The Hamptons may steal the vacation spotlight during the summer season, but once autumn arrives, it's all about the North Fork of Long Island -- where farm stands and wineries offer peak-season products. If you crave fresh produce and local wines, this area is the perfect destination for a quick getaway. Weekends in October draw extra traffic, so consider a weekday stay to relax and enjoy the area like a local.
Farms and Food
For good old fashioned farm fun, Harbes Farm has several locations on the North Fork and a cornucopia of fall activities. The Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck boasts a veggie stand, pumpkin picking, hay rides, a corn maze, and pony rides. Or try Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm, a family-run farm in Riverhead that offers hay rides, pumpkin picking, and boasts a flower house offering fall specialties such as chrysanthemums. And though everyone rightly crowds into Briermere Farm in Riverhead for pies, locals know to visit Junda’s Pastry in Jamesport, where the desserts are just as delicious, but far less crowded. These farms are all open seven days a week, but some activities may be weather-dependent.
For fresh breakfast and lunch options, head over to Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck. Here, tuck into fragrant pumpkin pancakes, fish tacos, and more.
There are 40-plus vineyards and wineries on the North Fork. Target the smaller tasting rooms and you’ll have a better chance to chat vino with the knowledgeable staff and owners (and avoid the occasional rowdy tour groups). Shinn Estate in Mattituck is just one example, employing holistic farming techniques in their vineyard. Their celebrated wines are served in their tasting room seven days a week, along with gourmet-style light snacks. We also recommend Mattebella Vineyards in Southold, focused on handcrafted wines and organic farming. The vineyard has a tasting cottage that's open Wednesdays to Mondays (closed Tuesdays).
To balance your rural adventures with some window shopping, the adorable village of Greenport offers galleries and shops, along with a lovely harborfront. Be sure to stop in Coronet, an impossibly quaint vintage 1940’s luncheonette, for an old-fashioned ice cream soda.
Where to Stay
There are all sorts of places to rest your head in the North Fork. For a special experience, check into the rustic-chic bed and breakfast located within a vineyard in a 1880’s homestead at Shinn Estate, or splurge at the Tuscan Villa at Sannino Vineyards in Cutchogue. Because it's still considered high season in October, travelers are looking at midweek starting rates of $259 and $325 respective. For more affordable options, the cozy Harborfront Inn in Greenport is offering a weeknight 1-night only special for $219 this month (otherwise $239), and the Hyatt Place Long Island/East End offers advanced prepaid rates starting at $149 in October.