This is the latest installment from the Literary Traveler's Guest Post Series on LongIsland.com, exploring the local attractions, landscapes, and history of Long Island. With the recent pique in interest in the Great Gatsby following the movie release earlier this year, The Literary Travelers have decided to head to Long Island to enjoy a weekend out East, on Long Island's iconic North Fork.
Working professionals, full-time moms, students, wives, daughters, sisters and friends, we all need a girl's weekend every now and again. Whether dismantling the stress of day-to-day life with a spa trip, celebrating a bon voyage or a long-awaited reunion, commemorating milestones with birthday festivities, or having one last hoorah with a bachelorette, the girls weekend has been an integral part of womanhood since the beginning of time. (I'm sure there are facts to back that up somewhere.) And with your bags packed, girlfriends in tow, and nothing but fun on the agenda, one cannot help the feeling of absolute giddiness. We're about to have the best weekend ever.
As we grow seasoned and wiser, as the idea of over-crowded bars, cheap alcohol and tourist traps begins to sound less and less appealing, we must seek out new places and endeavors to get our good-time on. So, what's a fun-loving group of gals to do when past the age of getting drunk, dancing on tables, and shouting "It's my birthday!" or "I'm getting married!"? For those of you ladies looking for a different type of girl's escape, I've got a real gem for you. No tiaras, boas or novelty gifts necessary.
Long Island's North Fork, though less crowded than its Southern neighbor, The Hamptons, is making quite a name for itself on the getaway circuit. The traffic is lighter and the pace is slower, but there is no shortage of amusements to be had. The North Fork provides a mixture of just enough fun, relaxation, and scenic beauty to capture the hearts of you and all your girlfriends—even that difficult, hard to please one.
The ladies of Literary Traveler took just this trip for our own working "girl's weekend". And if we were able to find so much enjoyment while on the job, then you're sure to have a blast.
Here are some tips and recommendations for your girl's weekend—North Fork style.
1. Skip the hotel chains and check in to one of the many charming inns or B&Bs in the area. Literary Traveler picked the historic and award-winning Jedediah Hawkins Inn located in Jamesport, but there are a number of other quaint and inviting places to rest your head and fill your bellies.
2. Go wine-ing! The North Fork has been called the Napa Valley of the East, and it's no wonder why. With over 3,000 acres of vineyards and over 50 wine producers, the North Fork has earned its title of Long Island's Wine Country. If you're a gal who likes a good glass of wine and a healthy dose of variety, you've come to the right place. Whether you're into white or red, sparkling or still, sweet or dry, you're sure to find something that delights the palate. In terms of neighborly competition, the North Fork beats the Hamptons in smack-down fashion for the number of wineries, quality, and extensive diversity of flavors. You won't have to go far to find one of these local vineyards. In fact it's almost impossible to go anywhere in the North Fork without seeing a sign for one winery or another.
3. No girl's weekend on the coast would be complete without a trip to the beach. Of course I'm speaking here only to summertime visitors or those who appreciate nature's beauty enough to brave the cold. With that in mind, Long Island's North Fork has several beaches that are both impressive and accessible, and I highly recommend finding one. Orient Beach State Park, all the way to the easternmost tip on Long Island, provides a somewhat rocky though serene and noticeably underused coastline perfect for a long stroll or a picnic at one of the tables for public use. South Jamesport Beach meets the Peconic Bay with shallow waters and mild currents. Southold boasts six different beaches with different flares and flavors. The beach at Goldsmith's Inlet Park is a favorite destination for nature-lovers. Running between the Long Island Sound and the Inlet pond, the beach is secluded and beautiful. There are walking trails all around, and the Inlet pond is perfect for kayaking. Whether you're looking to gain a sun-kissed glow, catch up on your reading, or simply clear your head dozing off to the sound of gentle waves crashing on the sand, the beach is the perfect place to waste a few hours of your weekend.
4. Get Out: Trails, hiking, biking. Nothing makes you feel more at peace with your inner self than some quality time in the great outdoors. Work up a sweat and get closer to nature on one of the many walking, biking and hiking trails the North Fork has to offer. Bike rentals are available at several locations throughout the area for as low as $25 per day. Some of the rental companies even offer drop off and pick up service, so all you have to do is hop on and ride off, and there are plenty of places to rent out on the North Fork. Many local inns offer free bike borrowing for guests. Up the cute factor (and the laughs) and go with a tandem bicycle.
5. EAT. (Because calories don't count on Girl's Weekend.) While the North Fork is Long Island's wine country, it is not just the libations that are driving the region's popularity. The food here is something to write home about. Almost without choice, due to the abundance of fresh seafood available and the vast spans of agricultural land producing the North Fork's fruit and vegetables, the region has become a major player in the farm-to-table movement. The restaurant at the Jedediah Hawkins Inn, where Literary Traveler spent our own ladies weekend, has an award winning chef, an ever-changing menu, and a gorgeous backdrop in the all-glass solarium. Head to noah's in Greenport to share some tapas, or check out aMano Osteria & Wine Bar for wood fired pizzas and Tuscan flavors. The North Fork Table & Inn in Southold also features locally grown biodynamic and organic selections in its contemporary American cuisine. If you've no time to stop in for dinner, try the North Fork Table & Inn Lunch Truck, located behind the restaurant. Featuring old favorites turned new, seasonal flavors, and even compostable utensils, this is a must-try. The foodies have spoken, and the North Fork has arrived.
6. Farms. Driving or biking through the North Fork, you can't help but notice the bursts of color as you come across farm stands packed full of crisp garden vegetables and succulent fruits. Many of them offer homemade jellies, pies and cider, and freshly cut flowers. Be sure to stop at one and savor the local produce before it makes its way to the table. If you want to spend a little more time, go pumpkin or apple picking or simply wander the grounds of one of the large family farms in the area.
7. Get Artsy. The North Fork has a thriving local art scene. We were able to check out the photorealistic "East Enders" exhibit by native Long Island artist Charles Wildbanks with just a few steps out the door of the Jedediah Hawkins Inn. The barn behind the property has been converted to a rustic art gallery that showcases local talent. The artwork was beautiful, the space was relaxing, and we got lost in the images that seemed far too life-like to have been created by brushes and very talented hands. With at least one gallery in each city, and an abundance of homegrown artists, there is no shortage of creative wonders to take in.
8. Shopping. A must for any respectable "Girl's Weekend." Greenport has the largest downtown area with dozens of antique shops, adorable boutiques with vintage and contemporary clothing, accessories and jewelry, havens for home design and décor, artsy gift spots full of trinkets and souvenirs, and specialty food markets. Mattituck and Southold are far smaller but still have several charming little shops to wander through one afternoon.
With any luck, by the start of the work week you'll be refreshed, rejuvenated and whimsically reminiscent about the fun you had on your North Fork trip with the gals. Try not to be too disappointed if real life seems dull for a bit. And keep this in mind: There's no bad time for a girl's weekend and the North Fork is just a ride, boat, or a jet away.
Antoinette Weil is the Marketing Coordinator and a Contributing Editor for Literary Traveler. She was born and raised just north of Boston in Salem, MA, but swears she's not a witch. She is currently living in Portland Oregon and working on several writing projects. Her obsessions include travel, politics, strong coffee, good beer, and long hot days at the beach.
Literary Traveler is a travel website that encourages readers to indulge their wanderlust and explore the world through their literary imagination.This summer, the girls of Literary Traveler pack a copy of The Great Gatsby, hit the road and look beyond the Long Island of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Jazz Age to its rich contemporary culture, vineyards, agricultural heritage and more. We’ll be exploring the connection between the glamour of Long Island’s literary heritage and the abundance of things to see and do here today. Follow us on our journey on Twitter and Facebook!