Something’s always “the Brooklyn” of somewhere, and in Long Island, that happens to be the North Fork. Compared to its flashier cousin in the South (the Hamptons), the North Fork is more laid back and low key, and with its artisanal farm stands and highly regarded vineyards, it’s understandably a big draw for Brooklynites, who are apparently moving out here in droves. They’ve brought their hipster brands and twee restaurants with them so that they can have the best of both worlds as they commute back and forth.
Being the Brooklyn of Long Island obviously makes for a great day trip from the city. And of course, because of its proximity to the city and its leisurely pace, the North Fork is a great place to bring your baby. You and your stroller will find yourself in good company at a wine tasting or at a seasonal, farm-to-table brunch. The following itinerary describes a perfect day of food and wine in the North Fork that can also accommodate your little one.
Where to stay: Greenporter Hotel // 326 Front St., Greenport, NY 11944 // (631) 477-0066
The Greenporter Hotel looks like a retro roadside motel from the front, but the eco-friendly rooms have been tastefully updated for the modern age. If you call ahead, the hotel can set up a complimentary crib in your bedroom. It’s only a few minutes walk from the center of town, which makes it a great place to set up as your home base while you move out and about to the different attractions. They also serve one of the best complimentary continental breakfasts that I’ve ever had, as in thick, steel-cut oats, fresh, seasonal fruits and delicious muffins made from scratch, not the sad bowls of cornflakes and sliced bread that is usually the norm.
Coffee at Aldo’s Coffee Company // 103-105 Front St, Greenport, NY 11944 // (631) 477-6300
Aldo’s Coffee Company is local institution in Greenport that is famous for its coffee, scones and biscotti. Patrons wake up early to line up here for their caffeine fix, a dark and deep roast that will give you the jolt you need to get started on your day. Pull up a chair at one of the large wooden tables inside and read that newspaper or the issue of The Economist that you’ve been putting off for weeks.
Mitchell Park & Marina // 115 Front St, Greenport, NY 11944 // (631) 477-2200
If you really want to see the parallels between Brooklyn and Greenport, walk on over to Mitchell Park, a scenic, 4-acre park situated on the waterfront of Greenport. It reminds me a lot of Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it even has its own antique carousel. They hold a lot of family-friendly outdoor events like boat shows and concerts, and on the day we were there, they were hosting a very cute easter egg hunt for the neighborhood children.
Brunch at Bruce & Son // 208 Main St, Greenport, NY 11944 // (631) 477-0023
Bruce & Son is a restaurant that would be right at home in Brooklyn. A former cheese shop renovated as an all-day brunch cafe with an old school general store-meets-beach shack aesthetic serving farm-to-table, seasonal offerings like grass fed burgers and roasted rainbow carrots is right up the Brooklyn crowd’s alley. Avocado toast may already have had its moment, but the one here will keep extending its shelf life, and the lemon ricotta pancakes are a must.
Wine Tasting at Kontokosta // 825 North Rd, Greenport, NY 11944 // (631) 477-6977
When you’re about to head out of Greenport and make your way back west to the city, you can make a quick pit stop at Kontokosta Winery. None of the wines in our tastings really stood out to me, but I did admire how pretty the grounds were. The gorgeous lawns overlooking the water make for some incredible photo backdrops, and in fact, there were some engagement photo sessions taking place while we were there.
Wine Tasting at Paumanok Vineyards // 1074 Main Rd, Aquebogue, NY 11931 // (631) 722-8800
There are a lot of vineyards in the North Fork area, but if you have to narrow it down to a few, make sure to stop by Paumanok, which won New York Winery of the Year in 2015 and whose wines were rated very highly by the Wine Advocate and the New York Times. It’s a pretty relaxed environment, especially during the off season, where you can just roll up without a reservation and try a flight of wines. In our $20 White Label tasting, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon was the most impressive out of the group.
Orient Beach State Park // 40000 Main Rd, Orient, NY 11957 // (631) 323-2440
It’s unheard of to head to the Un-Hamptons without stopping at the beach. One place to do this is at the small but pretty Orient Beach State Park, which is noteworthy for its 2.5 mile long sand spit beach and is home to an interesting variety of flora and fauna. Apparently one can spot egrets and great blue herons on occasion, although we had no such luck. We did enjoy walking along the shore of the sand pit on the short hiking trail and picking up random rocks along the way. Admission is free during the off-season and is only $10 during the peak.
Dinner at Southold Fish Market // 64755 NY-25, Southold, NY 11971 // (631) 765-3200
No beach trip is complete without a lobster roll. One of the best in town is the one at Southold Fish Market, which is generous with its meat and is just lightly seasoned compared to other versions that overdo it with the mayo. As the name indicates, this place is a proper fish market, so you can bring some seasonal catch with you to make at home, or you can choose from a menu of cooked and raw seafood dishes. The baked clam “stuffies” and fried oysters are not to be missed.