Afraid a trip to the East End will break your bank? Here's some things to do, see and try in order to explore the Hamptons at little (or no) expense.
The Parrish Art Museum
Featuring an evolving art collection of various media, the Parrish Art Museum (279 Montauk Hwy, Water Mill) also hosts a calendar of events. Its pieces and parties range in appeal from easy and entertaining to high-end, conceptual and challenging--but the Parrish is accessible to all, as children under 18, students with ID and museum members are always admitted at no charge, and free to all on Wednesdays (otherwise $12 for adults, $9 for seniors, $5 for guests of members). For more information, call 631-283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.
Free Ice Cream Wednesdays at Bay Burger
If you're in Sag Harbor on a Wednesday, you can swing by Bay Burger (1742 Sag Harbor Tpke) for a free cup or cone of house brand ice cream with the purchase of any entree item. Available all year; call 631-899-3915 or visit bayburger.com for more details.
Dockers Waterside (94 Dune Rd., East Quogue; 631-653-0653) has been an after-work and night-life hotspot for years, due in part to its weekly special: From 3:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. on Fridays, guests can pick from a list of $5 drinks (including certain beer, wines and cocktails) and a special menu of $5 appetizers. (No added charge for the excellent sunsets possible off the Dockers deck.) Check dockerswaterside.com for more details.
Puff and Putt Family Fun Center
Family fun can be found in Montauk at Puff & Putt's Mini Golf. (659 Montauk Hwy.; 631-668-4473), where games are only $8, and children 3 and younger play for free (with a paying adult). Boats are also available for rent, ranging from canoes, kayaks and pedal boats ($22 for a half-hour, $40 hourly) to Sunfish sailboats ($45 hourly). For more information, visit puffnputt.com.
Sunday night sangria special
Harbor Bistro (313 Three Mile Harbor Rd., East Hampton) winds down summer weekends with a Sunday special starting at 5 p.m., $5 sangrias, $6 drink specials and live music. For more information, call 631-324-7300 or visit harborbistro.net.
Located in the Montauk village area, John's Drive-In doesn't actually have a drive-thru window, but does serve burgers, fries, shakes, grill food and homemade ice cream, with most menu items less than $10. Cash only.
Free Ride Hamptons
If looking for a way to skip on the parking hunt, having to pay to park at Hamptons beaches or just having to drive period, Free Ride provides complimentary transportation by way of gas-free electric shuttles. Available in Southampton, East Hampton and Montauk five days a week Memorial Day through Labor Day (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.) and weekends from Labor Day through Columbus Day (Saturday-Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m.). For more information and pick-up points, visit thefreeride.com/hamptons or call 646-504-3733. (Pictured: James Mirras, left, and Alex Esposito, creators of the Hamptons Free Ride shuttle service.)
DJ parties at Montauk Beach House
The Montauk Beach House hotel (55 S. Elmwood Ave., Montauk; 668-2112) has an upscale grill, an outdoor bar, and both its lawn and pool are positioned to absorb maximum sunlight. During summer weekends, the spot hosts a series of parties centered on DJs and live performers that specialize in unusual, offbeat and deep musical sessions. No cover to attend, and events are mostly open to the public, but anyone looking to attend must first RSVP via thembh.com.
Check out a windmill
The Hamptons may be devoid of tall buildings and massive shopping malls, but a drive between Southampton and Montauk reveals a number of historic windmills, like the Old Hook Windmill (pictured) in East Hampton, the Beebe Windmill in Bridgehampton and the Corwith Windmill in Water Mill. Most are open to the public, and some permit visitors to look inside on varying occasions. Check the Town of Southampton and the Village of East Hampton websites to find out what's public, what's open and what is currently available to tour.
The Sloppy Tuna
Located right along the beach, The Sloppy Tuna (148 S. Emerson Ave., Montauk; 631-647-8000) is a two-story hangout that features a bar, restaurant and ocean-facing terrace upstairs, while downstairs there's an indoor club and outdoor patio. Cocktails are generally $12, and food is mostly under $20; there's no cover to enter (save for special events) and guests can stroll in directly from the water if desired (just have on flip-flops or footwear).
'Birds of Prey' at Marders
Marders Garden Center and Nursery (120 Snake Hollow Rd., Bridgehampton; 631-702-2306) hosts an introduction to carnivorous birds such as owls and hawks titled "Birds of Prey" on several occasions throughout the year from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Free. Family-friendly; RSVP necessary. For more information, visit marders.com.
Kirk Park Beach
It can be downright expensive to park at a beach in the Hamptons, save for Kirk Park Beach (95 S Emerson Ave, Montauk; 631-324-2417, montauk-online.com, which not only features access to the Atlantic Ocean and restrooms, but offers free parking, charges no entry fee and is located within walking distance of Montauk's village area. Lifeguards on duty daily during the summer season from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.