Long Island’s North Fork, the northern part of the island along the Long Island Sound that breaks off at Riverhead, is somewhat under the radar. While the Hamptons get the glory, the North Fork—which is easily accessible by the Long Island Rail Road—rewards visitors with a fertile seaside farm country known for its wine, peaceful beaches, top-quality farm-to-table food, and a fascinating history. 

For those who do know the charms of the North Fork, its many excellent wineries are usually number one on the list of activities. An easy way to try some out in season: Book the daylong Long Island Wine Tour via LIRR, which includes roundtrip transit, a luxury bus to two wineries, three to four tastings at each, and a buffet lunch. As for the rest of the region’s gems? Take the LIRR to Mattituck, Southold, or Greenport to easily access eight lesser known spots that make visiting the North Fork a must. Note that some spots require a short walk, bike ride (bring your bicycle on the train), or rideshare from the station.  


Interior of Matchbook Distilling in Greenport
Interior of Matchbook Distilling. Photo by Devorah Lev-Tov.

1. Matchbook Distilling, Greenport

After working in the liquor industry for years, Leslie Merinoff launched unique distillery Matchbook in 2017. Instead of producing straightforward spirits, Matchbook works with bars and restaurants to create custom blends from locally sourced ingredients. They also partner with local farms to buy their excess produce and turn it into limited edition spirits like Bergamot Sec or Strawberry Rhubarb Apertivo. On Saturday afternoons (by appointment), visit the distillery to create your own gin by selecting from their large library of botanical additives. 

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

10 minutes walking or 3 minutes by bicycle from Greenport

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Exterior of the Greenport Village Blacksmith
Greenport Village Blacksmith. Photo by Devorah Lev-Tov.

2. Greenport Village Blacksmith, Greenport

A replica of a building from the 1870s that was destroyed by a storm in 1992, the Greenport Village Blacksmith is open to the public where weekend visitors can see blacksmith Tom Barry in action and learn all about the historic skill. In the past, the blacksmiths who inhabited the space made things like wagon wheels, horseshoes, and scallop dredges. These days, Barry makes decorative items for sale in the shop. 

The blacksmith is part of the East End Seaport Museum, a small maritime museum with a saltwater aquarium on the nearby waterfront. They also operate lighthouse boat tours.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

6 minutes walking or 3 minutes by bicycle from Greenport

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3. Aldo’s Coffee Company, Greenport

You’ll probably smell Aldo’s before you reach the small roastery and cafe on Front Street, just a block from the docks and behind Mitchell Park and the Village Blacksmith. Italian-born owner Aldo Maiorana has been roasting his own coffee beans at the shop—and baking delicacies like biscotti and scones—since 1987, ensuring this will be the freshest coffee you’ve ever tasted. Try the house blend, aptly named Orient Espresso, or one of the single origins from around the world. Aldo’s is the perfect place to refuel while exploring quaint downtown Greenport.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

6 minutes walking or 3 minutes by bicycle from Greenport

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I Love NY sign at Lavender by the Bay
Lavender fields are abundant at Lavender by the Bay. Photo by Devorah Lev-Tov.

4. Lavender by the Bay, East Marion

If you’ve been to some of the Greenmarkets in New York, you might recognize the name of this farm and their dried lavender bouquets, but traveling to the source is an entirely different experience. You’ll feel transported straight to Provence when you see the lush purple fields at Lavender by the Bay outside Greenport.  The scent is intoxicating and the photo opps are off the charts. 

Founded by a local family in 2002, the farm’s 17 acres of pastel purple plants provide endless photo opps for those so inclined. Visitors are welcome to wander the farm and relax in carefully placed chairs and gazebos. Stop by the farm store for all kinds of lavender products including soaps, lotions, and essential oil. Check their Instagram to see when the fields are blooming.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

8 minutes by car or 18 minutes by bicycle from Greenport

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5. Goldsmith’s Inlet Park, Southold

While North Fork beaches are never as crowded as South Fork’s, some are still less traversed than others. Goldsmith’s Inlet Park encompasses 35 acres that include the tranquil Town Beach, as well as a tidal inlet and tidal saltwater pond, which create a unique ecosystem that’s home to wildlife like ospreys, kingfisher, crabs, and many species of fish. A trail through forested bluff leading to the beach offers sweeping views of the Long Island Sound.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

6 minutes by car or 20 minutes by bicycle from Southold

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6. North Fork Table & Inn Food Truck, Southold

The North Fork Table & Inn has been an East End institution for years, but this spring it underwent a reboot under the helm of Michelin-starred chef John Fraser. The interiors were redesigned, and in addition to the formal dining room a more casual food truck with picnic tables and lawn games debuted. Besides hot dogs and ice cream for kids, diners can expect farm-to-table dishes like Heirloom Tomato Pie, Lobster Corn Fritters, Connecticut- and Maine-style lobster rolls, and a chopped brisket sandwich from the smoker.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

13 minutes walking or 3 minutes by bicycle from Southold

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7. Old Slaves Burying Ground, Orient

Slavery existed in the North Fork, and one piece of evidence is this burial ground on Narrow River Road from the 1800s. Since the 1950s, it was thought that the owners of the property were buried here—proper headstones mark their graves—with around 20 of their slaves marked simply by rocks, although there may be more. The Oysterponds Historical Society launched an investigation last year to research and hopefully discover the true contents of the cemetery and the stories of those buried here. Visitors can pay their respects and learn about the research the society is doing to uncover the history.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

15 minutes by car or 36 minutes by bicycle from Greenport

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Exterior of Patty's Berries and Bunches in Mattituck
Patty's Berries & Bunches. Photo by Devorah Lev-Tov.

8. Patty’s Berries & Bunches, Mattituck

This lush farm owned by Patty DiVello grows all kinds of berries you can pick yourself, and visitors can walk among the stunning flower fields that grow the likes of peonies, dahlias, and sunflowers. Baked goods, jams, vegetables, and flower arrangements are for sale at the farmstand, and you shouldn’t leave without sampling some of the homemade ice cream made from the freshly grown produce. Various workshops, such as natural dying and nature art, are also offered, usually on Wednesdays.

MTALIRR

Ronkonkoma

6 minutes by car or 14 minutes by bicycle from Mattituck

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Devorah Lev-Tov is a travel and food writer based in Brooklyn. She has been living in NYC for 15 years and writes for publications including The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Vogue, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Eater, Thrillist, and more.