Sure, that “it” restaurant is fine, but have you ever had food delivered by boat? Whichever fork you hit, try these fresh ideas for a different flavor of summer out east.
Hike the Hamptons version of the High Line in Amagansett.
Bet you didn’t know the East End had its own abandoned railroad. Napeague State Park holds a historic freight spur that once served a string of fish factories along Gardiner’s Bay, an area nicknamed “Promised Land” because it stunk to high heaven (#drumroll). Unused for the better part of the century, the tracks have been left in place to be slowly and dramatically reclaimed by the wilds, resulting in perhaps the East End’s most unsung scenic wonder. The bucolic route runs almost a mile through open, flowering meadow, windswept dunes, and deep into the pines, where it linked up with the LIRR mainline a shell’s throw from the Lobster Roll and Clam Bar. Best of all, you can follow the rails right into the old Smith Meal plant for a French Box at Fish Farm, which is hardly a “box” at all but rather a hearty splat of off-the-boat sea snacks on a wooden paddle.
Frolic through a sunflower maze in Mattituck.
It’s all that and a bag of chips. The Sidors are some of the East End’s last potato farmers, a third-generation legacy preserving what was long Long Island’s most dominant and celebrated industry. More recently, however, their family farm on County Route 48 has become better known for another attraction: a surreal sunflower labyrinth that has now been an Instagram hit for the better part of a decade. More than just a roadside attraction, these fields of gold serve the practical purpose of yielding the sunflower oil used exclusively to kettle-cook the Sidors’ popular North Fork brand of potato chips, found in bodegas and delis near and far. You can visit the maze anytime in season from 10:30am to sunset; children 12 and under are free. Early morning hours are reserved for solo sessions, available by appointment for anything from engagement shoots to painting sessions to yoga.
Step into a Jackson Pollock painting in Springs—literally.
Sometimes artists go right for the sole. Bootie up at East Hampton’s Pollock-Krasner House and you’ll be able to walk right onto Jack the Dripper’s most sacred canvas of all: his preserved studio floor, hidden for decades under Masonite squares until rediscovered by a team from Stony Brook University, which preserves and maintains the property. The accidental masterwork is splattered across the antique planks of the property’s historic barn, which Pollock moved to improve the water view from his house. That modest shingled residence on Accabonac Creek has changed little since the painter power couple called it home, harkening to a time when Hamptons life looked something a bit simpler. As if the ultimate #floorcore selfie wasn’t wild enough, you can even complete the pilgrimage with a stop at Springs Tavern—the impressionist spent most nights here, then called Jungle Pete’s, from the mid-40s until his untimely demise.
Cruise to an island picnic on a sandbar in Moriches Bay.
No boat? No problem. Rent a “Day Lily” from Silly Lilly Fishing Station (read our full feature on this gem here) and cast off with everything you need. Each brightly-painted 16’ dory comes packed with a beach umbrella, canvas-back chairs, and even a cup holder-equipped camping cooler to double as your table. After the obligatory paperwork and a quick schooling on the finer points of operating and lifting a Tohatsu outboard engine, you’ll be out on the bay, following your personally-charted course to the most perfectly instagrammable beach camp. Boxed lunches come right from the Silly Eats food truck, a partnership with East Quogue’s Stone Creek Inn run from a vintage Grumman van. And if you’re jonesing for another hit of crab disco fries after you’ve cast off to your private island, pro tip: call in to shore and the dockhands can deliver to your shared iPhone location, provided it’s not too far (and don’t forget to tip).
See a movie in Sag Harbor again.
In Sag Harbor, there’s extra excitement to be back in front of a silver screen. A half-dozen years after the devastating blaze that nearly destroyed it (along with a handful of other village businesses), the Sag Harbor Cinema is back and better than ever. The Art Deco landmark debuted its latest incarnation back in Spring 2021, made possible by the Sag Harbor Partnership and the support of countless celebrity donors, many of whose names make cameos throughout the building. The formerly two-screen format is now three, juxtaposing cutting-edge projection and sound with meticulously-restored details like historic cast-iron seat ends, exit signs, and a recreation of the original fleur de lis wallpaper. Artsy cinema isn’t the only draw, either: there’s also a bar and café, along with a third-floor rooftop lounge with views over Peconic Bay.
Hug a California Redwood in East Hampton.
You might ask, how on this green earth did a stand of honest-to-goodness Sequoia Sempervirens land at LongHouse Reserve? While the distantly-related Dawn Redwood is a not-uncommon street tree in certain corners of New York City, these specimens represent the evergreen conifers found only in the narrow coastal strip between Big Sur and Klamath, Oregon—and truth be told, they’re the only successful plantings anywhere on the East Coast. These particular trees were brought here two decades ago after a brief display at Rockefeller Center, and they fare quite well under Long Island’s marine layer fog (are you jealous, Karl?) — the very same force behind the mid summer temperatures that have drawn city folks out east for generations. Once you’ve had your Californian moment, check out sculptural installations by the likes of Ai Weiwei, Beverly Pepper, and a litany of other artists, then take the 40 to the 27 and get back to the beach.
Find stranger things in Montauk.
On a scale of 1 to 10, we rate this one eleven. The Duffer Brothers’ inspiration for their hit HBO series came not from midwest suburbia but a now-infamous 1980s conspiracy theory known as “The Montauk Project,” which alleged a series of top-secret government experiments at today’s Camp Hero State Park—until, as the story goes, the entire subterranean lab was torn apart by a demogorgon-like monster summoned in a botched telekinetic exercise. While we can’t confirm what’s really behind those bunker doors, we do know this former Air Force installation offers some of the best trails in the Hamptons, not to mention swoon-worthy views off the bluffs stretching as far away as Block Island. Channel your inner Will Byers and bring a bike, then toast sunset at “The End” from George’s Lighthouse Cafe.
Visit a firehouse full of contemporary art in Bridgehampton.
The Parrish isn’t the East End’s only avant-garde destination. Next time you’re stuck at the light by Bobby Van’s, peek down Corwith Avenue and you might spot Dia Bridgehampton—smaller and lesser-known than the foundation’s Hudson Valley counterpart, but still well worth your visit. Housed in a shingle-style structure that historically served ladder and lord (it was briefly a church, too), the two-story museum features nine permanent fluorescent light installations by neon-loving minimalist Dan Flavin, who partnered with Dia to create the facility in 1983. You’ll find nine of his fluorescent light installations on permanent display, along with a series of rotating exhibits highlighting Long Island artists.
Go vintage shopping in Greenport.
Though distant and vastly more different than autocorrect realizes, Greenport and Greenpoint do share some similarities, one such example being seriously eclectic shopping. And if your sensibilities lean mid-century, you’d do well to look for the sign of The Times, a perfectly-curated vintage shop that in just a few years has become a destination storefront in the North Fork whaling village. You’ll find a kaleidoscopic array of collectibles, clothing, vinyl, and other groovy goods, all meticulously thrifted by owner Elizabeth Sweigart. You’ll even find The Times on Urban Outfitters Marketplace, though a trip to the time-warp of a shop is not to be missed.
Take flight at Riverhead‘s waterside brewery.
No, not that kind (though it’s worth mentioning you can grab off-the-tank brews at Gabreski Airport, too). Newcomer Peconic County Brewing Company cruised onto the East End beer scene last year, pairing an approachable, not-just-hazy IPA format with a generous food menu and a delightful setting right along the city’s revitalized riverfront. The sprawling deck is as cool as the beer, with plush patio sofas, barrel tables, and a mix of firepits and high-hat patio heaters to keep things toasty—a good thing, given the 10pm last call seven days a week. A dozen or so taps spotlight a rotating assortment of ales and lagers, with locally-inspired names like Stargazer Orange Blossom Pale, an homage to Linda Scott’s iconic roadside sculpture that confused countless weekenders cutting through Manorville into thinking it was a rooster rather than a skyward-facing deer with an antler in its mouth. Don’t miss out on a selfie with the Captain Nemo diving suit in the taproom.