Lifeguards may have left the beach, but so have the summer crowds. This is arguably the best time to enjoy the Hamptons, without the hassle those crowds create. Below is a roundup of things to do and see, bites to savor, drinks to drink, and places to stay in the East this fall.
TAKE A BITE
Start your day with an indulgent breakfast. Cider donuts picked fresh from the air fryer milk bucket (1346 Mtk. Hwy., Water Mill, milkpailfreshmarket.com) are hard to resist. Coffee and millstone donuts (7 Main Street, Sag Harbor, grindstonedonuts.com) offers brioche donuts and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on brioche buns. by Carissa (221 Pantigo Rd., 68 Newtown Lane, East Hampton; 3 Bay St., Sag Harbor; carissasthebakery.com), with two locations in East Hampton and one in Sag Harbor, bakes exquisite croissants with unusual flavors like pistachio chocolate and cheddar kimchi. A Hardier breakfast is available at Pantigo Road Cafe.
EXPLORE NATURE AND THE ARTS
If the weather is nice, spend time outdoors. Parking on the beach is free and easy. Take a walk on Cooper’s Beach (268 Meadow Ln., Southampton), number 3 on Dr. Beach’s 10 Best Beaches in the Country list for 2022. Fairview Farm in Mecox (19 Horsemill Ln., Bridgehampton, fairviewfarmatmecox.com) features U-pick pumpkins, an eight-acre corn maze and homemade pies. Or take a walk in Long Pond Greenbelt many miles of trails (parking at 1061 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Tpk., Bridgehampton, longpondgreenbelt.org), exploring its wildlife communities and rare plants.
Art lovers will appreciate the stunning architecture and impressive exhibits of the area’s exceptional museums. The world class Parrish Art Museum (275 Mtk. Hwy., Watermill, parrishart.orglisten)) has a permanent collection of Hamptons-related artists, including Fairfield Porter, Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning. the church (48 Madison Street, Sag Harbor, thechurchsagharbor.orglisten)) is a community arts center in a historic Methodist church. The dazzling space, renovated by painters (and local residents) Eric Fischl and April Gornik, hosts innovative exhibitions, concerts and artist talks throughout the year.
If you have young children in tow, Sag Harbor is a good place to start. There are child-friendly restaurants like LT Burger (62 Main Street) and Collapsed pizza (103 Main St.) and a charming toy store called the Dock shop (69 Main Street). The Children’s Museum of the East End (reservations required; cmee.org for tickets) and the South Fork Natural History Museum (sofo.org), both with fun and interactive exhibits, sit across from each other on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike.
The Elizabeth Morton Wildlife Refuge (2595 Noyack Road, Sag Harbor, fws.gov) is a compact and beautiful one and a half mile long peninsula with a platform overlooking Noyack Bay, ideal for viewing osprey and other birds. The clubhouse (174 Daniels Hole Road, East Hampton, clubhousehamptons.com), just above the city limit in East Hampton, is ideal for a rainy emergency, with a luxury bowling alley offering laneside drinks and dining, plus a game room of 30 games.
DINNER AND DRINKS
Be sure to take a local drink break. Inviting cellars include a rosé specialist Vineyard of the Wölffer estate (139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, wolffer.com) and Channing Daughters Winery (1927 Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton, channingdaughters.com), with its pretty sculpture garden. To Sagaponack Farm Distillery (369 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, sagaponackfarmdistillery.com), guests can sample spirits made from grains and farm-grown potatoes in a rustic-chic tasting room.
Each Hamptons hamlet has its own notable restaurants. A few favourites, all celebrity endorsed: Comedor check mark (74A Mtk. Hwy., cochecomedor.com) in Amagansett for upscale Mexicans, Cove Hollow Tavern (85 Mtk. Hwy., East Hampton, covehollowtavern.com) in East Hampton for eclectic gourmet cuisine, Calissa (1020 Mtk. Hwy, calissahamptons.com) as a water mill for souvlakis and other Greek specialties, Union Sushi and Steak (40 Bowden Square, dineatunion.com) in Southampton, which has something for everyone.
REST AND RECHARGE
Refresh and rest in a hotel with a spa. baker’s house (181 Main Street, East Hampton, bakery1650.com), a small hotel in the style of an English manor house, offers the ultimate in privacy, limiting its spa facilities, including a eucalyptus steam shower, Jacuzzi and a beautiful counter-current pool for two people at a time.
The serene, minimalist Shou Sugi Ban House (337 Mtk. highway, watermill, shousugibanhouse.com) offers infrared and dry saunas, an aromatic steam room and saltwater pools as well as dozens of spa treatments and classes in yoga, sound therapy, crystal healing and more. Even off-season, prepare for Hamptons sticker shock: weekend rooms at these locations in September start at $915/night. Alternatively, book a massage at Naturopathic day spa (74 Mtk.Hwy., East Hampton, naturopathy.com) then sleep at East Hampton House (226 Pantigo Road, East Hampton, easthamptonhouseresort.com), an old-fashioned motel refreshed and modernized in 2021, with rooms starting at $385/weekend night in September.