1. Where to Stay
See what’s new in up-and-coming Riverhead (where the North and South Forks split), which is home to new restaurants and food shops, the Long Island Aquarium, and the Hyatt Place East End & Resort Marina (from $149). The rooms have a muted, big-chain look to them, but they’re quite spacious, and some overlook the harbor. For a little extra money, the Harvest package ($169) includes a room plus breakfast, a wine tasting for two at a local vineyard, and a $5 voucher for picking your own apples and pumpkins at Lewin Farms.
Unwind in Aquebogue at the Cove Place Inn (from $259), which opened in spring 2012 a short jaunt from some of the area’s best wineries, including Paumanok Vineyards, Comtesse Therese Vineyard, and Jamesport Vineyards. The property has its own private beach with hammocks and lounge chairs, while its eighteen rooms and suites are decorated in a neutral palette that doesn’t detract from the views of the bay.
Spend an evening around the outdoor fire pit at Fig & Olive Bed & Breakfast (from $275, two-night minimum), which opened in June in Cutchogue, within walking distance of five wineries. You won’t find any antiques hanging on the walls here; the three bedrooms have been tastefully furnished with contemporary-looking colors and prints, with help from the 1670 Furniture House in Southold. In the morning, expect flavors from the local farm stand, like pumpkin pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup and maple-glazed bacon.
2. Where to Eat
Try a mix of oysters at the newly opened Main Restaurant and Oyster Bar, which carries up to 25 varieties at a time (starting at $8 for a half-dozen) including the delicious Pipes Cove, which is harvested in Greenport. Housed in what was formerly the North Fork Oyster Company in historic Stirling Square, the restaurant also serves prepared dishes like clams with bacon and sage butter ($10) and spaghetti with lamb meatballs ($26).
Dine with fellow locavores at Noah’s, which just launched a new winemaker dinner series ($75) that highlights local ingredients. The five-course meal (available every Sunday through the end of October) is paired with wines from a different vineyard each week and led by a winemaker in the restaurant’s private dining room, where diners sit at shared tables. Menus depend on market availability but have included butternut squash gnocchi, red-wine-braised short ribs, and roasted winter squash purée.
Drink inside a former vault at the Riverhead Project, a two-year-old restaurant that inhabits a former bank. Long Island chef Lia Fallon’s menu is seasonal and farm-sourced, which means fall brings Crescent Farms duck breast with smoked sweet-potato purée, pork-braised collard greens, and cornbread crumbs ($29). After dinner, sink into a leather lounge chair by the fire and watch one of the movies they screen nightly.
3. What to Do
Head to Sang Lee Farms in Peconic, the area’s largest certified-organic vegetable farm, where you can tour the fields and greenhouses every Saturday starting in October ($15). Afterward there’s a tasting of whatever’s in season that week—fingerling potatoes, broccoli, multicolored carrots, acorn and butternut squash—roasted with farm-fresh herbs. If you’d like to grab something to take home, tomatoes are available until the first frost; last year, they were still being sold at Thanksgiving.
Visit Kontokosta Winery, a new addition to the North Fork’s list of wine producers. The Greenport property planted its first grapes in 2002 and had its first harvest in 2006, but didn’t open to the public until this past June. Get a tasting of four wines ($10) including the must-have Cabernet Franc, then walk around the beautiful property to reach the bluff overlooking the Long Island Sound. Also new this year is Cutchogue’s Coffee Pot Cellars, where winemaker Adam Suprenant has four offerings including a fresh Merlot. His partner is a local beekeeper, so you’ll also find great honey and beeswax products in the the tasting room.
Plan your trip to coincide with some of the season’s best festivals. The annual Taste North Fork (November 8 to 11) will be packed with crowds, so opt for the calmerFall Festival at the Cooperage Inn in Calverton (every weekend through October 27, 12 to 6 p.m.), where you can feast on fire-roasted corn, bratwurst, and pulled-barbecue-pork sandwiches. For veggie lovers, the Long Island Garlic Festival has already passed, but the kid-friendly pumpkin festival is on at Garden of Eve Farm (every weekend in October), where you can enjoy roasted squash and pick out pumpkins and fall mums.
4. Insider’s Tip
Grass-fed Charlois beef from McCall Ranch in Cutchogue is served at the wildly popular North Fork Table and Inn, but for the first time, the restaurant’s food truck will be dishing it up at McCall Winery this season. Grilled over wood the winery cuts from Pinot Noir and Merlot vines, the burger will be served on Blue Duck Bakery brioche for a steal at just $10. Check the Facebook page to find out when the truck is on the move.
5. Oddball Day
Grab a blueberry scone ($2.75) at the Blue Duck Bakery in Greenport, which opened in July, then stroll over to the Mitchell Park Marina, where you can sip your coffee and ogle super yachts. Jump on a ferry for a ten-minute ride ($2) across the bay to Shelter Island, where you can read the newspaper and lounge in a rolling green park uphill from the ferry stop. Catch the ferry back to Greenport, and walk to Triangle Sea Sales, a shop that sells nautical gifts and marine antiques including ship lanterns, clocks, and portholes. Nearby, Lydia’s Antiques & Stained Glass (215 Main St.; 631-477-1414) has the largest selection of vintage stained glass on Long Island. When it’s time for lunch, head to Fork & Anchor in East Marion to pick up a picnic box for two ($36) of tasty sandwiches (turkey and Vermont cheddar with homemade apple-raisin chutney; green goddess chicken salad). Then drive or bike half a mile to picnic at Dam Pond, a maritime preserve with plenty of bird-watching opportunities. Spend the afternoon touring a North Fork oyster farm with East End Charters (from $90) and then seeing multiple oyster beds on the ride back. For dinner, sit outside at the year-old Blue Canoe Oyster Bar, which has fire tables and heaters for year-round comfort. After having the fish and chips (made with a Red Stripe batter; $26), stop into the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck for a dessert of crisp local apples and farmhouse cheddar drizzled with maple syrup. Finally, stop at Doug Cooper’s farm stand on Breakwater Road for super-fresh eggs to bring home (open until the end of November). Even if he’s closed, he leaves a cooler of eggs out and a box where you can leave money.
Find information on fishing, yachting, and even the best yard sales to hit that weekend on North Forker.
Locals look to northfrkd for tips on yoga in the vineyards and what’s going on in the region.
Discover Long Island has a new portal for foodies that focuses on the East End to highlight its wineries, breweries, and produce.
Greenport Online has a visitor’s guide that’s viewable online and details everything there is to do in town.