The South Fork is known for its world-class beaches and A-list nightspots — but there’s more to the Hamptons than just sand and celebrities (although stargazing is fun). Beyond sunbathing and posh parties, you’ll find history, art, nature and plenty of great food. Here are 10 spots worth checking out.
Surf and swim at Ditch Plains, Montauk
Famous for its long breaks, this beach at the tip of Long Island is a destination for surfers the world over. For non-surfers, a designated swimming area has lifeguards. Stroll west along the beach and gaze up at the dramatic cliffs. There’s no parking for nonresidents, though — take a taxi or sign up with a surf shop for lessons that include transportation.
Gaze at the grand estates
To see how the tippy-top .1 percent live, peek through the hedges of the grand estates on Gin Lane in Southampton and along Georgica Pond in East Hampton. Built for new-money types who were unwelcome in Newport in the 1880s, Gin Lane “cottages” now go for tens of millions of dollars. The western shore of Georgica is a private community whose homeowners include Steven Spielberg and Martha Stewart. Over Look is one of the historic homes on Gin Lane.
Sunbathe and play on Main Beach, East Hampton
Regularly noted as one of the best stretches of sand in the country, Main Beach has it all: Lifeguards, a snack bar, supermodels and movie stars parading up and down in the surf. Bike or walk about 1.5 miles from the village or take a free shuttle from Main Street to avoid hefty parking fees. Parking permits are limited. Here, Constantine Gioulakis and Luke LaSpina of East Hampton play a game of frisbee on Main Beach in East Hampton.
Tour Montauk Point Lighthouse
The oldest lighthouse in New York State was commissioned by George Washington in 1792 and is still aiding navigation more than 220 years later. Climb to the top ($10 adults, $4 younger than 12), tour the ground-floor museum and its original 3 1⁄2-order Fresnel lens, then explore the adjacent Camp Hero State Park, a 415-acre decommissioned Air Force station that offers a picnic area, beach, and hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. ($8 parking) 631-668-2544, montauklighthouse.com.
Dine at Nick & Toni's, East Hampton
This hot East Hampton eatery is still the place to see and be seen. Reserve a table well in advance to enjoy rustic Italian-Mediterranean fare while rubbing elbows with celebrities, including Jimmy Fallon, Sting and the Clintons. Here, Penne alla vecchia bettola, penne in a spicy, oven-roasted tomato sauce, is served. 631-324-3550, nickandtonis.com
Admire East End art
It could be the biggest bargain in the Hamptons: the newly built Parrish Art Museum offers free admission on Wednesdays. The sleek Water Mill space — from the outside, it looks like a chic, long and narrow barn — houses a deep collection of works by famed East End artists William Merritt Chase, Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein as well as contemporary works from Chuck Close and Elizabeth Peyton (10 a.m.-5 p.m.; 631-283-2118, parrishart.org).
Visit the Pollock-Krasner House
Visit the East Hampton studio where Jackson Pollock created masterpieces including “Autumn Rhythm” and “Convergence,” and see the paint drippings that spilled over the edges of canvasses and onto the floor. The walls exhibit traces of wife Lee Krasner’s work. Both painters’ materials and tools are on display, along with photos. (Open Thur.-Sun. May-Oct.; $10 adults, $5 ages 1-12.) Here, Raul Dorticos takes photos of the paint on the floor of Jackson Pollock's studio at the Pollock-Krasner House Museum in East Hampton. 631-324-4939, pkhouse.org
Dance at Ruschmeyer's club
Ruschmeyer's is a popular hipster hot spot in Montauk for live music, DJs and even limboing. The Hamptons nightlife scene has moved east in the last few years, and the most popular clubs are now in Montauk. Ruschmeyer's hotel, a former summer camp with cabin-themed decor, attracts evening crowds with live music, DJs and retro fun, including Ping-Pong tables and bingo nights.
Take a Shelter Island ferry
Take a quick and picturesque hop across Peconic Bay from North Haven to tranquil Shelter Island. Boats leave every 10 to 15 minutes, but watch the clock — the last ferry to North Haven is 1:45 a.m. nightly, in season. 631-749-1200, southferry.com
No trip to the Hamptons would be complete without a dose of retail therapy. Villages have their specialties: Gift and specialty shops in Southampton; luxury goods from Ralph Lauren on Main Street in East Hampton; antiques and home design shops in Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor and Amagansett. Here: A view along Main Street in Amagansett.