The Hamptons are famed for the beautiful beaches as much as for its celebrity residents like Ina Garten, Neil Patrick Harris, and Sarah Jessica Parker. But there’s plenty to enjoy on Long Island’s South Fork even if you’re not hobnobbing with the rich and famous and Manhattan and Brooklyn residents often head there for summer weekend getaways. The Hamptons, which generally refers to the southern half of Long Island’s eastern-most end, are often called the South Fork. Towns in the Hamptons include Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Sag Harbor, Sagaponack, Amagansett, and Montauk. If you’re looking to relax on powdery beaches, see top-notch modern art, and taste wine and beer directly from the source, the Hamptons have all that and more. Here are the top things to do in the Hamptons, from eating and drinking to surfing and biking.
Hit the Beach
The Hamptons have miles of coastline and the beaches are legendary—for good reason. Soft, white sand, scenic dunes, sizable waves, and wide beachfront mean there’s room for everyone—as long as you have the proper parking permit (seriously). Long Island’s South Shore is home to popular beaches like Main Beach in East Hampton, Coopers Beach in Southampton, and Ditch Plains in Montauk. And try not to stare at the massive mansions lining the shores.
Sip Some Wine
While Long Island is home to numerous vineyards, most of them are on the North Fork. The South Fork has only three: Wölffer Estate, Channing Daughters, and Duck Walk Vineyards. Wölffer is certainly the most popular, and its rose has become a must-drink in the Hamptons, but its Merlot and Riesling are just as tasty. They have vineyards and a tasting room in Sagaponack as well as Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor. Channing Daughters, in Bridgehampton, has been making wine from its 1982 vines, which were planted by Walter Channing, Jr. The winery opened in 1998 and has two other partners now. It is known for its white wines. Duck Walk was started by a founder of the North Fork’s Pindar Winery, and its winery is kid- and dog-friendly.
Driving around the Hamptons, it’s not uncommon to see sculptures by the likes of Richard Serra perched on a front lawn. It’s not surprising then that the area is home to one of the best contemporary art museums. The Parrish Art Museum has a robust collection of works by the likes of Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein, William Merrit Chase, and Fairfield Porter, who lived in Southampton. Also worth a visit is the former home and studio of Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner, which is a National Historic Landmark site in East Hampton that contains research material on 20th-century American art. Finally, LongHouse Reserve is a 16-acre reserve and sculpture garden with pieces by Buckminster Fuller, Yoko Ono, Dale Chihuly, and Willem de Kooning.
Eat Tons of Seafood
Being that the Hamptons are on the ocean, you’ll certainly want to indulge in the incredible seafood on offer. Restaurants in the area can be pricy, but a few that are worth the splurge include seafood icons Gosman’s and Oakland’s Restaurant & Marina in Montauk and Amagansett’s The Lobster Roll, which has been serving its namesake item since 1965 and was immortalized in the Showtime TV show The Affair. Morty’s Oyster Stand is a new go-to for fresh oysters as well as dishes like lobster mac ’n cheese and fish tacos. Highway Restaurant & Bar in East Hampton has a more varied and modern menu if not everyone wants fish, but the sautéed langoustine and linguine with clams will keep any seafood lover satisfied. Pro tip: don’t sleep on the eggplant parmigiana, though.
Get Stoked on Surfing
Surfing is a respectable pastime in the Hamptons, and especially in Montauk. Perhaps the area’s most famous surfing beach, Ditch Plains is the place to hang ten. Watch surfers hang ten, join in, or take a lesson with CoreysWave, which offers private and group lessons and provides wetsuits and boards. Marram, a new beachfront hotel in Montauk, offers private surf lessons for guests, as does Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa and Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina.
It’s more than a little easy to spend a pretty penny on renting a house or sleeping at a hotel in the Hamptons, but there is one budget option that’s actually fun: camping at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk. From just $31 a night, you could be sitting pretty on a Hamptons beach, with a sunrise almost all to yourself. In addition to 190 tent sites, there’s a picnic area with fireplaces, a 40-acre freshwater lake, playing fields, and a playground. And the park itself is full of hiking and biking trails.
Sample the Local Bounty
What a lot of people don’t realize about the Hamptons is that the area is actually full of farmland. As you drive around, you’ll notice several farm stands and farmers markets selling fresh produce. In the height of summer, they’ll be full of everything from heirloom corn and tomatoes to wildflowers and plump melons. A few of the best farm stands around the South Fork include Serene Green, Balsam Farm Stand, Amber Waves Farm Market, Pike Farms, and Round Swamp Farm, but pretty much any stand you see on the side of the road is worth a stop. And if you want to pick your own, head to Hank’s PumpkinTown for corn and berries in the summer and apples and pumpkins come fall.
Ride a Bike
Getting around the Hamptons is actually a bit difficult if you don’t own a house—and the parking permit that comes with it. Plus, the traffic can be nightmare-inducing. Instead, bring or rent bikes to get between beaches, lighthouses, and restaurants. For rentals, head to Amagansett Beach & Bicycle or Rotations in Southampton.
Visit Sag Harbor
Several of the towns that make up the Hamptons are lovely but many have a nonstop see-and-be-seen scene and make it hard to escape feeling, well, unimportant. The village of Sag Harbor is a quieter, charming, and more approachable town. Here, you'll feel like less of an outsider and will be welcomed as a tourist. The marina is perfect for strolling, stopping for a classic ice cream cone at Big Olaf’s or a not-so-classic doughnut at Grindstone Coffee & Donuts. The Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum is a fascinating slice of the past and Bay Theater is perfect for a night out. And of course, make time to relax on Havens Beach.
Listen to Live Music
The Hamptons are full of live music in the summer. May brings the Montauk Music Festival, while September means the Sag Harbor American Music Festival is in town. If you’re looking for more of a hipster scene, make your way to the Surf Lodge in Montauk, which has hosted bands like St. Lucia, Gary Clark Jr., and Janelle Monae. Gurney’s Montauk, Sloppy Tuna, 668 the Gig Shack, Wölffer Estate, and Oakland’s also host live music throughout the summer. In Amagansett, there’s the famous Stephen Talkhouse, which has been around for 50 years and has hosted the likes of Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffet, and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters. Shelter Island is home to the Perlman Music Program, which hosts various concerts throughout the summer season.