Think of it as your reward for surviving the polar vortex: Memorial Day has recently passed, temperatures are inching towards the high 80s, and shops from Water Mill to Amagansett are stocked with craft beers and chilled lobster salad. If you’re headed “out East” this summer, here are a few tips from Relevance New York to make the most of your beach getaway.
Ditch Plains, Montauk: There’s a reason that the town of Montauk has a starring role in the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”: this formerly sleepy hamlet is the farthest point in the Hamptons from New York City, and once there, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled across the country. It is a well-kept secret no longer, however: along with its burgeoning, refined-yet-casual restaurant and bar scene, Montauk is respected among surfers who flock to Ditch Plains Beach, home to some amazing surfing in the Hamptons. This isn’t the place to float serenely in the water – you’ll want to come prepared to ride the waves. Instagrammers should take note of the scenic, craggy cliffs on Ditch Plains, which almost look more like the Atlantic coast of Ireland than Long Island.
Main Beach in East Hampton is probably exactly what you envision East Hampton’s seaside to be: equal parts swimming and sunbathing, kid-friendly, lifeguard-attended, and within easy striking distance of Citarella and the Golden Pear for requisite lunch and snacks. East Hampton may be world-renowned today, but its preppy vibe hasn’t really changed all that much over the years.
For nature lovers, Indian Wells Beach offers the perfect combination of relaxation and exploration. The Nature Conservancy’s Atlantic Double Dunes reserve occupies part of Indian Wells Beach, and it’s a lovely way to show kids the importance of preserving the island landscape for future generations. Mary’s Marvelous’ food trucks offer a variety of lunch options and baked goods – some are even healthy.
Visiting the Hamptons often means one of two things: you suddenly find yourself in need of a great hostess gift, or you forgot your flip-flops. In either case, each picturesque town on the East End has it’s own version of the general store and a wide range of boutiques to match your personal style. The aptly named Good in Westhampton carries all sorts of luxurious soaps, pillows, and Turkish beach towels that make perfect presents, and they have a well-stocked kids’ section with clothing and toys, plus the always-welcoming penny candy counter.
The Surf Bazaar in Montauk has your seaside style needs covered. They stock an eclectic mix of beach blankets, clothing, swimwear, and even a few pieces of jewelry, in case you’re feeling the need to accessorize a bit.
One of East Hampton’s newer treasures is Turpan established in 2007 by New York design retail guru Greg Turpan and his wife Katherine. Their shop is like a little slice of Williamsburg or Berlin on the East End, and features cool, understated housewares, stationery, toys, and clothing with a refined look. It’s the perfect place to find gifts for the minimalist host who has everything, except clutter.
Art and Music
If you find yourself craving a cultural experience, the Hamptons have a variety of offerings, from the newly renovated Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill to casual music venues like Westhampton’s Dockers or The Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. The Parrish Art Museum is home to a small but wonderful collection of works by many of the renowned artists that have called the East End home, including Childe Hassam, John Chamberlain, Ross Bleckner, and Dan Flavin, to name just a few. The Parrish has a rotating assortment of contemporary art exhibitions throughout the year, and features programs for kids and families too. The Museum’s “Sounds of Summer” concert series is a great excuse to linger on the covered patio with a cocktail and watch the sunset.
Starting around Memorial Day, Westhampton’s Performing Arts Center kicks off its season of performances. Performers include Commodores, Rufus Wainwright, Natalie Merchant, Chris Isaak, Savion Glover, and, for those with little ones, the kid-friendly Zoppe Italian Family Circus.
Food and Drink
After the beach, restaurants and bars are the top destinations in the Hamptons. There are innovative chefs hard at work and superb, fresh ingredients to be had in every corner of the East End, so it’s hard to go wrong. Famed New York restaurant Delmonico’s opened a location in Southampton last year, and this summer it has added a raw bar called The Pearl, which features $1 oysters.
If you’re craving European-inspired summer flavors and want to eat in, you can find gourmet take-out at Pepalajefa in Sag Harbor.
If you’re ready to cook, visit one of Ina Garten’s haunts, Pike Farms in Sagaponack where you’ll find locally grown produce of every variety, bread and pies from the local bakery The Blue Duck, and a seasonal selection of fruit preserves.