Long Island’s North Fork is a place of resplendent beauty, unspoiled beaches, sprawling vineyards, and quaint seaside villages. Taking a day trip to the North Fork of Long Island lets visitors experience the quiet beauty in the heart of Long Island’s wine country, providing a day of fun for the whole family.
Start a day trip at Sound Avenue in Wading River and head east. A sunny day and a sense of adventure are all one needs.
A great first stop is Lewins Farms where families can pick seasonal fruit for a picnic lunch or car snacks — or bring a cooler and bring home sweet goodies.
Further east are many farms with quite a few horses for the kids to ooh and ahh at along the way, as well as farm stands and farmsteads. Quite a few of the farm stands offer gift stores and children’s playgrounds so be sure to stop, browse, and explore.
On the south side, stop at The Baiting Hollow Commons and let the kids have an ice cream or giant cookie at Gingerbread University. The small shop offers classes and birthday parties, too. Outside, there’s a small play area with a wooden train for the younger set and a sprinkling of home decor and candle stores. On the same property is the Lobster Roll north side, a well known and popular spot for casual family dining so if families start their trips late, this is a great spot for lunch.
A few miles east brings visitors to Garden of Eve Organic Farm where the kids can run and play while parents pick up organic produce. There are animals to meet in this farm offering a very natural and untamed feel. In September, they offer a popular family garlic festival.
Look for the Long Island Wine Country sign, and soon local vineyards will be at every turn, over 35 in all. Though the tastings and tours are mainly for adults, some like Martha Clara Vineyards with its bulls and goats have animals children can stop and see.
Harbes Family Farm, with 3 beautiful locations along the North Fork, is a fabulous stop in the summer or fall with activities for kids and fresh country fare like homemade lemonade, kettle corn, roasted corn, hot dogs, fresh breads, and tomato and mozzarella sandwiches. Harbes holds many festivals and is known for its Fall events so be sure to check their website to see what’s going on.
Stopping at any farm stand offers wide open views and the feeling that life is a bit slower in the country. Taking the time to savor the fresh air and frolic on a farm can be restoring to the spirit after a busy week of traffic, school, and work.
As the miles pass, the road becomes narrower and the gorgeous Long Island Sound comes into view. Soon Greenport is beckoning, and it’s a super town for families to stop for an hour or more. Explore the eclectic shops, boat watch or have a great lunch at one of the many restaurants. Be sure to let the kids ride the antique carousel at Mitchell Park right on the harbor.
Drive a few miles further and the end of Long Island approaches. Orient Point State Park offers spectacular views of Gardiner’s Bay and has many really fun play structures and slides right on the sand for kids. There’s picnicking, swimming, fishing, a rare maritime forest with Red Cedar, Black Jack oak trees and Prickly Pear cactus and expansive views visitors can take in while strolling on the beach. Note that state parking fees apply much of the year except during winter.
After spending time at Orient State Park, head back west and follow Route 25 instead of Sound Avenue for yet more farmsteads and great views of this beautiful area which is a perfect day trip destination. Route 25 will bring visitors through the town of Riverhead where they can even stop at the Long Island Aquarium if they have at least 2 hours left of their day (museum closes at 5 pm)
Riverhead leads travelers to the entrance of the Long Island Expressway and back into the much busier faster paced world of Long Island. Be sure to visit the East End often for great summer escapes.
By Debra Ferrie