Today is the day. You’re heading out to the North Fork for a day trip. Maybe you’re going winery hopping with friends or looking to give your suburban kids a glimpse of farm life or looking to pick up some fresh produce, veggies and fruits galore, all the pumpkins you can shake a stick at, and all that fall harvest fun. Some say the North Fork is the last vestige of the original Long Island and we won’t argue that. There are too many things to do and experience to list here, so we will give you a quick primer with a very quick itinerary for a typical day trip to our favorite fork.
You avoid driving through Riverhead and get off at Exit 71 of the LIE and take Edwards Ave north till you hit Sound Ave. Shortly after you take the turn to head east, you see Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard on the left followed by Long Island Spirits. Baiting Hollow, essentially the first winery on today’s wine trail has good live music during the day on weekends. Just next door, Long Island Spirits makes some pretty damn good vodka and sorbettas (LiV) and also whisky (Pine Barrens), bourbon (Rough Rider) and gin (Deepwells). Back on the trail, you head east, maybe you stop at the Cooperage Inn for a bite or a beer in their beer garden.
Moving east you pass Roanoke Vineyards, but you note to yourself that it will be a stop on the way back as they are open slightly later than most tasting rooms. Soon, all of the sudden, Sound Ave turns into what looks like a parking lot. Cars are everywhere, on the side of the road, people walking in and on the side of the road. It’s kind of crazy, a rural Times Square on certain days/times. You happily join the fray and find yourself a parking spot before walking up to Briermere Farms and getting one of their famous pies. Pie in hand, you hightail it back east down Sound Ave, leaving the other cars in the dust. Organic lovers next stop at Garden of Eve Organic Farm & Market next, and pick up some organic veggies, fruit, flowers, etc.
Back on the trail, you head east and see signs at the bottom of a driveway for eggs and raw milk. This is Ty Llwyd’s Farm and if you’ve called ahead, you can score some raw milk from Ty’s cows (we believe the only source of raw milk around). If you weren’t smart enough to call ahead for the milk that’s in such high demand, at least grab a dozen farm fresh eggs (best eggs on the North Fork).
Next, take the kiddies to Hallockville Museum Farm and check out some old farm stuff, learn behind the scenes farming stuff, or better yet show up on a day they hold one of several events throughout the year. Across the street, you see some horses, llamas and alpacas on the grounds of Martha Clara Vineyards. Stop in and have a glass, buy a bottle to take with you or check out some live music.
The next big thing you come upon is Harbes Family Farm. This is North Fork agri-tourism at its finest. The finest sweet corn (best in summertime, doh), homemade apple cider donuts that are to die for, wine tasting, apple picking (at the orchard location) and all the family farming fun you can find at the Barnyard Adventure including tons of animals to check out (some of which you can pet), goat herding demonstrations, pig races, a singing cowgirl led tour of the farm and so much more. For families on day trips to the North Fork, Harbes is a must stop. Across the street Patty’s Berries and Bunches is great too and has a corn maze you can get lost in.
As you head east into Mattituck, the wineries and tasting rooms seem to pop up ubiquitously, you take a detour off Sound Ave and find Love Lane in Mattituck. This short, quaint strip is a great place to find lunch at the Love Lane Kitchen or some cheese at the Village Cheese Shop. It’s also just a nice place to find a bench and watch the autumn leaves fall and rustle along the sidewalk. You could also catch a play at the North Fork Community Theatre around the corner, but today is for day tripping so you head back to Sound Ave.
Soon you’re in Cutchogue, which is basically winery central. On Sound Ave you find Castello di Borghese for the classy folks out there and then Vineyard 48 for the rowdies (think the wine trail’s answer to the Boardy Barn). You could also zip down to Main Rd (Rte 25) and stop at more wineries than we can list.
If you’re still on Sound Ave at this point (also referred to as Rte 48 in these parts, stop at Sang Lee Farms and pick up some more of your fresh, organic favorites. Farther east, you come across Catapano Dairy Farm, where you score some goat milk and their fabulous goat cheese. Or just check out the goats. Goats are funny.
Sparkling Pointe in Southold is the stop for those who like the bubbly. Not called Champagne because the French are snobs, their sparkling wine will make you think of NYE and their tasting room is gorgeous.
Moving through Southold, you have to stop at O’Malley’s for your best attempt at finishing their Super Duper Burger, which is giant (basically two huge cheeseburgers stacked on top of each other). NextStop Tip: When they say it costs $75, negotiate it down to around half that. Or you can also try their Alien Burger, which is actually a hot dog. They’ve got a sense of humor over there.
Over on Main Road, there’s some good eats at the North Fork Table, often called the best restaurant on the North Fork, and also A Lure Chowder House, one of Tom Schaudel’s great dining spots. The Southold Fish Market is also a great place to stop if you want to bring a fresh catch home (fresh as in that fish was swimming around this morning).
As you continue east, you wonder how many great places you passed by and didn’t have a chance to stop at. All those signs at the bottoms of driveways, all those wineries and farm stands. Not to mention the tons of things you missed along Main Rd. and all the off the beaten path spots not on one of the two main roadways. You swear you’ll stop at more on the way back or next time.
You realize you’re coming upon Greenport. There’s still almost 10 miles more North Fork. You could head through East Marion and all the way to the Orient, the North Fork’s version of The End. But today you’re going to visit Greenport, which is a story in and of itself, so we’ll try to whittle the old whaling village down to just a mere few words. It’s probably the coolest town/village on the North Fork, or anywhere on the Island for that matter. Similar to its cousin on the other fork, Sag Harbor, it’s got a great Main Street with shops, food, drink, fun for young single fun seekers as well as families, daytime fun and nighttime fun. A trip to (or a story about) the North Fork could be as simple as driving straight to Greenport and spending the entire day there. But with all the stops and attractions along the way (and even more farther east), it’s a natural place to stop, stretch the legs, walk the harbor before you get back in the car and head back up-island as they say. Your North Fork Day Trip a true success in discovering some of the best of what remains of the true, original Long Island.
Photo: Flickr | Kurt Christensen