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Hamptons for Beginners – Towns and Villages 101

January 20th, 2011 · 21 Brilliant Opinions · Hamptons, Travel Tips

Sag Harbor, NYI first went out to the Hamptons  in 1996.  A group of women physicians invited me to a conference out in Montauk.  I was just starting my career in a hospital based practice and was eager to network.  A day before the conference I called a friend to get the agenda and directions. She chuckled. “Don’t worry – we have a driver” and we are going to Gurney’s Spa in Montauk, LI for the day.”   I don’t think we discussed any medicine that day but we enjoyed lunch overlooking the ocean, got mani/pedis, massages and exercised.   I had no idea such a beautiful escape existed just 2.5 hours from NYC.

The Hamptons is on the East End of Long Island (commonly referred to as the South Fork)  and is composed of two towns – Southampton Town and East Hampton Town.  (This becomes important when trying to gain access to the beaches – which I will discuss in a future post.)

Southampton Town is composed of the hamlets/villages of  Eastport, Remsenburg, Speonk, West Hampton Dunes, Westhampton, Westhampton Beach, Quogue, East Quogue, Hampton Bays, Southampton, Water Mill,Hampton Bays, North Sea, Noyac, Tuckahoe, Shinnecock Hills  a portion of Sag Harbor, Sagaponack and Bridgehampton.

East Hampton Town consists of Wainscott, East Hampton, Amagansett, North West Harbor, Springs, a portion of Sag Harbor and Montauk.

Each town has a government that  makes and enforces local laws. Within each town, the individual incorporated villages can make and enforce ordinances with some even having their own police forces.

The villages are all quaint, charming and beautiful  but with their own distinctive qualities. Southampton is known for its shopping, magnificent oceanfront estates, and old money.  East Hampton is the center of night life in the Hamptons and sports chic boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and is great for celebrity sightings.  Bridgehampton is quiet and serene and home to horse farms, vineyards, (Madonna!) and is one of the more racially diverse villages – with a black population of 17%.  Sag Harbor is home for many writers, artists and intellectuals and also boasts one of the nation’s finest black summer house enclaves.  Springs is culturally vibrant with a population of Latinos, artists and laborers and  has some great housing bargains.  Montauk is laid back, family friendly and surfers reign!

Summer is is just 5 months away.  If you’re thinking about a vacation or day trip to the Hamptons, I will be posting information on the Hamptons every other week until summer arrives.  Check back (or better yet, subscribe by email or RSS) for future posts on transportation tips, the best farms stands, beaches, and lodging in the Hamptons.   So just between us friends, what is your favorite Hamptons village?


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21 Comments so far ↓

  • Selfish Mom

    Can you believe I’ve never been to the Hamptons? I think it’s the traffic that scares me away. If I had a helicopter I think I’d go, but the thought of hopping in the car and driving 2+ hours each weekend…ugh. Is there a “good” time to drive there? What’s the worst time?

  • Ann

    Well we are not in the “private jet” class but yes you can helicopter there. We drive door to door to Bridgehampton in about 2 hrs. but we leave the city either before 2pm or after 8pm during the summer season. I have also jumped on the LIRR – you can do it from Atlantic Terminal in Bklyn or Penn Station in the city. Its super cheap- about $25 roundtrip for adults. Tickets for kids are super-discounted depending on their ages. The last time I did it, my kids rode for less than $5.00
    My feeling is that the traffic complaints are exaggerated. But then again I know a few back roads. The upside, you are in a car with the people you love going to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Northeast.

  • Nicole

    love this article…thanks for sharing and painting a beautiful picture

  • Darbi

    Have you been to Diddy’s White Party in the Hamptons yet?…lol

  • Ann

    Ha! I think my invite got lost in the mail

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  • Gina

    I love the Hamptons. The first time I went to the beach this past year. I knew that is where I wanted to live. The beach is a place of tranquility and the wind and the sun wash away the millions of thoughts that clutter my mind. They also help me to get more clear on what I want to do in my business everytime I go out there.

  • Ann

    Gina – Its amazing how a little fresh air, local produce and great beach times can make everything – including business goals- a lot clearer.

  • Tracey

    Hi! Great blog! I just discovered it through a Google search. If you don’t mind, I have a few questions for you. I’m a transplant living in NYC and my mom is coming up for a visit from Louisiana. She’d like to visit the Hamptons on her trip and I’m not terribly familiar at all 🙁 I’ve been out there once in the 7 years I’ve lived here and that was to a BBQ in Water Mill.

    Could you please advise of a budget-friendly way we can enjoy one of the nicer beaches for two days? She would love nothing more than to see a white sand beach with blue water. I went to a beach out in Queens a couple of years back but that wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Also, I keep reading that parking passes for nonresidents are pretty scarce. Is this true? If so, what town could we stay in and travel either by cab or bus (my mom has some physical limitations – recent knee replacement and spinal surgeries have limited her mobility a bit) that would be affordable and close enough to the beaches?

    I’d appreciate any advice you could provide. Thank you.


  • Ann

    Tracey – thanks for reading my blog and welcome to NYC. Okay budget friendly and Hamptons…thats a tough one:). Memorial Day-Labor Day is the peak season in the Hamptons and expect room rates to be high. Most people rent by the season or weekly. For a weekend, I would recommend the Enclave Inn (Southampton and East Hampton). Call now…they book up fast. Please check out my blog post on Hamptons Without a Beach Pass (for info on non-resident beaches). To save money, try to stay midweek. I also love Montauk, which is further out but super laid back. If you do Montauk, I can recommend Gurney’s Inn. They are on the water (no beach pass worries) have a fitness center, indoor pool and a spa. I have not stayed in their inn but can vouch for the spa and ocean beach which are great.
    Also, I love Sag Harbor. If you stay at the American Hotel on Main Street you will be close to lots of nice shops and restaurants. My favorite, B.Smiths is right on the harbor.
    Hope this helps!

  • Lisa

    I been living in southampton in the summer for my job…and yet to go to the beach just 1 in 5 yrs (sad i know) i like the farmstands best is there a activities for singles there without having a million dollars to your name

  • Ann

    Lisa – there are a good deal of parties during the summer season. A good place to look for events for single is the website Hamptons.com. They publish a weekly calendar. Dan’s paper is a free publication that you can pick up in the grocery store. Although it is chock full of ads, it also is a good way to find out about local activitis. In addition, a number of the area vineyards feature low cost wine tastings and free music.

  • Vee

    Hi there.

    Loving your blog by the way. I’m from London. I’m coming to new York for two months next week & would love to visit. When would you say is the best time for me to visit?!

    Is there any tourist guides of the hamptons??

  • Ann

    Vee – the summer months are lovely and very busy in the Hamptons. August is fantastic for beach weather and the Bridgehampton Horse Show is a great event for locals and visitors. I would recommend Jodi’s Shortcuts – The Hamptons. It is updated annually and has info on everything from shopping, restaurants, supermarkets, events and fun stuff for families.

  • Vee

    Thank you ever so much Ann,

    I will definitely leave a comment on how I found it!! You’ve been very helpful!!!! Many thanks

    Keep Smiling Vee xxx

  • Saumya Shetty

    Hello Ann,
    We are planning a 2-3 day trip (our first to Hamptons and first trip with our 9 month old in tow). Would you recommend a family friend village for us? Really would appreciate any travel or accommodation tips as this our first trip with a baby. We are probably looking at early dinners and just chilling with our little one on the beach. Thank you for all your help in advance,

  • Saumya Shetty

    P.S. Thinking of doing this during the second week of October. Are there still fun things to do during the day?

  • Ann

    HiSaumya – You picked a great time of the year to visit the Hamptons. The crowds are gone but done worry there is still plenty to do. The first weekend in October is when the Hamptons International Film Festival is being held. Also be sure to check out some of the local vineyards which have not only wine tasting but free live music on many weekends. I own a home in Bridgehampton so I don’t have much inside scoop on accommodations but the Enclave Inn has locations in Southampton and Bridgehampton. Most of the B&Bs I believe don’t allow for kids. In the off season some homeowners offer weekend rentals. Check out vrbo.com and homeaway.com for apartments and homes that are family friendly.

  • Ann

    There are plenty of things to do in the fall. We love to go apple and pumpkin picking, visit the local museums (the Children’s Museum of the East End and South Fork Natural History Museum are our favorites). Also, regarding family-friendly villages – I would say all of them but I particularly like Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Bridgehampton which are stroller friendly for walking.

  • Alejandra

    Hello Ann,
    We are from Argentina and we will be staying in NY for 10 days in January. I know it will be very cold, but anyways we would like to take a day trip to The Hamptons, spend the day, take a look at the surrounding and have lunch at one of the towns. Which one would you recommend for this time of the year, and just to spend the day? Thank you very much.

  • Ann

    Hi Alejandra – Yes January is particularly chilly in the Hamptons but I would recommend either Sag Harbor or East Hampton Town for a day trip. Both have quaint downtowns with nice boutiques for shopping and great shopping. If you go to East Hampton, check to see if Guild Hall has any exhibits or performances going on. Sag Harbor also has the Bay Street Theater which hosts plays, music, comedy shows etc.

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