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Catching a sunset from the rocks at Wading River Beach is a North Fork favorite for this guy. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

If I had to pick an all-time favorite place I’ve ever vacationed domestically, it would have to be Lake Tahoe. 

A buddy of mine spent a few months there staying in a family member’s house on the California side with mountain views and a hot tub on a deck attached to the top floor. In hindsight, part of the appeal might have been the similarities to the North Fork. We visited the beach, a farm stand and a winery during our trip, which also included a meal on the waterfront. Of course the geography is entirely different there and the views were unrivaled in all my travels — the hiking, too.

That trip took place the year my wife, Vera, and I started dating, and Jet Blue was offering an all-you-can fly pass for $500 for the month of September. (There was a catch that we couldn’t fly on Fridays or Sundays, but folks had the option to shell out $200 more to fly any day of the week.)

Round-trip tickets to Tahoe cost about $500 each anyway, so we pulled the trigger on the deal and traveled twice more that month. A beach weekend in Fort Lauderdale closed out our month and we spent a day in New Orleans in between. That’s right, we took an early morning flight to the Birthplace of Jazz, ate two meals there, walked the French Quarter and other nearby parts of the city, and flew back home that night.

When I recently texted Vera about this, she responded  “Yeah, those were the days.”

You see, our vacations these days tend to center around our two children, ages 2 and 4. We’ve traded in the wildlife we’d see in places like Tahoe for muppet sightings at Sesame Place — from some vantage points, Big Bird looks almost as tall as the peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

The practicality of traveling with kids has forced us into staycation mode, which means afternoons spent around our pool, but also plenty of time taking in all the East End has to offer.

So a couple weeks back, when we got a full week off, we hit Sesame Place (again!) and I took my son to a Mets game for the first time he was old enough to appreciate it. But we also hit the Riverhead Town beaches at South Jamesport (the shallow water is great for families) and Wading River (still my favorite spot for a sunset).

We also spent an afternoon at Orient Beach State Park, where the kids enjoyed the sprawling playground equipment before dinner at 1943 Pizza Bar, a ride on the Mitchell Park Carousel and a stroll through Greenport.

Our days of flying around the country for fun are over with, but we’re fortunate to have the North Fork to fall back on.

• A couple weeks back, I mentioned Newsday’s Feed Me TV, well the new season’s out and it’s really well done. Northforker readers will love the piece on North Fork Table & Inn’s Stephan Bogardus. The work they’re doing (and investment they’re making) as a newspaper company, producing this type of content, is stunning and inspiring.

• Dan’s Papers did a fun post recommending places to watch the FIFA World Cup final. If I had to choose a place off their list it would be The All-Star in Riverhead, with its mega-screen.

• The Associated Press recently paid a visit to several North Fork wineries and the report is making its way onto websites and newspapers around the region.

• Looking for an event pick? Get out to Alive on 25 tonight in downtown Riverhead. Before you go, check out Elizabeth Wagner’s photos from last week’s event.

• We’re putting the finishing touches on our August issue today, but are also currently producing our September issue, which will be something cool and different. We’re calling it the Working Waterfront and it’s the first time we’re ditching the Eat, Drink, Live, Breathe theme to pay tribute to folks who make their living out on the water. Next year, we’re talking about doing a couple more theme issues, including one featuring only profiles on women of the North Fork.

Grant Parpan is the content director for Times Review Media Group, overseeing a number of things, including content planning for and magazine, the posts and videos we create for advertisers, and the company’s digital platforms. Have an idea for a story? Email him at [email protected].