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Summer in the Hamptons

Ahhhh – the dog days of summer, those August days when humidity alternates with hints of autumn breezes.  With thoughts looming of “back to school,” even while the kids are still in camp, there’s still plenty of time to dive into the warmth of summer and enjoy the days of sunshine.

More than just a weekend getaway for New Yorkers, The Hamptons is a destination characterized by beautiful, natural landscapes, farm-to-table dining, and a variety of outdoor and indoor entertainment options.

After you drop your kids off at camp, here’s a way to turn each day into a vacation for you. Better still, book an overnight stay at a local inn, and you can create your own mini-holiday.

If you like the great outdoors:

The beach beckons with daily parking passes at one of the country’s best, Coopers Beach in Southampton.  Surrounded by mansions hidden by the privets that characterize the lives of the rich and famous in the Hamptons, the shorefront is as beautiful as you will find, with white sand, a beach house with bathrooms, a café and plentiful parking.  You can buy a weekly pass to give yourself maximum flexibility.

If you choose a more village-oriented experience, you can stroll through Southampton after the beach or drive to Sag Harbor, a short trip from the camp and spend your day walking through the town that’s as close to New England as you’ll find in New York. Sag Harbor’s charming downtown, mélange of boutiques, and great dining will give you plenty to do. Sagtown Coffee, closed after a devastating fire to the town’s movie theater on Christmas Day, has just reopened. It’s a wonderful place to grab an iced latte, a focaccia and watch the passeggiatta of neighbors. From there, it’s a quick walk to the harbor and you can park by the town green and ogle the yachts parked alongside the dock.

If gardens are your thing, Bridge Gardens on Mitchell Lane in Bridgehampton is a short drive away.  There, you’ll find a decidedly uncrowded setting of multiple flower and vegetable gardens reminiscent of English gardens. In fact, you might have the gardens entirely to yourself, a rarity for New Yorkers.

Indoor Pleasures:

Museums also offer a respite from the summer heat.  The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill is one of the country’s finest, with a collection of art from local artists. The permanent collection is enhanced by frequently featured exhibits. This summer’s “live” Light Waves exhibit projects videos on the outside of the museum’s distinctive building.  A café and bookstore are welcoming and creative as well.  If you’re in town on August 21, a special Solar Eclipse program in conjunction with the Montauk Observatory will be hosted from 1-4pm on the museum grounds. In Southampton, in the main shopping area, the Southampton Art Center offers changing exhibits as well as other performing arts programming.

Shopping fans will enjoy the options in Sag Harbor and Southampton, where a more private town feeling ensues.  Well-known city stores like Intermix, Calypso St. Barth, and Theory join local favorites Tenet, Dee Jays, and Jennifer Miller Jewelry.  Summer sales are plentiful this time of year, too. My personal favorite is Pottery Barn where you can stock up for this summer or next with outdoor utensils, lights, and furnishings.  And, for outlet shoppers who have sufficient drive time available, Tanger Outlets in Riverhead can provide days’ worth of shopping bliss.

Dining is one of the pleasures of the Hamptons.  Each town has its local favorites, some with outdoor dining.  For a quick lobster fix, the Shinnecock Lobster Factory in Southampton,  Bay Burger in Sag Harbor and Canal Café in Hampton Bays have the best lobster rolls around.  At each, you can choose to enjoy your sandwich outdoors or indoors.  If you like Italian food, you can try Manna in Water Mill or go family-style at La Parmigiana or the casual Paul’s Italian Restaurant in Southampton, where the heroes are large enough to be shared and pizzas by the slice include interesting versions such as Buffalo chicken.  Near the camp, for an early dinner, BOA offers Thai cuisine and Sag Harbor’s LT Burger is as family-friendly as it gets with terrific burgers and tailored kid menus.  Estia’s Little Kitchen in Sag Harbor is a popular choice for breakfast and lunch with Mexican-inflected dishes.

For a restaurant experience that’s more sophisticated, lunch at Sant Ambroeus, Le Charlot or Silver’s in Southampton is casually elegant with Italian, French, and American cuisines respectively.

Exploring:

Both the North Fork and the South Fork have some of the most extensive farm stands that you will find in New York, with fresh produce grown from the nearby farms.  Halsey Farm has a bountiful selection of fruit and vegetables plus a beautiful selection of cut flowers.  For corn, Pike’s Farm stand on Sagg Main Street in Sagaponack  justifiably famous for its white, as well as, butter and sugar varieties.  And, don’t miss the area’s tomatoes – they’re sweet and homegrown.

If you love wine, the Hamptons are New York’s answer to the West Coast. The North Fork has 43 vineyards, many of which offer daily tastings. Closer to camp, Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Channing Daughters Winery on the South Fork offer two gorgeous settings where you could spend an entire date touring, tasting, or enjoying an open-air yoga class.  Pick up a bottle of Wolffer’s acclaimed “Summer in a Bottle Rosé” at the new Drive-thru Rosé Stand at the Wine Estate, if you’re short on time, Wölffer also has two restaurants, Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor and a new one in Amagansett, where you can sample their many varietals as well as enjoy their farm-to-table expertise.

Speaking of yoga, there are many studios to help you maintain your practice. Some of the best are Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor, Five Pillars Yoga in Water Mill, and Ananda Wellness and Yoga in Southampton. Pilates, spin, and barre classes are also offered in various locations including Pure Barre in Southampton, Marvil Fit in Hampton Bays and Uptown Pilates in Sag Harbor.

You can pretend you’ve taken a cruise for the day by driving the short distance to the Shelter Island ferry and crossing to the nearby island.  Shelter Island feels like it’s a million miles away from the traffic and crowds of New York, inviting you to indulge in a handful of attractive restaurants, a laid-back beach, and a nature preserve for hiking.  Best of all, you won’t feel like you’re stuck in the Hamptons traffic on Montauk Highway.

Staying over:

The Maidstone Hotel in East Hampton offers a charming Scandinavian-influenced setting located on the town’s historic mall.  With its own wonderful restaurant, cozy individually themed rooms, and pet-friendly programming, The Maidstone is a dream location for your overnight. Families are welcome!

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