The Hamptons See And Do
The Atlantic beaches of the Hamptons are some of the prettiest the country has to offer: clean, wide, often completely uncrowded—even on summer weekends—and set off by patchy wild dunes with no hulking, pink resort hotels to ruin the idyllic views. Finding a beautiful beach is as easy as turning down any of the small, zigzaggy lanes that run off Route 27 and continuing until you find some sandy parking spots off a dead-end road. Beware the limits on those choice parking spaces, though: Parking permits are required for the majority of beaches, and only residents can get them. Luckily, some of the better hotels buy them in bulk for guests—ask before you book. Otherwise, your options will likely come down to risking a ticket, walking or renting a bike instead, or stashing your car a good distance from the beach. Our favorite sandy strips follow, from west to east.
For access to Mecox Beach, a nice spot in Bridgehampton down Jobs Lane, be prepared to adopt one of the aforementioned strategies; the same goes for Sagaponack's Sagg Main Beach, to the east of Mecox, a popular social spot for a younger crowd. Farther down the coast is Gibson Beach, a nice, small stretch with a low-key, upper-crust vibe—if the upper crust can reliably be said to have vibes—and where, supposedly, women's tops are optional (parking permit required). Georgica Beach has an exclusive reputation and a prestigious location close to the mansions of Lily Pond Lane and Georgica Pond (parking permit only). East Hampton's Main Beach is the center of the action, with crowds and concession stands (a draw for some, a turnoff for others) and a see-and-be-seen energy (ditto); it's also one of only two beaches in East Hampton with daily summer parking, which costs $25 and is permitted only on weekdays. Close to the divide between East Hampton and Amagansett, Two Mile Hollow (same parking policy as East Hampton Main) has a reputation as a gay-friendly beach. Amagansett's Atlantic Avenue Beach offers $15 daily parking Monday through Friday, as well as lifeguards. Past Amagansett, where the Old Montauk Highway diverges from Route 27, Hither Hills State Park offers camping and fishing, a long beach, and the "walking" dunes of Napeague Harbor (entrance fee is $8 per car). Montauk's Kirk Park Beach, just off the two-lane highway, has $10 parking seven days a week, although youthful, fun Ditch Plains is the surfers' beach of choice in Montauk. While not quite as postcard-perfect as some East Hampton beaches, it has the Ditch Witch, a popular snack-stand hangout, and surfers to stare at as you while away another summer day. It once offered free parking; now, perhaps unsurprisingly, a town permit is required.—Updated by Darrell Hartman
Seriously consider pedaling to the beach: It's the best way to avoid the whole parking-permit dilemma and the slow torture of Route 27 traffic on a summer weekend. Bermuda Bikes rents street and hybrid bikes and will deliver them to your hotel or rental house—though delivery and pickup costs can soar up to $100 if you're as far out as Montauk (36 Gingerbread Ln., East Hampton; 631-324-6688).
158 Main Street
East Hampton , New York
Tel: 631 324 0806
Established in 1931, this museum, theater, and gathering place serves as a reminder of an era when the East End was as much a magnet for artists as it was for millionaires. Guild Hall hosts an annual gala as well as a members' exhibition, benefits, film series, and theater openings. The 2011 schedule includes a stand-up show by late-night comedian Colin Quinn, a conversation with chef Eric Ripert, and Roundabout Theatre Company's acclaimed production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. There's also a small permanent collection of works by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Saul Steinberg, Chuck Close, and Larry Rivers. For event tickets, call the box office at 631-324-4050.—Updated by Darrell Hartman
2 Fithian Lane
East Hampton , New York
Tel: 631 324 4499
On the East End, exercising is as fashionable as dining out. Alexis Stewart and her mother, Martha, are principal owners of this upscale mini-chain of fitness centers where, for $30 a day, you can work out at the East Hampton, Sag Harbor, or Southampton locations. (The latter is the biggest and newest of the three.) The Southampton and Sag Harbor branches offer classes ranging from cycling and kickboxing to yoga and Pilates, the price of which is included in your day-use fee. Alternatively, training director Chris Cosich can hook you up with a personal trainer, if you're willing to spend $75–$150 an hour to look beach-ready.
Shelter Island , New York
Tel: 631 749 1001
With over 2,000 acres of woodlands, salt marshes, and pristine coastline, the Nature Conservancy's Mashomack Preserve covers nearly a third of bucolic Shelter Island (take the car ferry to reach it). There are self-guided nature walks of various lengths, easy-to-follow maps, and the promise of a few hours of getting blissfully lost and forgetting all about the big city to the west.
Open daily 9 am to 5 pm, July and August only.
25 Jobs Lane
Southampton , New York
Tel: 631 283 2118
Founded by art collector and benefactor Samuel Longstreth Parrish in 1897, this museum's collection is centered around American paintings of the late 19th and 20th centuries. It includes many of the artists, like Larry Rivers, who worked out of Eastern Long Island studios in the 1950s, as well as contemporary artists (such as Elizabeth Peyton and Erich Fischl) with Hamptons connections and the turn-of-the-century American Impressionist William Merritt Chase. Southampton's first (and only) art museum is also in the midst of planning a major makeover: In 2012, it's expected to move to a new, 34,000-square-foot space in nearby Water Mill designed by Herzog & de Meuron.—Updated by Darrell Hartman
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, mid-September through late May.
830 Springs-Fireplace Road
East Hampton , New York
Tel: 631 324 4929
It's hard to imagine Jackson Pollock mingling with the royalty-collecting creative set that has made the Hamptons its haunt in recent decades. Thanks to the preservation efforts of the Stony Brook Foundation, however, it's remarkably easy to imagine him painting here. Several miles outside East Hampton's flashy center, the farmhouse that Pollock shared with the artist Lee Krasner, his wife, sits within view of a gentle bend in the Accabonac Creek; a few steps away, inside the barn where he worked, jumbles of pencils, paint tubes, and stubs of chalk are piled in old cigar boxes. Pollock famously put his canvases on the floor, and his studio floor, more than a half-century after his death in 1956, is a colorful palimpsest of drips and swirls, some of them recognizable parts of his paintings One and Autumn Rhythm. The walls are decorated with photos of the artist at work; in the house, which looks as though Krasner (who died in 1984) only just vacated it, twice-a-year changing exhibitions are devoted to 20th-century American art.—Darrell Hartman
Open Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 5 pm, June through August; by appointment only Thursdays through Saturdays 11 am to 4 pm, September, October, and May.
You'll find a few vineyards on the South Fork, namely Channing Daughters (631-537-7224), Wölffer Estate (631-537-5106), and Duck Walk (631-726-7555), but the real wine-tasting trail is on the North Fork. Take your car aboard the South Ferry (631-749-1200) from North Haven to Shelter Island, and then go from Shelter Island to Greenport on the North Ferry (631-749-0139). Follow roadside signs to the local wineries. Be sure to sample the Merlot at the award-winning Bedell Cellars (631-734-7537) and Lenz's Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer (631-734-6010).