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Insider's Guide to the Hamptons

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Photo: Theo Morrison

What to Do

Historic Houses

Artists have long made the Hamptons a studio by the sea. Perhaps two of the most famous residents were Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner; at the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center, in East Hampton’s Springs area, you can tour their 1879 residence and studio, complete with paint splotches on the floor. Not to miss on the other side of East Hampton: LongHouse Reserve, founded by textile designer and crafts expert Jack Lenor Larsen. Works by artists Willem de Kooning and Sol LeWitt dot the acres upon acres of gardens.

Museums

Another top East Hampton destination is Guild Hall, a center for visual and performing arts. Board member Alec Baldwin often hosts readings and theater performances; this August, the museum will be turned over to Eric Fischl’s beach paintings. In Southampton, the well-regarded Parrish Art Museum, established in 1897, is about to move its collection of 19th-, 20th-, and 21st-century American art into a dazzling new Water Mill space designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Run by the Dia Art Foundation, Bridgehampton’s Dan Flavin Art Institute displays the artist’s light sculptures in a former firehouse and church.

Adventure

One of the joys of a visit here is getting out into the fresh air. When designer Tory Burch wanted her kids to have surfing lessons, she hired Flying Point Surf School, in Southampton, which also helps adults learn to ride the waves. Not feeling quite as intrepid? Girls can try their hand at the newly popular sport of stand-up paddleboarding with Paddle Diva. (Guys can get in on the action at Wainscott’s Main Beach Surf & Sport.) There are plenty of bays for kayaking; one of my favorites is the serenely beautiful Accabonac Harbor. Rent kayaks from East Hampton’s picture-perfect Springs General Store. A sportfishing capital, Montauk has a marina that is crowded with charter boats. One of the top guides is expert angler and photographer Jim Levison, who will take you on saltwater fly-fishing expeditions.

Nature Trails

Don’t miss the Hither Hills State Park Walking Dunes Trail: hidden between Amagansett and Montauk, these shifting mountains of sand move several feet a year. Near Sag Harbor, the birds eat right out of your hand at the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge. On Shelter Island, the Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve offers hiking trails through various ecosystems and past kettle holes formed by glaciers during the Ice Age.

After Dark

The nightlife scene is a mixed bag: I usually prefer walking on a moonlit beach to standing in line for a club. But when I’m feeling social, a few places are worth the effort. Among them are Amagansett’s Stephen Talkhouse, which hosts acts like Jimmy Buffett. At the Capri, in Southampton, the poolside Bathing Club wakes up when the DJ’s start spinning. In Montauk, the buzzing Surf Lodge had come under criticism for its crowds of late-night revelers: the new management promises a more mellow scene, so you can peacefully sip mojitos by the waterfront fire pit. And the season wouldn’t be complete without the Fourth of July party at Rick’s Crabby Cowboy Café & Marina, in Montauk, a down-and-dirty seafood joint that comes alive one night of the year. Filled with celebs and locals, it’s a can’t-miss affair that defines summer in the Hamptons.

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