North Fork Long Island NY: The Anti-Hamptons

Why Go to the North Fork of Long Island Now?

Historically, the North Fork of Long Island, that begins a mere 75 miles east of Manhattan (in Riverhead), has been sleepy and rural, lacking the dazzle of the movie-star-rich Hamptons on the oceanfront South Fork. The largest town, Greenport, was quite undiscovered, and the hamlets of Orient, Southold, and Mattituck were barely a blip on anyone’s radar. But that’s been changing over the last few years.

Kids on Peconic Bay pier Summer in the North Fork of Long Island NY

When I first wrote this guide, in 2016, city folk were still flocking in greater numbers to the Atlantic side of Eastern Long Island, taking day trips to North Fork for its bountiful wineries and tasting rooms.


But lately, and especially with people looking for the next best thing, this quiet side of Eastern Long Island has found its footing as a great and relatively serene getaway. It’s attracting newcomers who just want to unwind without having to glam up for the Hampton’s scene, or jostle with pesky paparazzi.

Table of Contents

Einstein’s Hideout 

Love Lane Mattituck NY

Now, the North Fork is so much more than wine, and in some ways is harking back to its hideaway past when it attracted the likes of Albert Einstein.

You can visit Einstein Plaza, formerly Rothman’s Department Store in Southold, where the genius himself befriended owner David Rothman during one of Einstein’s three summers on Long Island. Einstein composed the “nuclear chain reaction” letter to FDR at his summer shack nearby. That letter, of course, would change the course of life on this planet.

A Foodie Haven

Sunset in Orient NY on North Fork

The North Fork has also been also upping its game culinarily. Now, chefs from a “higher pedigree,” such as Michelin-starred, John Fraser, who revitalized the award-winning North Fork Table and opened Southold General, are joining mainstays like Noah’s and The Frisky Oyster. These culinary powerhouses find abundant sources of fresh ingredients from fishing boats, family farms (including 20 new oyster and kelp “Farms”), and vineyards.

Greenport NY at night

So, arrange for a table at a innovative restaurant, stroll Love Lane, sip a variety of wines at dozens of vineyards, paddle on Peconic Bay or Long Island Sound, provision from nature’s bounty at roadside farm stands, stumble on backyard concerts, feel the warmth of the setting sun filtered through shade trees, and just slow down on this North Shore of Long Island NY Getaway, which begins on a timesaving ferry for those coming from New England.

The following guide takes you from the very eastern tip of the North Fork at Orient Point to points  west: Orient, East Marion, Greenport, Southold, Peconic, Cutchogue, Mattituck. Of course, should you drive here, you can do the stops in reverse.

To extend your Eastern Long Island stay, check out our post on Shelter Island (accessible from both Greenport on the North Fork and Sag Harbor on the South Fork).

Things To Do The North Fork of Long Island

Car ferry arrives at Orient Point NY

FERRY: Cross Sound Ferry from New London, CT to Orient Point NY

If you live anywhere in New England, the quickest and most pleasurable way to get to the tip of Eastern Long Island (North Fork) is on the 80-minute Cross Sound Ferry. Why drive all the way down to Queens NY, then up again 120 miles, when you can take the boat and eliminate the hassles of traffic and bad drivers?

Plus, with comfy seating, a “snack” bar that sells healthy from-scratch meals, and a bar that offers Greenport Harbor craft beer, your vacation begins as soon as you leave the dock. Ferry runs year round (check website for schedule). Check website for rates and times.

TRAIN: Long Island Rail Road From Long Island City

If coming from NYC, the LIR is another option. Just know that it takes nearly 4 hours, due to a multitude of stops along the way.

What to Do in Orient NY

Evening concert at Oysterponds Orient NY

DO: Stumble on a Sunset Concert, Oysterponds Historical Society, Orient

One of the joys of summer on the North Fork is the serendipitous discovery of a backyard concert. In sleepy Orient, this joy is multiplied by the fact that there’s not much else in the early evening do besides reveling in this timeless pleasure with friends and loved ones.

Sunset over Orient Yacht Club sunset NY

DO: Stroll to Orient Yacht Club for Optimal Sunset Views – No Crowds

Yes, it’s a private club, but there’s no prohibition against standing at the foot of the docks and witnessing the extreme beauty of a stunning North Fork sunset.

I and Me Farm stand, Orient Point NY

PROVISION: I and Me Farmstand, Orient Point

Pick up some just picked radishes or snappy snap peas – or whatever’s in season at the itty bitty organic I and Me Farm Stand. Everything sold here looks like it was designed for an Instagram shoot.

Fresh corn from Sep's Farm East Marion NY

PROVISION: Sep’s Farm Stand, East Marion

Sep’s Farm Stand is on Rt. 25 in East Marion between the Orient Point Ferry and Greenport. You can’t miss the place in the summer, overflowing with Pinterest-ready produce. The corn is so incredibly good, you can eat it raw.

Things to Do in Greenport NY

East End Seaport Museum, Greenport NY

VISIT: East End Seaport Museum Greenport

The small East End Seaport Museum in a former Long Island RR train station packs an historic punch. You’ll find a large Fresnel Lens from Little Gull Light. And you’ll absorb a good amount of information about Long Beach Bar Light – affectionately nicknamed “Bug Light” for its former “Screw Pile” design-  replaced in the 1930’s by cement foundation.

Of course, there are exhibits on the abundance of shipyards here (now closed but for one) that made Landing Boats and Mine Sweepers during WWII. There’s a cool diorama depicting the workspace of W.J. Mills Sailmakers. Don’t miss the homage to Claudio’s – a restaurant that, until 2018 when it was sold to new owners, had been in family hands for 148 years (since 1870). Open seasonally.  Check  website  for dates  and  hours.Glory, Captain Dave, Greenport NY

BAY CRUISE/TOUR: Solar-Powered Glory, Greenport 

Co-owned by Captain David Berson and Andrew Rosen, the 30ft. 1990 Elco Electric boat – Glory, the first solar-powered vessel for tourist use in the country – is fully certified by the Coast Guard, and “safety-first” Berson makes sure it remains that way.

Captain Dave regales guests with stories about Peconic Bay’s history, Greenport’s working waterfront, and changes to the area on a 45-minute cruise. He departs the dock with a blast from his conch shell and if you’ve been good, he’ll hand you a Tootsie Roll pop at the end of the tour. Check website for more information and tour times.

Bug Light, Orient Point, NY

CRUISE/TOUR: East End Seaport Museum “Bug” Lighthouse Cruise and Tour, Greenport

Cruise on Peconic and Gardiner’s Bay, learn the history of the lighthouse (decommissioned in 1948 and brought back to life in 1990) from local maritime experts. You even get to go inside. Check website for dates and availability.

Fire Fighter Museum, Greenport NY

TOUR: Fire Fighter – America’s Fireboat Floating Museum, Greenport

This 1931 New York City fireboat was on the scene on 9-11-2001, brought back from retirement for her water-pumping strength.

She is slowly being restored, so here is your chance to see historic preservation in action. Located behind the East End Seaport Museum. Check website for more information. 

Mitchell Park Carousel, Greenport NY

RIDE: Mitchell Park Carousel, Greenport

A gift from Grumman Aircraft Corp, this 100-year-old Mitchell Park Carousel is housed in an cool contemporary building, steps from the waterfront and Main Street. $3 per ride.

One Love Beach Community Paddle, Greenport NY

PADDLE: SUP with One Love Beach

One Love Beach offers “Paddle and Pint” Community Paddles in a different North Fork waterway each week, depending on weather.

On windy late afternoons, Gull Pond is the perfect spot to learn to race Stand Up Paddleboards, other evenings might see SUPer’s on Long Island Sound. After the lesson, paddlers head to a local watering hole for a beer or two. Check website for costs and upcoming events.

Kontokosta Tasting Room, Greenport NY

VISIT/SIP: Kontokosta Winery, Greenport

Michael Kontokosta left his life as a NYC corporate lawyer to purchase his family farm, and opened this stunning LEED-designed structure as event space and tasting room in 2013 for his first vintages. With 23 ½ acres of planted vines, a wind turbine that powers 70% of the Kontokasta vineyard’s energy needs, long views down to Long Island Sound, and a modern-barn structure built with 110 year old siding and flooded with light through an abundance of windows, the gestalt takes a visitor’s breath away.

Mike Kontokosta, Greenport NY

Belly up to the poured concrete bar, which tops a textural façade made from barrel stays. Try a grassy, earthy, peppery Cab Franc, a fruity aromatic Cab Blanc, or something else from the 3,500 cases of wine produced here per year. Check website for private event closures.

Greenport Fire, Greenport NY

SHOP: Greenport Fire Greenport

Greenport Fire sells “everything hot,” from hand-rolled cigars to scorching pepper sauce. What a blistering concept within a cooly designed space.

Weathered Barn Boutique, Greenport NY

SHOP: The Weathered Barn, Greenport

Another unique home-goods, furniture and gift store, The Weathered Barn, is proof that Greenport is not a tourist tchotchke center. Shops here are distinctive and creative – you’ll see products here you won’t see anywhere else.

Things to Do in Southold NY

Einstein Square where Albert hung out Southold NY

VISIT: Albert Einstein Square at Former Rothman’s Department Store

Although Albert Einstein lived in Princeton NJ, he summered on the North Fork from 1937-1939. On August 2, 1939, Einstein wrote the now famous letter to FDR, imploring the President to start funding research on a new kind of weapon of mass destruction.

In the course of the last four months it has been made probable—through the work of Joliot in France as well as Fermi and Szilard in America—that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. This phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed.”

About Food shop jarred whole tomatoes Southold NY

SHOP: About Food, Southold Main Rd.

For those who are too impatient to “put up” their own food, About Food on Main Rd. (Route 25) Southold offers a solution. Buy an array of pure jarred products from them. A “specialty grocer,” you can also purchase the gear needed to whip up your own culinary delights.

White Flower Farmhouse home goods shop Southold NY

SHOP: White Flower Farmhouse Southold Main Rd.

The North Fork oozes farmhouse chic. So, it behooves you to take a little of that flavor home with you (or dress your Eastern Long Island home up with something repurposed). At White Flower Farmhouse, buy an antique cupboard, distressed picture frames, some new linen throw pillows, wooden mixing spoons, and, yeah, jewelry, and cologne, at this eclectic and pretty place.


VISIT: Horton Point Lighthouse, Southold

First commissioned by George Washington in 1790, the Horton Point Lighthouse, that now protects mariners from this point of land, was built in 1857. The Southold Historical Society maintains a small Nautical Museum on this site, open seasonally. 

Christian Baiz, The Old Field Winery, Southold NY

VISIT/SIP: The Old Field Vineyards, Southold

Owned by Christian and Rosamond Baiz, Old Field Vineyards sits on waterfront acreage that was once a thriving resort hotel complex until just after WWI, when the Baiz family purchased it for farmland. As with so many other family farms, Christian purchased the land from his family, planted Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Franc (the “wine of Long Island”) in 1996.

He now makes and sells mouth-watering vintages from the hotel’s original carriage house stables. Rosamond is tangentially related to Commodore Matthew Perry, which explains the vineyard’s top 100% Merlot under the “Commodore Perry” label.

Croteaux Vineyards tasting room Southold NY

VISIT/TASTE: Croteaux Vineyards, Southold

Plan an hour or more at the only winery in the USA devoted entirely to Rose wines, Croteaux Vineyards. No doubt the outdoor garden patio, with reclaimed wood partitions and a wall of lit-up empty wine bottles, is one of the most charming on the North Fork.

Things to Do in Peconic NY

Breeze Hill Farm Peconic NY

PROVISION/CIDER DONUTS: Breeze Hill Farm, Peconic

See a real “Homer Price” donut machine in action at the multi-use Breeze Hill Farm. This being farm country – farm stands are ubiquitous on the North Fork. Each, seemingly, has its own specialty.

In addition to buying straight-from-the-dirt produce, you can also pick your own apples on Breeze Hill’s 75-acre orchard, commune with llamas and goats, and even get married and then put up your wedding party in a redesigned hunting lodge on site.


VISIT/TASTE: Greenport Harbor Brewing Co., Peconic

Why should wine lovers have all the fun on the North Fork. On weekends, enjoy your Leaf Pile Ale, Black Duck Porter, and for the winter Anti-Freeze Ale, while listening to really good live music most weekends at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. No need to go anywhere else for a meal, either – the resident cafe has great elevated pub grub.


VISIT/SHOP: Catapano Dairy Farm, Peconic

Even if you hate cheese, you’ll fall in love with the happy, gamboling goats at Catapano Dairy Farm. Watch cheese makers at work and then stop in to the shop to purchase what the American Cheese Society proclaims “The Best Fresh Goat Cheese in America.”

Things to do in Cutchogue On North Fork Long Island

Oregon Road Organics Cutchogue NY

STOP/PHOTOP OP: Oregon Road Organics Cutchogue

North Forkers sure know how to repurpose old trucks. The one that Oregon Road Organics uses as a farms tand shack to propel their produce into stardom (or at least into customers’ hands), is a beaut. The rest of the business operates a few paces away in what appears to be the sawed-off upper third of a grain silo. It sits right across the street from the 52-acre Lieb Cellars.

Provision: Wickham’s Fruit Farm, Cutchogue

Wickham’s Fruit Farm has, according to a local, “extraordinary fruit pies.” They also excel in other produce, including incredibly good shiitake mushrooms

Things to Do in Mattituck NY on North Fork

Village Cheese Shop Mattituck NY

SHOP: Love Lane, Mattituck

Best known for the Love Lane Kitchen, Love Lane itself is a charming place to shop local. Doesn’t the name just lend itself to a romantic foray?

Village Cheese Shop

Nearby residents swear by the quality of dairy products at the Village Cheese Shop. Pick up a wedge, and then a bottle of wine from Roanoke Vineyards Wine Bar down the street, for an impromptu picnic.

Love Lane Sweet Shop

North Fork and Love Lane t-shirts at the Sweet Shop Mattituck NY

Visitors (and proud residents) stock up on t-shirts and memorabilia stamped with North Fork, Mattituck, and Love Lane designs. In the know locals send friends to the “Shirt Shoppe” in back of Love Lane Sweet Shop where you’ll discover a cornucopia of summertime clothing emblazoned with unique compositions re-imagined each year.


DETOUR – SHOP/PHOTO OP: The Big Duck, Flanders

If you plan to drive to the North Fork – the Big Duck is worth a detour just a few minutes out of the way. What’s the “big” deal? 

In 1931, Riverhead duck farmers, Martin Maurer and his wife, Jeule, built their sales office to capture tourists driving to Eastern Long Island. Saved by fans, the concrete structure was moved to its present location in Flanders in 1987.

Interestingly, this very building is also an architectural icon. The term “duck” has come to identify any highly sculptural form that represents the products available within. Rather than ducks, the Big Duck Store now sells “duck-a-belia.”

Where to Eat on the North Fork Long Island NY

Little Creek Oysters, Greenport NY

EAT: Little Creek Oysters, Greenport

In a former Bait and Tackle shack behind Claudio’s, Little Creek Oysters is the very definition of DIY dining. You get shucking gloves, a shucking knife (with instruction, of course) and will experience some of the freshest oyster’s you’ve slurped down.


EAT: 1943 Pizza Bar, Greenport

The wood-fired pies at 1943 Pizza Bar are made right before your very eyes and then shoved in a glowing ember brick oven to bake and crisp up and emerge perfectly charred. Awesome. Even better, they deliver right to your table at Brix & Rye, should you wish to have a classic cocktail with your slices.

Claudio's Greenport on the waterfront NY

EAT/OLD SCHOOL: Claudio’s Greenport

Claudio’s was here way, way before the North Fork vineyards. In fact, until 2018, it was the oldest family-owned restaurant in the USA, in family hands since 1870. You can still get the fried clams and steamers of yore – along with new bites like Lobster Mac and Cheese and Beet Salad. Nothing innovative here. Just the shoreline food you remember from your youth. So if nostalgia hits, book a table at Claudio’s.

COFFEE: Aldo’s, Greenport

Coming to Aldo’s is like stumbling on a little café in Rome – with quality espresso and scones to match. Don’t pass on the scones, whatever you do. They are baked with a “lip:” a little mound at the edge of the pastry you must bite first. And oh, that first buttery bite; it leaves you wanting more.

Brix and Rye Speakeasy Greenport NY on North Fork

EAT: Greenport NY Locals Recommend

Greenport has upped its game in the restaurant department – so much so, everyone local seems to have his or her own preferences. Among them Frisky Oyster for high-end fun dining, Lucharito’s for Mexican food, Brix and Rye – old timey cocktails in a “speakeasy” setting, and American Beech for beachy bites. Others include Halyard at the Sound View Hotel for smashing sunset views and food to match, Fortino’s, and Ellen’s on Front.

Southold General Interior NY

EAT: Southold General – Southold Downtown

What happens when a Michelin-starred chef opens a counter-service all-day cafe? This place. Southold General. From eye-catching pizzas to artisanal meringue cookies, and so much more, Chef John Fraser and celebrated pastry chef, Francois Payard bring the tastes of the North Fork to your mouth in the yummiest of ways.

Take your sandwich, salad, pizza slice or baked treat to a table outside in Albert Einstein Square. You might have to wait a bit – but it’s so worth it.


EAT: North Fork Table and Inn, Southold

Many claimed the North Fork Table to be the “best restaurant on Eastern Long Island”  if not the whole of LI when it first opened. Now, revitalized by Michelin-starred, John Fraser, it’s a packed house every open night. A tough table to get for a reason.

Food Truck with firewood at North Fork Table Southold NY

EAT: North Fork Food Truck, Southold

This food truck sits in the North Fork Table and Inn parking lot. So, if you can’t get in to the fancy place, I recommend this easy to access open-air eatery. It’s got all the greats – hot dogs, BBQ Ribs, Lobster Rolls, and even something for your Vegan friends (Impossible Burger, Cauliflower and Tofu).

Candied Salmon from Southold Fish Market North Fork LI NY

SNACK: Southold Fish Market, Southold 

In addition to fresh-caught snapper, blues and other fish, this Fish Market offers Candied Salmon, one of the most decadent and addictive snacks on earth. Like potato chips, you can’t eat just one. (And you can console yourself with the idea that the Omega-3’s you’re ingesting offsets the sugar).


EAT/LUNCH: The North Fork Shack, Southold

Pulled Lamb and Cajun Fish Tacos are on the menu at the roadside North Fork Shack offering very unshack-like inventive and excellent fresh-fast-food.

Al Lure Chowder House Southold NY

EAT: A Lure Chowder House and Oysteria Southold

A Lure Chowder House and Oysteria restaurant, overlooking the yachts at dock, is worth the 5-minute drive from Greenport. Both the cuisine, with ingredients seemingly freshly plucked from land and sea, and the ambience is stunning.

Where to Stay on the North Fork Long Island

Silver Sands Motel Greenport NY Garden and Peconic Bay

STAY: Silver Sands Motel and Beach Bungalow, Greenport

There’s been something of a renovation frenzy in the North Fork, especially of waterfront motels and hotels that had seen much better days. Infusions of cash and a keen eye for design, and voila, renewed interest in properties that offer cooly styled rooms with amazing views. That’s what happened with the flagging Silver Sands Motel, once again in vogue.

Soundview Hotel Halyard Restaurant, Greenport North Fork LI

STAY: Sound View Hotel/ Halyard Restaurant, Greenport

The Sound View Hotel, another redone waterfront classic, affords guests of both the lodge and Halyard Restaurant unobstructed views of the Long Island Sound. 
The Gallery boutique hotel Greenport NY

STAY: Lots of Other Options in Greenport

There are plenty of charming B&B’s and a couple of boutique hotels in downtown Greenport. Stay at the funky Gallery Hotel, or at the latest American Beech Hotel – both on Main Street. Care to stay waterside? The Harborfront Inn is a sweet alternative.

Check post links below for more Long Island NY Getaways

Montauk NY Going Old School

Southampton NY Affordable in Off Season

Explore the Gold Coast of Long Island NY

North Fork LI Pin


  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine,, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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1 thought on “North Fork Long Island NY: The Anti-Hamptons”

  1. Malerie,
    Came across your article on the north fork. Frankly, for boaters like ourselves it is the most beautiful place and our favorite destination. Brewers Sterling Harbor is a fabulous marina in Greenport. That linked to the incredible surroundings, as you describe, make for a fabulous weekend, long or short. And , as a bicyclist, we get to enjoy all the wonderful places you noted.
    Our normal ride is from Greenport to Matatuck . On the return trip we stop in Port of Egypt for lunch at Alure. Sitting outside looking at the boats in the marina is pure delight.

    Thanks so much . You hit it right on the nose. The north fork has it all!

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