What with all the quaint towns on the North Fork, it seems unfair to play favorites, but there’s no denying that with its gorgeous old houses, leafy streets, and syrupy marine light, Orient has a charm all its own. In recent years, the place has inspired at least two superb works of literature: Christopher Bollen’s high-brow murder thriller, Orient (Harper) and the Whiting Award-winning poet Julie Sheehan’s Orient Point (Norton). Which is to say, Orient is atmospheric. Here are some of our favorite spots:
Oysterponds Historical Society. The Society’s seven-building campus, which includes an 1888 schoolhouse, is a required stop on any visit to Orient. Through its exhibitions, lectures, and other public programs, the Society offers a window into the onetime fishing and farming community during the eighteenth century.
1555 Village Lane, Orient, 631.323.2480
Orient Beach State Park. A naturalist’s paradise with 45,000 feet of shoreline overlooking Gardiner’s Bay, hiking trails, and a salt water marsh that is frequented by great blue herons, ospreys, and other bird life, Orient Beach State Park also features four lighthouses and has good fishing, kayaking, and wind-surfing.
40000 Main Road, Orient, 631.323.2440
Orient Linen Company. The understated quilts, aprons, and table linens at the Orient Linen Co. are an object lesson in craftsmanship and good taste. Housed in a 1920s barber shop, the premises were taken over a few years ago by Janet Markarian, a former textile conservator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who has also worked in the costume department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, and who has a parallel career as a real estate agent.
1100 Village Lane, Orient, 631.521.3711
Four and Twenty Blackbirds. The Orient outpost of the popular Brooklyn pie shop is just like the mother ship, minus the hipsters. On a recent morning, the offerings included chess pie, matcha pie, chocolate pudding pie, and salted caramel apple pie. Whatever you order, it will taste infinitely more delicious if eaten while sitting at one of the bakery’s outdoor tables on a sunny day.
1010 Village Lane, Orient, 347.940.6717
The Old Orchard Farm Store. Housed in what locals still call ”the Girl Scout building,” this tiny year-old shop sells handmade furniture and vintage collectibles, including an impressive selection of oyster plates priced from $60 to $600. Proprietors Robert and Leslie Black scour the country for old plein-air paintings and other artworks by Peconic-based artists. They also exhibit work by local artists.
1240 Village Lane, Orient, 610.574.3121
The Orient Country Store. On weekend mornings, it seems as though half the village is having breakfast at the Orient Country Store, which has long been the anchor of the community. Taken over by Miriam Foster, a baker, and Grayson Murphy, a chocolate maker, in 2011, the shop still sells pantry staples but also prepared foods and baked goods that are made from scratch. Foster’s brown butter spice cake recently earned a shout-out from NPR host Faith Middleton, host of the Faith Middleton show, who declared it “the best thing ever.”
950 Village Lane, Orient, 631.323.2580