Summer brings a new dynamic to the social scene: alfresco happy hours and open-air lounges, many mere steps from the shoreline. Going out for a drink with a view of the sunset has never been so easy. These spots are prime destinations.
By the river, Off Key Tikki (31 Baker Pl.; 631-475-1723, offkeytikki.com) is open year-round, with a sand-filled courtyard, fire pit and colorful beach chairs aplenty — but come summer, the outdoor stage rocks with live music and special events, which can include comedy, drag shows and other offbeat performances. Hook a right down River Avenue to join the fun at Dublin Deck (325 River Ave.; 631-207-0370, dublindeck.com), where DJs spin, bands play and line-dancers come for the weekly Wednesday scoot-under-the-stars country night. Harbor Crab (116 Division St.; 631-687-2722, harborcrab.com) is more of a restaurant-first affair, but its fruity cocktails and seating on its Princess paddleboat are nightlife-level. When in town, head to Rhum, pictured, (13 E. Main St.; 631-569-5944; rhumpatchogue.com) and hang on its third-floor rooftop deck, where the seating is swing-only, as in the seats are dangling swings. Stereo Garden (9 Railroad Ave.; 631-714-4486; stereogardenli.com), in the former Emporium space, has a beer garden, lots of live music and the biggest dance floor in town. Meanwhile, 89 North (89 N. Ocean Ave.; 631-730-8992; 89northmusic.com) is a destination for live music. For excellent suds, try Brickhouse Brewery (67 W. Main St.; 631-447-2337, brickhousebrewery.com), Tap Room (114 W. Main St.; 631-569-5577; patchoguetaproom.com) and Hoptron Brewtique (22 W. Main St.; 631-438-0296, hoptronbrewtique.com). Long lines wait to enter That Meetball Place (52 W. Main St.; 631-569-5888, thatmeetballplaceli.com), a restaurant that embraces nightlife with live music and DJs, while Flo’s (38 W. Main St.; 888-356-7864, flosfamous.com) stays open until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and has a DJ but is more of a sit-and-chat scene. James Joyce (49 S. Ocean Ave.; 631-562-4000, jamesjoyceny.com) is a tavern with balcony spaces and packed-out DJ nights on weekends.
Pop’s Seafood Shack & Grill, pictured, (15 Railroad Pl.; 516-432-7677, popsseafoodshack.com) is returning for the season, which means you definitely have a place to break in your flip-flops. The restaurant is surrounded by a sandy courtyard dotted with fire pits and beach chairs — they expect you to arrive in beach-friendly footwear. Island Park is not necessarily a nightlife-heavy community, but with the city of Long Beach next door, that’s the ticket. Head to West Beech Street, and you’ll find several clubs, bars and restaurants to choose from, including Shine’s (55 California St.; 516-432-9248, shinesbar.com), Jetty Bar & Grill (832 W. Beech St.; 516-442-1338, jettylb.com), Lost At Sea (888 W. Beech St.; 516-632-5263) and The Saloon (1016 W. Beech St.; 516-432-9185, thesaloonlongbeach.com).
Huntington is a top destination for fun, and among the options for food and drink, Prime, pictured, (117 New York Ave.; 631-385-1515, restaurantprime.com) is an upscale restaurant on Huntington Harbor (so the views are magnificent). There’s a fire pit on the deck, and this summer’s entertainment includes live music during happy hour Thursdays and Fridays, “Margaritaville Saturdays,” with Jimmy Buffett-style tunes on the deck, a live jazz Sunday brunch and live reggae from 4 p.m. until the sun goes down. In addition, movies (free popcorn included) show Monday nights near the Prime Cabana Bar. The spot introduces a new oyster bar at the end of the open kitchen. Huntington has high-quality bars, eateries and entertainment at every turn. The Paramount (370 New York Ave.; 631-673-7300, paramountny.com) is one of the best concert venues around. Honu (363 New York Ave.; 631-421-6900, honukitchen.com) hosts dressy, DJ-powered dance parties, while sister venues Radio Radio (24 Clinton Ave.; 631-923-2622, radioradiohuntington.com) and Vauxhall (26 Clinton Ave.; 631-425-0222, vauxhallhuntington.com) cater to those who prefer unusual craft beer and savvy cocktails delivered with a bit of hipness. Christopher’s Courtyard (8 Wall St., 631-271-0111, christopherscourtyardcafe.com) has been a solid stop for more than 30 years, while pub Finnegan’s (5 Wall St.; 631-423-9696, finnegansny.com) marked its 100th birthday a few years ago. And, if you need late-night food, Little Vincent’s (329 New York Ave.; 631-423-9620) serves slices of its celebrated pizza on weekends well past 3 a.m. in cash-only fashion and with cold cheese on top, if requested.
The Surf Lodge, pictured, (183 Edgemere St.; 631-483-5037, thesurflodge.com) deserves much credit for helping transform the former sleepy East End hamlet into the coolest destination in the Hamptons. As usual, the Lodge is planning to host a calendar of free live music that will include some of the buzziest bands in the world of popular indie music. Just remember: Make a dinner reservation as a means to get in; otherwise, admission is at the doorman’s discretion, and lots of people will be vying to enter. Once inside, you’ll be mingling with a crowd heavy on city chic, and the aforementioned bands will be playing at sunset, with the orange Montauk sun sparkling off calm Fort Pond. It’s very lovely and always a hot spot. Most of Montauk’s nightlife is free and easy to enter, but if you need something on the level of Surf Lodge, it’s actually in the hamlet next door. The Stephen Talkhouse (161 Main St.; 631-267-3117, Amagansett, stephentalkhouse.com) hosts famous acts and is known as a celebrity hangout (Google it, and you’ll see). For pure club power, AM Southampton (125 Tuckahoe Lane; 516-492-0346, amsouthampton.com) already is hosting live hip-hop and reggaeton, besides DJs.
The village mainstay, Claudio’s (111 Main St.; 631-477-0627, claudios.com) changed ownership for the first time since 1870. Early word is the summer scene will play on, with drinks served along the lengthy dock space that extends into Greenport Harbor, making for a breezy, sunbathed experience. Brix & Rye, pictured, (308 Main St.; 631-477-6985, brixandrye.com), an underground former speakeasy-turned-cocktail stop, and Andy’s (34 Front St.; 631-333-2525, andysgreenport.com) is great for playing board games. Little Creek Oysters (37 Front St., at the end of the alley; 631-477-6992, littlecreekoysters.com), hidden behind the local Ralph’s Italian Ices, serves oysters and drinks but also hosts under-the-radar, late-night pop-up parties and vinyl-spinning nights. Stirling Sake (477 Main St.; 631-477-6782, stirlingsake.com) is also mellow and pours its namesake (sake). The bar scene built around a tree at American Beech (300 Main St.; 631-477-5939, americanbeech.com) is just right for summer.
Dealing in summer fun since the 1930s, Flynn’s, pictured, (1 Cayuga St.; 631-583-5000, flynnsfireislandny.com) is best known for its weekend daytime bashes, including a Sunday Funday with reggae band King Wellington playing outside, while DJs spin inside. Long story short: It’s a Long Island social rite of passage to attend. Expect big crowds and a party scene that goes full tilt. You’ll need to ride ferries to each community to explore the fun, but for easy nightlife, you can head to Ocean Beach and bar-hop along Bay Walk (it’s the Fire Island version of Main Street). For a completely different scene, Cherry Grove has amazing drag shows and the hottest LGBTQ-friendly bar scene this side of New York City. Davis Park is home to Casino Bar (631-597-9414, casinobarfireisland.com), one half of a big building that does DJ and live music as well as trivia, karaoke and bingo nights — and has one of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean you can find anywhere.