The principal commercial center on the North Fork  is the bustling town of Greenport, laid out in neat squares that slope down to the harbor. The main streets are lined with restaurants and shops—some tourist-oriented, some not—while the harbor is always full of fishing boats and pleasure craft.
Mitchell Park (631/477-2200, www.greenportvillage.com ) on the waterfront is a great place from which to watch all the maritime activity. Children will enjoy a ride on the 1920s Mitchell Park Carousel (10 a.m.–10 p.m. daily June–Sept., ride $1).
Greenport has been a boating community since before the Revolutionary War. In the 1700s, cargo ships from the West Indies docked here to unload molasses and rum. Later, the port became a center for whaling and the oyster trade. Even today, an estimated two-thirds of Greenport’s population earns its living from boats and related industries.
The East End Seaport Maritime Museum (end of 3rd St., 631/477-2100, www.eastendseaport.org , 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon., Wed.–Fri., 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat.–Sun., reduced hours off-season, free admission) is loaded with artifacts from the fishing and boatbuilding industries. Changing exhibits focus on such subjects as women and the sea, and yacht racing.
Railroad buffs will want to visit the Railroad Museum of Long Island (440 4th St., 631/477-0439 or 631/727-7920, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun. June–Oct., adults $5, children $3). Housed in what was once a freight station, the museum traces the history of railroading on the island and holds a 20-foot model of the Greenport freight yard as it looked in 1955.
Camping is available at the 150-site Eastern Long Island Kampground (690 Queen St., 631/477-0022, www.easternlikampground.com ). On site are a camp store, laundry facility, and children’s playground.
The main building at the Townsend Manor Inn (714 Main St., 631/477-2000, www.townsendmanorinn.com , $125–250 d in summer, $80–185 d off-season) is a historic 1835 Greek Revival house complete with a restaurant, old-fashioned cocktail lounge, and cozy living room. Guest rooms are located in several modern additions, and a pool is nearby as well.
Along the beach in the Greenport area, you’ll find the popular 1950s-era Silver Sands Motel (Rte. 25 at Silvermere Rd., 631/477-0011, www.silversands-motel.com , $150 standard room, $1400/week apartments, $2500/week cottages), painted bright pink and blue. Set on a quarter-mile of private beach, it offers a variety of accommodations ranging from motel rooms to apartments and beach cottages.
Also a good choice, with a variety of accommodation options, is the smaller Sunset Motel (62005 Rte. 48, 631/477-1776, www.sunsetgreenport.com , $175–365 high season, $110–145 off-season). At the very, very long Sound View Inn (57185 North Rd./Rte. 48, 631/477-1910, www.soundviewinn.com , $195–225 d in mid-summer, $125–175 d in March–early June and Sept.–Oct.), also on the beach, all the rooms have balconies, and some have kitchenettes. On the grounds are tennis courts and a pool. All three motels are closed in winter.
Dominating the harbor area is Claudio’s (111 Main St., 631/477-0715, $27), a huge, rambling seafood restaurant. First established by a Portuguese sailor in 1870, Claudio’s bills itself as the “oldest same family owned restaurant in the United States.” Inside is much heavy carved wood, stained glass, and an enormous bar brought to the restaurant by barge from a New York City  hotel in 1885. Claudio’s also runs the less expensive Claudio’s Clam Bar and Wharf (631/477-1889, $12), which features live bands on summer weekends.
Near Claudio’s, Aldo’s (103-5 Front St., 631/477-1699, $15) is a casual bistro serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Fresh breads are featured for breakfast, French and Mediterranean peasant food for lunch and dinner.
If you’re looking for a light bite in the same neighborhood, step into the high-ceilinged Greenport Tea Company (119A Main St., 631/477-8744), where tea is served in china cups from vintage tea pots. On the menu are clam pie, scones, and finger sandwiches.
Across the small inlet in Greenport, in the Brewer Yacht Yard, find Antares Cafe (2530 Manhasset Ave., 631/477-8839, $19), serving New American cuisine.