Guest Column: The East End is truly the place to be

A friend of ours recently mentioned that he expected old friends to visit Long Island this summer and wondered if we had any suggestions for things to do or places to eat on the East End. It didn’t take long for me and my wife to come up with a dozen really good restaurants. Then we began to think about what else they could do. That is when I realized how fortunate we are to be living on Long Island’s North Shore, North Fork or East End, whichever name you choose to call it. In a world obsessed with violence, upheaval and economic turmoil, life out here from Riverhead Town to Orient Point is good, very good.

We, the good folks who live here, should take some credit for this; after all, life here is a reflection of those who toil and make it what it is. Of course, we can’t take all the credit since the beaches, climate and land were here before we arrived. But someone in our families did have the sense to move here because they recognized a good thing when they found it.

As far as places to go and things to do, there are many. Let’s start with our farms that provide fantastic views as we drive eastward. These hard-working folks plow the land, provide us with great strawberries, corn, numerous varieties of tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, potatoes, beans and many other locally grown good things to eat.

Then there are the fruit farms that provide us with peaches, plums, apples and berries — not to mention the bakeries, where a lot of this fruit winds up in delicious pies, cakes, muffins and pastries. Agriculture doesn’t stop there. There are vineyards that provide us with champagne and fine wines. These magnificent places are also beautiful to look at, visit and enjoy paired with music, art and other activities.

It doesn’t end with grapes, as far as the new arrivals. The micro breweries are brewing some pretty awesome beers and ales. We even make our own vodka and scotch! The camaraderie at these places helps connect one to those less fortunate folks who are the day trippers and can’t stick around between Monday and Friday to enjoy un-crowded beaches, free concerts, art shows and other special local events.

While eating and drinking along the path eastward, there is also plenty of art to see at galleries and the events hosted by East End Arts. These places speak well of the local folks who produce such creative things for us to enjoy. Shopping, the All-American pastime, is also in abundance, with the bargains at Tanger Outlets and the many great little shops that dot each picturesque hamlet.

I can’t forget homemade ice cream, chocolate, candy, cheese, picking out flowers and one of our favorites, buying lunch at a Jamesport deli and driving to Peconic Bay and enjoying the water view while eating Aidan’s special sandwich.

Then there are several lighthouses, each one distinct, plus boating, kayaking, swimming, fishing or just walking along the beach. If you have not kayaked some of the rivers, little creeks and estuaries that make up our coastline, you are missing something wonderful.

Not to mention sunrises and sunsets that are spectacular, too.

State parks and county parks offer terrific places to picnic and take in the outdoors. Ferries provide water escapes to islands and points north.

When you stop and think about it, we are pretty fortunate to have all of this close by; all you have to do is link up with friends or loved ones and enjoy it. Like I said, life is very good on our East End!

John Hauser is a Brookhaven National Lab employee and Queens native who moved to Wading River with his wife, Pat, in 1973.