A Day in North Fork, Long Island

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If you’re looking for a getaway from the busy city life, or just to slow down for a day, North Fork is a the perfect destination for nature lovers and anyone looking to make a quick escape. 

The North Shore of Long Island is the remnant of a glacial marine and the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Earning the nickname ‘The Gold Coast’ in the 20th century, it is known for its wealth and luxurious mansions, stretching from Nassau County into Suffolk County.

In between the money and mansions, there lies North Fork, a 30-mile long peninsula on the east side of the North Shore. Here, you will find farms with an abundance of produce, over 30 Instagram worthy wineries, and quaint towns with local bakeries and mom and pop shops - the complete opposite of Gatsby’s parties.

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Visit Lavender by the Bay

What’s interesting about Lavender by the Bay is the amount of Chinese visitors; when I noticed the bathroom signs were in Chinese and Chinese pamphlets sat next to the English versions, I had to ask one of the employees. There isn’t as large of a Chinese population in Long Island compared to the neighborhood I was raised in, Brooklyn. The employee said that two-thirds of visitors were Chinese due to cultural reasons (still researching this), and then Lavender By the Bay gained popularity from social media. But that’s not surprising when walking through the 17-acre farm with 80,000 plants ranging from English to French lavender.

It costs $9 to enter on weekends and holidays, and $6 during the weekdays; Lavender by the Bay gives a portion of their entree fees to causes such as the Eastern Long Island Foundation, Cast, Inc., North Fork Parrish Outreach, North Fork Animal Welfare Outreach and Peconic Land Trust.

Before we even made our way into the field, they handed me a lavender flower and said to squeeze, so the oil can release its aroma. The scent is pure and calming, and sitting on the same table is a donation jar to save the bees. Just a warning: the field is full of honey bees hard at work, but if you leave them alone, there is no reason they will bother you.

The farm itself looked unreal, the purples and greens made my eyes do a double take as we walked pass all the flowers, most of them blooming at this point, and the smell doesn’t overwhelm. We spent some time taking photographs, strolling along the fields and watching the honey bees do their work. Before you leave, don’t forget to check out the gift shop - I bought lavender essential oil, a bar of soap with lavender flowers for my mother, dried lavender flowers for the house and a mini lotion bar to leave in my handbag.

 

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Make a Pit Stop at Town Beach and Hortons Point Lighthouse

We’re were a little early for lunch so we decided to make a pit stop at Town Beach, which looks over the Long Island Sound. The water was extremely blue and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. Thankfully, the humidity was low so it wasn’t unbearable as we wandered, even in areas without shade.

Next was Hortons Point Lighthouse. Did you know George Washington commissioned Hortons Point Lighthouse in 1790? We didn’t go into the lighthouse, but one can climb the tower; instead, we walked around the vicinity and saw an old rusted anchor from a boat that was once lost at sea. It’s humbling to be surrounded by places and objects that hold so much history.
 

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Have Lunch at A Lure Chowder House & Oysteria

Restaurants with outdoor seating in the summer are God’s gifts. A Lure is situated on the landmark Port of Egypt Marina, with a beautiful view of the water and parked boats. Aside from its waterfront views, A Lure is known for fresh fish and seafood; and they did not disappoint.

We ordered half a dozen oysters, a lobster and fish and chips. I made sure the waitress didn’t give us straws for our drinks and was happy to hear that she hated straws as well. The lobster was cooked perfectly - not a minute over cooked and when dipped in butter, it practically melted in my mouth, and the fish was extremely fresh. Nothing like the taste of impeccable seafood!

 

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Pick Organic Blueberries at Bhavana Blueberries

After extensive research, I found a sustainable and organic blueberry farm in North Fork. Bhavana Blueberries is a 30+ acre blueberry orchard, named after the Sanskrit concept ‘bhavana,’ the cultivation of mind, body and spirit. I picked this farm over the others in North Fork because they were committed to cultivating a healthy ecosystem for their bushes, weed and pick by hand, and add organic matter such as wood chips and organic fertilizer to the soil (they are certified organic by NOFA-NY). Bhavana Blueberries is dedicated to creating a healthy and responsible food community that connects the farm to the people who work there and to those who consume their fruits.

We picked two boxes of blueberries; I’ve never been blueberry picking before, and let me tell you - there definitely is a difference in taste when it comes to store bought and freshly picked blueberries.
 

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Pick Raspberries at Lewin Farm

Condzella’s Farm who also practices sustainable farming was originally my first pick for strawberries and raspberries, but strawberry picking season was over and the employee recommended Lewin Farm for raspberries. A fourth generation family farm, Lewin Farm was the first 'pick your own farm' on Long Island. They harvest a variety of produce including berries, sweet corn, potatoes, cauliflower, eggplants, pears and more.

Raspberry picking was harder than blueberry picking, maybe it was because we arrived later in the day and everyone picked most of the raspberries so we had to search harder, but now I understand why a box of raspberries go for so much at the groceries. We picked almost a pound of raspberries, eating a couple while we picked them and called it a productive day.

 

 (Source: Blue Duck Bakery)

(Source: Blue Duck Bakery)

End the Day with Dessert From Blue Duck Bakery Cafe

If you like sweets and bread, you’ll feel as if you’re in heaven in this local bakery. Blue Duck Bakery Cafe is filled with cookies, cannolis, brownies, scones, pies, cupcakes and other baked goods - you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose, but don’t be surprised if you end up with more than one pastry.

Blue Duck Bakery Cafe’s signature line of artisan bread has no preservatives, stabilizers or dough conditioners; they use the finest ingredients of unbleached flour, water, sea salt, and natural leavenings and are created by hand.

Sit at one of the tables to enjoy your treat in the presence of their homely decor, or take it to go. Either the way, you'll end your day with a sweet treat.