by Justine Goodman - 81 Reviews - 104 List
Summer is upon us, which means the upper strata of New York's elite are relocating to their posh Hamptons estates until after Labor Day. But you don't have to own a manse on Georgica Lane to experience a top-notch East End getaway--get the inside scoop on the island's best restaurants, bars, hotels and beaches with our handy Hamptons guide.
Updated: September 08, 2010
Wade in the water or refuel at the concession stand on this long, sandy beach in Amagansett. An East Hampton Town permit gets you free parking, but there's also a paid lot for non-residents, which means you can expect a crowd in the high-season.
Southampton's foremost beach offers a long stretch of sand, plus the comforts of a pavilion with snacks and shower facilities. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season, making it perfect for families and serious ocean swimmers. Non-residents pay $40 per day for parking, and chair or umbrella rentals will set you back $10 or $15, respectively.
This beachfront property in Montauk features uninterrupted stretches of white sand and rolling dunes. For those toting sleeping bags, Hither Hills is one of 165 public spots operated by the New York State Parks System in which camping is permitted.
Although it's best-known as a surfing spot, this beach is a good place for families, too; the area designated for surfers is a safe distance away from the swimming space. A concession stand is open during the summer months, and there are nearby bathroom facilities as well. The only drawback is that parking is by town permit only.
If you're lucky enough to have a Southampton address for the summer, enjoy an afternoon swim or challenge the neighbors to beach volleyball at this residents-only beach. Outdoor showers, picnic tables, a food stand and restrooms provide simple comforts on a hot day.
East Hampton is notorious for drawing schools of New Yorkers come summer, probably because of beaches like this one. Long and clean, the sandbanks are piled high, while the waves are known to be some of the best in New York. Unfortunately, parking passes for non-residents tend to sell out quickly, so get there early.
An expansive stretch of sand along the Atlantic Ocean draws throngs of sun worshippers and swimmers to this Amagansett beach. If it seems less crowded than its nearest neighbor, Atlantic Beach, that's because Indian Wells is open only to those with residential permits (though if you can walk or bike here, head over).
This cheerful West Hampton bed-and-breakfast is unique--not only for its bocce ball courts, but also for its sociable, family-oriented air. With 36 rooms, it's unusually large for a B&B, so city slickers needn't worry about feeling overly isolated.
This Montauk resort is a cross between a motel and a condo complex. Though the exteriors of its three buildings could use an upgrade, the setting is considerably improved thanks to balconies that overlook the beach. It's a great choice for affordable family vacations.
Local surfers, fisherman and summer tourists relax together at this charming waterfront space. Enjoy the luxury of watching the sunset on the patio without dragging yourself inside for another drink--a special window bar lets you order from outside with ease. And if it happens to start raining, there's plenty of room indoors.
There's plenty to do on five acres of beautifully manicured grounds. As the home of the Southampton Pool and Tennis Club, on-site activities at the inn include kayaking, table games and volleyball (and, of course, swimming and tennis). Nearby antique shops, galleries, wineries and beaches also keep guests busy.
You couldn't ask for a better location than Baron's, which sits in the center of the 300-year-old one-time whaling village of Sag Harbor. The inn attracts a diverse group of guests all seeking the same thing: leisure. Clean units with sunny harbor views are appealing, as are the tennis courts and immaculate outdoor pool.
This bargain motel is tucked away from Montauk's main stretch, just a short walking distance from the harbor's boat-filled docks. The motel's two-story, sky blue building wraps around a small lawn, pool and patio area. There are also two tennis courts, which guests can use for free.
Located smack in the center of the Village of East Hampton, this Italian restaurant is a casual but elegant dining option. The seating area out front and the bar inside both offer a breezy environment for post-beach cocktails and apps, while the dinner hour is somewhat more formal without being stuffy.
At this beach bum's paradise in Montauk, there's room to drink and dance, plus a patio overlooking Fort Pond. The sprawling outdoor deck gives customers an excuse to mingle and flirt freely by the light of tiki torches. If you really need to rest your feet, try your luck at one of several picnic tables; otherwise it's standing room only during peak hours.
Since 1967 (when it actually was a drive-in), kids, cops, regulars and in-the-know visitors have frequented John's for its famous burgers and old-fashioned milkshakes. Years of exposure to the elements may have faded the brightly colored tables and benches, but that only makes the place feel more charmingly well-worn.
Tickets aren't cheap at this Amagansett country house-turned-live music venue, but the atmosphere is priceless. Christmas lights illuminate the bar, and, unless the show requires space for dancing, mismatched tables are set close to the stage. Performers run the gamut from folk singers to reggae artists and everything in between. As the night wears on, expect a boozy, raucous crowd.
During the high season you may have to park at the end of a line of cars and trek to this no-frills spot, located off Montauk Highway. But it's well worth risking your life crossing the busy road to try Cyril's tasty fried fish and reasonably priced frozen drinks. Order an icy cocktail like the BBC (bananas, Baileys and cream); you'll be surprised how well it goes with deep-fried Cajun calamari.
Despite celeb backing from part-owners like Jon Bon Jovi, this Mexican cantina and bar, located behind the Ralph Lauren store on Main Street in East Hampton, is surprisingly low-key. The food is nothing to write home about, but the margaritas and prime location in town make it a go-to for locals and weekenders alike.
That's right--this boutique wine shop is in Brooklyn! But its special wine party packs are specifically designed for Hamptons-goers. Order the Jitney Jumper (two tasty bottles of vino, $40) and Donna Da Vine will deliver it to the Jitney stop on Atlantic Avenue just in time for the drive out East.
On summer nights, don't bother showing up at this East Hampton restaurant without a reservation. Though the exterior looks rustic, inside you'll find stylish patrons and a trendy scene. Nibbling on Asian fusion fare and sipping a lychee martini, it's just like being back in Manhattan--especially once the large bill arrives.
This historic maritime inn serves contemporary American fare from the comfort of several Victorian dining rooms that boast a unique, beach-tinged charm, with details like ornate chandeliers, languid ceiling fans and walls covered in nautical artifacts. The food is solid, and the impressive wine list has garnered national recognition.
Tucked inside the picturesque Hunting Inn, the long-standing East Hampton branch of this popular steakhouse chain maintains a congenial atmosphere--even as Wall Street types use company credit cards to pay for 36-ounce New York strips and jumbo lobsters.
Come summertime, this East Hampton hot spot is the place to see and be seen. A wall of celebrity and non-celebrity caricatures greets diners in the bar, but the real centerpiece of the room is the enormous fireplace (pity it's gas). On summer weekends, it's virtually impossible to get a table without a reservation made far in advance--unless, of course, you happen to be Billy Joel.
It's easy to mistake Water Mill for Cyprus when at this upscale, traditional Greek restaurant, where the house specialty is a grilled whole fish, served in Ladolemono (a Greek lemon sauce). As at the original Trata in Manhattan, the cuisine is outstanding and service is attentive. Unfortunately, getting a reservation may prove difficult.
The New American menu at this East Hampton classic has kept both full-time residents and vacationers coming back for over a quarter century--thanks largely to its being tasty, unpretentious and welcoming to guests with two fireplaces, a bustling bar and a menu of stand-out dishes starring top local fish and produce.
For several decades the wood-burning oven at this East Hampton classic has turned out consistently great food to an exceedingly loyal (and chic) clientele. Unlike most popular restaurants that migrate east after success in the city, Nick & Toni's popularity in the Hamptons eventually spawned a second outpost in Manhattan.
A rousing nightclub from the big city brings its signature aphrodisiacs to Southampton. New Yorkers will feel right at home in the space thanks to the wooden paneling and silver-bucketed banquettes, but the center of the action here is a faux beach that stretches across an expansive outdoor deck.
The multi-level deck overlooking the Atlantic makes this East Quogue dance club different from anything you'll find in Manhattan. Perks include indoor and outdoor bars as well as a stage for live performances. The loud house music that is often played can seem like a stark contrast to the setting (an historic coast guard station), but the overly muscled crowd that patronizes the place doesn't seem to mind.
This surf-themed boutique hotel (located at Fort Pond, just half a mile from the beach) manages to embrace the laid-back Montauk vibe without sacrificing elegance. Book a room for the night, or stop by just to enjoy the spacious outdoor patio and order a specialty cocktail; then proceed to woo one of the bronzed beauties that hang here.
This East Hampton club takes its name from the local pond that's famously surrounded by some of the most extravagant estates in the area. Unik Ernest and Michael Satsky (of the now-shuttered NYC clubs P.M. and Stereo, respectively) joined forces to open the tropically themed hot spot, which is located in the space formerly know as the club Resort.
Another Meatpacking District hot spot expands East in time for the 2010 season. The sister spot to RDV in Manhattan boasts an expansive tiki-themed deck outfitted with cabanas, an assortment of celebrity guest DJs, specialty cocktails and a crowd composed primarily of the sort of people who come to the Hamptons to experience those things.