Travel

Guide to Visiting the Hamptons

One popular summertime activity is a visit to the beach, and another is shopping. These can be combined with a visit to the Hamptons on Long Island. Whether you live in the northeast United States or whether you have much farther to travel, a vacation in the Hamptons is an experience to remember. 

Despite being a part of New York City, the Hamptons are about two miles outside the city proper and embody the getaway area for wealthy New Yorkers, some of whom own second homes there. Because of this, the shops and restaurants of this area, from Southampton to Montauk, are top quality. While not generally considered part of the Hamptons, the northern fork of the island, including Orient, Greenport, and Mattituck, also has some attractions, as does Shelter Island, positioned between the two forks. 

Setting up an itinerary can assist you to make your vacation a primarily happy memory. Because there is so much to see and do in the approximately thirty mile stretch that is home to the Hamptons, choosing at least some of the things available can keep you from missing things you wanted to be sure to do. 

While the area used to be mostly closed to visitors during the “off season” times, more places are now available to winter visitors. Since fewer people visit in the coldest months, this will allow visitors at that time to have shorter lines, emptier beaches, and less competition for products and services. Similarly, weekdays will be less crowded, generally speaking, than weekends.

Weather

While the beach is obviously best in the summer, the ambient temperatures are most comfortable during spring and fall. April’s temperatures are generally in the 60s Fahrenheit (15-20 Celsius), increasing to the 70s in May and 80s in June through August. It is rare for the top temperatures to go above the mid-80s even in the hottest part of the summer. In the winter, temperatures usually only get below 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius) November through March, with rare drops below freezing in January and February. 

Lodging

There are a variety of options for lodging, ranging from homey bed-and-breakfasts to amazing hotels and rental houses. Visitors during the warmer months will need to reserve a room ahead of time, as the volume of guests will often result in it being quite difficult to find a room.

There are several top-notch hotels that are favorites for visitors. If you want to stay in one of these, you will certainly need a reservation, and it may be several months out, so be sure to plan ahead!

Maidstone Arms, more recently known as c/o The Maidstone, is arguably the most popular place to stay in East Hampton. Many of the rooms are inspired by Scandinavians such as Hans Christian Andersen, Arne Jacobsen, and Edvard Munch. They have a restaurant (“The Restaurant”) which is open from early to late that offers seasonal favorites as well as a special menu for kids and dogs. There is a lounge and garden available in which visitors can relax with a cup of tea or coffee.

The Baker House 1650, also in East Hampton, features 17th century architecture with modern conveniences. Walking distance from restaurants, shops, and the beach, this is a relaxing and peaceful place to stay. Its library, free wi-fi, available spa, and beautiful gardens will give you an oasis of rest to return to when you have shopped until you dropped.

A Butler’s Manor in Southampton is a sort of boutique hotel, with only five rooms and an acre of beautiful garden. It is located within easy walking distance of many charming Southampton shops and restaurants, art galleries and the beach. 

Inn at Windmill Lane includes seven suites, three cottages, and the 21 House, each of which is luxurious and well appointed with sophisticated décor, original artwork, and outdoor areas in which to relax. 

White Sands on the Ocean Resort Motel is situated between Amagansett and Montauk and sets adjacent to the beach. Beautiful gardens and 19 rooms offer comfort and rest between visits to the beach and other attractions.

Gurney’s Resorts includes several locations. Montauk’s boasts 146 rooms and cottages overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Their location includes a spa with an indoor seawater pool, restaurants, bars, and a long stretch of sandy beach. The one on Lake Montauk has 107 waterfront places to stay on 15 acres with amenities both inside and outside. A third sites on a small island near Newport, with views of the water in any direction, and 257 guest rooms, an outdoor pool, and much more.

Sunset Beach is located on Shelter Island and has only twenty guest rooms but offers amazing views from private sundecks and many modern conveniences. All rooms have a view of the sunset and are just over 400 square feet. 

Food

Bistros, wineries, and elegant dining rooms are easy to find in the Hamptons. Some of the options for a nice vacation meal or dessert are within easy walking distance from beaches and lodging, while others may be a bit farther afield, but all are sure to be delicious and satisfying. Some of those that have been rated higher by visitors, according to Yelp, are listed below. Depending on the popularity of the restaurant and the time when you intend to go, it may be advisable to secure a reservation either by phone or by internet.

Breakfast or brunch at the Sarikopa Organic Coffee House Tea and Acai Bowl is sure to be a delight. The establishment offers gluten-free options as well as juice and smoothies alongside more traditional dishes. Alternately, Estia’s Little Kitchen is a casual option that also offers diner-type food for lunch. 

Lunch at Wednesday’s Table, where sandwiches are the fare of choice, is an affordable midday break. 

Briermere Farms is a farmer’s market and bakery that has seasonal pies made from whatever fruits or berries that are currently being harvested. 

If you are a seafood fan, Southold Fish Market offers all kinds of delicious seafood, including oysters, lobster, and other delicacies. Another option is Cor-J Seafood, or the Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market, where you can learn to shuck your own oysters and enjoy them by the bucket.

For more traditional American food, try the North Fork Table & Inn, or Chiddy’s Cheesesteaks

The Snowflake Ice Cream Shoppe is a great way to cool off and refresh after spending time shopping or at the beach. Though its address is on Main Street, it is a little off the beaten path according to one glowing review.  

Alternately, there is the Magic Fountain, which offers ice cream and frozen yogurt, or Gemelli Gelato which has a variety of ice cream and frozen yogurt as well as real gelato in various flavors. 

Coffee Pot Cellars is a winery with a pleasant atmosphere and Long Ireland Beer is a brewery that offers a variety of beers including Celtic Ale. 

While restaurants and their atmosphere are often an integral part of a vacation, some guests may prefer to eat and relax in their lodgings. There are a variety of restaurants in the area that deliver, if this is your preference. You have your choice of cuisine in the Hamptons, with nearly all ethnic food represented. Saaz Indian Cuisine for Indian, El Mariachi Loco – Taqueria Restaurant for Mexican, Spice Workshop for Szechuan cuisine, Empanadas and More for Colombian food, Nana’s Byrek offers traditional American fare, Oishii is an Asian option, Rice serves Thai food, Caribeno has Dominican cuisine, and the Castaway Café offers desserts, as well as burgers and salad. These are a very small selection of the available choices!

Shopping

Several of the towns in the Hamptons have delightful shopping areas downtown, making it possible for visitors to stroll along the sidewalks and find a wide variety of bits and bobbles, books and clothes, souvenirs and sweets. East Hampton’s Main Street is relatively small, but still includes stores offering interior design, books, and outlets of major brands. Greenport, in the North Fork, has Front Street and Main Road, which are perpendicular to each other. These streets include quaint shops that offer teapots and other kitchen items, cheeses, clothes, jewelry, and gifts. Montauk has Montauk Highway, right in the center, where one can get clothing, sports souvenirs, confections, and other boutiques. Sag Harbor has Main Street and its parallel neighbor Division Street that contain shops including surfing gear, loungewear, beach house décor, trinkets, antiques, gourmet foods, and more. Southampton, whose Main Street has a selection of boutiques filled with books, games, jewelry, gifts, and even furniture and kitchen items, along with bakeries, gift baskets, and other edible delights. 

There are several art galleries in the Hamptons, which also offer artwork for sale, as well as a variety of small shops scattered along the highways and in the towns. Greenport Farmer’s Market, for instance, has fresh food and samples from a variety of vendors with a wide range of edibles and other locally produced products.  

Beaches

There are many public beaches in the Hamptons, as well as several private beaches. The hotels that are beachfront or adjacent to the beach often have beach areas included, and most towns and villages have public beaches available for guests. Many of the beaches include snack bars, bathrooms, and many even provide lifeguards. There are places in many towns where kayaks, paddleboards, surfboards, and other equipment can be rented, and several outfitters also offer lessons to those who are new to watersports. 

Parking is at a premium for the beaches, so choosing lodging within walking distance will save money and frustration. Another option is public transportation, which is available to several beaches in the region. Otherwise, you will need a permit to park at most beaches, and each type and town have their own permit. These can be obtained at many locations, including town halls and beach entry booths. This is strictly enforced.

Some of the best options are spread about the area. Cupsogue Beach, which is at the end of Dune Road, which has amazingly huge houses along it that make for impressive scenery on the way. Ditch Plains Beach is the beach farthest east on Long Island and is known as the best place for surfing. Indian Wells Beach is known for being clean and offers bathrooms and showers. Meschutt Beach is on the north side of the South Fork, which means it is on the bay rather than the ocean, but it has a Beach Hut that makes it a popular choice. Navy Beach is often used for weddings, and its beauty makes it one of Montauk’s most popular beaches. Rogers Beach in Westhampton is very popular. Ponquogue Beach is just off the Ponquogue Bridge and is a very popular location. Shell Beach is located on Shelter Island. Tiana Beach tends to be less crowded, but is the same pristine, sandy stretch as the more popular beaches. 

This is only a small selection and there are many more beaches available. 

Other Attractions

There are some other things for visitors to do when visiting the East End, including the aforementioned art galleries. There are options for people of all ages, from children to seniors. Some are active and some are relaxing, but all are enjoyable.

The Big Duck is 20 feet tall, 30 feet long, and it sets at the corner where the forks divide. Built in 1931 to be a poultry store, it is now a gift shop and a great photo background. 

Camp Hero State Park is the place that inspired the television show Stranger Things. Once a U.S. military facility, it still has a radar tower, barracks and other World War II historical items to view. 

Children’s Museum of the East End is a great place to take the children. This interactive experience will make the trip memorable as it entertains and educates the young folks in your family. 

Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 187 acres which include a beach, ponds, marsh, a lagoon, fields, and forest. A variety of wildlife can be observed, including some threatened species. 

LongHouse Reserve is an art gallery of a different kind. Sculptures and landscaping, including oversized pieces and gardens make this a delightful destination.

Long Island Aquarium features a living coral reef that is one of the largest on this side of the world, along with sharks and other fish, sea lions, penguins, marmosets, tanks that allow touching the occupants, and more. There is also a snorkel adventure that is offered for an additional fee.

Madoo Conservancy Botanical Gardens covers two acres in Sagaponack and offers a story time, painting classes, plants and landscaping to examine and enjoy.

The Montauk Point Lighthouse was commissioned by our first President and was lit for the first time in 1797 using whale-oil lamps. It is now a tourist friendly location and includes a museum that showcases the keeper’s house. Visitors who are 41 inches tall or taller have the option to climb the stairs up 86 feet into the top of the lighthouse tower, where the original lens is on display. 

Quogue Wildlife Refuge’s 300 acres of nature houses seven miles of trails through a variety of habitats, including rare plants and creatures. Along with the wildlife exhibits, there is also a library and a gift shop. 

Ruschmeyer’s is called a summer camp for adults. Located within a mile of Montauk, the property offers private events as well as lodging and a restaurant.

The Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center & Museum is owned and operated by Native Americans to honor their ancestors and history. The center displays 10,000 years of Algonquin history and has since it opened in 2001. 

Southampton Arts Center features art and culture, including a theater for performances and films, classes and a gallery. This nonprofit is a must-visit for anyone who enjoys the arts. 

Suffolk Theater offers performances and dinner. The restored landmark in the Main Street Historic District in Riverhead presents a variety of performers and events for visitors to enjoy.

Obviously, there are so many things to do in the East End that any visitors to the Hamptons can return many times without having to do the same things twice. No matter what it is you like to do on vacation, the Hamptons are a great place to go! 

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