You're in a Hamptons frame of mind even before you cross Shinnecock Inlet onto the narrow stretch of land that contains some of the most beautiful coastline in the country. The town of Southampton welcomes you with wildlife preserves, white sand beaches and cultural richness. The Hamptons are only 90 miles from Manhattan, yet they are a getaway like no other.
Southampton is the oldest English settlement in New York State. Pilgrims arrived from Massachusetts to settle into a great fishing and whaling spot. Over the years, Southampton has been a sought-after resort and a cultural mecca. It's been a destination for jet setters, artists, surfers and families escaping the city for a weekend.
Southampton shows off its heritage at every turn. Southampton restaurants comfortably occupy centuries-old public houses. Walking down Main Street and turning onto Job's Lane, the visitor passes refined old brick establishments and elegant wood-frame houses from whaling days. The Southampton historical society occupies one of the old buildings and fills it with costumes, documents and illustrations of the past.
Old money makes its quiet, discriminating tastes known in low-key, comfortable private clubs and public restaurants. New money brings the latest trends to this quiet town. Southampton restaurants include top chefs, experimental cuisine and cutting-edge architecture for a total sense experience.
Southampton's own Cooper's Beach was voted best beach in the U.S. not long ago. The freshest seafood is to be had in town, at family-owned restaurants that have served the townspeople for generations. Trendier Southampton restaurants serve seafood as a variety of exquisite dishes that represent a fusion of world cuisines. Upscale take-out services will pick up your food and deliver it to you at the old inn where you're staying.
New generations of artisans have resurrected some of the traditional crafts of the earlier settlers. An eastern Long Island consortium of great small vineyards, many of them organic, produce excellent wines. Microbreweries abound on the East End. Long Island beer is getting picked up by national distributors, but you can taste it right here where it's brewed. Taverns have tastings, and Southampton restaurants offer a number of local labels on the menu.
Pair these wines and beers with the freshest local produce. The farmer's markets go year round in the Hamptons, offering great cheeses and delicate mushrooms in the cold months.
A trip to Southampton leaves you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and even a little elevated.