The Hamptons is a name that has come to mean exclusive, although that does not mean that you can’t enjoy a leisurely and relaxing vacation in this region of New York’s Long Island. The two towns – Southampton and East Hampton – that “the Hamptons” refers to are on the eastern end of the island. But it is the many hamlets and small villages that make up these two towns that people typically mean when they refer to the Hamptons, which is one of the premier vacation and weekend spots for New Yorkers. People from far and wide flock to the Hamptons for its beaches and nightlife; some arrive from New York City for the weekend, to return to the city refreshed and rejuvenated on Sunday evening. Others come for a short vacation. Still others stay for the entire summer – it’s that inviting.
High society has been calling the Hamptons its summer residence for more than a century. Indeed, this seaside resort is one of the American Summer Colonies and enjoys a long and storied history that is chronicled in books, films and television shows. There are 14 villages and hamlets that make up the Hamptons, many of which have rental properties available and all of which are a short drive or train ride from New York City.
The beaches are the main draw, of course, with their soft sands and the welcoming waters of the Atlantic Ocean beckoning to travelers. But the Hamptons is also famous for the luxury and high-end shopping that can be found in many of the towns. Some of the biggest names in retail have retail stores here because it truly is a playground for the rich and famous. Those with more modest bank accounts are welcome, however; there’s no need to be extremely wealthy to enjoy what the Hamptons has to offer.
Golf is second only to lying on the beach in terms of popularity, and the region is home to some of the best courses in the country. Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and the National Golf Links of America are sought-after for the beautiful greens and well-kept fairways, and have both been ranked in the top ten by Golf Digest. For the very wealthy, there are private clubs, like the Meadow Club and the Southampton Bath and Tennis Club.
To learn more about the history of the area, visit the South Forks Natural History Museum (SoFo), which also hosts plenty of fun events for nature and history enthusiasts alike. Join in on a planned hike with the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society, or set out on your own on some of the lovely trails.
The art scene in the Hamptons is quite happening, which isn’t surprising considering its proximity to New York. Theatre, music, comedy and exhibits of sculpture, painting, photography and more are all for the viewing and enjoying in the communities that make up the Hamptons. Take in a show at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, for example, and then head out on the town for some fine dining and a fancy drink at one of the many exclusive nightclubs. There may be a velvet rope outside many of the clubs and restaurants, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find culinary delights and entertainment that is available for everyone.
While you are lying on the beach, visiting the shops and galleries, or dining on some fresh seafood, keep your eyes open, as you might spot some of the more famous residents who call the Hamptons home. Many are seasonal visitors, but there are a lot of celebrities who live there full time too.