Imagine vast farmlands that come alive with vibrant hues of orange, red, and yellow, seasonal harvest festivals and much more – less than two hours outside of New York’ concrete jungle. Well, you don’t have to imagine – just head to Long Island’s North Fork region, or as the locals call it, “NOFO,” to make your autumn dreams a reality!
The North Fork is home to more than 60 vineyards with world-class tasting rooms, dozens of “pick-your-own” farms and orchards, incredible hiking trails, and one-of-a-kind, charming places to stay overnight. The country roads of the East End region are lined with farm stands, quaint downtowns, farm-to-table eateries, centuries-old properties, antique shops and much more. While there are many reasons to visit this incredible destination all year long, we’ve gathered 10 reasons to fall in love with the North Fork this fall.
1. Two Words: Wine Country
From tasting rooms that range from historic barns to glamorous chandelier adorned mansions, Long Island is known for award-winning, high-quality ingredients for wines and spirits in unmatched settings with winding farmlands and waterfront vineyards.
Known as Long Island’s wine country, the North Fork’s fall harvest season provides ample opportunities for wine tastings and wine tours. Visit Jamesport Vineyards, one of the North Fork’s oldest vineyards, where the great lawn out back provides the perfect setting for enjoying great wine and light fare. Stop by RGNY’s tasting room in Riverhead to learn how to taste and pair wine like a pro or take an educational wine class at Terra Vite Winery & Vineyard. Sip renowned wine at Palmer Vineyards, visit the campus at Lenz Winery, or glimpse the unparalleled view of the Long Island Sound at Kontokosta Winery’s waterfront location.
2. Harvest Season! Pick Your Own Apples, Pumpkins, Corn and More at Dozens of Family-Owned Farms
It’s no secret that Long Island has some of the most diverse and gorgeous farms with picturesque flower fields, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Whether you’re looking for a place to pick your own apples, pumpkins or just kick back and enjoy some cider, Long Island’s North Fork farms are a fall attraction that you don’t want to miss out on this fall.
Fall in love with Harbes Farm & Vineyard located in the heart of Long Island’s North Fork. The 100-acre Mattituck-based farm has a popular barnyard and farmstand with farm-fresh produce including their signature apple cider donuts. For more locally grown fresh produce, Sep’s Family Farm has two farm stands and guaranteed unmatched, field-ripened taste and freshness, Lewin Farms has apples, pumpkins, and vegetables, and Woodside Orchards in Jamesport has craft cider, apples, and baked goods.
3. Picturesque Fall Foliage & Hiking Trails
Breathing in the crisp autumn air while surrounded by hues of red and orange? Sounds delightful. And with so many hiking trails available to explore, we can see why it would be easy to fall in love with the North Fork. With a combination of mature trees and meadow as well as a mix of fresh and saltwater wetlands, the North Fork has some of the most scenic trails on Long Island.
Located in Riverhead and Southold, Hallock State Park Preserve sits on 225 acres of land and offers nearly one mile of pristine beachfront on the North Shore of Long Island along the Long Island sound. Also offering access to the Long Island Sound is Greenport’s Inlet Pond Park which has freshwater views and a well-marked and maintained hiking trail to take in the fall foliage. Mashomack Preserve allows visitors to enjoy the natural wonders of 11 miles of coastline and acres of creeks, woodlands and fields while Laurel Lake Preserve is home to a kettle hole with a diverse fish population. Mattituck has the Mill Road Preserve with two main trails and Goldsmith Inlet County Park in Peconic has a trail that opens into a beach.
4. North Fork B&Bs Have Unmatched Charm & Unique History
Known for its rich farmland and award-winning vineyards, the North Fork of Long Island is the perfect place to fall in love with a cozy B&B escape. Whether you are looking to snuggle up next to a luxurious fireplace or sip quality wines at the nearest vineyard, it’s easy to pick a serene location to spend the night.
Located on the water, the Stirling House Waterfront Inn in Greenport is a historic B&B built in 1880 that blends old world charm and modern amenities. And in Mattituck you’ll find Cedar House on Sound B&B that was a former potato packing barn rebuilt from the ground up. Stroll the gardens and savor a glass of local wine in the gazebo at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn in Riverhead, relax and rejuvenate at the award-winning Arbor View House B&B in East Marion, or visit the Shoals in Southold, a new waterfront hotel overlooking the Peconic Bay and Shelter Island.
5. Shopping! Visit a Farm Stand for Fresh Produce and Treats or Go Antiquing
From vintage clothing and furniture to antique art and gifts, Long Island offers a treasure trove of antique shops, many of which you’ll find alongside the country roads of the North Fork’s farmlands or nestled throughout Long Island’s charming downtown villages. Visit North Found where vintage and antique furniture and lifestyle accessories are sold in Peconic. Southold’s Lost & Found also sells vintage furniture along with art books and clothing. Stop by The Shoppes at East Wind or Tanger Outlets in Riverhead for some shopping before making it out to the North Fork farm stands.
The North Fork’s fall harvest season offers seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as pastries and other preserved foods including jams and salsas. And local farm stands are the best places to look for these treats. Harbes Family Farm offers roasted corn, pressed sandwiches, cider donuts, and corn-flavored ice cream while Hallock’s Cider Mill in Jamesport sells apple fritters, pies, and cider. For artisanal chocolate handcrafted with passion in the heart of the North Fork, there’s no place like Disset Chocolate in Cutchogue.
6. Small-Town Festivals, Fairs and Traditions Bring Communities to Life
There’s nothing better than a small-town festival where the community comes together to celebrate anything from old-time traditions to music to garlic to just plain fall. The North Fork is known for its festivals that attract families and fun no matter what town.
Fall in love with Hallockville Museum Farm’s Country Fair on September 17 or Greenport’s annual Maritime Festival on September 24. Get a whiff of Long Island’s annual Garlic Festival hosted by the Garden of Eve Organic Farm in Riverhead on September 17. For the seafood fans, Southold is hosting their annual fall fishing showdown with a seafood bash on September 17 and Greenport also has an Oyster extravaganza on October 29.
7. The Freshest Farm-to-Table Fare
Long Island’s North Fork has some of the best farm-to-table restaurants in the region, serving up the freshest catches and cultural flavors. And at the top of our list is the North Fork Table & Inn. Celebrating the bounty of Long Island’s farm, vineyards, and waterways, the restaurant champions the farm-to-table philosophy of its Michelin-starred chef.
And Noah’s in Greenport is another favorite for farm to table fare from local East End farmers, foragers, vintners, and growers. Their motto is “know your farmer, know your food.” Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck offers farm to table service for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a friendly country style vibe and cozy atmosphere.
8. Historic Treasures and Centuries-Old Properties that Line Country Roads and Villages
The North Fork was originally a maritime hub for trade, fishing and whaling with fertile land perfect for growing crops indigenous to the Americas. The land was home to the tribes of the Algonquin nation and then later the European settlers who purchased the land. Up until the late 19th century, Greenport was only reachable by private car or boat until the LIRR extended its line on the North Shore to Greenport.
Built in 1765, the 65-acre Hallock homestead is a living part of history, and the Jamesport Meeting House was built by Puritan settlers in 1731 and is considered the oldest public building on the East End. For more history, take a guided tour of the English-style house, “The Old House” in Cutchogue where the Pilgrims lived in the 1600s. To learn more, the Southold Historical Museum helps keep the history and culture of Southold alive by educating the public with their archives and preserved historical buildings.
9. Craft Breweries, Distilleries, Cideries & Speakeasies are Everywhere
The quintessential place to visit a brewery, distillery or speakeasy, Riverhead is the gateway to the North Fork and the ideal place to participate in a brewery tour. From Peconic Country Brewing’s locally crafted beer to Montauk Distilling Company’s fully operational distillery and tasting room, Riverhead’s breweries do not disappoint.
The Long Island Farm Brewery is a one-of-a-kind brewery atmosphere with a tasting room and brewhouse right next door to Waterdrinker Family Farm. And committed to making their beers with respect to seasonal produce and uniquely grown crops, North Fork Brewing Company is dedicated to creating craft beer anchored in the rich North Fork traditions of agriculture, hard work, and good times. For specialty drinks in a cozy downstairs speakeasy, look no further than the Jedediah Hawkins Speakeasy.
For brewery tours, Tapped Enterprises offers a North Fork tour starting at Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, continuing to Long Ireland Beer Company, and ending with Twin Fork Beer Company. And Urban Pedal Tours provides a fun day of riding to and from Riverhead’s craft beer establishments.
10. Animal Encounters Where You Can Pet, Feed and Play with Farm Animals
Fall in love with the animals at the Long Island Game Farm in Manorville, home to over 200 animals. Fall fun with the animals as you walk with the wallabies and see if you can get them to eat a treat from your hand. Or get up close and personal with the deer where you can hand-feed them in the deer forest.
Visit the animals at North Fork farms including Harbes Family Farm and Hallockville Museum Farm with farm animals like goats, horses, pigs, cows, sheep, and more or come say hi to Waterdrinker Family Farm’s barnyard animals and meet Hops the bunny!