Summer People: 9 Things to Do in The Hamptons
Our guide to the best things to do in The Hamptons, from surf spots to vineyards and art galleries
The Hamptons is known for exclusivity (so you should fit right in, of course). The glitzy beach clubs and celebrity hangouts on this eastern stretch of Long Island do attract a particularly well-heeled crowd from New York City – but alongside the Lamborghinis, couture and manicures, you’ll also find natural beauty on the beaches and state parks. And there's a cultural side too: we're referring to the galleries and museums that champion the artists this area is so famous for.
The Hamptons is one of our new holiday destinations, which reflect a newfound desire for more outdoorsy, slower-paced destinations over big-city jet setting (let's be real, New York can be exhausting). And if you’re looking for accommodation, our holiday rental homes are vetted by professionals who make sure only the top 3% make it into our listings. So you know you’re in for a stay that meets your high standards in a Plum Guide home. And now that’s out of the way, read on for our curated list of the best things to do in the Hamptons.
Pollock-Krasner House and Studio
Abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner moved to this East Hampton homestead from New York in the 1940s. See where the painters created some of their best work, and how Pollock's pieces were transformed with colour following their move out here. The furniture and objects, like Pollock’s collection of jazz records, are as they were when Krasner died in 1984. The Pollock-Krasner House and Studio also contains regularly changing exhibitions from other artists. And the one thing you won’t be getting from us is a Pollock joke.
The 16-acre LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton contains more than 60 pieces of permanent and seasonally changing sculpture. Wander among the trees to spot Yoko Ono’s giant white chess set and Willem de Kooning’s expressionist Reclining Figure, and appreciate the landscaped parts of the garden as leafy, floral, sculpted art forms in themselves. Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Bronze is here until November 2021.
Go to the beach
One of the most obvious – but also the most glorious – things to do in The Hamptons is spend time acquiring a golden tan on the beach. For a vast stretch of white sand presided over by Gatsby-worthy mansions, Coopers Beach has you covered. Spend some time on Montauk's Kirk Park Beach for a laidback beach experience and nearby foodie spots that attract Brooklyn types. For white sand and waves that are a little more off-the-beaten-track, head to Cupsogue Beach County Park at the east end of Fire Island and west pocket of Westhampton Island – this barrier beach attracts a sparser, more grown-up crowd.
If it’s not difficult to get past a strict door policy and be smug that you scored a top table, is it even worth a visit? Exclusive Upper East Side restaurant Le Bilboquet’s outpost in Sag Harbor is home to some of the Hamptons’ most coveted tables. Think Brigitte Bardot in St Tropez meets Hamptons chic and fine wines by the magnum. The menu makes full use of the bayside location with its ceviche, seafood platters and oyster bar.
Taste locally produced wine
What, really, is a trip to The Hamptons without rosé? Well Croteaux is the only vineyard in the US exclusively dedicated to the pink stuff. The farmland here has been in use since the 1700s – with the historic barn and farmhouse buildings to prove it – but it’s been all about wine since the vinifera vines were planted here in the 00s. The gardens are suitably rose-hewed in spring, with its weeping cherry blossom branches swishing in the wind. If you're not into rosé, or if all this pink is getting a little sickly for you, try one of the area’s other vineyards such as the sustainably farmed, family-run Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Head back to your Plum Guide home like A Faithful Friend with a bottle or two to enjoy with dinner. Bliss.
Surf at Ditch Plains
Ditch Plains at the Hamptons’ eastern end is famous for having some of the best waves for miles. So if you’re in the Hamptons for surfing, this is definitely your place – but even if you’re not, there’s bodyboarding and stand-up paddle boarding here too (with the breaks here making it that little bit more of a challenge). Too fancy for water sports? Grab a spot on the golden sand and watch other people fall into the sea instead.
Napeague State Park
One of the less crowded options for things to do in The Hamptons is Napeague State Park in East Hampton. Stretching the width of Long Island’s South Fork, this is a blissfully undeveloped swathe of land. Walk the Napeague Loop through dunes and trees, before finding a peaceful picnic spot on the quiet beach with hopefully very few other people around.
Parrish Art Museum
As ever, it was the light that first attracted artists to the Hamptons, in the late 19th century. Over the years, as well as Pollock and Krasner, artists such as William Merritt Chase, Fairfield Porter, Roy Lichtenstein, April Gornik and Cindy Sherman have all been drawn to the eastern end of Long Island. The Herzog & de Meuron-designed Parrish Art Museum is entirely devoted to contemporary American works by artists inspired by the area.
Montauk Point State Park
Head here for a clifftop walk along rugged Atlantic coastline, and to visit the historic Montauk Lighthouse: commissioned by George Washington in 1792, it's New York State's oldest. As well as coastal hiking and history, this is also a top spot for stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing and spotting seals on the rocks offshore.
After all that exploring, make sure your home in the Hamptons is suitably cosy and relaxing. We recommend When in Bloom – though be warned; those plush beds are impossible to get out of.