During my trip to New York earlier this month I also had the opportunity to visit a dear friend who lives in the Hamptons. What seemed to be a mythical place full of Kardashians and white mansions, I found the Hamptons to be quaint and genuine. Unfortunately the weather was not in our favor, but we made the best of it.
Now I'm sharing my top 5 tips for a fall visit to the Hamptons:
Know how to get there // Whether you're stopping through New York City first or going straight to the Hamptons, plan your travels in advance and try to get a better idea of the region first. Before my trip I had no idea that there were so many different areas - more than just north, south, east, and west. Thankfully my friend, who grew up in the Hamptons, doubled as a tour guide and showed us (another friend and I) around each town.
We decided to stop in NYC for a day before traveling to the Hamptons. Leaving from Penn Station, we took the Long Island Railroad to the Hicksville Station and drove from there to Sag Harbor. The Long Island Railroad can take you to stations farther into the Hamptons, or you could arrange for a ride on the Hampton Jitney straight from Manhattan. But keep in mind that when you get there, you'll likely need a car. So depending on where you're coming from, driving might be the way to go.
Hang with a local // You probably have an idea of what the Hamptons are like, and if you visit on your own, you might not see too many things that you didn't expect. But if you have the opportunity to hang with a local (or locals), go for it. While there we went to a party in a barn with a bon fire - something very far from what I expected for the Hamptons, but more similar to what I would expect at home. But it was nice, relaxed, and the people were friendly and fun. And the best part? They were NORMAL. Going to a city or town with a certain reputation or image doesn't mean that that's really how it is. Dig deeper! Afterwards we headed back into Sag Harbor to Page, a classy, hip restaurant and bar that happens to also grow organic produce using a sustainable technique called aquaponics - a really interesting place. There we hung with more locals, but in more of an upscale environment. Two contrasting experiences still gave the same vibe - we were comfortable!
Bring spending money // There's one impression you probably have that's likely to be true - it's expensive. Between the hotels, restaurants, shops, and activities, you could spend a lot no matter how long you visit. Bring spending money if you plan on enjoying all of the fine experiences the Hamptons have to offer. But there are ways to do the Hamptons on a budget, too. Research hotel options, but plan on renting a car depending on where you stay. Try family style dining like at Harvest on Fort Pond - the food was delicious and the atmosphere was lovely. Window shop and leave your credit card in your wallet. Don't let your budget hold you back from visiting, but be mindful of the options that you have.
Go to Montauk Point // Despite the rainy and windy weather, we were still able to catch a glimpse of something beautiful. We drove out to Montauk Point and visited Montauk Point State Park, at the eastern tip of Long Island in East Hampton. Though we couldn't go in to the lighthouse due to the weather (Hurricane Joaquin was coming in heavy), we walked around and ventured down to the beach. It was an awesome view of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves were rough and the rocks were slippery, but the hurricane was bringing in fish, so we saw people standing on rocks and fishing all along the shore. At other times this is a popular surfing spot. It's sure to be beautiful on a warm, sunny day, but no matter when you visit, it's worth the trip!
Visit in the fall + in the summer // The one downside to my October visit to the Hamptons was the weather and the season. I enjoyed being able to see the area in the off-season and experience it with the locals, but it would have been great to enjoy it in the warm weather, too. There are a lot of events, festivals, and things to do in the summer that weren't available to us. So, I recommend visiting in the fall and summer seasons to get a closer look at both the busy, crowded, touristy side of the Hamptons, as well as the laid-back, relaxed side when the tourists and visitors pack up for the winter.
I really enjoyed my brief time getting to know the Hamptons, and I'm looking forward to visiting again in the summer. If you're headed to NYC, consider making the 2-hour trip. Or if you're looking for a new place to explore within the U S of A, try the Hamptons. The sweet streets, friendly people, and authentic feel may surprise you!