Here's the Perfect Getaway On Long Island's North Fork
For New Yorkers, the antidote to a seen-and-be-seen weekend in the Hamptons can be found at the North Fork, the lesser known Long Island peninsula that's home to bucolic pastures, wineries, and plenty of farm-to-table dining. It's a two-hour drive from NYC, and you can easily take a day trip out there or stay in one of the many hotels and Airbnbs that dot wine country (including this beach house from HBO show Girls). So trade in the mega-yachts and champagne socials of the Hamptons for biodynamic wines and low-key vibes. Together with textile designer and North Fork day tripper Susan Connor, we put together a guide that'll have you packing your bags and running out the door.
You're renting a car and taking the 495 to the 25 going east until you hit Orient Point, making a ton of stops for ice cream, wine, and more. Susan says, "it's a really nice day trip to take, out to Orient Point. It's really surprising how different the landscape is out there, and the light is magnificent. I highly recommend a trip to the North Fork as a respite from NYC!" If you're sticking around for a few days, we also suggest taking the ferry south from Greenport and checking out Shelter Island.
We've conveniently plotted out where to eat, drink, and visit on this map here. Hit 'em up in any order you choose, but many of our recommendations are easy to stop by on the drive to and from Orient Point.
Photo by Tracy Zwick
What to Do
Shinn Estate Vineyards & Farmhouse: This biodynamic winery operated by a dedicated husband-and-wife team offers walking tours every Saturday and Sunday at 1:30pm to teach visitors about sustainable farming (reservations are required). If you're there on a weekday, you can still take a guidebook and go on a vineyard stroll on your own, but first, take one for the road with an $8 tasting of some of the estate's best.
The Old House: Those interested in history and architecture should stop by this English-style house in picturesque Cutchogue. "The age of this particular house shows in its proportions: It's quite compact, but the construction has a weight and old English style that really transports you...They offer tours in the summer, so you can go inside and back in time," says Susan.
Wickham's Fruit Farm: Score fresh local produce at the retail stand open from May through December, or get hands-on and pick your own strawberries, cherries, apples, blueberries, and peaches (crops vary according to season) from the family-owned farm.
Duck Walk North Vineyards: Swirl, sniff, and sip rare Pinot Meuniers and the popular Blue Duck Merlot at this Southold vineyard. Susan suggests picking up a few bottles of the reserve chardonnay that's "smokey, sweet, and a little sharp."
Orient Beach State Park: You're finally at the eastern tip of Long Island! Settle in with your picnic supplies (maybe a bottle of local wine), and enjoy the waves at this quiet beach.
Photo by Becca Joy
Where to Eat/Drink (listed from west to east)
Tweed's Restaurant & Burger Bar: This historic restaurant is famous for their bison meat. Susan loves it because, "The staff is always pleasant, and, sitting in Tweed's looking at the beautifully preserved buildings of Main Street, you really feel as if you're back in time. Tweed's serves amazing bison (the burger is fantastic) that's farmed right up the street."
Magic Fountain: You'll want to stop by this old-school ice cream parlor on your way to and from the North Fork. (Over 200 rotating flavors means just one trip is definitely not enough.) Susan says: "There's just something special about sitting out on a bench near your parked car, eating Magic Fountain."
Love Lane Kitchen: Locally sourced food, great coffee, and a charming atmosphere makes this place a favorite of locals and visitors. Susan recommends stopping by this place on the way out to Orient Point and chowing down on the lobster roll.
North Fork Table & Inn: Local produce takes centerstage at this world-class dining room. Splurge for a tasting menu (reservations are accepted a month in advance), or for a decidedly more casual meal, stop by The Lunch Truck, an in-house food truck situated in the parking lot. It's less fancy but just as delicious.
Fork & Anchor: Looking for picnic provisions before hitting up the beach? This is your spot. Fresh produce, creative sandwiches, and handy picnic boxes are all on offer.
Marie Eiffel Market (Shelter Island): This gourmet market, cafe, and bakery brings a little Paris to Shelter Island. Don't leave without sampling some (all) of the pastries.
Sunset Beach Hotel (Shelter Island): This André Balazs-owned joint is a bit of a scene, but a beachfront location and solid (though pricey) cocktails are hard to say no to.
Vine Street Cafe (Shelter Island): This popular farm-to-fork restaurants lures Manhattan food lovers out to its far-flung Long Island location for simple, seasonal fare that lets you taste the best of New York-grown meats and produce. Try the celebrated bolognese and don't skip out on dessert.
The Chequit (Shelter Island): This storied inn just reopened this May with updated digs. Even if you don't stay for the night, enjoy the breezy patio with a pint or a glass of wine and then stop by the in-house Wampum store for laid-back East Coast surf wear.
Photo by Chad Davis
Where to Shop
The Weathered Barn: This lifestyle shop has plenty of small-town charm and features handmade objects, many of which are crafted by the owner and her husband.
Beall and Bell: Filled with American and European antiques, mid-century furnishings, and more, this former Masonic temple offers an eclectic mix of one-of-a-kind items that sell almost as quickly as they’re stocked. "As vintage furniture stores go, this spot has reliably beautiful and interesting pieces," says Susan.
Marie Eiffel & Marie Eiffel Home (Shelter Island): Browse a selection of well-made women's beachwear and accessories at the clothing boutique before heading across the street to the home store for hard-to-find ceramics and other beautiful wares.