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Overview

The eastern tip of Long Island resembles the profile of an alligator with an underbite, and the towns that run along its lower jaw—the South Fork—are known collectively as the Hamptons. Snobs will contend that "the Hamptons" proper begin east of the Shinnecock Inlet, thereby excluding the ever-so-slightly downmarket towns of Westhampton and Hampton Bays. We won't enter that debate, but will simply list what comes after the inlet, from west to east: Southampton, Water Mill, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, Wainscott, East Hampton, Amagansett, Napeague, and at the very tip, Montauk. All of these lie more or less on the Atlantic coastline; Sag Harbor is further north, on Peconic Bay—the alligator's gullet—which is also where you'll find Shelter Island.

WHEN TO GO


The Hamptons season, prime time for celebrity spotting while soaking up some sun, runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Come mid-September, you can almost hear the locals breathe a collective sigh of relief as they reclaim their home turf. Just in time, too: Mid-September and October are especially lovely in the Hamptons, and as the days grow crisp and cool, pumpkins sprout along Route 27 and the deserted beaches are perfect for a bundled-up walk along the shore before dining with friends in front of a crackling fire.

HOW TO GET THERE


Fly into LaGuardia or JFK International—or into Long Island's tiny MacArthur Airport—and then drive to the Hamptons. (The trip from New York City will take between two and a half and three and a half hours, depending on traffic.) All major car-rental agencies have offices at the airports. If you're starting out from the city rather than from one of the airports, going by train is often the easiest option. In addition to its commuter service, the Long Island Rail Road offers a Friday-afternoon express train known as the "Friday Cannonball" that's popular among the weekend set. The Hampton Jitney and Hampton Luxury Liner companies bus passengers back and forth from New York City. Make the trip midweek, if possible, to beat the traffic leaving Manhattan on Thursdays and Fridays. Alternatively, take a seaplane direct to East Hampton from the Skyport Marina at East 23rd Street.

GETTING AROUND


You'll need a car to get between towns and beaches, but be sure to leave extra time—traffic on Highway 27 crawls at a snail's pace all summer long. For shorter distances, a bike will do.

TOURIST INFO


Hamptons Visitors Council
7 Manor Lane
East Hampton, New York 11937
Tel: 631 324 3082

Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
330 Motor Parkway, Suite 203
Hauppauge, New York 11788
Tel: 877 386 6654

Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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