Shuck your own oysters, take selfies in a lavender field, and hunt for antiques on Long Island’s northern peninsula.
Where to Stay
Wood paneling, shag carpets, laminated countertops — not much has changed at the eminently Instagrammable Silver Sands Motel since it opened in 1957. Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vanity Fair have all staged fashion shoots in front of its neon signage and aquamarine walls. Retro aesthetics aside, the motel offers excellent value for money (rooms start at $125) and is just a few minutes’ drive from Greenport’s restaurants and shops. The simple rooms are equipped with a mini-fridge and microwave, and guests have access to a pool and private beach with a view of Shelter Island across the bay.
In Greenport, the revamped Sound View hotel launched in mid-August with a stylish new look courtesy of Brooklyn design firm Studio Tack. The modern-beach-house feel extends from the lounge-like lobby to the rooms (from $225) and through to the airy Halyard restaurant, overseen by Galen Zamarra, of Mas (farmhouse). The layout is not unlike that of a traditional motel — a row of rooms shares an ocean-facing deck — but the amenities are hotel quality (and suites have private decks). They include a poolside bar, private beach, fitness room, and bocce court, plus rentable bicycles and kayaks.
With only two guest rooms (from $225), you’ll feel less like a customer at the Wickham-Prince B&B than a visitor in someone’s beautifully appointed home. Owners Susan and Doug Looze opened their boutique guesthouse in August 2016, after updating the heritage-listed Victorian building with mod conveniences like central AC and flatscreen televisions. The property is walking distance from Southold’s LIRR station and the Hampton Jitney stop, as well as Main Road shops like the North Fork Roasting Company.
Where to Eat
The recently remodeled Frisky Oyster in Greenport (one of the North Fork’s first fine-dining spots) is as buzzy as ever, so reservations are recommended. Although the contemporary menu has worldly flourishes — for instance, seared scallops are served with spicy coconut risotto, baby bok choy, cashews, and caramelized pineapple foam — chef-owner Robby Beaver sources the bulk of his ingredients locally and makes as much in-house as possible.
Southold’s farm-to-table-focused North Fork Table & Inn is regularly name-checked as the best restaurant in the area. Dishes like pistachio-and-lavender-crusted rack of lamb with garbanzo beans, radishes, herb salad, and labne celebrate the East End’s agricultural bounty, and desserts by co-owner and Gramercy Tavern alum Claudia Fleming are not to be missed no matter how full you are. If you don’t feel like splurging on a formal meal (or if you can’t get a reservation), there’s also a lunch-only food truck in the parking lot that turns out elevated sandwiches, burgers, and salads.
For breakfast or lunch, head to Love Lane in Mattituck, where you can choose between the perennially popular Love Lane Kitchen, international café fare at Goodfood, and build-your-own burgers and omelets at Ammirati’s of Love Lane. Then stock up on picnic provisions at the Village Cheese Shop, Lombardi’s Love Lane Market, and Agora Little Greek Market before hitting the local wineries and beaches.
What to Do
Orient Beach State Park isn’t just a beautiful spot, it’s also one of the few North Fork beaches that doesn’t require a residential parking permit. The narrow strip of land curves into Gardiners Bay with a beach on one side, a saltwater marsh on the other, and a maritime-red-cedar forest near the tip. Explore the park by foot or bike, or rent a kayak and get on the water. On your way out, make a pit stop at Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Orient for a slice of pie and visit Lavender by the Bay flower farm to take a selfie in a field of purple blossoms.
There are around 50 wineries on the North Fork but few are as charming as Croteaux Vineyards, a rosé-only producer whose tasting barn and garden could be on the cover of a design magazine. Oenophiles will want to check out the prestigious Bedell Cellars as well as newcomer Kontokosta Winery, which is as known for view of Long Island Sound as its wines. When you need to change it up, hit your palate with some hops at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s tasting room and restaurant in Peconic.
Front Street in Greenport is filled with restaurants, art galleries, and boutique stores. Browse rustic homewares and gifts at the Weathered Barn, antique furniture at Beall & Bell, and boho lifestyle goods at Tea and Tchotchkes. Then take a stroll along Mitchell Park and Marina with its antique carousel, stopping at Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market to shuck your own oysters. When the sun goes down, descend the stairs of subterranean cocktail bar Brix & Rye for an expertly mixed tipple. If you’re around during the first weekend of the month, don’t miss the First Fridays Gallery Walk, when participating galleries present new work and host artist talks.
From Melissa Henrey, farmer and co-owner of the Farm Beyond in Southold.
I love to explore the parts of the North Fork that offer something other than big open sky and stretches of flat farmland. The trails at Soundview Dunes Park in Southold are neither strenuous nor too long. I can easily spend a few hours meandering through its sandy woodland along the Long Island Sound.
On my way to and from the farm, I love stopping at the Peconic River Herb Farm in Calverton. It’s a specialty plant nursery with beautiful greenhouses and gardens situated along the banks of the Peconic River. Visitors are welcome to hang around and picnic, but the more time I spend there, the more plants I take home with me. There could be worse fates.
Lumber + Salt in Jamesport is an amazing place filled with antiques and industrial and found objects. The owner John Mazur has a great eye. A new boutique plant nursery, event space, and greenhouse café are slated to open there in the coming months.
Taylor Knapp is a young, NOMA-trained chef who creates tasting menus out of seasonal ingredients exclusively farmed, fished, or foraged on the North Fork. His PAWPAW Pop-Up restaurant — which is hosted at the equally great brunch spot Bruce and Son in Greenport — has only two seatings a week, both on Saturday nights. The dinners tend to sell out well in advance, so plan ahead!
In early 2016, before we even began harvesting our first crops of the season, chefs Adam Koepels and Elizabeth Ronzetti from 18 Bay Restaurant came to tour my greenhouse and brainstorm possible dishes. Take the ferry across Greenport Harbor to Shelter Island around sunset and having dinner at 18 Bay. Their coastal-Italian tasting menu changes weekly, but it’s consistently thoughtful, delicious, and meticulously crafted. I still daydream about the beet-and-ricotta caramelle pasta I had the last time I went.