Long Island, here we come. We partnered with Blue Point Brewing Company—where live music is always playing, and dogs, children, and lawn games are welcome--to celebrate all things on the island just east of New York City.
I’ve been visiting Montauk, Long Island since 2005 when my then-boyfriend (now husband) introduced me to it. That first weekend we went to the lighthouse, hiked the marvelous Shadmoor State Park, and had dinner at ENE, where we later married. Before I knew it, this lake-loving Canadian girl discovered the draw of the Atlantic Ocean.
In my 12+ years of heading east from New York City, I’m always hearing how much Montauk “has changed.” And, in truth, it has. There is a reality show filmed there and the old movie theater is now a SoulCycle. But headlines from New York Times articles in both 1984 ("Once Sleepy Montauk Fights to Slow Down Development") and 1999 ("When Beach Houses Changed East End") could just as easily be found in the paper today. Sure, Montauk is changing, but it has been for a while.
I prefer to think that, much like ocean, the town is just always evolving. Changing sounds bad, but evolving is about moving forward. And while today’s Montauk is different than yesterday’s, there's still a lot to love about this little sliver of Long Island. I’m often asked how I handle the hustle of New York, and my answer is always the same: I have the magical balance of Montauk. We hike, tackle cooking projects, go fishing, and picnic on the beach. Sure, it's an escape from urban life, but the wonders of Montauk are endless. See a few of my favorite spots below.
This list is not exhaustive, but they're the places I most often return to, for everything from the beer and oysters to the oceanside hikes and yoga studios:
Left Hand Coffee just opened a second location down by the docks, and their turmeric latte has become a weekend staple. They have a wide variety of non-dairy milks, including my first ever (and tasty!) oat milk. Next door, the growing East End bagel chain Goldberg’s is setting up. I’m thrilled to not have to fight the summer crowds in town for java and lox.
The oddly named Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café is a family favorite: Oysters for all, games for the kids, crisp lagers for the adults, and the nicest owner you could ask for.
Every Thursday during summer, the town circle houses the Montauk Farmers Market. Bread, cheeses, seafood and produce abound! Additionally, the lovely people at the local Bhumi Farms are 100%-donor based, and they’re focused on getting organic produce into the hands of organizations that are fighting hunger.
There are two great seafood stores in Montauk. St. Peter’s Catch is in town, and has a famed blue fish dip. As a fisherwoman who doesn’t have much taste for blue fish, this is now something I crave. (Also once, a few years ago, I stood next to Ina and Jeffery as they filmed a section on scallops. I DVRed Ina’s show for 4 months and finally saw “our” show. But I digress.)
Gosman's Market is at the docks and is a bit more full service with organic chickens, terrific burgers, local Long Island corn and produce, and the best horseradish cheese spread in town (#Ihaveathingwithdips). While you are there, stop by the docks for an ice cream, sweatshirt, or peek at the commercial fishing boats.
If you are looking for a drink by the water, the bar and seafood at Navy Beach offers spectacular sunsets on a 200-foot private beach.
The Dock holds on to the fishing boat roots, and is a favorite of locals (or maybe just us?). You can’t go wrong with a pint of lager and the broiled flounder. Just don’t talk on your cell phone, as you will be kicked out. And for that, I love them!
In addition to The Dock, a few great staple Montauk restaurants can be found on our end of town by the docks. My mother in law used to waitress at Gosman’s, the only traditional big seafood, big family table restaurant in town. I love grabbing a beer—paired up with a plate of oysters—and appetizers overlooking the boats at the Topside where no children are allowed. Their clams casino and lobster caprese are very reliable and when combined with the setting sun and ships, plus the lack of that “newer” Montauk partying crowd, it can’t be beat.
Those of you jumping on the reclaimed wood bandwagon (I'm on it, no shame) will enjoy a visit to the humorously named Got Wood? right on Montauk highway as you enter town. (Some people also call it the Antique Lumber Company.) They have custom creations, countertops, beams, and floor planks all for sale.
Right at the town circle you will find my favorite home furnishing store, Gansett Lane. When we bought our first condo years ago, I purchased 8 mirrored napkin rings that that I just adored. Over the winter, I realized I often hosted 12. Come spring, they helped me find four more to complete the set and I love them. Now I have two kids, and I can laugh at the 12-person dinner party idea. But as Amanda once suggested, I’ll flex those large dinner party muscles again soon!
Montauk has a lot of trail heads, with many that deliver spectacular ocean views, but the aforementioned Shadmoor State Park and The Walking Dunes in Hither Hills are my favorites. History buffs will enjoy coming across the two WWII concrete bunkers as they wind through Shadmoor, which is set on 99 acres. Once at the ocean, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Hoodoo bluffs, which remind me of Hawai’i.
The Walking Dunes at Hither Hills are unlike any other dunes I’ve ever seen. Like town, they are constantly evolving, and the mounds of sand you walk over are constantly moving and growing. You hike on top of an 80-foot tree, buried and peeking out of the moving sand beneath you. The view of the sound at the top is otherworldly.
Yoga studios seem to have a hard time out East where the population fluctuates, but this spring a new studio, B Yoga Hive, popped up in the former Love Yoga space, and all early signs are promising. The class types embrace the beach culture, and a few recent classes with Anna Chung were among the best I’ve taken in years.
Let us in on your secret (favorite, etc.) spot in Montauk in the comments below!
It's beachside or bust for us. So we partnered with Blue Point Brewing Company for doing what's just right and good when it's hot: Having a beer, slurping an oyster, and sticking feet in sand or ocean. So, cheers to summer! Read all about Blue Point's Toasted Lager here.