The family-friendly North Fork has all the fixins’ for a country vacation, shunning cookie-cutter activities for the kind of quality days depicted in Norman Rockwell paintings. What it lacks in high-energy locales, the North Fork—particularly Love Lane—makes up for in a day’s adventure infused with local culture fit for kids of any age.
Start your trip to Mattituck’s Love Lane off at the Village Cheese Shop, located at the south end of the street, where kids are welcome to sample one of the many international varieties housed in the glass cases. Owner Rosemary Batcheller is more than happy to explain the origins and flavors of each cheese, and she notes that kids have sensitive palates and will be able to taste the differences between each sampling. For even more of a departure from Kraft singles, the Village Cheese Shop’s family-style fondue is a great option. The dining room is greenhouse-style, allowing in rays of sunlight. (Nearby Cutchogue claims to be the sunniest spot in New York State.)
After the savory, it’s time for something sweet next door at the Love Lane Sweet Shoppe. The store is filled with nostalgic candies, sugary goodies that prompt parents to fondly remember childhood days. Among the selections are multiple varieties of gummy watermelon slices, Neco Wafers, Charleston Chews and Pop Rocks. For the holidays, indulge in chocolate cornucopias and chocolate sleds, which are ready to be filled with even more candy.
While the kids munch, head over to the Roanoke Vineyards tasting room. Though a tasting room may not immediately evoke images of family time, Roanoke Vineyards is a comfy shop equipped with games, welcoming older kids to play Scrabble or Mancala as parents re-tox with a flight of Roanoke or Sagaponack’s Wölffer Estate Vineyard wines, as well as local beers to keep the hop-heads happy. Cozy up in one of the leather chairs and let the family conversation flow.
Just down the street is Altman’s Needlepoint, the antithesis to today’s digital age, where children of all ages can reserve a private session in everything from needlepoint to knitting.
New scarf in hand, it may be time for an actual sit-down meal. Just across the street are Love Lane Kitchen and Lombardi’s Love Lane Market. Newly opened this fall, Lombardi’s offers a number of gourmet Italian items, as well as fresh, made-to-order foods. If the kids aren’t too full, Lombardi’s Nutella Bar offers a number of selections incorporating everyone’s favorite hazelnut spread, all available to enjoy while sitting at the dine-in counter overlooking the street.
With its whimsical shops and hands-on family entertainment, the overwhelming consensus is that Love Lane has been aptly named, inviting today’s couples and families to leave their heart in Mattituck.