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Caressed by the measured currents of the Long Island Sound, the North Fork peninsula draws tired city dwellers in need of a break beyond the fashionable Hamptons of South Fork. Whether you’re looking for your next day-trip destination or planning a weekend getaway, NoFo (as the locals say) has much to offer.
North Fork encompasses a cluster of towns and hamlets that spans from Riverhead in the west all the way east to Orient Point (the very end of Long Island), and encompasses smaller islets -– such as Shelter Island -– that are dotted in and around the Peconic Bay, which divides the region from its southern neighbour, South Fork. Sound Avenue, one of the main roads that leads deep into area, is flanked by dense foliage. Drive along this until, almost startlingly, you come upon a clearing that stretches across acres of pasture. Here and there you’ll catch a glimpse of a solitary homestead or a slow-moving tractor – it’s a scene not unlike that you’d expect of the American heartland.
This east-end community has been, since its early settlement days, renowned for its agricultural roots. The area was once ripe with potato farms, but in recent years farmers have switched gears after discovering that the soil and climate favour a more elevated type of crop. And so, met with success, the North Fork now boasts some of the best American wineries and cideries. Meanwhile the farming community has further expanded to host a variety of crops and covetable livestock – even snails.
It’s only natural that east enders have fully embraced the whole farm-to-table movement. Innovative restaurateurs of the region, such as PAWPAW’s Taylor Knapp (who trained under internationally acclaimed Noma chef, Rene Redzepi) forages for most of his ingredients, transforming passed-over and under-appreciated produce into dishes for the palate of any fine-dining connoisseur.
While first-time visitors of North Fork (or NoFo as the locals call it) might make the mistake of lumping the North and South Fork together under one umbrella, it’s interesting to note that there is a marked contrast between these Twin Forks. There’s an unshakable hustle and bustle about the South Fork (which reaches its pinnacle in the summer months); the community has been designated the prime local for summertime getaways of the New York City elite.
That’s not to say that North Fork is strictly retiring in its ways – it just has its own rhythm; attracting a much different demographic than its southern neighbour. Those who return time and again aren’t after wild nightlife, while queuing up for hours for cramped seating at a trendy brunch spot just isn’t their style. They want to savour a slower, more relaxed atmosphere – and in this regard, North Fork doesn’t disappoint. Hamlets such as Cutchogue, Mattituck and Southold benefit from tours and tastings at expansive family-run farms and wineries where visitors can spend the better part of the day outdoors and while away the hours. Greenport, however, offers a fresh respite from all the pastoral scenery of NoFo. This maritime village offers a host of activities for all to enjoy, including sailing in the bustling marina, strolling around the Pleasantville-esque streets and even antiquing.
Sound View Hotel
The historic Sound View Hotel in Greenport represents a winning combination of seaside charm and minimalist swank that keeps newcomers entranced and locals happy. Renovated in 2017 by the gifted Brooklyn based design firm, Studio Tack, Sound View has come a long way from its roots as a 10-room 50s motel. With some 55 rooms, it embraces an old-world flair all the while looking toward the future with an attention to essential (nautical) details. It’s especially popular during the spring, summer and early autumn, so try booking off-season for an unconventional winter weekend getaway.
- +1 631 477 1910
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Chef Noah Schwartz and his wife, Sunita, are committed to providing the best fine-dining experiences on the east end for their clientele. The menu, expertly curated, shines a light on all the best seasonal ingredients that North Fork has to offer (its grilled corn garnished with local micro coriander, comes to mind). The interior of the restaurant – chicly furnished – hints at the aquatic, with stunning paintings of marine life donated by a local artist.
- +1 631 477 6720
- Go to Website
Perched directly on the shores of the Long Island Sound, The Halyard represents the height of seaside sophistication. As the main restaurant of Greenport’s picturesque Sound View Hotel, The Halyard services many a formal function, but whether you’re a guest at a wedding or the odd foodie in search of an excellent meal (with the ambiance to match), the goal of Executive Chef Stephan Bogardus, a native North Forker, is to provide an unforgettable experience for his patrons. The menu reflects seaside classics with an inventive and elegant twist, which are paired by the bar’s thoughtfully concocted libations.
- +1 631 477 0666
- Go to Website
Bruce & Son
Bruce & Son, a stylish eatery located in the heart of Greenport’s Main Street, specialises in brunch and lunch – in fact, it’s not open for anything else. With a special attention to local ingredients, Bruce & Son executes brunch mainstays such as the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich (served on a brioche bun with candied bacon and dijonnaise) with sophisticated flare. At night, the restaurant space also hosts pop-up restaurants such as PAWPAW.
- +1 631 4770023
- Go to Website
Plan a visit to some of the main wineries and cideries (Kontokosta Winery, Martha Clara Vineyards or Woodside Orchards) of the region, as well as a vodka distillery (Long Island Spirits) for tours and tastings. Try sailing in Greenport or taking an excursion to nearby Shelter Island. In the summertime, a visit to East Marion’s Lavender by the Bay (a French-owned lavender farm) is an especially popular activity for locals and visitors alike – just let your nose guide the way.
Greenport is the prime place for window shopping, antiquing or just meandering about. Notable finds are: The Weathered Barn (an elevated lifestyle boutique that sells everything from felted soaps to chopsticks whittled from cow bones) and Sweet Indulgences (for all things confectionery). While travelling through North Fork, stopping at a farmstand or two is an absolute must. While Briermere Farms, located in Riverhead, is revered for its produce, it’s the delectable pies that keep the queues of locals forming here – don’t miss the chocolate cream pie.
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