Most of us Garden State natives grew up going down the shore every summer and our childhood memories of the boardwalk, the beach, the food, and the sights and smells will be happily burned into our brains forever (much like the way all those sun spots from the scorching no-SPFs days aren’t going anywhere). And while we adore taking our own kids to our beloved Jersey Shore, sometimes it’s fun to try another area summertime Mecca. We’re talking about visiting the Hamptons. Yes, the string of Long Island beaches may have a glitzier rep than our own shore, but it’s not all mansions and celebs. Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet, fabulous shopping, or excellent restaurants, there’s a Hamptons beach town for you. Here are a bunch to consider for your next New York getaway, listed from nearest to furthest.
Distance from NJ: 1.5 hours
Why here: It’s literally the closest Hamptons beach town to New Jersey and perfect for a day trip since you avoid the infamous Route 27 traffic.
Stay: No need. You can just make it a day trip.
Hit the Beach: Cupsogue Beach County Park is a more secluded beach is about a 15-minute drive from Main Street and is a great spot for seal sightings.
Dine: Brunetti. The outpost of the West Village Italian eatery has an old-school feel and killer Neapolitan-style pizza.
Distance from NJ: 1.75 hours
Why here: Straight stretches of dreamy open beach and white sand for miles. And it’s not as far as many of the other hoods so a one-night trip is totally doable.
Stay: Quogue Club. This New England-esque luxe boutique hotel located in a has just 14 rooms and feels like you’re staying at a (very wealthy) friend’s home.
Hit the Beach: Village Beach is just a 10-minute bike ride from the hotel.
Dine: Hamptons Farms. This fabled farm-to-table is all about deliciousness you can feel good about eating with dishes like a vegan lentil and white bean bowl and steamed local mussels. Though there are some decadent options too. (You’ll hate yourself for ordering the buttermilk fried chicken with bacon mac and cheese, but hey, you’re on vacation.)
Distance from NJ: 2 hours
Why here: Beaches, shopping, lunching and the whole “Hamptons experience.” This is the place walk the main street and hit the stylish shops before heading to the beach and capping off the perfect day with dinner at an upscale spot.
Stay: Rent a house on Airbnb. The options are endless and range from cottages to full-blown estates.
Hit the Beach: Coopers Beach is the best and most beautiful of the bunch, so make sure to rent a house close by.
Eat: Redbar Brasserie. If you’re doing a date night with the hubby, this – upscale spot fashioned like a true Parisian place with red leather banquettes and intimate bar is the place. The menu runs the gamut from Asian-inspired tuna tartare to steak frites.
Sant Ambrous. Sit on the vine-covered patio, order everything from the crudo bar and sip a Vermentino and you’ll quickly realize that your life is perfect.
Distance from NJ: 2.25 hours
Why here: It’s a great central point with easy access for exploring the rest of the Hamptons and, of course, beaches galore. Oh and you’ll be neighboring with award winning Wolffer Winery- say hello to summer Rose and cocktailing amongst the grapevines.
Stay: Topping Rose House. It’s as fancy as hotels get in the Hamptons with super plush, bright rooms, an amazing spa, and a fleet of Lexuses ready to whisk you wherever you want to go.
Hit the Beach: The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle that will take you to several local beaches including the especially pretty Mecox Beach.
Eat: Jean Georges at Topping Rose House. Um, if there’s a Jean Georges restaurant at the hotel you’re staying at, you’re going to want to eat there. (And honestly, the prices are pretty in line with most other nice dinner spots in the area.)
Pierre’s. The dishes are listed in French so you know it’s legit. It’s also super romantic and the daily over-the-top specials include a 2-pound Cognac-flambéed lobster on Wednesdays. (Note: Go on a Wednesday.)
Town: East Hampton
Distance from NJ: 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Why here: This is a lovely little town with beautiful beaches. And if you want to hit Amagansett or Montauk for an evening, you’re not far.
Stay: The Maidstone Inn. This little boutique hotel comes complete with funky touches like photo art, vintage bikes and Swedish lawn furniture. Plus, it’s super kid-and-dog friendly and you can walk to town.
Hit the Beach: East Hampton’s renowned Main Beach is an easy bike ride from the inn.
Eat: The Palm. You know it. You love it. This location is a true who’s who of the Hamptons with killer steaks and sides- go hungry.
The Golden Pear. Walk here from the hotel to grab paninis and homemade soups at this casual cafe.
Distance from NJ: 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Why here: It’s the chicest Hampton, and you might rub elbows with Gwyneth Paltrow (whose elbows are most likely covered in some $500 diamond-infused body lotion, but we digress).
Vibe: Casual and beachy but can be crowded. Try a weekday if you can.
Stay: Inn at Windmill Lane. The sleek and stylish property is actually a string of suites and cottages with outdoor living areas, fireplaces, and a curated art collection and is within walking distance of Main Street.
Hit the Beach: Grab one of the inn’s bikes and pedal over to the always-happening Indian Wells Beach.
Eat: Clam Bar. This casual roadside spot is our top pick for clams, corn on the cob and cold beer in your flip flops. What could be better?
The Meeting House in Amagansett Square/ It’s the hottest spot in town for a reason. Reserve a table well ahead or show up early. Otherwise forget it.
Distance: 3 hours
Why: The fastest growing Hampton is equally good for couples, a girls' trip or a full-blown family vacay.
Vibe: Old-school beachy laced with a hipster vibe.
Stay: Ruschmeyers. This groovy spot has got a cool a campy feel and rooms with a contemporary take on cabin decor but still with the modern touches of flat-screen TVs, WiFi, and iPhone docks in addition to an outdoor fire pit and free bike rentals- or check out it's more upscale neighbor Gurneys Montauk - which after a huge facelift a few years ago is 5 star all the way.
Hit the Beach: We found it! Free parking in the Hamptons. It’s at Kirk Park Beach. You’re welcome.
Eat: Crows Nest. Beachfront dining with a bohemian vibe where you’ll find super local fare of fluke and yellowfin crudo, dayboat scallops, and a perfect kale salad
Scarpetta. The sister restaurant to Scarpetta in NYC (and Philly and Newport and Vegas and Miami) is the ultimate in high-end Italian food in a gorgeous space with a hip crowd.
Town: Sag Harbor
Why: It puts the town in beach town
Vibe: This is the only real Hamptons town with an actual winter community so it feels like a real community. It’s set on the bay rather the ocean.
Stay: Barons Cove. This big old resort is right on the water and boasts a pool, spa, and multiple dining and activity options. The kids are going to love it.
Hit the Beach: Well, if you mean bay you can do it right outside your room.
Eat: Vine Street. Ferry over to Shelter Island for dinner at this cool cafe doling out the kind of excellent, unpretentious food you want in summer. Think local oysters, fluke almandine, and pickled beets.
Provisions Natural Foods Market & Cafe. This is the place for healthy everything – from juices to salads to avocado toast.