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Filtering by Category: Travel

HAMPTONS HOT LIST

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Summertime in The Hamptons is wonderful! BUT believe it or not, the Fall is one of the best times to visit because the weather is still beautiful but the seasonal crowds are gone! The beauty of The Hamptons is everything you read about. 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. But in the Fall, that nightmare of feeling like you could walk faster than you can drive, is over. My original Hamptons Favorite Spots post was published over a year ago, and a lot has changed. New businesses have opened, some have closed, and others that were new to me have secured a more special place in my heart (and belly!) I’m publishing it now, after my third summer there, while everything is fresh in my mind. So bookmark it! Or better yet, drive out now. At the bottom of the post, there is a special destination that is only open in September and October, so don’t leave me early. One thing’s for sure, you’ll be much more efficient at hitting more of the spots without all of the traffic if you go now!

Due to my lack of patience, many of the places featured in this post aren't too far from our home in Southampton Village. I simply 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. Southampton is a great place to stay because it’s a major town and you turn off just as Montauk Highway is reduced to one lane in each direction. But fear not, I’m providing a few of my favorite spots farther east for you adventure seekers.

BEACHES

 
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Cooper's Beach

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 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.

If you have a parking pass, the Cut at Flying Point beach, which connects to Scott Cameron Beach, is a wonderful place for children. The Cut is a part of the bay where the water is about knee-high. It’s warmer and calm, so it’s less stressful than the ocean. Plus there are crabs in the water, making for hours of entertainment for your kids (and you) if you bring along a crab net.

EATS

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 that I am certain you’ll enjoy.

Elaia Estiatorio is my favorite restaurant in the Hamptons. That’s a strong statement, right? Serving authentic Greek cuisine just south of Montauk Highway, this Bridgehampton spot is a must. 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. If it’s your birthday, prepare to celebrate in a big way with Greek music and lots of hoopla from the entire restaurant! On the menu, you must try the Fried Zucchini Chips (you’ll never want to eat potato chips or French fries again!) And they typically offer Saganaki, which is kefalograviera cheese that is coated with sesame seeds and pan-fried. My favorite preparation is with tomato marmalade, but their offering changes and it’s all delicious! Read more about Elaia here.

 
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Closer to our home in Southampton Village is Tutto il Giorgno. It’s Italian food and a welcoming ambiance all wrapped into one. There is a beautiful and charming garden, which is my preference for seating. But don’t dismay if outdoor isn’t available because the inside is warm and cozy and has a wonderful energy to it. Favorite items on the menu are Grilled Octopus, Branzino, and I love the simplicity of the Spagehtti and Linguini with Clams (I always ask for extra garlic in both!) The restaurant takes limited advanced reservations on OpenTable, and each day at 11 am they open up their phone lines for same day reservations. Call as close to 11 am as you can, and keep pressing redial when you get a busy signal. They’re actually pretty good at trying to meet requests. Frank is our favorite waiter there in case you wanted to make a request for him, too!

 
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If you’re in the mood for a burger, head to Union Burger Bar for the best in town. They have veggie and turkey burgers, too, if you’re not in a beefy mood. I LOVE their onion rings. And kids love the decadent milkshakes for dessert. Okay, maybe adults do, too!

 
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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. 

 
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People outside of the Hamptons know Tate’s Bake Shop, primarily for their cookies. Well, if you’re a Tate’s lover, you’ll be in heaven if you visit Southampton. But truth be told, it’s not the cookies I love. I’m more of a soft and moist cookie kind of gal. But I LOVE their Three Berry Crumble pies. And I suggest you pick up one because they aren’t sold outside of the Hamptons.

 
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For a more casual but seriously delicious Italian dinner, head to Pellegrino’s Pizza Bar & Restaurant, where they serve delicious pizza and so much more. This inviting spot is about 10 minutes from Southampton Village but worth the drive for affordable fare that will exceed your taste expectations. The pizzas are divine, and my favorite pastas are Scampi Wild Shrimp and Amatriciana. Also try the Eggplant Parmigiana Rustica—I’m a meat eater and LOVE this dish!

 
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Another Greek restaurant that also doubles as quite a hot night spot is Calissa in Watermill. You can’t go wrong with seating because the outdoor space is beautiful and summertime festive, while the indoor space is sexy and hip. There is often a DJ at night, and that really amps up the energy. This also makes it tough to secure a reservation, but if you do, you’ll be happy to dine and spend some time having more cocktails after dinner. Check their calendar because the Gipsy Kings have been known to perform there, which makes for an extra special treat!

 
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If you’re looking for the Hamptons with a little touch of New England, head to Sag Harbor for a meal, shopping, and even the beach. Sag Pizza serves up some of the best pizza around in a festive atmosphere that is kid-friendly while still being a place I’d be happy to go on a fun date. While they do offer the expected toppings on pizza, they have options with truffle paste (you’ll die and go to heaven!), kale, and even a pizza with clams and guanciale—yes, all on one pizza! Outdoor seating is available.

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 you have to wait a bit for your table. The restaurant is open for lunch/weekend brunch and dinner every day during summer months. 

 
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For dessert in Sag Harbor, head to Buddhaberry for the best frozen yogurt with a million and one topping options. But frozen yogurt isn’t all they do—they have crepes, açaí bowls, waffles, and shakes and smoothies. It’s a very popular spot, but it seems to be the place to be, and it lives up to the hype with so much variety in froyo flavors and other options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

 
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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. Last New Year’s Eve we dined with our children before heading to a friend’s house to ring in the New Year, and it was a surprisingly good deal for our kids, as they ate for “free” with our prix fixe meals. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

 
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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!

 
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Canal Cafe in Hampton Bays is a meal with a view. The food is actually very 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. I love their lobster roll, and we’ve also been very happy with many of their daily specials. Closed Tuesday.

 
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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.

We seldom drive farther east than Bridgehampton, but there are a few places that are worth the drive. Take a drive to East Hampton, do a little shopping, and then head to The Lobster Roll, also known as LUNCH, in Amangansett. It’s open every day from lunch until 9:30 pm. It’s such a festive beachside “shack” decorated in red, white, and blue with umbrellas, picnic tables, and a pebbled outdoor space. And the service is warm and friendly. Do I even need to tell you what to order? Well, perhaps. You can actually get a lobster salad roll made with mayo, but my favorite is the hot lobster roll. The lobster comes served in melted butter with the roll on the side so you can stuff as much as you want into the roll or just enjoy the sweet taste of lobster. One last tip: Don’t be dismayed by the crowd of people you see waiting to be fed. It actually moves rather quickly, and they serve up tasty beverages (some with alcohol if you need help chilling during the wait)—I was quite pleased with my piña colada during our last visit!

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A sweet friend of mine is a Montauk regular year-round since her family has a home there. She has impeccable taste about everything, especially food (which she doesn’t like to share…even with her husband…just FYI if you ever dine with her—LOL! But I still love her to pieces!) She recommends The Crow’s Nest for its food, stunning grounds, and a cute little bar down by the water so you can have a drink while you wait for your table. It’s also part of a small boutique hotel. She’s never stayed at the inn, but judging from the website, it’s super cute and boho chic!

If you’re planning to spend a day on the beach in Montauk, make sure to make a pitstop at Herb’s Market on Main Street to pick up provisions for a picnic lunch. They’re known for their fried chicken, even by people who typically don’t eat fried chicken. But there is so much more, including prime meats, if you’re planning to cook a meal at home that evening.

FUN EVENING ENTERTAINMENT

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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.

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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.

DAYTIME EXCURSIONS

For the first time this past summer, because my little guy is now 4 years old, we went kayaking. And it couldn’t have been easier thanks to Main Beach Surf & Sport. We arrived at the shop, told them we wanted to rent kayaks, we drove about a half mile, parked the car, and two guys showed up with kayaks and life vests, and helped us launch them into the water. Then they directed us to Georgica Beach. So we kayaked there and had lunch on the sand. This was actually a treat because it’s typically a private beach for residents of the neighborhood, but not when you arrive by kayak! Main Beach even sold us a dry bag to keep our belongings safe and dry when strapped onto the kayak.

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If you’re in the mood for a hike and a quiet beach, visit the Elizabeth Morton Nature Preserve. Hike down to the beach while observing and listening to wild birds. You might even spot a wild turkey. And if you take a little bird seed, stand quietly still, hold the birdseed in the palm of your hand, and a bird may just come take it from you. Hike to the beach and use the free telescopes to see for miles. Or just act like a kid and skip rocks. Parking is $5 on the honor system.

For a splashing good time during Summer months, take the family to Splish Splash in Riverhead. The lines can be long, but for a small fortune, they offer a speed pass to minimize your wait times.

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Berry (and other fruits and vegetables) picking is a favorite pastime for my kids and me in the Hamptons. There are so many places throughout the East End. We’ve been to Hank’s and Seven Ponds Orchards and have enjoyed both. Just make sure you call ahead or check their websites to confirm what they’re currently picking.

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Not really a day excursion, but I can’t figure out where to place this. Agawam Park in Southampton is a wonderful playground, often with some shade, and my kids (and husband and I) have the best time there. And if you’re not into running around, just enjoy the beautiful sunsets.

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. 

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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. 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.

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Eye Candy at North Sea Farms

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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. And you may get lucky and run into Katie Lee or Brooke Shields (who is so lovely!)

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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, some of the items for sale (especially their prepared foods) don't have a price tag or they’re hidden on the bottom, 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

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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.

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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. 

There are a few carnivals in the Hamptons that my kids love. The big one is the North Sea Fire Department’s Carnival during the week of July 4th. This is the Mac Daddy of summer carnivals because they have a great fireworks show a few nights at around 10 pm. I also like that it’s run in large part by volunteers for the fire department, so it has more of that hometown carnival feel than some of the others.

The Southampton Carnival seems to come and go a few times throughout the summer. It’s a small town carnival with a huge potato sack slide, a small roller coaster, games, candy apples, and the whole shebang. It’s a great carnival for smaller children. The carnival sets up shop on County Road 39 as you're driving into Southampton. 

There’s also a carnival in Bridghampton on Montauk Highway near the Carvel store. It’s probably the closest to North Sea’s in terms of size and types of rides. All carnival dates change every summer, so just check local updates when visiting.

 

FUN SHOPPING

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Kite Flying on Cooper's Beach (Kite from Kites of the Harbor)

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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.

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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, now in a new location on the corner of Jobs Lane and Main Street in Southampton. Stop by to see some of the beautiful things that you typically only see online. Their staff is quite helpful and has assisted me in purchases to complete our home decor.

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A beautiful tabletop at Goop

For at least the last two summers, there has been a Goop Pop-Up in Sag Harbor. 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.

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The view inside MONC XIII

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. The Montauk Lighthouse is a fun destination because it’s literally right on the end of Long Island. Kids will enjoy walking up the spiral staircase to the top. Just be patient because it’s a narrow staircase and can get a little cozy with people going both directions.

HAMPTONS OFF SEASON

I’m publishing this at the beginning of October. The Fall is one of the best times to visit the Hamptons because the crowds are gone, rental homes and hotels have lower rates, but the weather is still wonderful. Just look at the weather the past few weekends—perfect beach days. And you don’t even need a beach pass, so you can park for free, without fear of a ticket, at some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast. Most shops and restaurants are still open. The one destination I’ll add for the Fall is Hank’s Pumpkintown. This is a child’s dream spot for the day. And they have everything you could want to celebrate this season on one plot of land. Pumpkins, of course. Apple cider donuts, apple picking, a hayride of the best kind (without hay to make you itch and sneeze), corn mazes, slides coming out of giant farm equipment, pedal dune buggies, a giant bouncy pillow, face painting, apple blasting (a MUST!), a corn train ride around one of the pumpkin patches, mums and gourds for sale, and even more, but I’m exhausted listing it all. Trust me, you and your kids will have a fabulous time, and they’ll sleep well. Pumpkintown is only open from the weekend after Labor Day until Halloween, giving you one more reason to visit after Summer’s end.

This list is always work in progress. My hope is that it will make your trip to The Hamptons stress-free and more enjoyable.

xoxo,
Jennifer

My favorite neighbor.

My favorite neighbor.

"MY NEW ORLEANS" BY ALEXIS WALTER

Jennifer Mejia

 
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Photo via thegrovestreetpress Instagram

 

A little over a month ago, I shared the work and a glimpse into the life of one of my favorite artists, Alexis Walter. Not only is she extremely talented and her art beyond gorgeous, she’s quite a warm, interesting, and well-rounded person. During my interview with her, I asked her to share some of her favorite spots in the city she calls home, New Orleans. I expected one or two places, but Alexis outdid herself and gave me a bundle. I decided to share that information in a future post instead of taking the spotlight away from Alexis and her talent. So, today’s the day.

 
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Photo via thegrovestreetpress Instagram

 

I was fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans with my company for a meeting about a year after Katrina’s devastation. Our company was rebuilding like New Orleans, so it was a perfectly chosen spot. I was amazed at how much seemed back to normal, while not making light of that which was still in despair. I thoroughly enjoyed my time, and I actually snuck off on my own for a bit to wander into art galleries all those years ago. But my memory is not terrific, so thankfully, Alexis graciously provided us all with a very current list of NOLA hot spots. I’m going to visit them virtually now, but my hope is that I’ll get back there someday very soon. My first stop will be Alexis’s gallery. And then I’ll likely have to stuff myself with doughnuts (explanation below) to console myself since I won’t be able to travel home with every piece in her shop. So here it is…from the heart, soul, and mouth of Alexis Walter…Welcome to New Orleans!

 
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Photo via thegrovestreetpress Instagram

 

The question I asked Alexis was, “What are your favorite things about New Orleans? Your favorite restaurants? Favorite shops? If we only do one thing when visiting New Orleans, what should it be?” And she replied…
(ALL QUOTES FROM ALEXIS ARE IN BOLD TYPE.)

EATS

Where to start! I love it all. I love the laid back, slow-paced, friendly, creative vibe of the city. The architecture and gardens are just a dream. The music and cuisine are beyond amazing.

Choosing a favorite restaurant is nearly impossible. Our favorite would probably be Irene’s Cuisine, but Galatoire’s is a must, as well.

 
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Peeking into Irene’s

Irene’s is in the French Quarter and has been one of the hottest tickets since it was established in 1993. Its owner, Irene DiPietro, is a baby boomer from Sicily. What should you order? They recommend the cannelloni, duck, lamb chops, and eggplant soup. And a favorite crowd pleaser is bruschetta, which is complementary and given to all diners when they are seated.

Galatoire’s was founded in 1905 by a family from a small village in France. The menu looks amazing, creatively weaving traditional French cuisine into New Orleans Creole favorites. When I visit, I plan to order Duck and Andouille Gumbo, Foie Gras, Bouillabaise, and Shrimp Creole. And it’s located right on Bourbon Street, so you can conveniently partake in some of the wild nightlife after dining if you choose.

If you’re here during sno-ball season, Imperial Woodpecker has the best sno-balls around. The owner has created some of the most scrumptious flavors. My favorite is the grapefruit mint.  

I had to look up what a sno-ball is. Shaved Ice that is soft and fluffy, drowned in your favorite flavor of syrup. Delicious! Refreshing! The owner of Imperial Woodpecker is originally from New Orleans and has fond memories of standing in line waiting for sno-balls during the summer months of her childhood. After a career in fashion in New York, she returned to where her heart led her—home. These treats look so amazing and the presentation so darling. There were too many flavors for me to count, so suffice it to say, they’ll have a flavor you like.

District Donuts — Alexis recommends you order a lavender latte when visiting this spot. Beware, she says it’s dangerous to get hooked. I’m guessing she drinks a lot since they are located a hop, skip, and a jump from her gallery. And wait, can you just look at these donuts and a few of the flavors they offer? O to the M to the G!

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COCKTAILS & WINE

If there is one thing you have to do when visiting, it is to spend the prettiest day of your trip at Bacchanal Wine, which is the cutest little wine and music spot. Any visit there will be a memorable one you won’t forget.

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I want to travel to New Orleans just to visit this joint. Imagine hearing the best live jazz music in New Orleans while sipping the best Old World-style wine from small producers of various regions in a quaint little back yard. There is live music every day. And there are two free wine tastings every week: Saturdays 3-5 pm and Wednesdays 1-3 pm. They feature a wine of the week, making it effortless to try something new and fantastic. The inside bar has a daily happy hour from 11 am - 5 pm…my kind of place. All wines by the glass are $5, classic cocktails are $6, and beer at the bar is $1 off! Can I just pitch a tent in the back yard of this place? Oh, and they have food, and even a cheese of the week. I almost forgot to mention food after dreaming about the cool setting, wine, and music.

MUSEUMS

 
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If you’re a fan of museums, I love The Historic New Orleans Collection. They have the most unique exhibits pertaining to New Orleans. The museum is in the most beautiful building and certain times of the year they’ll have music in the courtyard. Their book selection is pretty amazing, too. 

SHOPPING

Seriously, I need to do some sort of shopping and restaurant guide because my answers will take up the entire post. Top shopping hits would be: 

Shaun Smith Home — A shop owned and curated by one of the most amazing interior designers.

Malachite Home — Unique interior design finds from furniture to accessories to mirrors.

Leontine Linens — A collection of the most amazing linens for the bed, bath, baby & child, and even cozy, luxurious robes.

Empire Antiques — Located at 3617 Magazine Street. Tel: 504-897-0252

Karla Katz Antiques — The finest collection of French antiques.

Anne Koerner — Fine antiques.

Cole Pratt Gallery — Alexis recommends checking out the Bucci paintings. And personally (Jennifer speaking), I love the work of Hayley Gaberlavage.

Julie Neill —The most amazing lighting! I die every time I see one of her plaster fixtures.

Maison de Provence — I could die and go to heaven here dreaming of furnishing my mas in Provence with all of the treasures.

Mac Maison — French and Italian antiques.

Lucullus Culinary Antiques — “AMAZING” to quote Alexis. I’d seriously die among all of the unique flatware and objects. I want to go buy a mortar and pestle.

The French Library — Alexis says it’s the most darling children’s shop!

And let’s not forget Alexis’s neighbors …

Victoria — Women’s clothing and accessories.

Pied Nu — Fabulous women's clothing and accessories.

Scriptura — The most amazing stationery store. Am I the only one who could look at fine paper for days?

Thank you, Alexis Walter, for the most amazing virtual tour of New Orleans. I can’t wait to visit again! Art, shopping, doughnuts, wine, and live music. Perfect trip!

Finally, Alexis Walter’s studio is located at 5702 Magazine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana. Tel: 504-568-0316. Stop by for a visit. You’ll love her work! And you’ll love her! You can always visit Alexis on Instagram, as well.

 
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Photo via Paloma Contreras Design Instagram
Two of Alexis’s pieces hanging in Paloma’s design of the Southern Style Now Showhouse

DESTINATION: PARK CITY, UTAH

Jennifer Mejia

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From the Top at Deer Valley Resort

Last winter, we visited Park City, Utah with our two young children. With recent cold weather in the Northeast reminding us of winter’s imminent arrival, we’ve begun planning for the upcoming ski season. Many travelers book well in advance (we have our hotel but not our flights yet), but there is still plenty of time to plan a terrific trip for the 2018-2019 season. That said, if you’re planning to travel during a busy week like President's Week or over the holidays, you should get that train moving. This entry was originally posted last March after our trip. And given that many of you are new to my blog, I thought it was worth reposting.  

If it were up to me and we could take only one winter vacation, I'd probably opt for a beach in the Caribbean. But if you have to spend your vacation in the cold, there are many beautiful ski resorts out West, and some of the best are in Utah. The Utah ski resorts are a great choice because there are direct flights from many cities into Salt Lake City. And direct flights are key when traveling with little ones! Most of the more popular mountains and resorts are within a 45-minute drive of Salt Lake (also key with kids after a long flight). There are basically two areas on different sides of the mountain range. The Park City area is on the north side and consists of Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, the latter which is now connected by lifts to The Canyons to form one mega ski mountain. On the south of the mountain range are Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton. If you are a skier, Deer Valley Resort and Alta are exclusively for skiers, i.e. no snowboarders allowed. If you're looking for more luxurious hotels and lodging options, skiing/snowboarding during the day, and plenty to do at night, e.g. restaurants and shopping, then it's best to stay in the Park City area. We've always stayed there, hence the reason for my focus.

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Night Lights Outside the St. Regis Deer Valley

WHERE TO STAY
The St. Regis Deer Valley is beyond magnificent for multiple reasons. It's now part of the Marriott family of hotels (was formerly Starwood), so use those points (Starwood or Marriott) and book a room for a few nights 'on the house.' Needless to say, it's ski in/ski out, and there is a Jans Ski Shop on the bottom floor, right near the ski butler, where you can rent everything you need for a fun day on the mountain. Store your skis and boots overnight, and in the morning, your boots will be warm, someone will even help you put them on, and your skis will be waiting for you outside. And forget having to stand in line to purchase a lift ticket, as they are also sold right there in the hotel and can be charged to your room.

Expect everything else you'd expect at a hotel with the St. Regis name: a spa, butler service for your room, a kids' club (supervision is required), special activities in high season such as musical performances and a ballroom full of bouncy houses for the kids. Breakfast is served at the J&G Grill, or there is an elaborate "oatmeal bar" just off the main lobby. For apres-ski, there is a dangerous (housemade) hot cocoa bar with toppings like fresh whipped cream, marshmallows, and toffee bar crunch. My kids probably each ate three bags of marshmallows during their stay! Champagne sabering is complimentary every evening at 5:30 pm. And of course, the St. Regis Bar has indoor and outdoor seating, with heat lamps, so you can watch skiers complete their last runs of the day. For dinner, the food is wonderful at both the J&G Grill (fine dining and reservations suggested) and St. Regis Bar (more casual menu and atmosphere and is first come, first served). There is a ridiculous and indulgent lunchtime buffet (with an equally ridiculous price), but the J&G Grill also offers a reasonably priced a la carte menu. If you choose to dine or shop in downtown Park City, a complimentary shuttle service is provided.

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St. Regis Deer Valley Top Entrance

To get to the hotel, one must valet their car at the base of the resort and take a short and scenic funicular ride up to the hotel. This is a special treat for kids and adults alike. 

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View of Deer Valley from the St. Regis Funicular

There are also MANY terrific condominiums near the base of Deer Valley Resort. Many are in walking distance, but there is a complimentary shuttle that picks you up outside of your building and drives you to the base. We have stayed at a few in the past, and it's truly convenient.

SKIING/SNOWBOARDING
Deer Valley Resort is top notch for skiing. With plenty of runs for every level of skier, you can rest assured that the entire family will have a wonderful day. The food on the mountain is also superb. Empire Lodge can give the best local chefs a run for their money and is quite a treat for foodies who also love to ski. Fresh grilled salmon over salad and pulled pork sandwiches, along with staples like bratwurst and burgers (but really good ones) are on the menu. Silver Lake Lodge features a pho bar in addition to typical offerings.

Snowboarders, head over to Park City Mountain Resort or The Canyons (now connected by lifts) to get your groove on!

SKI SCHOOL/DAYCARE
Deer Valley Resort can't be beat for ski school and daycare options. Children are registered by age and ability (according to their parents), but on their first day are assessed and moved around to ensure they are with skiers on the same level, providing the best possible group lesson experience. Groups are small and typically 3-4 children per instructor. For the littlest skiers (our youngest is three), a one-hour private lesson is given, and then the children are taken to a 'daycare on steroids' for the remainder of the day. It's a huge facility that has indoor playground equipment that rivals that of some outdoor playgrounds, tricycles, arts and crafts, movies, and even cots to allow them to nap. They also have outdoor snow playtime in addition to their hour of skiing in the morning. There is a daycare only option for those who aren't yet ready to hit the slopes. 

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Ski School at Deer Valley

There is typically a ski school near the base of every resort. The Canyons school convenes right outside of The Grand Summit Lodge, and rentals are there, as well. For those too young to ski, there is a daycare center at Grand Summit Lodge. The children take the gondola up the mountain to play in the snow for a bit. The staff is extremely caring and competent, but it's a much smaller facility than the one at Deer Valley. Lunch is provided, and the children are able to nap, as well.

GORGOZA PARK
UPDATE 10/24/18: Tubing and other activities will NOT be operating during the 2018-2019 ski season while the location transforms itself into Woodward Park City. Tubing will begin again in November 2019.

For a break from the slopes and to give your wallet a break (did I mention that lift tickets out West are ridiculously expensive?), the entire family can enjoy a few hours at Gorgoza Park. It's a short drive from Deer Valley and Park City. Tubing is the main attraction. Children over the age of 5 can race down the large and the small hills. Children 3 and 4 years old are restricted to the smaller hill, but they won't feel slighted. The advantage of the small hill is that the line is a lot shorter. On both hills, groups can hold onto each other's straps and fly down the hill together. Both hills have three or four distinct lanes, so there's no risk of of colliding with other parties. There's even a 'tiny tots' area for children under 3 years old, complete with a small hill and a carousel of sorts where kids sit in tubes situated around a central motor that moves them in a circle. Tubing passes are purchased for two or three hour periods.

Children age 6 and over (but less than about 100 pounds) can ride mini snowmobiles. They make about 10 laps around a circular track. Helmets are provided, and their top speed is about 8-10 mph, keeping your stress level down while still allowing the kids to have fun. Tickets are sold per "ride."

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"Maverick" on a Snowmobile

OLYMPIC PARK
Home to the 2002 Winter Olympics, Olympic Park is now a winter play land for adults and children alike. Here's a quick rundown. The park offers a one-hour park tour, during which you hear great stories of the Olympics. The entire family can enjoy a shuttle bus ride around the park to sights such as the world's highest Nordic ski jump! 

Visitors age 3 and up can enjoy two-hour tubing sessions. Weekday sessions are typically from 4-6 pm, while Friday through Sunday offers a larger window from 12-8 pm. 

Learn to curl during a two-hour on-ice lesson! This is recommended for ages 13 and up, although they'll allow children as young as 10 years old.

For those adults and teens over the age of 16 (and at least 100 pounds), ride the exhilarating bobsled! Reservations are required.

There is a limited public skate schedule that varies based on organized events being held at the rink, so check their website for the most updated availability. 

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Photo: Olympic Park Website, Bobsled

EVENING HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDES
My animal-loving three year old can't stop talking about this experience! While it was a bit cold and windy the night we went, the blankets kept us warm and the spectacular view made it all worth it! Park City Sleigh Rides offers 30-minute sleigh rides courtesy of stunning Clydesdale horses. Rides begin at 5:30 pm, and they do book up well in advance, so plan ahead so you don't miss out. The meeting point is just outside The Grand Summit Lodge at The Canyons Resort. Valet parking is available for guests not staying at the lodge.

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Beautiful View During Our Carriage Ride

DOGSLEDDING
Rancho Luna Lobos is about a 20-minute drive from Main Street in Park City if the roads are not snowy. This is a unique and fantastic experience! This family owned and operated company provides a one-hour sled ride for groups of 1-3 people (perhaps 4 if the children are small) or two 30-minute sled rides through Utah's back country. They really do say, "Mush!" One person can even stand behind the sled with the guide and yell it out for him! The dogs absolutely love their jobs! These tours book out well in advance and oftentimes sell out for the season a month before its end, so reserve in advance. Reservations are now being accepted or the 2018/2019 season!

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Sled Dogs at Rancho Luna Lobos

GRUB
The truth about food in Park City is that there are plenty of good restaurants. During peak weeks, reservations at the hottest spots fill quickly, so make plans at your favorites as far in advance as they will allow. I'm listing two of my favorites here, but again, you almost can't go wrong. One tip regardless of the restaurant you choose: Kids are exhausted after a long day of skiing or tubing, especially if you've traveled across time zones. So make dinner reservations for around 5:30 or 6 pm. You also probably want to consider dining at your hotel a few nights just to make it easier.  

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Main Street, Downtown Park City

Chimayo offers Southwestern cuisine courtesy of Executive Chef, Arturo Flores, who never disappoints. In a casual and vibrant, yet also warm atmosphere, the margaritas are refreshing after a long day on the slopes, and the cuisine will delight your taste buds. My favorite menu items are Carne Asada Brava made with Wagyu beef, the Elk London Broil, and BBQ Spare Ribs. They also have a kids menu...and we all know anything with french fries as a side will be just perfect. Did I mention the margaritas?

Firewood is a newer restaurant and one I hope is here to stay! Their slogan is, "Where wood fire brings flavor to life," and boy does it ever! You can't imagine the difference in flavor...maybe the fact that my six year old inhaled his broccolini should tell you something! For appetizers, you must order the Pork Belly, and the Smoked Duck is also excellent. For an entree, the Elk Loin will make you wish you could eat elk every night of your life, and the Bronzini is a lighter option but still so flavorful. Are you sensing a theme here?--Order Elk in Park City! The kids menu is a little pricey, BUT the kids will LOVE their healthy and delicious meal. It changes nightly and is not published, but three options are typically offered. Meals are complete with a protein, a vegetable/side, and ice cream or sorbet for dessert for $25. 

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The Kitchen at Firewood (see the fire and wood?)

Utah is a truly wonderful place with lots to do outside of skiing if you opt for colder temps and snow for your winter vacation. And with Salt Lake City having a major airport, chances are you’ll find it easy to travel there. In fact, from NYC, you can fly out in the morning and still have time to ski (or partake in other activities) in the afternoon!

A HAMPTONS SUMMER: MY FAVORITE SPOTS

Jennifer Mejia

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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. 

BEACHES

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Cooper's Beach

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.

EATS

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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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.

NEWCOMERS

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.

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Eye Candy at North Sea Farms

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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.

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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

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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.

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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. 

 

FUN SHOPPING

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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.

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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.

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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.

DESTINATION: PARK CITY, UTAH

Jennifer Mejia

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From the Top at Deer Valley Resort

We recently visited Park City, Utah with our two young children. I hesitated to post this because many of you might think ski season is just about over. While it's true that only a few weeks remain, we found that many travelers book well in advance for ski season, especially during busy weeks like President's Week. So I thought I'd give you all something to think about for next winter while it is still fresh in my mind. 

If it were up to me and we could take only one winter vacation, I'd probably opt for a beach in the Caribbean. But if you have to spend your vacation in the cold, there are many beautiful ski resorts out West, and some of the best are in Utah. The Utah ski resorts are a great choice because there are direct flights from many cities into Salt Lake City. And direct flights are key when traveling with little ones! Most of the more popular mountains and resorts are within a 45-minute drive of Salt Lake (also key with kids after a long flight). There are basically two areas on different sides of the mountain range. The Park City area is on the north side and consists of Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, the latter which is now connected by lifts to The Canyons to form one mega ski mountain. On the south of the mountain range are Alta, Snowbird, Solitude, and Brighton. If you are a skier, Deer Valley Resort and Alta are exclusively for skiers, i.e. no snowboarders allowed. If you're looking for more luxurious hotels and lodging options, skiing/snowboarding during the day, and plenty to do at night, e.g. restaurants and shopping, then it's best to stay in the Park City area. We've always stayed there, hence the reason for my focus.

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Night Lights Outside the St. Regis Deer Valley

WHERE TO STAY
The St. Regis Deer Valley is beyond magnificent for multiple reasons. It's part of the Starwood family of hotels, so save those points and book a room for a few nights 'on the house.' Needless to say, it's ski in/ski out, and there is a Jans Ski Shop on the bottom floor, right near the ski butler, where you can rent everything you need for a fun day on the mountain. Store your skis and boots overnight, and in the morning, your boots will be warm, someone will even help you put them on, and your skis will be waiting for you outside. And forget having to stand in line to purchase a lift ticket, as they are also sold right there in the hotel and can be charged to your room.

Expect everything else you'd expect at a hotel with the St. Regis name: a spa, butler service for your room, a kids' club (supervision is required), special activities in high season such as musical performances and a ballroom full of bouncy houses for the kids. Breakfast is served at the J&G Grill, or there is an elaborate "oatmeal bar" just off the main lobby. For apres-ski, there is a dangerous (housemade) hot cocoa bar with toppings like fresh whipped cream, marshmallows, and toffee bar crunch. My kids probably each ate three bags of marshmallows during their stay! Champagne sabering is complimentary every evening at 5:30 pm. And of course, the St. Regis Bar has indoor and outdoor seating, with heat lamps, so you can watch skiers complete their last runs of the day. For dinner, the food is wonderful at both the J&G Grill (fine dining and reservations suggested) and St. Regis Bar (more casual menu and atmosphere and is first come, first served). There is a ridiculous and indulgent lunchtime buffet (with an equally ridiculous price), but the J&G Grill also offers a reasonably priced a la carte menu. If you choose to dine or shop in downtown Park City, a complimentary shuttle service is provided.

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St. Regis Deer Valley Top Entrance

To get to the hotel, one must valet their car at the base of the resort and take a short and scenic funicular ride up to the hotel. This is a special treat for kids and adults alike. 

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View of Deer Valley from the St. Regis Funicular

There are also MANY terrific condominiums near the base of Deer Valley Resort. Many are in walking distance, but there is a complimentary shuttle that picks you up outside of your building and drives you to the base. We have stayed at a few in the past, and it's truly convenient.

SKIING/SNOWBOARDING
Deer Valley Resort is top notch for skiing. With plenty of runs for every level of skier, you can rest assured that the entire family will have a wonderful day. The food on the mountain is also superb. Empire Lodge can give the best local chefs a run for their money and is quite a treat for foodies who also love to ski. Fresh grilled salmon over salad and pulled pork sandwiches, along with staples like bratwurst and burgers (but really good ones) are on the menu. Silver Lake Lodge features a pho bar in addition to typical offerings.

Snowboarders, head over to Park City Mountain Resort or The Canyons (now connected by lifts) to get your groove on!

SKI SCHOOL/DAYCARE
Deer Valley Resort can't be beat for ski school and daycare options. Children are registered by age and ability (according to their parents), but on their first day are assessed and moved around to ensure they are with skiers on the same level, providing the best possible group lesson experience. Groups are small and typically 3-4 children per instructor. For the littlest skiers (our youngest is three), a one-hour private lesson is given, and then the children are taken to a 'daycare on steroids' for the remainder of the day. It's a huge facility that has indoor playground equipment that rivals that of some outdoor playgrounds, tricycles, arts and crafts, movies, and even cots to allow them to nap. They also have outdoor snow playtime in addition to their hour of skiing in the morning. There is a daycare only option for those who aren't yet ready to hit the slopes. 

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Ski School at Deer Valley

There is typically a ski school near the base of every resort. The Canyons school convenes right outside of The Grand Summit Lodge, and rentals are there, as well. For those too young to ski, there is a daycare center at Grand Summit Lodge. The children take the gondola up the mountain to play in the snow for a bit. The staff is extremely caring and competent, but it's a much smaller facility than the one at Deer Valley. Lunch is provided, and the children are able to nap, as well.

GORGOZA PARK
For a break from the slopes and to give your wallet a break (did I mention that lift tickets out West are ridiculously expensive?), the entire family can enjoy a few hours at Gorgoza Park. It's a short drive from Deer Valley and Park City. Tubing is the main attraction. Children over the age of 5 can race down the large and the small hills. Children 3 and 4 years old are restricted to the smaller hill, but they won't feel slighted. The advantage of the small hill is that the line is a lot shorter. On both hills, groups can hold onto each other's straps and fly down the hill together. Both hills have three or four distinct lanes, so there's no risk of of colliding with other parties. There's even a 'tiny tots' area for children under 3 years old, complete with a small hill and a carousel of sorts where kids sit in tubes situated around a central motor that moves them in a circle. Tubing passes are purchased for two or three hour periods.

Children age 6 and over (but less than about 100 pounds) can ride mini snowmobiles. They make about 10 laps around a circular track. Helmets are provided, and their top speed is about 8-10 mph, keeping your stress level down while still allowing the kids to have fun. Tickets are sold per "ride."

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"Maverick" on a Snowmobile

OLYMPIC PARK
Home to the 2002 Winter Olympics, Olympic Park is now a winter play land for adults and children alike. Here's a quick rundown. The park offers a one-hour park tour, during which you hear great stories of the Olympics. The entire family can enjoy a shuttle bus ride around the park to sights such as the world's highest Nordic ski jump! 

Visitors age 3 and up can enjoy two-hour tubing sessions. Weekday sessions are typically from 4-6 pm, while Friday through Sunday offers a larger window from 12-8 pm. 

Learn to curl during a two-hour on-ice lesson! This is recommended for ages 13 and up, although they'll allow children as young as 10 years old.

For those adults and teens over the age of 16 (and at least 100 pounds), ride the exhilarating bobsled! Reservations are required.

There is a limited public skate schedule that varies based on organized events being held at the rink, so check their website for the most updated availability. 

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Photo: Olympic Park Website, Bobsled

EVENING HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE RIDES
My animal-loving three year old can't stop talking about this experience! While it was a bit cold and windy the night we went, the blankets kept us warm and the spectacular view made it all worth it! Park City Sleigh Rides offers 30-minute sleigh rides courtesy of stunning Clydesdale horses. Rides begin at 5:30 pm, and they do book up well in advance, so plan ahead so you don't miss out. The meeting point is just outside The Grand Summit Lodge at The Canyons Resort. Valet parking is available for guests not staying at the lodge.

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Beautiful View During Our Carriage Ride

DOGSLEDDING
Rancho Luna Lobos is about a 20-minute drive from Main Street in Park City if the roads are not snowy. This is a unique and fantastic experience! This family owned and operated company provides a one-hour sled ride for groups of 1-3 people (perhaps 4 if the children are small) or two 30-minute sled rides through Utah's back country. They really do say, "Mush!" One person can even stand behind the sled with the guide and yell it out for him! The dogs absolutely love their jobs! These tours book out well in advance and oftentimes sell out for the season a month before its end, so reserve in advance.  

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Sled Dogs at Rancho Luna Lobos

GRUB
The truth about food in Park City is that there are plenty of good restaurants. During peak weeks, reservations at the hottest spots fill quickly, so make plans at your favorites as far in advance as they will allow. I'll list a few of my favorites here, but again, you almost can't go wrong. One tip regardless of the restaurant you choose: Kids are exhausted after a long day of skiing or tubing, especially if you've traveled across time zones. So make dinner reservations for around 5:30 or 6 pm. You also probably want to consider dining at your hotel a few nights just to make it easier.  

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Main Street, Downtown Park City

Chimayo offers Southwestern cuisine courtesy of Executive Chef, Arturo Flores, who never disappoints. In a casual and vibrant, yet also warm atmosphere, the margaritas are refreshing after a long day on the slopes, and the cuisine will delight your taste buds. My favorite menu items are Carne Asada Brava made with Wagyu beef, the Elk London Broil, and BBQ Spare Ribs. They also have a kids menu...and we all know anything with french fries as a side will be just perfect. Did I mention the margaritas?

Firewood is a newer restaurant and one I hope is here to stay! Their slogan is, "Where wood fire brings flavor to life," and boy does it ever! You can't imagine the difference in flavor...maybe the fact that my six year old inhaled his broccolini should tell you something! For appetizers, you must order the Pork Belly, and the Smoked Duck is also excellent. For an entree, the Elk Loin will make you wish you could eat elk every night of your life, and the Bronzini is a lighter option but still so flavorful. Are you sensing a theme here?--Order Elk in Park City! The kids menu is a little pricey, BUT the kids will LOVE their healthy and delicious meal. It changes nightly and is not published, but three options are typically offered. Meals are complete with a protein, a vegetable/side, and ice cream or sorbet for dessert for $25. 

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The Kitchen at Firewood (see the fire and wood?)

For a casual, fun, and more affordable spot that the entire family will enjoy, even if your taste buds aren't wowed, try Blue Iguana. Where else can you have a really delicious margarita, a collection of crayons, and a sippy cup co-exist so perfectly together? Typical Mexican cuisine is offered, as is a salsa bar that has more types of salsa than you knew existed. 

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Margarita (and things to keep the kids happy and hydrated)

Utah is a truly wonderful place with lots to do outside of skiing if you opt for colder temps and snow for your winter vacation. And for anyone who can't wait until next season, I've skied many times on April Fool's Day in Utah. Just sayin'...