If it’s summer in New York, then it’s Hamptons season – and I should know; I’ve lived here year-round for six years. Few seasonal destinations have as much cachet as our wealthy, beachfront enclave, and the well-heeled and well-traveled already know the best spots to hit.
But what about the road less traveled? Whether you’re planning to visit the Hamptons for a weekend or a month, my insider tips offer a local’s look at the place I call home.
Where to Stay
Hotelier Sean MacPherson offers cool sophistication at the decade-old Crow’s Nest restaurant and inn. But the hotel’s lesser-known David Pharaoh Cottages, set apart from the main property, provide unforgettable views of Lake Montauk and a quiet, peaceful vibe. This summer, the main property next door will offer a revised dining concept, with table service as well as a long communal table on the lawn functioning as a private event space.
Further west, East Hampton’s Baker House 1650, a 17th-century-inspired bed-and-breakfast, features multiple outdoor terraces, a stunning guests-only pool, and a lounge area with a fireplace. But the hotel’s hidden secret lies in its basement: The 13-room inn also boasts a lavish, state-of-the-art spa with its own counter-current swimming pool, eucalyptus steam shower, soaking Jacuzzi tub, and dry sauna.
Where to Eat and Drink
Marilee Foster’s Sagaponack farm provides the produce for the Sagaponack Farm Distillery, a young and hip spot that serves craft spirits made from potatoes, rhubarb, and more. The tasting room, which also serves specialty cocktails and sandwiches, is open daily for patio service and for limited indoor seating.
For cocktails with a view, Springs’ Bostwick’s on the Harbor delivers an unobstructed sunset every evening, along with a comprehensive raw bar. You can find a slightly more lo-fi take on the sundowner at Montauk’s The Montauket. This no-frills bar, which opened in the 1920s, serves cold beers and Painkillers on a cliff atop Fort Pond Bay.
Related: How Montauk – and the Hamptons Wellness Scene – Have Evolved Over 50 Years
You may already know about the superlative sushi at Sag Harbor’s 27-year-old Sen, but the restaurant also has the Hamptons’ most compelling ramen, a relative secret. The double-pork version, made with a roasted bone broth and served with pickled ginger, bamboo shoots, soft egg, and braised pork belly, has no equal on the East End. A few miles down the road, David Loewenberg’s restaurant, The Bell & Anchor, offers some of the area’s most reliable and affordable cuisine, with three-course prix fixe menus beginning at $34 on weekdays.
Where to Beach It
You can beat the crowds by hitting up some of the Hamptons’ less famous (but still impeccable) beaches. In Montauk, the bayside Gin Beach is a private spit of land with shallow, waveless water. Beach passes are required, but you can enjoy a cocktail on the deck of the nearby Inlet Seafood Restaurant and walk from there. Sag Harbor’s Foster Memorial Beach, on Noyack Bay, sells day passes for non-residents most years, and also provides a free parking area that’s a short walk from the beach’s main section.
If you’re craving ocean over bay, bypass busy beaches like East Hampton’s Main Beach and Southampton’s Cooper’s Beach and head to Sagaponack’s Sagg Main Beach instead. This picture-perfect sandy spot, which has restrooms and food facilities, sells day passes to non-residents.
Where to Play
Explore some of the Hamptons’ best-kept natural secrets. The 16-acre LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, once the home of textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, welcomes guests on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and some Sundays in season. To visit the sprawling sculpture garden, reserve timed tickets online.
In Sag Harbor, the 187-acre Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge is home to piping plovers, painted turtles, eastern chipmunks, and long-tailed ducks. Upland forest, salt marsh, a beach, and a lagoon make up the landscape. Due to nesting patterns, the refuge’s beach will be closed this summer, but you can take a dip in nearby Trout Pond, a freshwater oasis with its own wooden dock, which is perfect for soaking up the sun on those lazy summer afternoons.
While you’re in town, get the knots out with a massage at Naturopathica. The East Hampton spa and healing center offers a host of different wellness options, including a personal favorite, the Chill Massage, featuring full-spectrum CBD.