I’ve lived on Long Island my entire life, but I rarely jump on the LIE and head out to the North Fork, except for the once-a-year trip to Harbes Orchard to sip cider and pick apples. And I’ve come to realize that is the case for many Long Islanders. We live mere minutes to an hour away from villages like Greenport, which offer so much more than just apple picking in the fall, and we never take advantage of it.
A few weekends ago, I packed a few small bags, my boyfriend and an air bed into the 2020 GMC Sierra AT4, and drove just an hour and a half to almost the farthest point of the island. But, as we drove up to Sound View Greenport, a charming resort-style hotel that offers an ocean view with each room, it felt like we were transported off Long Island to a rustic beach cabin in Cape Cod. When walking into the main building to pick up keys, one is met with a wall of wicker seating against windows showcasing a view of the ocean below.
Entering each room feels like escaping to a wooden beach bungalow, with the smell of the saltwater in the air. Each room welcomes visitors with complimentary Tate’s Bakeshop cookies—keeping it local—and sparkling water, a picture window view of the rocky beach and an exit onto a private deck for guests to feel the ocean breeze on.
We only spent two nights at Sound View, Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, but we were able to fit in quite a bit—fishing, stargazing, a walk through town, a trip to a winery and, of course, eat tons of incredible farm-to-table food.
What To Do
Shinn Estate Vineyards
It’s been a dream of mine to stomp grapes in a giant wooden barrel like the classic I Love Lucy episode, and Shinn Estate Vineyards, for that weekend only, helped me achieve my dream.
We loaded the Sierra CarbonPro truck bed (the industry’s first carbon fiber pickup box) with wooden barrels filled with wine grapes we had just clipped from the vines. We made the experience into a competition—the one to fill up a container with the most grape juice in a minute wins. It was nothing like I imagined. I thought it would be a messier and get all over my clothes, but it actually just felt like stepping into a cool, watery juice over and over again. And no matter how hard we stomped or sloshed around in the buckets, the truck bed was left completely unscathed. Also, don’t worry—that grape juice won’t be used.
Being part of the wine-making process (a one-time experience) wasn’t the only thing Shinn Estate Vineyards had to offer. Staycationers can enjoy the crisp fall air while they check out all the winery has to offer: a barrel room filled with natural light perfect for lunches, tastings and private events, a tasting room, a porch and lawn area with comfy couches and tables for friends and family and the picturesque vineyards for that perfect photo.
Orient Point Fishing
Drive to Orient Point, pass the ferry and follow the dirt and gravel road of the parking lot off-road. There may be a ton of bumps in the road (but the Sierra smooths them out) and it narrows quite a bit (somehow the giant truck managed to fit), but you can drive out onto the beach, back your truck close to the rocks and fish right out of the truck.
On Friday morning, after a complimentary continental breakfast at Sound View, we did just that. I pressed the button on the bed’s door, releasing the MultiPro step (is more like an actual stair and allows for easier entry to the bed), and hoisted myself up with the flip-up handle. We spent the next two hours relaxing as we threw our lines out into the ocean. Of course, my boyfriend caught five blowfish.
If you’re going out to the North Fork, you need to spend a night staring up at the sky. It’s incredible, and definitely not something I’m able to see from my home.
We positioned the 2020 GMC Sierra AT4, which has an air mattress accessory kit that fits the bed of the truck perfectly, on Sound View’s beach (you definitely have to get the OK from management). We fit the air bed in the back of the truck bed, complete with blankets and pillows, lay down and looked up at the clear sky packed with twinkling stars. Because the sky was clear, we were able to see the big dipper and the Milky Way.
Find a spot in the municipal lot and take a walk down Main Street and Front Street. There are tons of antique shops to pop in and out of, as well as boutiques like Lido, Creations by Lisa and Crinoline Fashion Boutique. Stop into Hampton Chocolate Factory or Kate’s Cheese Company for some treats while enjoying the stroll.
While walking Front Street, one can enter Mitchell Park & Marina, home to the 100-year-old antique carousel, a camera obscura, a darkened room into which light enters through a small opening and projects a live picture onto a screen, and an ice-skating rink (in the winter).
Fresh Food Favorites
Jedediah Hawkins Inn
As we drove up the gravel path toward the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, the twilight surrounding us, I thought to myself, this is where I want to have my wedding. The quaint inn is surrounded by greenery and a walkway with a canopy of trees, offering ample opportunity for photographs. Inside is nothing short of cozy and relaxing, rustic creaking floor boards and modern décor. If you can, be seated in the green room, open to the greenery outdoors, and filled with small, twinkling lights, comfy couches and pillows, setting a calming mood.
The restaurant offers a full farm-to-table menu featuring coconut shrimp with a spicy mango aioli, pork belly steam buns and a fresh harvest salad with apples, candied pecans for sweetness, blue cheese, dried cranberries in a light cider vinaigrette to start meals. The entrées range from a light vegetable fettuccine packed with pesto cream, zucchini, broccolini and carrots to a juicy blackened ribeye topped with Cajun butter and served with herb crusted potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
Pro tip: Check out the inn’s speakeasy that once served as an Underground Railroad site.
Located at Sound View, The Halyard offers a menu filled with ingredients sourced from the local North Fork companies: Oysterponds Shellfish Co., Ira Haspel, Southold Fish, Farmer Joe, Arshamomaque Dairy, Braun Seafood and Crescent Farms.
Executive Chef Stephan Bogardus created a menu featuring an extensive list of cocktails, including From Dusk Till Dawn (tequila blanco, grapefruit, house tonic syrup and agave) which comes with incredible presentation: orange hues, foam and a single flower in the center. The dinner menu offers several “For the Table” appetizers like oysters, juicy jumbo shrimp cocktail, and whipped Italian ricotta with ciabatta toast and truffle honey; appetizers like the Autumn beet salad (perfect for the season) with pears, walnuts, blue cheese and endive; entrées including housemade ricotta cavatelli with summer truffle, seared Shinecock sea scallops and a grass-fed New York strip steak.
Pro tip: Be sure to make reservations at sunset, because the windowed room turns the room hues of pinks and reds.
Bruce & Son
If you’re looking for brunch, I don’t think it can get any better than Bruce & Son in Greenport. Nestled on Main Street just a few storefronts from the water, Bruce & Son has a minimalistic approach to its décor and a front porch perfect to sit out on a fall day.
Brunch-goers can enjoy light favorites like lemon scones, breads with berry preserves and granola. Must-haves are the egg sandwich (a folded omelet nestled on a brioche bun and topped with candy bacon, pickled onions—which make for a surprisingly sweet addition—Gruyère, watercress and dijonnaise) and the Benedict (ciabatta, Berkshire ham, wilted spinach, herb hollandaise and poached eggs).
Pro tip: Get the fresh squeezed orange juice.