Southampton, New York
The praise heaped on Long Island's tiny Hamptons seems ceaseless - their pervasive beauty, wealth and extravagance are constantly in the spotlight. Yet, there is one Hampton, the "original" Hampton, as locals will remind you, which shines just a bit brighter than the rest. Unspoiled beaches, a charming village center, exclusive shops and exquisite dining have made Southampton the Hampton du jour. The smell of old money is powerful in this pristine setting, but these days new blood is mixing with blue blood. And the result is a perfect blend of sprawling beaches, private estates and just enough places in New York to "be seen" to satisfy the uppercrust.
More recently, Southampton has quietly made a name for itself as the Hamptons' epicenter of arts and culture. The serenity of salty ocean breezes and unspoiled sands has lured countless artists and writers to Southampton. Painting greats Jackson Pollock and Ray Lichtenstein both had studios here, and author Tom Wolfe has a residence in the village. More than 20 galleries can be found in the village center alone and art aficionados will adore the Parrish Art Museum, featuring famous 19th- and 20th-century American art.
When Southampton's shady streets have all been explored, and hedges hiding the very exclusive mansions of the Agawam Lake-Gin Lane estate area have been peeked over, there is but one thing left to do - hit the beach. Seven-plus miles of unspoiled shoreline make up Southampton's oceanfront expanse. Rolling, windswept dunes and waving grasses beckon visitors to escape to the Atlantic. The beaches here are kept perfect and secluded, irresistible to seekers of solace. If the sedentary lifestyle isn't your cup of tea, don't despair - Southampton offers plenty of water activities to keep an adventurous spirit active.
Web Site: www.1708house.com
Touted as the "premier" bed-and-breakfast in the Hamptons, the 1708 House overlooks no details in ensuring its guests are treated to an exquisite stay. The main house has 9 guestrooms, including 3 suites, and the property's 3 2-bedroom cottages are perfect for a private vacation hideaway. A parlor, reading room and brick patio provide charming venues for perusing the morning paper or sipping afternoon cocktails. The innkeepers, Skip and Lorraine Ralph, own an antique store adjacent to the inn, and have decorated the establishment with a unique mix of furnishings. Wood-paneled ceilings, four-poster beds and claw-foot bathtubs evoke the Old World luxury for which the Hamptons are notorious. The highlight of this B&B just might be the historic cellar, dating back to 1648.
Best Luxurious Hotel
Village Latch Inn
Web Site: www.villagelatch.com
Not being able to afford one of the Hamptons' multimillion dollar estates shouldn't mean giving up on the blue-blood lifestyle. Synonymous with Southampton's extravagance is the famed Village Latch Inn. Owned by artists, this establishment is marked by a wonderfully eclectic décor. Guests will be enchanted by the collection of Tibetan rugs, Burmese puppets and masks from New Guinea, lavishly displayed throughout the residence. The 70 rooms and suites are housed in both a main building and smaller estate buildings scattered around the 5-acre property. A park-like setting offers discretion for the inn's many celebrity guests, while its town-center location make it convenient to shops and restaurants.
Best Family Hotel
Web Site: www.southamptoninn.com
Tired of battling for a beachside parking spot? Southampton Inn eliminates the worry with a beach shuttle service offered to guests, as well as a variety of amenities certain to please the whole family. The 5-acre property features a swimming pool, tennis courts, volleyball court and lawn games. Pool and tennis memberships ensure access to a heated pool with lifeguard, pool towels, air-conditioned game room, a fitness room and the beach shuttle. A lovely English Tudor building is home to Southampton Inn's 90 "casual country" rooms. Guests will appreciate the cozy patchwork quilts and pine furniture accenting this rural décor. Style-conscious guests may opt for one of four "designer" rooms, uniquely designed for the inn by Paloma Picasso, Nicole Miller and Chris Madden.
Food & Drink
Food & Drink
Best Waterfront Atmosphere
East Hampton Point
Web Site: www.easthamptonpoint.com
In a town where seaside dining is as rare as, well, low-budget dining, East Hampton Point is not to be missed. A mariner's delight, this restaurant is perched along Three Mile Harbor facing west toward the fiery sunset and offers gorgeous views of the nearby waters and yachts. The simple décor involves vast awnings, canvas umbrellas hovering over outdoor tables and Navy deck chairs. East Hampton Point also hits the mark with its delightful menu. Among the favorites are a chilled yellowfin tuna sashimi appetizer followed by the Maine crabmeat and salmon cakes. An extensive wine list will satiate even the most esteemed palates and for a grand finale, you can top off the meal with the caramelized banana and pecan bread pudding.
Best Local Seafood
The Plaza Café
Wweb site: www.plazacafe.us
The epitome of New American dining, The Plaza Café offers a fresh seasonal selection of exquisitely prepared seafood. Owner/Chef Douglas Gulija, made famous by his work at Monterey Seafood Grille in East Hampton, has cultivated a relaxed atmosphere at his trendy establishment. Gulija leaves diners' mouths watering with his unique renderings of tuna tartare, jumbo lump crabcakes and lobster ravioli. The peak of Gulija's culinary creativity lies with his piscine-inspired Shepard's Pie - a flaky chive-potato crust filled with a menagerie of monkfish, lobster, shrimp and shiitake mushrooms. Though it's seafood that reigns at The Plaza, be sure to indulge in the strawberry-rhubarb crisp - the perfect end to a perfect dinner.
Southampton Publick House
Web Site: www.publick.com
Coined the first microbrewery on the East End of Long Island, Publick House has earned international fame for its brews, and local fame for its party atmosphere, swanky bar food and, of course, outstanding beer. With Brewmaster Phil Markowski at the helm, the seasonal and year-round ales, lagers and stouts are making their mark - taking top honors at the Great American Beer Festival, Real Ale Festival and World Beer Cup. From Publick House Porter to Southampton Saison, more than 30 beers are brewed on-site annually. Boasting weekly beer specials, a Wednesday night Ladies Night and rockin' DJs, Publick House has successfully seduced the Hamptons.
Best Kid Stuff
Where: Off Meadow Lane, between Halsey Neck Lane and First Neck Lane
With seven miles of unspoiled beaches, Southampton offers visitors multiple seaside haunts, but it's Cooper's Beach that keeps families coming back for more. Cooper's is the town's main beach and it's mostly kid-friendly, with an on-duty lifeguard and a bathhouse with restrooms, showers and food. Clean, white sand graces the wide beach while rolling waves and turquoise water lap at the shore. Though the beach gets crowded during tourist season, it remains a favorite among families hoping to entertain their little sandcastle builders, boogie boarders and beach sportsters.
Best Day Trip
Web Site: www.duckwalk.com
Southampton days tend to roll forward with a relaxed ease, and the perfect way to take advantage of these idle moments is with a tour of one of the Hamptons' most prestigious vineyards. Owner Herodotus Damianos paid homage to Long Island's unofficial mascot, the duck, in naming his 80-acre property Duckwalk Vineyards. The winery's noted offspring include cabernet sauvignons, pinot meuniers, special whites, chardonnays and merlots. Tours of the vineyard will tickle tastebuds while allowing visitors to explore the winemaking process from vine to vat.
Southampton Historical Museum
Web Site: www.southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org
Housed in the Albert Rogers Mansion, a former whaling captain's home built in 1843, the Southampton Historical Museum explores Southampton's colorful past. Seven historical sites grace the museum's property and include blacksmith and carpentry shops, a country store, saloon, apothecary, one-room schoolhouse and a pre-Revolutionary barn filled with whaling equipment. Inside the main house, visitors may wander up the widow's walk, or explore three galleries displaying Indian artifacts, period furnishings and clothes, Revolutionary War artifacts, antique dolls and toys, and ever-changing exhibits and displays. During the off-season, the museum is open by appointment only.
Best Adventure Sport Shop
Offshore Surf & Sport, Ltd.
Where: 46 Job's Lane, Southampton, NY 11968
If lounging by the sea with a beach chair, book and floppy hat just isn't your idea of fun, opt for the adrenaline rush offered at Offshore Surf & Sport. Owned by surfing guru Gene Gentile, Offshore has finally brought heart-pounding adventure to the Hamptons. Visitors can kiss the lazy days of summer goodbye with one of many rental options - ocean kayaks, touring kayaks, surfboards, body boards, even wake boards. Still not sure if getting down and dirty in the ocean appeals to you? Offshore now offers instructional kayak tours as well as week-long surf camps for all ages and abilities - perfect for novices seeking experience. Of course, Offshore is also a retail store - swimwear, eyewear, surfboards - the hippest in surfside fashion is available here.