Thursday, April 18, 2013

The North Fork of Long Island

Long Island, New York is a sprawling suburban landscape situated just to the east of New York City.  The island stretches nearly 120 miles long from points west in Brooklyn all the way out to Montauk Point, jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.  The non-New York City counties (or boroughs) that comprise the island are Nassau and Suffolk, and each has its own cultural and natural uniqueness.

The Twin Forks

Looking at a map of the island, one is reminded of a fish, with its head facing the islands of Manhattan and Staten Island and the two points of a tail in the east.  These points are more commonly known as the "twin forks," though the word 'twin' is hardly an accurate description.  First of all, geographically speaking, the South Fork is much wider from north to south, and longer, too.  The southern portion of the island faces the Atlantic Ocean, with white sandy beaches that attract the rich and famous to the Hamptons each summer.

The North Fork of Long Island is quite different than its southern sibling, much narrower, not as long, and with a landscape and a culture that's very different.  Situated between the Long Island Sound to the north and the Great Peconic Bay to the south, the North Fork of Long Island has a more rustic appearance, with farms and vineyards dotting the landscape in between charming and historic towns, more reminiscent of New England than New York.

Long Island's Wine Country

Probably the most famous thing the North Fork is known for is its wineries.  Long Island's Wine Country is a hotbed of world-class wineries that feature all sorts of delicious wines, from grapes grown in this favorable landscape.  The vineyards are picturesque and the wines are fabulous.

Raphael, my favorite!

Historic and Charming Towns

Beginning just east of Riverhead, the North Fork is a series of charming, small towns dotted along the vast grape fields and farmlands, which give the region its charm.  There's the tiny village of Jamesport that you'll miss if you blink your eye, the bustling and charming Mattituck, beautiful Laurel and Peconic, historic Southold, and the quaint seaport of Greenport.  

Farm Stands, Antique Shops and Nurseries

Another nice feature of this region, which goes hand in hand with the area's natural resources, is the wide array of charming farm stands, nurseries and antique shops that can be found from the western town of Aquebogue all the way to the eastern end at Orient.  Fresh vegetables and garden items abound in many of the area's countrified farm stands and nurseries, and many antique shops on the North Fork harbor many a hidden treasure.

The People and the Culture

The one thing negative I could share about the North Fork is the people, or rather the region's culture.  North Fork natives live a more traditional way of life than their South Fork, or even westward counterparts, and they make no bones about their desire to keep it that way.  Rarely has any sort of chain store made an appearance in the area, let alone a fast food chain (Mattituck is home to the only McDonald's in the area.).  They have a name for people from outside the area, "up-islanders," and it takes awhile for these natives to warm up to outsiders (I speak from experience!).  

So there you have Long Island's North Fork.  It's a great place for a day trip, or for a nice quiet vacation if you like that type of relaxation, and its local charm is a great way to take in the feel of old New England without leaving the island.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing Long Island with this west coast girl