My summer officially began in grand style over this past Memorial Day Weekend (an American holiday marking the beginning of summer). I went with some of my closest friends to the Hamptons. With picturesque towns, long stretches of some of the most beautiful beaches in America, and bucolic landscapes, it only makes sense that the rich and famous spend their summers here. Where else can you wake up to a fresh-from-the-farm breakfast, have a magnificent day at the beach, shop at some of the chicest stores in the country, dine at a top-tier restaurant, and party with celebrities all night long? Generally referred to as simply “the Hamptons,” the South Fork in Long Island actually consists of a group of towns, not all of which actually end in “Hampton” and each with its own character. Ever since the railroad was built out to Southampton in 1870, people have been hooked on the South Fork.
Southampton is the oldest among them. Its Main Street, laid out in 1648, is lined with landmarks of rich history – the 1666 home of Thomas Halsey, whose family arrived with a small band of Puritans who settled in Southampon in 1640; a row of handsome homes built by whaling captains and shipbuilders in the heyday of the whaling era; and charming commercial buildings housing some of the country’s oldest business, which survive alongside the chic boutiques and galleries of the village’s high-end shopping strip, Jobs Lane.
With its serene village green, picturesque ponds and quaint windmills, has been hailed as the most beautiful village in America. From the time that a New York artist visited in 1878 and described the villages as quaint charms to readers of “Scriber’s Magazine”, the place has been a magnet for artists.
The “un-Hampton” lacks an ocean beach but compensates with the charm of its unique history. Narrow streets lined with seamen’s cottages and shipowners’ mansions are the visible survivor of a time when Sag Harbor was a busy and prosperous whaling port, its streets teeming with exotic sailors and tradesman. Among its landmarks are a custom house authorized by George Washington, and the lovely old American Hotel where 21st century fare is served in a perfectly appointed 19th century dining room – followed by cigars for the gentlemen.
Amagansett and Bridgehampton
The Hamptons’ farmland capital back when potato was king, has retained more of its agrarian flavor than its neighbors to the east and west. Its summer colony is not as self-consciously close-knit as the other towns, but the homes along the hamlet’s quintessential street, Ocean Road, offer ample evidence of its existence. At its main intersection stand two historic structures: the Nathaniel Rogers House (constructed in 1842), unrivalled in the elegance of its Greek Revival temple front, and the Judge Abraham Topping Rose House across the street – same date, same style.
Known for its restaurant row, Bridgehampton is home to the widest variety of eateries. Among them, my two favorites: the wildly popular Almond restaurant and the ultra-stylish Pierre’s.
Relishes its position at the island’s tip — set apart from the more exclusive villages. The “Miami Beach of the North,” prides itself on its wide open untamed reputation, and has traditionally been the favored turn of surfers and fishermen. It is also the site of the most widely recognized landmark of all: the Montauk Lighthouse.
For more than a century, artists have been drawn by the light, by bucolic landscape where farm fields meet the edge of the sea, and by the leafy village streets lined with magical mix of 18th century farmhouses, shingled cottages and modern mansions.
Notes: Where to stay - The 1770 House; East Hampton Point; The American Hotel; South Hampton Inn; Inn at Windmill Lane Where to eat – Pierre’s; Almond; The Lobster Roll Restaurant; Nick & Toni’s; The Surf Lodge Nightlife - Elm (Southampton); South Pointe (Southampton) SL East (East Hampton)
People come to the Hamptons for many reasons. Some come to lay on the beach, hide away and relax; others like to see and be seen at one of the hundreds of events on the season’s social calendar. Regardless of the reason, one thing is certain: you will always want to come back.