This past summer I had the opportunity to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York City for the first time. I knew from past trips to NYC what a crazy, hectic, crowded, hot, horn-blaring experience the “city that never sleeps” really is and wanted to add a some relaxing days to this trip to maintain my sanity! I had enjoyed several television shows and movies that filmed in or around Montauk and decided this was my destination. We would be in the vicinity……so why not?
My husband and I flew from Dallas to La Guardia and rented a car. The trip from the airport to our wonderful little bed & breakfast in The Hamptons was a 90 minute drive. The roadways and traffic were not bad at all and I decided our 2:00 p.m. arrival time had been a good choice.
We actually stayed east of Southampton in the little village of Water Mill, NY and drove to Montauk (30 minutes away) on a beautiful weekday morning. Montauk is actually 110 miles from NYC and on the very east end of Long Island (and the two places could not be more different!). Due to its location, nicknames such as “The Living End” and “The Last Resort” make perfect sense.
The scenic drive to Montauk took us through Sagaponack, Wainscott, East Hampton, Amagansett and Bridgehampton. We passed lovely little towns, vineyards, cornfields, antique stores, watermills, plant nurseries, historic sites, riding stables, coffee shops and trendy little restaurants. We drove past church sites, cemeteries, and villages that had been around since the 1600’s. As we got further out on Long Island, it became more of a natural setting and much less populated. We stopped at one of the first overlooks (pictured above) that is one of the six state parks in Montauk. There were a few cars in the parking lot but we never saw another soul.
There are actually very few hotels or bed & breakfasts in this area. The “permanent” population of Montauk is actually only around 3,000 people. That doesn’t dissuade people like me from wanting to visit Montauk though! The beaches, hiking trails, wineries, restaurants, fishing, whalewatching, shopping and even surfing make Montauk a wonderful place to visit and explore.
My main focus on this day of exploration was the Montauk Point Lighthouse. This beautifully colored lighthouse was commissioned in 1797 by none other than George Washington. It was the first lighthouse built in New York state and is the 4th oldest working lighthouse in the United States. It is quite a majestic site as you drive up to the point!
There are several large and very convenient parking lots – complete with restrooms, a children’s play area, a restaurant and several look-out points. It is a short, very scenic walk to the park entrance and the admission tickets are inexpensive ($4-$10). In addition to the lighthouse itself, there is a maritime museum, a gift shop, memorial sculptures, and gorgeous scenery. You may also climb the 137 steps to the top of the lighthouse for even better views. On clear days, you can see the Connecticut coast which is only 20 miles away. To the south is a wonderful view of the rocky coast and Ditch Plains where surfers ride the huge waves coming in off the Atlantic Ocean. Photos do not do this huge lighthouse justice and the 360 degree view is breathtaking.
After exploring the lighthouse, we headed back into Montauk and visited Gosman’s Dock. This is a wonderful little area with restaurants, shops, food trucks, boat docks and a harbor. We wandered around and watched the expensive yachts, commercial fishing boats, and pleasure boats arriving into the harbor or leaving on sightseeing excursions. There is also a large fish market where you can purchase the freshest seafood that has just come off the boats that day. It was a great place to spend as little or as much time as you choose to. Unfortunately, our hunger got the best of us and we were off to a lunch place that we had already picked out on the way into Montauk.
Okay, I readily admit it……I love the show “The Affair.” It is set in Montauk and I was so excited to personally see several of the places that I had seen on this series. One of the main story lines revolves around a roadside restaurant called The Lobster Roll and I knew this was where I wanted to eat. This was where the sordid “affair” actually started on the show. Lo and behold, hundreds of other fans showed up there for lunch this day too! After quite a long wait, we were seated and dined on fresh fried oysters and of course – the famous lobster roll. It was quite tasty and I enjoyed eating the fresh local cuisine.
We had such nice weather and had a wonderful day exploring Montauk. It exceeded all my expectations.
I had always heard about Montauk through books, television and films. I now feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to visit first hand. While doing a little research before the trip, it was no wonder why I was intrigued by this place. Here are just a few of the references I found:
Films: Jaws, Amistad, Deathtrap, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Annie Hall and Something’s Gotta Give
Television: Friends, Revenge, CSI, The Affair, Royal Pains, Billions
Books: The Great Gatsby and Amityville Horror
If you have the chance, check out Montauk! Please feel free to leave comments and subscribe to my blog. Thank you.