The Insider's Guide to The Hamptons

Ever wish you could text the most stylish people in the world to ask them for their lists of things to do in the places they know best? Here are insider travel tips for those who would never be caught dead in a tourist trap. Bon voyage!


We asked three tastemakers with homes in the Hamptons to share their favorite spots across the charming seaside towns on Long Island’s South Fork: the designer Joseph Altuzarra, founder and creative director of Altuzarra; Joey Wölffer, co-owner and chief brand officer of Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack and owner of an eponymous fashion and accessories boutique in Sag Harbor; and Aerin Lauder, founder & creative director of Aerin and style & design director, Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv.


What to Bring

“The Hamptons is more casual than people may think,” says Altuzarra. “I would pack a few cotton tees, a great linen button down to throw on for dinner, and a cotton sweater in case it gets nippy in the evening.”

Per Wölffer, “a beautiful floral maxi dress, especially in a colorful print, is essential! You can always dress it up or down with your accessories.”

She and Lauder also recommend going with a versatile straw or raffia bag in favor of glitzier designer fare, to match the laid-back local mood. “My go-to summer looks also include a Julia Amory long dress and Sarah Bray straw hat,” adds Lauder.

Of course, if you’re headed there in the summer, you’ll want to bring a bathing suit for the pool and ocean.

What to Leave Behind

“You won’t need anything too dressy — unless you are there specifically for an event,” says Altuzarra. “Overall the vibe is looser, easier, a bit boho preppy, so I would leave bodycon mini dresses at home.” And even if you’re going to a summer party with a chic dress code, you might want to skip the stilettos — you don’t want to sink into anyone’s lawn or trip over yourself on the beach.

What to Keep in Mind

“The Hamptons” is not one town, but a collection of historic towns, villages and hamlets that span several dozen miles along Long Island’s south shore, from Southampton to Montauk. Different parts have different vibes: For example, Southampton is preppier and more old-school, Amagansett has more of a younger, fashionable energy, and Montauk is a funky old fishing village where there’s been an explosion of new hotels and nightlife spots in recent years.

Traffic is notoriously awful on summer weekends — not just while you’re out there, but getting there from New York City. So always allow for extra time. If you want to skip the 2-3 hour drive from Manhattan, there are relatively frequent trains on the Long Island Railroad and hourly buses that offer varying degrees of comfort (The Jitney, The Ambassador and The Luxury Liner). Or, if you really want to splurge, you can book a helicopter with Blade. Once you’re out there, “Ubers are surprisingly easy to book, and even though we have a car, I will sometimes ride an Uber so I don’t have to deal with parking during the heart of summer,” notes Altuzarra.

Keep in mind that certain village beaches only allow resident parking by permit, so always check before you head out for the day, or hop on a bike to avoid getting a ticket. And if you get invited to play tennis or golf at a club, ask about the dress code in advance — there are a few bastions of old-world formality in these parts, and you don’t want to miss out on a match because you didn’t pack a set of tennis whites.


Where to Stay

“The Baker House in East Hampton is my favorite,” says Lauder. “It feels like home in the heart of town, walking distance from the beach, as well as many shops and restaurants.” Other cozy spots in East Hampton town include The Maidstone and the Hedges Inn.

For something a bit more contemporary, Shou Sugi Ban House, in Water Mill, has thirteen private guest rooms, a killer spa and robust wellness programming, including outdoor yoga and mat pilates.

Courtesy Shou Sugi Ban House

In Amagansett, The Roundtree has the vibe of a home rental with the amenities of a hotel. The rooms are modern and serene, they’re dog friendly, and there’s a fleet of bikes on hand for easy beach access.

Courtesy of The Roundtree

If you want to be close to all the fun in Montauk, Gurney’s Montauk Resort and Saltwater Spa is a favorite for its stylish rooms and buzzy beach scene. And the newly renovated Montauk Yacht Club, on the calmer bay side, has coastal chic rooms and a pool with views of the harbor.

Courtesy of Montauk Yacht Club

Where to Start the Day

Lauder, Wölffer and Altuzarra all love Jack’s in Amagansett for coffee. “If you are there in the winter, they also have a fantastic hot chocolate that is worth the drive east,” notes Altuzarra. He also loves Sagtown in Sag Harbor: “They also sell Donut Plant donuts — but get there early because they sell out quickly.”

For a full breakfast, Wölffer loves Harbor Market & Kitchen in Sag Harbor. “Their organic corn tortilla with fried eggs, black beans, avocado, queso fresco, and pico de gallo is a personal favorite!” she says. Carissa’s, a chic minimalist bakery with locations in Amagansett, East Hampton and Sag Harbor, is another local favorite—locals love their fresh baked bread, gorgeous pastries and decadent breakfast sandwiches.

For a true throwback moment, Lauder loves The Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton, a diner where the decor doesn’t look like it’s been touched since the ‘50s. “It has been a go-to for me and my family since I was a child,” she says.

Where to Eat

“I love Tutto il Giorno, where the spaghetti with vongole is a must-try,” says Wölffer. “Sag Pizza is another favorite, perfect for any occasion — family dinners, a quick bite with friends after work, or a meal before catching a movie. Their wood-fired pizzas, fresh pastas, and seasonal cocktails are always a hit!”

Courtesy of Tutto il Giorno

Both Wölffer and Altuzarra point to Estia’s Little Kitchen, a Mexican-American restaurant in Sag Harbor, as a great family-friendly spot. “The vibe of the restaurant is exactly what I want from the Hamptons — casual, friendly, unpretentious, and familial,” Altuzarra says. “My go to is the shrimp tacos, and my husband gets the shrimp quesadilla. Do not miss out on the guacamole and homemade chips.”

Courtesy of Estia’s Little Kitchen

Duryea’s, a chic seafood spot in Montauk, is also at the top of a lot of lists. “Duryea’s is the perfect spot for lunch or dinner because of its beautiful setting and delicious food. The iconic lobster roll and corn is a summer staple,” says Lauder.

“Leon in Shelter Island [which you can reach by ferry from Sag Harbor] is another favorite — and also great for year round dining,” notes Altuzarra. “It’s a bit of a drive, but well worth it. The food is unfussy and delicious, sort of a fusion of French and Italian. Get a few starters to share, like the roasted vegetables, and spring lettuce, but leave room for the slow-fired half chicken.”

Il Buco, a beloved downtown New York Italian restaurant, recently opened an outpost in Amagansett, dubbed Il Buco Al Mare. Wölffer sings its praises as “a perfect meal.” And Lauder also loves the Sant Ambroeus in Southampton. “Sitting in the garden feels like you are in Italy,” she says.

Where to Shop

Sure, you could kill a few hours at the fab designer stores that have taken over East Hampton in the past couple of years. But the real draw of the Hamptons are the farm stands, funky vintage and antique shops, and elegant local boutiques with a fun point of view.

Wölffer fills up on fresh produce and beautiful flowers at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. “What I love most about Amber Waves Farm is their mission to provide educational opportunities in agriculture for aspiring growers, thoughtful cooks, and eaters of all ages.”

Courtesy Amber Waves Farm

When it comes to stocking his kitchen, Altuzarra likes Round Swamp Farm, which has a couple of locations and is beloved for its prepared foods and baked goods, and Fairview Farm in Bridgehampton. “The reason to go is the freshly made potato chips: you pick your potatoes (sweet or regular) and they will cut and fry them right in front of you,” he says. “If you go during the fall, they also have wonderful kids activities, like hay rides, corn mazes and pumpkin picking.” Lauder loves Loaves & Fishes in Sagaponack, for its excellent prepared foods, and Tate’s in Southampton for baked goods.

Courtesy Loaves and Fishes

For more stylish fare, Wölffer, who’s known for her bohemian style (her eponymous store in Sag Harbor stocks a unique array of beachy clothes and fabulous accessories), points visitors in the direction of Lazy Point (“for amazing vintage and one-of-a-kind finds”) and Warm (“for the ultimate surfer girl look”) in Amagansett; Sage & Madison (“unique gifts”) and Stella and Ruby (“the best kids clothes”) in Sag Harbor, and Clic Home in East Hampton (“for stylish home accessories”). The Row recently set up shop in Amagansett in the former space of the beloved high-end Tiina the Store and has become a must-stop if only just to look around.

If you need to stock up on sunscreen or forgot your makeup kit, Lauder loves the tony White’s Apothecary, which has locations in several towns. The Aerin boutique in Southampton is also a must. “The assortment is curated exclusively for the destination and includes all my favorite finds for the season,” she says.

Where to Look at Art

“I highly recommend the Parrish Art Museum, where I serve as a proud board member and visit with my kids almost every weekend,” says Wölffer. “The Bay Street Theater offers incredible shows, perfect for an entertaining evening. Additionally, Guild Hall and the Eric Firestone Gallery in East Hampton are must-visits for art enthusiasts.”

Courtesy of Eric Firestone

If you’re visiting with kids, Altuzarra says The Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton is a great place to spend an hour: “My kids love pretend-playing in the restaurant and kitchen, shopping in the ‘supermarket’ and reading books in the reading corner. They can pretend to be firefighters and ‘drive’ a fire truck, and go into a pirate ship.”

Lauder is a fan of Onna House, a contemporary art space founded by Lisa Perry, “because of its inspiring rotating collections from female artists around the world, all in a beautiful glass home,” she says.

Where to Get Some Fresh Air

All of the ocean beaches in the Hamptons are famously beautiful, and most of them look pretty similar, as they’re all connected by the same length of soft sand and grassy dunes. All are suitable for lazy days spent swimming in the waves, walking along the low tide line, or hanging out with friends. It gets rockier once you get out to Montauk, where some beaches are tucked beneath high cliffs. “For hiking, I enjoy exploring the dunes in Napeague and walking the cliffs in Montauk,” says Wölffer.

Where to Have a Cocktail

“Lulu Kitchen & Bar is my top choice for a great night out. I love going there with my husband for date nights or dining with my girlfriends. It’s a fun excuse to dress up a bit! They offer an excellent selection for brunch, lunch, and dinner, along with a fantastic specialty cocktail and wine list,” says Wölffer. “Also, it would be remiss of me not to mention our Wine Stand at Wölffer Estate, which has become the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights! It’s a casual atmosphere with spectacular views of the vineyard and, of course, the beautiful sunsets! You must try our new Summer in a Bottle Sauvignon Blanc that we launched earlier this month!”

Courtesy of Wölffer Estate

Where to Stay up Late

Stephen Talkhouse, a music venue in Amagansett that’s been open for decades, becomes a 20-something madhouse with hours-long lines on summer weekends, but they have great live shows and a divey vibe. Over in Montauk, The Surf Lodge and Solé East are the places to go if you want to dance until the early hours.


Best Time of Year to Go

Summer is peak season—the beaches are what it’s all about, after all.

But Lauder’s favorite time is the fall. “There is nothing better than fresh air as the leaves start to change and a cozy dinner at home by the fireplace,” she says. Altuzarra is also a fan of being out there during the holiday season, when he takes his family to Marder’s, a local nursery and craft store, to pick out their Christmas tree.


“This place is so special because it is full of heritage and wonderful memories,” says Lauder. “It strikes the perfect balance between tradition and modernity, offering a blend of classic charm and contemporary coolness,” adds Wölffer.

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