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Trip Ideas

Why the North Fork Should Be Your Next Getaway

You've done the Hamptons. But what about the North Fork?

Everyone’s heard of the Hamptons, a seafront swath of Long Island where fashionistas, celebs and well-heeled Manhattanites spend their summer vacations. But those who long for a more down-to-earth vibe in a similarly scenic landscape are turning to the less-famous North Fork, a 30-mile stretch of farmland tucked between the calm waters of the Long Island Sound and the bays that separate the area from the South Fork. This traditional farming community has dozens of wineries and micro breweries, stylish mom-and-pop shops and a thriving restaurant scene with a slow-food ethos. The center of the action is in Greenport, a handsome maritime village filled with clapboard storefronts selling contemporary and vintage housewares, beach clothes, specialty foods and much more.

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EAT & DRINK

Fresh, locally sourced fare is a staple of the North Fork. Seafood doesn’t get much fresher than at Little Creek Oyster Farm, a harborside shack in Greenport whose owners grow their own oysters in the nearby Peconic Bay and let you shuck them if you're in for the challenge (instructions and tools included). This unassuming rustic space is highly instagrammable; not only are the oyster plates picture-perfect, but the small on-site shop is stocked with artisanal products like Scullery soaps, Backyard Brine pickles and amusing t-shirts that read "Go Shuck Yourself."

About four blocks away, a former horse stable from the 19th Century was recently turned into Stirling Square, a dining destination with three restaurants surrounding a leafy, pebbly patio. The newest is American Beech, which serves coastal American cuisine- clam chowder with applewood bacon, lobster roll with lemony crème fraiche- in a stylish space covered in white wooden panels and furnished with a mostly grey palette.

Cocktail lovers head to Brix and Rye, a moody, speakeasy-style subterranean lounge where co-owner and mixologist Evan Bucholz offers a menu of perfectly executed classic cocktails like Sazerac and Mai Tai, along with house creations like the Long Way Home, a combo of 12-year-aged bourbon, Amaro Sibilla and Luxardo Maraschino.

Ten minutes away from Greenport, in Southold, is the North Fork Table & Inn, one of the region's most elegant dining rooms. The kitchen doles out refined, modern American food made with high-quality ingredients grown in nearby farms.

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DO

You could spend days visiting the area’s nearly 50 wineries, most of them surrounded by an idyllic landscape. One of the best is Southold’s Sparkling Pointe, a specialist in méthode champenoise, the traditional method used for making Champagne in France. This sustainably farmed estate produces five sparkling wines, which can be sampled in a grand, chandelier-clad tasting room, or better yet, at an outdoor terrace facing perfectly pruned rows of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

Two miles away, Croteaux Vineyards is known for its line of tasty rosés and for its laid-back pastoral atmosphere. Drinkers can relax in a charming tasting "barn," a farmhouse and garden strewn with red metal chairs underneath large umbrellas, a setup that distinctly resembles Provence.

While generations ago, local farmers grew mostly potatoes, the North Fork's agriculture is now notably diverse. At Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck, visitors can meet (and sometimes feed) potbelly pigs, dwarf goats, bunnies, and ducks, get lost in a corn maze or pick giant pumpkins in the fall.

Perhaps the most popular feature of this long-established destination is the roadside farm stand, with a patchwork of fruits and vegetables for sale and a counter that churns out utterly delicious cider doughnuts.

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SHOP

Greenport and its smaller neighbor Mattituck, another charming historic village, are a haven for shoppers in search of unique handmade items and gourmet delicacies. Lifestyle boutique The Weathered Barn is equal parts trendy and nostalgic, with a modern product line rooted in old-school craftsmanship. Over half of the artfully displayed products- from adorable terrariums to scented candles to wooden home accents- are made in-house through collaborations with local artisans.

Just steps away is Sea Bags, which sells marine-themed and vintage-style totes and accessories sewn by hand in Portland, Maine, using recycled sails.

Also on Front Street, PasParTou is the new outpost of a chic Brooklyn gift shop owned by Gosia Rojek, a decorator who frequently travels to Europe to select luxurious linens and textiles, plus one-of-a-kind ceramics and jewelry.

Stock up on small-batch local goods at Lombardi's Love Lane Marketin Mattituck, a treasure trove of delicious things like habanero-apricot jam by Peconic River Preserves, and caramel chocolate "szauce" by Old School Favorites.

Across the street, at The Village Cheese Shop, owner Michael Affatato has en encyclopedic knowledgable of wine and cheese. Let him guide you in the process of selecting among his more than 300 varieties, including the rare Hopfenbergkase, a hard cow's milk cheese from Switzerland.

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STAY

On the leafy north shore of Long Island, the Three Village Inn is the the quintessential NY weekend getaway. Check into the white-and-black main house or book a cottage, which looks out on a sailboat-dotted harbor.

Housed in a landmark 1863 Italianate mansion, Jedediah Hawkins Inn is surrounded by wide open farmland and the property's own organic gardens. Book the light-filled Cider Room done up in springtime yellows.

The Morning Glory Bed & Breakfast occupies a handsomely restored 19th-century residence in Greenport, where German hosts Klaus and Renate Wilhelm lavish guests with organic fruits and fluffy pancakes during breakfast. Staying at this cozy three-room inn, decorated with soothing ivory fabrics and whitewashed furniture, feels like a sojourn at a friend's upscale summer home.

Opened less than a year ago, The Suites at American Beech is a five-room lodging that will instantly put weekenders in an estival mood thanks to bright nautical interiors designed by Manhattan's BHDM studio. Plush terry robes, Frette sheets, C.O. Bigelow toiletries and mini-bars stocked with local brews are among the in-room perks.

A short drive away from downtown Greenport, The Cliffside Resort is set on a scenic meadow bordering a bayside promontory. The resort's contemporary apartments- each one featuring two spacious bedrooms, two bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen- surround a garden leading to a private beach offering crisp, smooth waters and cinematic sunsets.

See all North Fork Hotels

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