You may have noticed that Greenport, New York is trending as the new vacation spot outside of New York City. However, Greenport is just one town on Long Island’s North Fork, the Hamptons’ sister fork that is a little more New England, a little less St. Tropez.
Pause for a geography lesson: If you’re hearing “Fork” and wondering, “why the cutlery reference?” look up a map of the East End of Long Island. Kinda looks like a two-pronged fork with a blob in the middle. That blob is Shelter Island and the Southern Fork is the whole region that makes up the illustrious Hamptons. Shelter Island is another great place to rent a house for a week or just take a day-trip to from either of the forks, but I want to give you some insight into the North Fork, because, well, I live there.
There is a lot of NOFO pride amongst us locals. (Fine– I have broadened the definition of “local.” I’m really one of those most likely frustrating people who “summers” in the beautiful location). Think of the North Fork as the Brooklyn to NYC’s Manhattan, or perhaps the Croatia to Mediterranean Vacationers’ Italy. The people who started going to the North Fork 10+ years ago kind of think we made fetch happen. So really, there is just as much elitism, but of a very subtle, different kind. The North Fork is cheaper, quieter, somewhat less trafficked, and in parts, more quaint than the Hamptons. While I love a good day trip to walk around Southampton stores or boogie-board in Hampton Bays, there’s nothing like the NOFO, so here are the tips to seeing the region from a somewhat-local.
If you’re looking to spend only a couple days on the North Fork, stay in Greenport, possibly at The Gallery Hotel, which is a ten-room artists’ escape complete with outdoor patio, art gallery, and movie-viewing room. After getting a few drinks at the new American Beech hotel and restaurant, (the most Hamptons bar I’ve ever seen on the North Fork), you can easily walk back to your room in The Gallery Hotel. The nearby bike-rental shop and the hotel’s location within the center of Greenport make the weekend easy for all of us Manhattan-dwellers without cars.
If you prefer being beach-side, The Soundview Inn has the best sunset view in the whole area and a perfect pool deck for catching some sun. The frozen cocktails and family atmosphere makes the location ideal for bachelorette parties and families alike. Lin Beach House is a renovated Victorian home formerly known as The Shady Lady that was bought by the founders of a small-batch distillery creating custom spirits. Read: Has a great bar and house cocktails. It is stunning and reminds me of photos of Charleston.
No matter where you stay, make sure to rent either a car or bikes in order to see some spectacular vineyards and roads outside of Greenport that have always reminded my family of the South of France. If you bike along picturesque Cox Lane, in Cutchogue, you will pass 8 Hands Farm. This 28-acre, sustainable farm is home to the best breakfast sandwiches on the North Fork (out of their food truck) as well as an on-sight store selling artisanal sausages, pasture-raised eggs and meat, and sustainable cleaning products. After leaving with a full stomach, continue down Cox Lane to Oregon Road for the neighboring farms and vineyards, or just for the many photo-ops. Back in the direction of Greenport, Surrey Farms has been verified by my mother as having the best berries in the area, but Wickham’s Fruit Farm is the place to go for apple picking and apple cider donuts later in the season. That is one of the beauties of the North Fork– with all the farms, there are so many reasons to continue spending weekends here throughout the Fall.
Summer for me has always involved watersports. If you want a taste of that culture, head to Peconic Water Sports to rent or charter a boat equipped with wakeboards or water skis, or take an easy paddleboard or kayak ride through the creeks. These sports are not just for kids! Except tubing. That definitely gets more painful over the age of 16. If you’re looking for beaches, Orient State Beach is the only spot that doesn’t need a car permit and before you protest at the distance, driving down to Orient is completely worth it for its adorable houses (and some great pie). However, I’ll give you a secret. Bay-side beaches such as Harbor Beach at the end of South Harbor Road are my family’s favorites, and no permit is required if you go by bike.
For dinner, head to The North Fork Table and Inn if it’s a special occasion where you’ll eat dessert by James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Claudia Flemming, or to aMano for Tuscan-style classics. Looking for casual? Eat at 1943 Pizza Bar if you’re with kids, or Brix and Rye if you want cocktails and pizza from the same oven as 1943 (I highly recommend the New Haven despite how weird it sounds).
On your way out of town, head to Bruce and Son or Love Lane Kitchen for brunch or lunch. And don’t forget to pick up produce for your week ahead! It’s peach season and only Europe can rival North Fork Peaches. Enjoy your weekend on the Other Fork, but don’t tell too many people about it. We’re trying to keep it low-key.