Weekend Getaway : The North Fork

I can attribute my lack of wanderlust to the combination of poor planning and a supreme ability to procrastinate whilst poorly planning.  One of these days I will be the gal sitting on the distant shores of some exotic beach with a Pina Colada in one hand and a good book in the other - but for now I've resolved to make the best of what I have here in New York.  While I have learned a lot from this city, a girl can only walk by pyramids of pungent garbage bags and skip over city rats so much.  There is something to be said for the thrill of an escape, even if it is a quick one.  Enter my salvation: the introduction to a utopia located just 2 hours outside of the city where bunny rabbits replace rats and bushels of wild flowers and sweet corn take the place of odorous trash trashbags.  Ladies & Gentleman, I give you the North Fork.  It's a place where one can escape the city noise and breathe deep into the sweet country air.  Without further ado - let's chat about my favorite weekend getaway.

There are a few things you must do in order to successfully get yourself to the North Fork.  Numero uno, and most important, would be to purchase yourself a ticket on the luxurious Jitney bus .  The best I can explain the Jitney is to imagine yourself if you were 12 years old riding the bus to summer camp.  Now remove the camp factor, add a $19 dollar price point, and replace sweaty pre-teens with sweaty adult New Yorkers and bam you've got the Jitney.  All of that aside the Jitney is as convenient as it is affordable. The journey via bus consists of about 1 hour along the Long Island Expressway followed by a handful of stops along the North Fork.  Each stop has it's own claim to fame but the theme for most is the promise of waterfronts and/or wineries.  Among my favorite locations are Mattituck, Jamesport, and Greenport but wherever you choose to plant your feet I'd recommend your first order of vacation be to secure a form of transportation during your stay.  For most this means a bike - I recommend trying Greenport’s Bike Stop where you can rent one for $28 a day.

A favorite pastime for weekend getaway-ers here is biking to a winery or two. After two summer's I have yet to put a dent in experiencing all the wineries that populate the North Fork. Each vineyard is known for something different, whether it's sparkling roséfabulous reds, or live music.  While wine is just fine, the scenery is spectacular, reminiscent of Napa or the South of France.   These vineyards are also enjoyable for those that choose not to drink; most feature some sort of non-alcoholic beverage to be enjoyed along with delicious food pairings .

After a vineyard visit you might enjoy a scenic bike ride to a few local farm stands.  Among them I find Harbes Family Farm to be one of the best. The produce is incredibly fresh, the wild flowers are stunning, and everything is priced at a bargain to boot.   During your visit you can leisurely stroll across acres of land inhabited by blackberry & blueberry bushes - ripe for the picking!  Though you may emerge from these fruit laden isles with berry stained hands I can assure you it's well worth it.   Another spot worth your while is Briermere Farms. I would be remiss to leave out the creators of LITERALLY the most amazing fresh fruit cream pies I have ever tasted .

If you are anything like me, by this time you are tired from biking, filled with pie and berries, and much in need of a sun soaked nap.  Perfect timing to head on over to one of the numerous beach options.  The Peconic Bay can be credited for it's tropical-like temperature waters and soft sands . Try New Suffolk beach or it's the ocean you crave try the spectacular Tiana Beach.

The boating culture is hugely prominent on the North Fork. If setting sail is what you seek head over to Strongs Marina where you can choose from a variety of boat breeds to rent for a day, weekend or week,  all at a reasonable price.  If boat rental is not an option take a trip to Greenport and hop on the ferry  to Shelter Island - bring your bike aboard too!  Once on the island take a 15 minute bike ride to one of my favorite places, Sunset Beach.  With it's famed sunset views serving as the backdrop to swarms of mega-yachts, this beachfront restaurant holds strong to it's swanky reputation, often reeling in a host of celebrities - luckily people watching seems to be a sport here!  If you'd prefer to take in the scene from afar simply cross the street and you'll find yourself standing on a beautiful beach where many swim, play volleyball, or just relax all free of charge.

I want to preface all of the above with one of my greatest summer discoveries; being that sometimes the best getaway is a simplistic one, be it lazy afternoons in the sun or a good nights sleep .  Whatever route you choose, know that the fun of this place manifests through exploration AND relaxation.

If there is one thing you remember: should you ever find yourself on the North Fork, catch the sun as it's setting. Make it a priority.  I've seen my fair share of sunsets but those which streak the skies of the Northern Fork are so beautiful they will stop you in your tracks, causing you to pause and reflect if only for a moment.


Written By: Kayce Kerr