paddleboard, or Jet Ski, or simply cross the Peconic River to Shelter Island—whatever you do, this staff of boat-loving experts will ensure you enjoy the adventure.

Visit Lavender by the Bay’s lavender fields

During the summer months, head east of Greenport to East Marion for a peek at one of the country’s largest lavender fields, Lavender by the Bay. Wander through 17 acres of blooming lavender, then shop for a variety of aromatic products at the farm’s on-site store.

The Times Vintage in Greenport, Long Island

Explore Greenport’s vintage stores

The North Fork has a shining reputation for its creatively curated vintage shops, many of which are located in downtown Greenport. Some of the best Greenport vintage stores include:

  • Lido: Here, you’ll find design-forward clothing, jewelry, accessories, and home furnishings sourced from fair-trade artisans around the world.
  • The Times Vintage: Housed the former office of the Suffolk Times newspaper, it includes a superb selection of vintage clothes, vinyl records, and home furnishings.
  • North Fork Art Collective: On Front Street, this shop showcases local art for sale in a welcoming streetfront exhibition space.
  • Tea and Tchotchkes: This lifestyle boutique offers an array of one-of-a-kind bags, scented candles, plants and pots, essential oils, and clothing.

Where to eat in North Fork

In downtown Greenport, enjoy hotcakes with fresh maple syrup or a grass-fed beef burger at Bruce & Son, an all-day brunch café on Main Street. For lunch, head to Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market to shuck your own oysters (selections change daily) while sipping local beers from Greenport Harbor Brewing Company.

Squid ink risotto at Barba Bianca
Don’t miss dinner at Barba Bianca, Manhattan chef Frank de Carlo’s waterfront restaurant situated right on the harbor in downtown Greenport. The nautical-inspired dining room features a seasonal menu of coastal-Italian dishes, all focusing on ingredients sourced from within a five-mile radius of the restaurant.

Other celebrated farm-and-sea-to-table restaurants in Greenport include Noah’s, the Frisky Oyster, the Halyard, First and South, and PawPaw, a pop-up restaurant helmed by chef Taylor Knapp—who previously cooked at Copenhagen’s highly regarded Noma—serving a seasonal “supper” menu on select Saturdays (reservations required).

The best way to get to North Fork from the tri-state area

  • Long Island Rail Road offers daily service to the North Fork from Penn Station in Manhattan and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn; $30.50 each way when booked online. The trip duration is approximately three hours and 20 minutes.
  • By car, take Interstate 495 East (the Long Island Expressway) and follow directions to the North Fork. The trip takes approximately two hours and 20 minutes (without traffic).
  • From Connecticut, take the high-speed Sea Jet Service from New London to Orient Point on Long Island; $21.50 each way. Trip time is approximately 40 minutes.

>>Next: The Best Small Cities in the U.S.

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