Happy Friday! I must admit, I was super exhausted by Thursday night and basically crashed the same time my munchkin went to sleep (in fact, I often wish that his bed time was the same as mine).
There's so much to do, so much to plan, and ultimately... It always seems that there's not enough time to squeeze everything in.
This weekend we plan to head to Long Island for a little R+R. You might have heard me say this before, but basically ever since our Nuke baby arrived, I've been appreciating the good life out east far more than I’d ever imagined. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to MOVE out there (the commute alone would be the death of me)… I merely want to dip in and dip out for all the fun stuff (of which there is too many to count). If I had my own way of course, we would have a nice little home out East near the ocean – surrounded by green, organic, and bucolic scenery.
Sigh... If wishes were horses.
Having said all that, I'm sharing with you some of my favorite Long Island places and moments over the years – stylishly tailored for the entire fam, of course!
It seems criminal to combine everything that the Hamptons has to offer under one header, but since this is a condensed post, it is what must be. The Hamptons has so much going for it, and not only during the summer months when the entirety of Manhattan basically emigrates (cue: traffic nightmare), but effectively all year-round. In the fall there's pumpkin picking and apple-cider galore, and let's not forget the wonderful Parrish museum with all of its great delights for the little ones! In fact, if there’s one tip that I can give you, it’s to visit the Hamptons during the “off” or shoulder seasons (e.g., April/May, Sept/October… even when you go during the Winter it’s still quite pretty!).
There is the lighthouse.... which our little man is absolutely obsessed with (the concept, not specifically the actual Montauk lighthouse, though arguably that’s where the entire obsession began). To be honest these days I'd much prefer the more laid back, slightly feral and hipster artsy scene of Montauk over the Hamptons. We spent quite a bit of time there last year, staying at both the Surf Lodge and Ruschmeyer’s, and I would happily return to Montauk every year. Maybe this time around I'd opt to do a house rental just to mix things up a wee bit.
3) Shelter Island:
What to say about Shelter Island except that it is EVERYTHING. Beautiful, remote (for now), and still the best “getaway” in my opinion. We celebrated Nuke Baby’s 1st birthday there (2nd one was in Montauk, I’m detecting a trend!), and have basically been going there every year since he was born. Not quite sure what we’ll do for his third birthday, but it’s likely that we’ll find ourselves back to Shelter Island very soon. It’s remarkably charming, and feels more rustic than most places out east (for one thing it’s only accessible via ferry). The only drawback is that you might quickly run out of things to do if you stay past a long weekend (though the ferry could just as easily take you to either Sag Harbor or North Fork, so you’re not exactly “stuck.”
4) North Fork:
Speaking of North Fork – the other “fork” of Long Island (the Hamptons and Montauk make up one end of the fish-like tail and North Fork the other). In fact, through all my upbringing on Long Island (yes that’s right! Yours truly is a Long Island girl by origin), I’ve never even heard of North Fork. That, by the way, is in no form a negative reflection of the destination itself, but rather a full revelation of my own naiveté. At any rate, the first time we popped over to North Fork was over Fourth of July in 2014. Nuke baby was just shy of one, and it basically rained the entire weekend. That said, we still had a fabulous time – and some highlights included staying on a vineyard, cruising around and enjoying the scenery, driving tractors on a farm (LOVED Harbes Family Farm), visiting the Long Island aquarium, and wine-tasting sans bubs. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but the Sannino Vineyard B&B is my jam.
5) Water Mill:
Okay, maybe we’re splitting hairs here, as technically Water Mill is the Hamptons, but as you get more familiar with a place you really begin to dig deep into the weeds. Here’s what’s great about Water Mill. A) It’s the closest of all of the Hampton destinations. Think of Water Mill as the gateway to the Hamptons and Montauk as effectively the ending of the world. This is quite important when you’re stuck in mind-boggling summer traffic. B) It’s got Hank’s Pumpkin Town Farm!!! That alone ought to make you love Water Mill. C) It also boasts the Parrish Art Museum, which I’ve been lumping together with the Hamptons, but really it’s located in Water Mill. So there you have it... Water Mill is where it’s at, and it’s also super close to Southhampton, where you can find more dining options (we’re fans of 75 Main).
For the refined East-ender, this is the place to be! It’s sandwiched neatly between Montauk and East Hampton, and really exudes its own rustic, boho-chic charm. It’s way more chilled out than most areas of the Hamptons, which all the more lends to its appeal. Think along the lines of upscale Yogi meets Soho socialite (who happens to be vegan and always looks on-point if not slightly dishelved), and you pretty much get the picture. Some personal favorite spots include Lazypoint Variety Store, the Lobster Roll restaurant, and loads of super cute farmer’s markets. Amagansett Square has some awesome shopping… and quite by happenstance a friend of mine found the Sea Crest Resort for one of our girl trips, which is actually closer to Montauk than Amagansett – but I still think that it’s the perfect place to stay for a quiet weekend retreat! See here for my yogi weekend in Amagansett several years ago.
I know I’m a bit biased… but there’s a part of Long Island that’s really quick lovely and it’s right there in my own back-yard. It’s not as chic as the Hamptons, but it’s a far easier drive from the city, with some beautiful beaches, quaint little seafood shacks, and Waterfront playgrouns, which little man dubs as “sha sha”). It’s quite a nice little oasis, and we love art-making classes at Bubble and visiting the Argyle lake, brunching at the Argyle Grill (they’ve got his favorite salmon dish on the kid’s menu!), and shopping at Gemelli’s gourmet market in Babylon Village.
8) Cold Spring Harbor:
This really deserves a separate post all on its own, but Cold Spring Harbor is a lovely little sea-side village right adjacent to the town of Huntington. The town is super quaint, with lots of cute little shops and restaurants (I highly recommend Harbor Mist). It’s an old Whaling village so of course the top attraction is the Whaling Museum and Education Center, which has some excellent programs for the kiddos. Oh, and let’s not forget Sweetie’s Pies on Main, a must do!
Manorville is great for the following 2 reasons: (1) It’s got the Long Island Game Farm Wildlife Park & Children’s Zoo; which is like your normal zoo on steroids with an added amusement park component; and (2) There’s an actual animal farm petting zoo which is simply adorable!!! Get there early and you can purchase little bottles of milk to feed all of the baby animals (I say early since later on the animals get full and are less keen on having a feed). We took our little guy when he was just shy of 1 year, and something tells me that we’ll have to go back very, very soon. (Tomorrow perhaps?).
10) Long Island’s Children’s Museum (LICM):
I’m sorry to make this one last, given the tremendous role that it plays in our lives these days, but the LICM is the real deal. It’s massive, well run, and quite instrumental to our recreational activities while we’re on Long Island. Located in a former airplane hanger, it’s got some fantastic exhibits, not to mention a lovely outdoor garden and play area (see here). There’s the historic Nuley’s carousel next door, in addition to the Cradle of Aviation Museum and the Firefighters Museum. Truly worth a visit (and how nice that they're all lined up next to each other on Museum Row). The nice thing about the Cradle of Aviation is that it never gets super crowded (at least not when we’ve visited), and you get to climb in and truly experience the planes. Afterwards, you can go and have a feed at nearby City Grill. It’s not typically my scene, but the food is actually quite good, and you can’t beat the outdoor dining section during the summer!!