Oddly enough for such a celebrated destination, the Hamptons run a little thin on what could be called tourist attractions. Vacation time here is so much about the beach, eating good food, and spending quality hours with family and friends, that places to which you might drive to see something specific are not entirely obvious. What this means is that other than the Montauk Lighthouse, the Hamptons’ cultural and natural destinations tend to be under the radar.
A good bet on a rainy day in Amagansett is the East Hampton Town Marine Museum on Bluff Road. Relics from the days of offshore whaling are of particular interest. On Wednesdays and Saturdays year-round, you can see traditional wooden boats being built at an on-site workshop run by the East End Classic Boat Society.
During the summer, the side lawn at the Farmers Market on Main Street is a pleasant place to relax. The tables have a view of preserved agricultural land and Amber Waves Farm. To the west along Main Street, at Amagansett Square, there are free live music shows from time to time. Across the street, the Amagansett Historical Association runs a small museum and displays a collection of classic wagons and horse-drawn carts.
Bridgehampton and Vicinity
Channing Daughters Winery on Scuttlehole Road has daily tastings and is in a remarkable setting with views of Walter Channing’s monumental sculpture park. On Sagg Road in Sagaponack north, you’ll find Wolffer Estate Vineyards, which has a tasting room and popular Friday night gatherings with live music. South of the Montauk Highway in Sagaponack you can find the Madoo Conservancy, an idiosyncratic and stunning garden created by the painter Robert Dash.
From the sublime to the outrageous, what has been described as the largest private house in the United States, built by Ira Rennert off Daniel’s Lane, is worth a look if you are curious about what just might be the apotheosis of late-20th century excess. But you can’t get up close. It also seems as if every back road around Bridgehampton has at least one farm stand. Pick-your-own apples and a maze are great kids’ activities. Around Labor Day it’s all about the Hampton Classic horse show.
The new Parrish Art Museum just west of Water Mill has become the sleeper attraction of 2013, with thousands of visitors coming for a look at the architecture as well as special exhibits and work by important American artists from the permanent collection. Children’s activities are scheduled regularly and you can have a bite at its café. If you are visiting in the fall, you won’t be able to miss the Pumpkin Town on the Montauk Highway nearby.
East Hampton and Springs
The most visible attraction in the Village of East Hampton has to be Hook Mill, built in 1806 to grind flour and corn. It is open to visitors in July and August. At the south end of Main Street is the Gardiner Mill, open occasionally to visitors. Close by is the Home, Sweet Home museum, which illustrates 18th- and 19th-century life, and the 1680 Mulford Farm next door; both are open in the summer months. The South End Burial Ground is worth a stroll. Buried here are the remains of Lion Gardiner, the first European owner of Gardiner’s Island and a hero of the 1634-38 Connecticut Pequot War. Nearby, too, is Guild Hall, which mounts serious art shows and has a recently restored theater with a plays and musical programs year-round. If the kids need time at a playground, take them to Herrick Park on Newtown Lane.
Tucked away on Hand’s Creek Road you can find LongHouse Reserve, a private museum, garden, and sculpture park created by Jack Lenor Larsen, a leading American textile designer. It is open Wednesdays and Saturdays in June and Wednesday through Saturday in July and August. From LongHouse, you can continue north to Cedar Point County Park for spectacular bird watching, camping, and a long hike out to an abandoned lighthouse — if you go, start