One of my favorite things to do during quarantine has been to just drive.
Sometimes I might get out to pick up takeout … mask on, of course. Other days I’ll stop for a walk on a beach.
Many afternoons, I just drive.
One recent Sunday, I drove the Gold Coast, an area of Nassau County where I seldom find myself. Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and the barrier beaches of the South Shore are other places I’ve explored in the past two months.
But even as I’ve been working mostly from home, I still find myself being pulled to the North Fork. There is really no place like it for a quiet ride to destress.
I’ve been changing my routes each time. Some days are spent traveling as far as Orient, other days I find myself stopping at dead ends along the bay and there are even occasions where I want to check out the main roads and downtowns during these strange times.
There are a handful of North Fork roads I particularly enjoy checking out, and I try to incorporate at least one of them into each drive I take here.
Here are my 10 favorites, divided into four types of roads
Best dead-end drives
Narrow River Road, Orient
Across Southold Town there are too many streets to count — or so it seems — that lead to a dead end. Whether it’s along the sound, the bay or just leading to a farm field, they are plentiful. None of them quite measure up to Narrow River Road in Orient, which features a little bit of everything. There’s the stretch of water it gets its name from, a private bayfront beach, farm views and even people watching — as the road is a favorite for walkers and bicyclists.
Nassau Point Road, Cutchogue
It’s a short ride through a bedroom community, but at the book ends of this street are a gorgeous public beach with views across the bay and perhaps the best dead end beach view from atop steps that lead down to a thin stretch of beach and offers views of passing boats.
Best main streets
Village Lane, Orient
It’s a Main Street, U.S.A and I love it. A historic district, Village Lane can be described in a million clichés. From the cherry blossoms to the cute shops, historic structures and its walkability, there’s really nothing quite like it, even here on the North Fork.
Love Lane, Mattituck
This is a tiny little drive, but that’s what makes it so special. It packs more great places to eat per building than any downtown anywhere, so you might want to stop, but it’s also a fun spot to cross from one main road to the other on a drive across the North Fork.
Front Street, Greenport
The North Fork’s most iconic downtown, we love passing by Mitchell Park and making the turn onto Main Street. Of course, it’s kind of impossible not to want to stop and get out. Through on your mask, maintain a responsible distance and grab yourself a bite to eat.
THE farm road
Oregon Road, Mattituck-Cutchogue
There are many scenic farm views on the North Fork, but none quite stack up against Oregon Road. From the old Sidor farm trucks to the vineyards at Lieb Cellars and the rustic barns, this is a serious contender for the best drive period on the North Fork. Take it all the way to the end, make the turn onto Bridge Lane and cross over the Railroad tracks on everyone’s favorite little bridge.
Along the waterfront
Soundview Avenue, Southold-Peconic
Sometimes after I pass the town beach in Southold, heading west, I find myself veering to the right onto Soundview Avenue. If ever a road lived up to its name it is this one, which offers a clear view of the rocky beach below and on the nicest of days you can see far across the Long Island Sound. Some days, I’ll take a detour to Mount Beulah Avenue and other times I’ll continue all the way to Peconic, for a beach walk at Sound View Dunes County Park or Goldsmith Inlet.
New Suffolk Avenue, New Suffolk
Heading from Mattituck down to New Suffolk, there are points along New Suffolk Avenue where your eyes are attracted to water views on both sides of the road. In fact, you’re so surrounded by beauty — creeks on one side, the bay on the other — you almost don’t know where to look.
Peconic Bay Boulevard, Aquebogue-Mattituck
This is a sensitive one as GPS systems in recent years have caused traffic jams along this alternative route in the busiest seasons. So you have to know you’re not adding to that problem, if you’re driving this road, but it’s too delightful not to include. There are creek views on the western end that will have you pulling over for an Instagram shot and it remains peaceful all the way to the end, when you hit Veteran’s Beach in Mattituck. The dead ends along the way are pretty special, too.
North Sea Drive, Southold
Perhaps the portion of the North Fork most reminiscent of Dune Road in the Hamptons, this beachy stretch of road is bookended by two town beaches: Kenney’s and McCabe’s. It’s a slow, quiet ride best observed around sunset.