Summertime in The Hamptons can be wonderful! The beaches and landscape are stunning. Many of the homes and gardens are simply breathtaking and what dreams are made of. And while many of the rich and famous do, in fact, summer there, it is possible to enjoy The Hamptons as a "normal" person. The Hamptons stretch from Westhampton out to Montauk at the end of Long Island and also north to Shelter Island. If you remember only one thing from this post it's that you should never make an attempt to hit all of the hot spots along that stretch during one summer visit. Hamptons traffic from Memorial Day to Labor Day is absolutely horrible. After Southampton, Route 27, aka Montauk Highway, becomes one lane each way. And although it's only about 13 miles from Main Street in Southampton to Main Street in East Hampton, if you travel at the wrong time, that trip could easily cost you an hour.
For that reason, many of the places featured in this post aren't too far from our home in Southampton Village. Call us lazy and impatient...guilty as charged. But I prefer to spend as much time as possible relaxing versus sitting in traffic, so we usually stay closer to home. Fortunately for us, the main reason we chose to purchase a home in Southampton is because we love the town and beaches, so we don't really feel like we're missing out by not traveling much farther east. If you want to see all of The Hamptons over a long weekend, I'd recommend visiting before Memorial Day or after Labor Day. September may actually be the best time in The Hamptons, as the weather is still beautiful, but most of the summer rental crowd has departed for the season.
The one really annoying thing about The Hamptons if you're a day-tripper or even a weekender is that most of the beaches require a resident permit. These have to be permanently affixed to the window of your vehicle. You obtain one only by owning a home or presenting a lease to Town Hall or Village Hall, showing you're officially "living there" for an extended period of time. But in Southampton, you can visit Cooper's Beach for the day by paying a $50 fee (it was $40 last year) upon entering the lot. This gives you in and out privileges for the day. Cooper's Beach is beautiful, and it has clean bathrooms, showers, a beach "shack" (a nice one) with provisions, and the ability to rent chairs and umbrellas. Lifeguards are also present. This is probably the most compelling reason to choose Southampton if you're visiting only for a day or weekend.
There is no way I could capture all of the wonderful places to eat in The Hamptons in one blog post. You'd be reading for days. So I'm going to share a few of my tried and true, as well as a few newcomers that I believe are worthy of a visit.
Red Bar's Small Outdoor Patio, Image via Red Bar Website
Red Bar Brasserie. We are regulars at this bistro in Southampton. The ambiance is wonderful. It's an inviting space with a cozy, bustling bar. And when Glen greets us, he always makes us feel at home. The food is outstanding! The menu is fairly diverse with something for meat-lovers, pescatarians, and vegetarians. The restaurant features nightly specials, which is a nice treat for those who have already sampled just about everything on the menu. Celebrity regulars at this happening spot include Howard Stern and his wife, Brooke Shields and husband Chris Henchy, and to keep things exciting, a few of the Real Housewives of New York. Red Bar is open nightly for dinner during summer months and accepts reservations.
Red Bar's sister restaurant, in the heart of Southampton Village, is Little Red. Count on the same caliber of tasty food, with a slightly more casual ambiance and menu. They also have an outdoor tented patio, which is heated or cooled, depending on the temperature outside. They do not take reservations, and seating is first come, first served. But the bar scene is also bustling, so having a drink while you wait isn't the worst thing in the world. Little Red is open for lunch and dinner.
Wolffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor (there is another location in Amagansett) wants you to know they are just as serious about food as they are their wine. Situated downtown on Sag Harbor's quaint Main Street, Modern American cuisine with a Mediterranean influence is on the menu, as are most of the delicious and famously Hamptons Wolffer wines. Reservations are accepted only for parties of six or more, but there's plenty to do and see on Main Street if have to wait a bit for your table. The restaurant is open for lunch/weekend brunch and dinner every day during summer months.
Beauty Inside Elaia
Elaia Estiatorio opened last July, so this is their first full season in The Hamptons. Serving authentic Greek cuisine just south of Montauk Highway, this Bridgehampton spot is one you don't want to miss. The beautiful, U-shaped bar is the hub of the restaurant, and this joint takes its ambiance and decor as seriously as its food. Every evening feels like an occasion to celebrate with owner Sofia Crokos, who is also a special events planner, decorating the space with fresh flowers, fresh bread, desserts, and accessories that will transport you directly to the Greek Isles. Open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday.
Silver's in Southampton is open only for lunch. Situated amongst the many shops on Main Street, you'll want to stop by for one of their $60 lobster rolls. Yes, they're amazing, as you would expect for that price. As you might have guessed, it's a place better-suited for an adult-only meal. Closed Tuesday.
Topping Rose's Chic Bar
Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton is a Jean-Georges restaurant and has wonderful food and a happening bar and restaurant scene. During our first meal, we dined next to Christie Brinkley, and it's also a favorite of Ina and Jeffrey. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton is a great casual diner, but we like to go for ice cream and milkshakes. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner...or ice cream and shakes to go!
Waiting for a Table at Canal Cafe...not so bad
Canal Cafe in Hampton Bays is a meal with a view. The food is actually fairly good, but you really come for the view and to literally sit on the water--many of the tables are on a deck that is an extension of the boat docks. They don't take reservations, but you can have a drink at the bar or one of a few outdoor picnic tables while you wait. Closed Tuesday.
Ice Cream Outside The Southampton Fudge Company
For a cold treat on a hot summer night (or day) in Southampton, visit The Southampton Fudge Company for ice cream (and fudge and other candy) or Sant Ambroeus for gelato. The Village of Southampton has plenty of benches on which you can enjoy your sweet treats.
Il Mulino is opening in Wainscott this summer. It wasn't open on Memorial Day weekend, but check back to see when you can visit this longtime favorite of NYC, now in The Hamptons.
A Salt Drift Farm Creation, Image via Salt Drift Farm Instagram
A friend turned me on to Salt Drift Farm, a casual dining spot with indoor and outdoor seating. Think gourmet food truck grub in a relaxed and rustic cozy setting. I can't wait to visit!
FUN EVENING ENTERTAINMENT
Sunset While Waiting for the Drum Circle Performance to Begin
Drum Circle festivities at Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack begin every Monday during the summer around 6 pm. The drum circle musicians don't appear to be on a strict schedule, beginning somewhere around 7 pm. Bring your beach blanket and chairs, wine (AND cups to conceal it), and any food you like for an evening picnic. The kids will enjoy the company of other kids who are running in the sand, dipping their toes in the water, jumping from the lifeguard chair, flying kites, and dancing to the beat of the drum circle. To park in the lot next to the beach, you'll need a sticker on your ride. Otherwise be prepared for a parking ticket.
Winestand Evening Picnic Crowd, Image via Wolffer Website
You might think you need to ditch the kids to go wine tasting. Not in The Hamptons. Make your Friday or Saturday evening a treat for all at Wolffer Winestand. From 5 pm to sunset, it's a "picnic" like no other. Bring your blankets and beach chairs and find a spot on the grounds right alongside the vines. The Winestand sells wines by the bottle, cheese platters, and other lite bites that you can enjoy with friends while your kids run, frolic, dance to the live music, and roll down the small hills into the vineyard.
WHEN YOU'RE THE CHEF
We are definitely not the Hamptons people who go out every night. I'm a real housewife of NYC, but I'm a real housewife of NYC, so I'm used to cooking. But truth be told, I love entertaining and welcoming people into my home. I enjoy visiting local farm stands and markets, and cutting fresh herbs from the herb pots that my kids and I plant every summer, to create something special for our guests. And it's sort of nice to come in from the pool or beach, have a glass of rose, and hang out with family or friends without getting all gussied up every night. So if you're the chef, here are a few of my favorite spots to procure goods for cooking at home.
North Sea Farms
I love to visit North Sea Farms for fresh chickens when I'm making beer can chicken. In addition, they have all the fresh produce you could want, including organic corn that's wonderful on the cob or in my simple but delicious summer corn salad (recipe to come in a few weeks). My favorite thing about this local farm stand is that they have a sign every day detailing what is organic and what is conventional, and this is terrific if you're like me and are finicky about what you feed your family.
Eye Candy at North Sea Farms
The Green Thumb's Wooden Train
The Green Thumb in Water Mill is a short drive from Southampton and a reliable place for quality produce. They also sell fresh herbs in pots so you can plant your own for the season. Most weekends, they sell pies prepared by local bakers. They're delicious, even if they are on the expensive side. And outside of the farm stand is a wooden train that your kids can play on while you're shopping, and it's right next to a small chicken coop that also houses a beautiful peacock.
Round Swamp Farm Stand in Bridgehampton, Image via Round Swamp Website
Round Swamp Farm has two farm stand locations, one in Bridgehampton and the other in East Hampton. It has a reputation for two reasons. First, they have amazing baked goods, fish, meats, prepared foods and produce. But second, many of the items for sale (especially their prepared foods) don't have a price tag, which is sort of obnoxious and one of the reasons The Hamptons gets a bad rap. So be sure to pay attention when you're checking out. Thanks to a friend of ours who appears to be a grill-master, we visited Round Swamp to purchase burgers from Pat LaFrieda, a meat purveyor that used to pack meat in our old 'hood, The Meatpacking District. The burgers are the best I've purchased and grilled in The Hamptons.
If fish is on your menu, be sure to visit the Clamman Seafood Market in Southampton. They have every kind of fish you could imagine, caught daily, plus more live lobsters than the waters of Maine (well, not really, but you get the point). And if you're not in the mood for cooking, they have a fantastic and reasonably priced takeout menu with everything from fried clams and oysters to grilled fish.
Peconic Prime Meats is right next door to the Clamman. Any cut of meat you could want, along with housemade sausages, are available for the best cookout of the summer.
If you've never made it inside its location in New York City, you may want to try Levain Bakery in Wainscott to get a thick slice of their chocolate chip banana bread or one of their killer giant cookies. They have lots of other flatbreads, breads, and pastries, but I just named my favorites. This location is open Friday-Sunday.
Ye Olde Bake Shoppe in Southampton is the best kept secret in The Hamptons. Stop by and get one of their to-die-for cinnamon rolls. Really. Don't leave without buying one. You will thank me later.
HAMPTONS SPECIAL EVENTS
Taking in the Scenery at the The Hamptons Classic
The Hamptons Classic is a horse show that happens every August in Brideghampton. The kids will love watching the jumping competitions, as will you. And because it's in The Hamptons, it's sponsored by wonderful brands who bring lots of extra stuff for the family to enjoy. There is typically a kids tent with loads of arts and crafts activities like cookie decorating from Citarella, an area with farm animals, pony rides, and even playground equipment. For the adults, food trucks, cars on display from luxury automotive companies, and a shopping tent and mobile shopping trucks from brands like M. Gemi.
July 4th Parade Musicians
The Southampton July 4th Parade is the quintessential small town holiday parade. Residents bring their beach chairs to line Main Street and watch old cars, marching bands, and the like stroll by.
The Southampton Carnival seems to come and go a few times throughout the summer. Picture your typical small town carnival with a huge potato sack slide, a small roller coaster, games, candy apples, and the whole shebang. The carnival sets up shop on County Road 39 as you're driving into Southampton.
Kite Flying on Cooper's Beach (Kite from Kites of the Harbor)
Kites of the Harbor in Sag Harbor is a must if you're in The Hamptons and have kids (or just like kite flying). The beaches usually have a nice breeze, perfect for this pastime. The best thing about the shop is that the employees know which kites are easiest to fly and those that are more difficult so that your kids won't be disappointed on even their first attempt. The shop also carries fun costumes, toys, and gadgets and is located on the town's quaint Main Street.
Joy in a Canister at Topiaire
Topiaire Candy Shop in Southampton Village is reminiscent of the old penny candy shops that I frequented as a child to purchase Mary Janes and Squirrel Nut Zippers. It's a charming spot and will delight kids and adults alike with the candies from our younger days, as well as giant gummy sharks that my kids seem to enjoy.
One King's Lane has a wonderful store in the old Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton. Stop by to see some of the beautiful things that you typically only see online.
GOOP MRKT is a Goop Pop-Up in Sag Harbor this summer. There are so many wonderful shops in The Hamptons that I can't list them all. But many of them, like MONC XIII, are in Sag Harbor, so if you can only shop one day, make it the day you visit this beautiful town that is reminiscent more of Nantucket than the rest of The Hamptons.
Serena & Lily only has a handful of brick and mortar stores throughout the country, so be sure to visit their Beach Market location in Wainscott. They have lots of fun events with cocktails and book signings throughout the summer, so be sure to check their Instagram and website if you'll be in the ara.
ON A RAINY DAY
On a rainy day, there is still lots to do in The Hamptons. Long Island is home to wonderful wineries on the North and South Fork. Near Southampton alone are Wolffer, Channing Daughters, and Duck Walk. The Parrish Art Museum is a wonderful place to visit and get some culture. Just don't go on a Tuesday because they are closed.
If you have young kids, they'll enjoy The Children's Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton. Or take a short drive to Riverhead to Safari Adventure, an indoor play area with bouncy slides, arcade games, and a multi-level human crawling maze, complete with slides, that even adults can enjoy. You can also hit the Long Island Aquarium to feed stingrays, see sharks, be entertained by a live sea lion show, or walk around with a butterfly on your head in the butterfly conservatory. This aquarium is truly worth a visit.
There is so much to do in The Hamptons during the summer and off-season. Perhaps I'll type one more post before the summer is over to capture everything I missed and some new places I have yet to discover. Happy Summer! And if you're not up for a visit to The Hamptons between Memorial Day and Labor Day, September is a wonderful month to still enjoy everything these beautiful towns have to offer.