Plan your perfect fall day on the East End
What interests you?Choose all that apply
- Date ideas
- Photo op
- Waterside views
- Farm fun
- Pet friendly
- North Fork
- South Fork
Launch a potato
At Garden of Eve Organic Farm and Market in Riverhead, you can operate an air-powered potato cannon that shoots potatoes at targets. You’ll get three shots for $5 to aim at a stationary target (4558 Sound Ave., Riverhead, gardenofevefarm.com; 631-722-8777).
Aim for a hole in one
Mini golf on the East End is open as long as the weather allows, so try your luck at the Tik Tok Mini Golf course at Drossos Motel, where each hole is met with its own obstacle (think: windmills, lighthouses, etc.). The course will remain open through October, weather permitting (69125 Main Rd., Greenport, 631-477-1334). Or, if your visit takes you to Montauk, shoot for a hole in one at Puff ‘n’ Putt, open weekends through Columbus Day (659 Montauk Hwy., Montauk, 631-668-4473).
Spend the day on the farm
A picturesque autumn day on Long Island features a trip to the farmstand more often than not. Family-friendly farms have resumed their dining, drinking and playing options just in time for peak season. Pull on your mask and enjoy a day sipping cider at Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck where the kids can roam the Barnyard Adventure and meet goats, rabbits and more. A new obstacle course, complete with ropes walks, tunnels and balance beams, is sure to intrigue ($19.95 on weekends, 631-482-7641, harbesfamilyfarm.com). If your ideal farm experience comes complete with Long Island-made wine, try Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard, a bar-meets-winery in Calverton currently open for tastings. (631-369-0100, baitinghollowfarmvineyard.com)
Pick your own apples
Apples are ready for you to pick right off the branch this fall. The U-pick farm options on the East End are aplenty, and a trip to the fields is sure to leave your pantries full of fresh fruits ready for baking. Be sure to check what’s ripe and in-season before you head out. If a warm apple pie is the end goal of your picking, consider reaching for those Granny Smiths at Lewin Farms in Calverton (812 Sound Ave.), The Milk Pail in Water Mill (50 Horsemill Lane), Woodside Orchards in Jamesport (116 Manor Lane) or a variety of other farms. Apples are in season through October at most locations and since the activity is entirely outdoors, it’s ripe for social distancing. Farms are requiring mask-wearing, hand sanitizing and many have installed shields between the cashiers and customers. Prices vary.
Rent a stand-up paddleboard
It’s a sport that requires balance, a board, a life jacket, a paddle and little experience. First-timers can rent stand-up paddleboards from shops such as Paddle Diva for $50 per hour through Oct. 31. Group lessons and classes such as paddleboard yoga are also available. Group lessons start at $75 and 60 minutes long (219 Three Mile Harbor HC Road, East Hampton, paddlediva.com; 631-329-2999).
Go ghost hunting
Join Long Island Paranormal Investigators as they spend the night exploring the 1843 Rogers Mansion on the grounds of the Southampton History Museum. To comply with social distancing guidelines, this season’s tours will be broken up into three groups that can accommodate up to six guests each. Guests can tour ghost “hot spots” in the mansion including the second-floor hallway where visitors often report hearing footsteps. Tours are $40 per person; offered Saturdays in October from 8 to 11 p.m. Tickets must be purchased in advance (17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton, southamptonhistory.org)
Fill up on farm food
Pies, doughnuts, jams and honeys are just the beginning. A stop by Briermere Farms in Riverhead — open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — for pies might already be on your East End day-trip list. (4414 Sound Ave, Riverhead; 631-722-3931), but several other farms offer treats worth the drive. Patty’s Berries and Bunches (410 Sound Ave., Mattituck; 631-655-7996), open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., makes and sells its own ice cream.
Admire the train cars
The Railroad Museum of Long Island, with branches in Riverhead and Greenport, will remain open on Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 11 for visitors. Exhibits, including old train cars, model trains and MTA machines, are for photo-ops and admiring only. Due to social distancing, no riding or touching is permitted ($12 admission for adults; $6 ages 5 to 12 years; infants through 4 years free; 440 Fourth St., Greenport; 416 Griffing Ave., Riverhead, rmli.org).
Snap a photo in a sunflower field
Some sunflower fields will be in bloom again late-September, so you still have a shot at scoring that perfect Instagram shot. Rottkamp’s Fox Hollow Farm is slated to open a new field for the season and Sidor Farms expects its existing field to last through the month. Call ahead to make sure farms are open as weather can impact bloom. (Rottkamp’s: $5 for visitors over 6 years old; 2287 Sound Ave., Baiting Hollow; 631-727-1786, foxhollowfarm.net. Sidor Farms: $7 per person; 8632 Wickham Ave., Mattituck; 631-644-2200)
Get lost in a corn maze
If corn is more your scene, try the three corn mazes at Harbes’ locations in Mattituck, Jamesport and Riverhead have been widened to encourage social distancing this year. The most interactive is the Robin Hood-themed maze in Riverhead, where players can play touchless trivia to work through to the end ($22 includes u-pick apples, harbesfamilyfarm.com ). On the South Shore, try Fairview Farm in Bridgehampton. (General admission is $12.00; 11 years and under, $10; 19 Horsemill Lane)
Go on a boozy bike tour
Pedal tours passing by farms and vineyards offer a chance to take in the scenes of the North Fork’s wine country and expanding craft brewery landscape. Reserve a 14-person bike with Brew Crew Cycles, currently accepting private reservations, or bring a group of eight or more for a private cruise around Mattituck with Pour & Pedal. Tours often include various stops at wineries, tastings and lunch. East End Bike Tours offers both private and self-guided bike tours, which sometimes include beachside stops and olive oil tastings.
Spend the night glamping
Take camping to a luxury level with tents that include nearly every amenity you’d find at home, including a queen bed, TV, Wi-Fi, air conditioning, a refrigerator and a full bathroom and shower. Eastern Long Island Kampground’s Safari Tents include it all, and are remain open for reservations through Oct. 31. Rates vary but are around $250 to $350 per night. If you stay on one of the designated “Halloween weekends” in October (Oct. 16, Oct. 23 or Oct. 30), your experience will include a costume contest and trick-or-treating within the campground (690 Queen St., Greenport, elikampground.com, 631-477-0022).
Explore a family-friendly museum
Wander the Children’s Museum of the East End, where activities include interactive read-alongs, a drop-in art studio and a nine-hole miniature golf course. Admission is $19 for adults and children over 12 months and reservations are required to enforce social distancing (376 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton, cmee.org). Other options rich in educational and historical opportunities include the Southampton History Museum. Tours of the Rogers Mansion and the Thomas Halsey Homestead houses must be booked in advance and masks are required. Tickets are $5 for adults and free for children. Free activity programs for kids, from crafts to book readings and music classes are also offered (17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton, southamptonhistory.org).
Spend the day on the water
Water rentals such as surfboards, canoes and kayaks are offered at places such as Main Beach Surf and Sport. Day and half-day rates are available; prices vary based on water sport. (Rentals available at Georgica Pond in the Hamptons; reservations are required; mainbeach.com).
Enjoy live music at the vineyard
Rock the Harvest brings band BonJourney to the outdoor pavilion at Pindar on Oct. 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. Celebrate harvest season with wine tastings and live music. Food trucks come at noon and guests are asked bring their own chairs and blankets to picnic as seating will be distanced and limited (Free; 37645 NY-25, Peconic, pindar.net).
There’s nothing quite like a clear night sky on the East End. If you enjoy the sights but aren’t quite sure what you’re looking at, join the Custer Observatory’s monthly “What’s In the Sky” stargazing outing. Ed Anderson, a member of the Astronomical Society of Long Island and the Cluster Institute, will talk you through what can be seen with a small telescope or binoculars (Sat., Oct. 10, 7 to 9 p.m.; $5; 1115 Main Bayview Rd., Southold).
Set sail for sunset
You don’t have to splurge to enjoy the open waters. East End Charters, launching from Greenport, will offer charters including a sunset cruise and a private sailing charter for up to six guests from 5 to 7 p.m. on select nights (Prices vary; 631-268-6528) For a quicker cruise, consider the Cross Sound Ferry, which operates daily throughout the year (closed on Christmas). Passengers without cars or bikes can ride for $18; children’s tickets are $6. You can also bring your car along for $61 (longislandferry.com, departs from Orient Point).
Go on a picnic
Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon dining in your favorite scenic spot. Need some inspiration? Try Red Creek Park in Hampton Bays, which has accessible picnic grounds, and is open daily from sunrise to 10 p.m. (102 Old Riverhead Rd., Hampton Bays, 631-728-8585). Your favorite local farm or vineyard can also serve as an ideal picnic backdrop.
Seek out fresh oysters
Pair your East End day trip with Peconic Gold Oysters when you visit Jamesport Farm Brewery (5873 Sound Ave, Riverhead). The vendor serves up half-shell oysters with all the fixings every Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. Founders Oyster Farm in Southold also sets up tents to sell ready-to-eat oysters select dates at Pindar Vineyards (37645 NY-25) in Peconic. Call ahead for schedules.
Explore a new town
Long Island towns offer plenty of day-trip opportunities. Pack up the family and drive out to Greenport or Montauk — both offer beach town vibes and waterside views.
Spend the night beachside
Spend just one night at a beachfront hotel such as Sound View in Greenport and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. Sound View, along with others nearby, offer up water-view rooms (Sound View: 58775 County Rd. 48, soundviewgreenport.com).
Pair a cold beer with a hot pretzel
From the Riverhead Ciderhouse to Shelter Island Craft Brewery, Long Island’s breweries and cider houses are known for having fall flavors on tap and treats like giant pretzels and chips and guac to pair them with. If you’re looking for a spot to bring your pup, both Greenport Harbor Brewing and Jamesport Farm Brewery welcome furry visitors.
Throw an ax
Mobile ax-throwing company Alpha Axe can be spotted at Long Ireland Brewing Co. select Saturdays this fall. Try a toss in a mobile cage and if you hit the target, consider asking about upcoming leagues. Four teams currently make up the first league, which takes place at the brewery (817 Pulaski St., Riverhead, alphaaxes.com).
Seek out a pop-up restaurant
Dine at Pawpaw for a secret (ish) North Fork supper that’s only offered select Saturday evenings at 6:00 and 8:30 p.m. The menu changes weekly and is dictated by what’s been farmed locally. Reservations resume in November ($75, 208 Main St., Greenport, pawpawpopup.com).
Visit a waterside winery
At Kontokosta Winery, a peaceful afternoon is almost a given. Reservations are required and appointments must be locked in by credit card online ($10 per person). You’ll enjoy bottle service only (no tastings) at this winery, due to health and safety concerns. You can bring your bottle to an outdoor table and enjoy views of the Long Island Sound, should you desire. The winery is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Reserve online at exploretock.com/kontokostawinery (825 North Rd., Greenport; 631-477-6977).
Tour a spooky corn maze
Turn on your flashlight and head to Harbes for the spooky corn maze 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday nights through Oct. 24 and Sunday, Oct. 12, must have flashlight or buy one at stand (5698 Sound Ave., Riverhead, 631-369-1111).
Stop and smell the flowers
Find a fresh-picked flower bunch on the farmstands as you drive through the East End’s windy roads. Patty’s Berries and Bunches has flower bunches hand-picked daily for sale through October, and at Schmitt’s Country Fresh Farm you’ll find fresh-cut sunflowers (Patty’s: 410 Sound Ave., Mattituck; Schmitt’s: Main Road, Laurel).
Pick your own veggies
Eating healthy is easier when you’ve worked for your veggies. Pick your own in-season vegetables at farms such as Windy Acres in Calverton, Lewin Farms in Calverton and Seven Ponds Orchard in Water Mill. Prices vary and are often by the pound.
Drive through a farm
Meet horses, goats, cows, pigs, ducks and chickens during the drive-through experience at Spirit’s Promise Equine Rescue in Riverhead. On Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. through November, families can purchase tickets to the 30-minute private experience. ($32 per car; $27 early bird purchased seven days prior to event; purchase tickets online at fareharbor.com/spiritspromise (2746 Sound Ave., 631-875-0433).
Pizza to go, or to stay
Amber Waves Farm hosts a weekly Saturday night dinner complete with pizza, pasta, salad and oysters. Take it to go or dine on the farm at nearby picnic tables. Be sure to pre-order though; orders open on Wednesdays at amberwavesfarm.org (367 Main St., Amagansett, 631-267-5664).
Go to an off-the-beaten-path winery
Make your date feel special by seeking out a more personal wine tasting experience. McCall Wines in is a low-key vineyard in Cutchogue where you can debate the merits of unoaked chardonnay or pinot noir without all the noise and distractions of big crowds and live music. Make a reservation in advance — there are a few picnic tables on the lawn or ask for a table in the cozy tasting room that has all the trimmings of a working horse barn. Walking tours are still available by reservation ($20 a person), where you’ll cover not just the sustainable wine production, but the winery’s cattle fields (cuts of beef are sold from the tasting room). McCall has also just released its first small batch brandy (22600 Rte. 25, 631-734-5764, mccallwines.com).
Explore vintage and designer consignment stores in the Hamptons (Collette Luxury Consignment, at 2044 Montauk Hwy.) and Greenport (such as The Times Vintage, at 429 Main St., and Tea and Tchotchkes, at 120 Front St.).
Taste wine and cheese
A pop-up tasting experience comes to Wine Vie on Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. Sommelier Jessica Green will talk you through a four-wine flight with vintages from the Down the Rabbit Hole Wine Boutique in Sayville. Wine will be paired with cheeses from Harbor Cheese in Northport. Registration is required in advance; $60 per person. (250 Manor Ln., Jamesport; tickets at winevie.com/events)
Visit a distillery
Make a reservation to relax at the family-owned Montauk Distilling Co.. Try the Bourbon Whiskey Tunney , Made from Long Island corn in a copper pot still. (24 E. Second St., Riverhead; montaukdistillingco.com/spirits)
Make a ‘magic’ nature wand
Hunt for the perfect stick, then find other natural elements to decorate it with, from flowers to leaves and beyond. Bring a blanket and decorate your magic wand with yarn, wire, beads and more. The event, organized by the Naturally Curious Children and Group for the East End costs $5 for materials. Masks are required. Bring your own blanket. (Oct. 18 at noon; Downs Farm Preserve, 23800 Main Rd., Cutchogue; register at groupfortheeastend.org.
Go on a forest walk
Join in on a “Forest Therapy Walk” at Downs Farm Preserve in Cutchogue. The walk encourages you to open your senses, focus on your surroundings and journal about your emotions. Registration is $5. (Oct. 18 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; 23800 Main Rd., Cutchogue; register at groupfortheeastend.org).
Stop for tacos
Taco lovers will want to drop by Mattitaco for takeout. Options at this laid-back, family-friendly joint include seafood (lobster, cod, shrimp), vegetarian (peppers, portabdlla, sweet potatoes, corn) and meat (chipotle chicken, cheese burger, carne asada, etc.) tacos (10560 Main Rd., Mattituck; mattitaco.com).
Taste cider doughnuts
Cider doughnuts coated with cinnamon sugar mark the changing flavors of the seasons on the East End of Long Island. Your options are aplenty, from Breeze Hill Farm (31215 County Rd., Peconic) to Fairview Farm at Mecox (19 Horsemill Lane, Bridgehampton) to Wickham’s Fruit Farm (28700 Main Rd., Cutchogue) and Hallock’s Cider Mill (1960 Main Rd.) in Jamesport. You can’t go wrong if you enjoy them warm.