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Along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline of the Hamptons, Long Island, New York

New York

The Hamptons: A Guide to New York’s Opulent Beach Playground

By: Katrina Woznicki

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  • States:
    New York

After experiencing the fast pace of sightseeing and nightlife in New York City, New York, you may be ready to relax.

Thankfully the windswept beaches, opulence and glamour of the Hamptons aren't far from downtown Manhattan. Located about 152 kilometers east of New York City on the eastern end of Long Island's southern fork, the Hamptons consist of about 20 seaside villages that were once home to colonial-era fishing, whaling and farming interests. They have since grown into luxurious communities. A popular year-round destination whose crowds peak in the summer, the Hamptons are known worldwide for their outdoor recreation activities, arts, and luxury dining and shopping.

How to Get to the Hamptons

To drive from New York City, the most direct route follows Interstate Highway 495 east to State Route 27, also known as Sunrise or Montauk highway. It’s the main road in and out of the Hamptons.

The Hamptons are still accessible without a car. The Hampton Jitney bus system takes visitors between New York City and the Hamptons, with a Queens Airport Connection stop, from which you can hail a cab to two of the New York City area’s major airports, LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International. Reservations are required. Alternatively, the Long Island Rail Road connects travelers from Penn Station in Manhattan to Montauk in East Hampton. The train takes more than three hours. For travelers wishing to reach the Hamptons faster, the LIRR’s Cannonball express service offers a nonstop line between New York City and Westhampton; it takes about 95 minutes.

Once you’re in the Hamptons, try the Hampton Hopper, an app-based network of turquoise buses that links villages.

Summer Activities in the Hamptons

Surf and sand are the biggest summer attractions in the Hamptons. The beaches are popular with locals and visitors, so arrive early to reserve a good spot. Ocean Road, Mecox and Sagg Main beaches in Bridgehampton are popular among wave riders. Surfboard, paddleboard and kayak rentals are available at Main Beach Surf and Sport and other locations.

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Winter in the Hamptons

During winter, visit Montauk Point State Park to admire clear views of the Atlantic Ocean and take in the region's stark beauty. Look in the park and beyond for empty beaches, snow-dusted vineyards and frozen-over ponds. Nearby is New York’s oldest lighthouse, the Montauk Lighthouse, which was commissioned in 1792 by the USA's first president, George Washington.

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Where to Shop in the Hamptons

Art lovers can gallery hop across the Hamptons year-round, with dozens of galleries to choose from, including Halsey McKay in East Hampton, Kathryn Markel Fine Arts in Bridgehampton and Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor.

Boutiques also abound in the Hamptons. You can buy almost anything, from art and leather goods to equestrian gear, jewelry and clothing. Keep an eye out for luxury brands such as Hermès, Alora, and Toshiki and Maryszka.

Where to Eat and Drink in the Hamptons

As befits a beach destination, you’ll find great seafood in the Hamptons. A longtime favorite restaurant is Almond. The French bistro specializes in seafood and has fresh fish delivered from Montauk boats every day. At Bay Kitchen Bar in East Hampton (summer season only), seafood dominates the menu. Sample the raw bar featuring fresh clams, oysters and shrimp, or try the Montauk tuna and Maryland crab ceviche.

One of the hottest dining spots in the Hamptons is Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor, which opened in July 2015, following years of success at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Where to Stay in the Hamptons

There aren't many waterfront hotels and resorts in the Hamptons, as most of the beach area is reserved for public use. If you want to stay on the water, however, you can't get much closer than White Sands Resort between Amagansett and Montauk. For a classic Hamptons experience, try East Hampton’s the Maidstone, located in a 19th-century Greek revival building.

Many visitors stay in private accommodations. There’s a wide range of lodging available, from cozy cottages to condominium units to single-family homes with private swimming pools. Search by town and price range at Hamptons Rentals.