Often overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of the Hamptons, the North Fork is the less scene-y, more low-key Long Island escape that boasts its own share of cool towns (hello, Greenport!—an episode of Girls took place there), less traffic (thanks to two main roads, State Route 25 and County Road 48, holla!), and oh, yeah, it's where all the wineries are ('nough said). Here are three can't-miss (ahem, super Instagrammable) spots on Long Island's North Fork.
1. Shelter Island
This tiny bit of land sits between the North Fork and the Hamptons. You can get there by ferry from Greenport—either walk on or drive on. (I'd recommend driving though, since the restaurants aren't necessarily in walking distance.) Dine at Salt for delicious seafood and a pretty view of the boat-filled marina. The views at Sunset Beach Restaurant Cafe & Bar look amazing, although it wasn't open for the season when I visited with my mom and sister a few weeks ago. If you're headed to Shelter Island in "off-season," i.e. any time that's not summer, check the restaurant website (or call) for hours.
Don't miss: That sunset as you wait for the ferry heading back to Greenport. 👌🏼
2. Horton Point Lighthouse
A friend who grew up on the North Fork showed me this spot years ago and now I always try to stop by whenever I'm out east. I haven't actually climbed the lighthouse, but the real draw for me is the wooden steps leading down to a secluded, rocky beach—like stumbling upon your own little oasis.
Don't miss: Taking photos on the long wooden staircase, natch!
3. The Wineries
Ok, so the wineries aren't so under the radar, but here are three of my favorites, according to the vibe you're going for:
If you're looking to chitchat with friendly wine servers in an intimate setting, try One Woman. (Italian-born owner Claudia Purita planted most of the vines herself.)
If you're looking for an elegant experience (no party buses allowed) with a gorgeous view, try Kontokosta. (Bordering the Long Island Sound, its barn-like tasting room is powered by wind energy and made of recycled materials.)
If you're looking to open a bottle (or two) with friends and bring your own food, try Pindar. (There's a deck and a huge gazebo out back, live music, even food trucks!)
Don't miss: Wanna try all three? First grab a glass of vino or do a tasting at Kontokosta and/or One Woman, then head to Pindar. You can buy cheese and snacks in the tasting room along with a bottle of wine (which they open for you at the tasting bar). Relax on the deck with friends and take in the view of the vineyards all around you... heaven!
Bonus: Lavender By the Bay
This lavender farm is pretty much an Instagram hotspot. Stop by to take in the fields and browse the little shop.
What would you add (and what did I miss)? Any other places you love on the North Fork?
All photographs by Tom Schelling, except the sunset