Escape to: Montauk
By the Editors of Farewell Travels
Blue skies, fresh breezes off the ocean…NOW is the time to escape to Montauk.
Why now? When the days are getting shorter and it’s getting chillier?
While many people think of the tip of New York’s Long Island as a peak-of-summer spot, we think it’s at its best when the crowds have fled and you have the wild ocean beaches to yourself.
It’s also the best time to explore the nature preserves and to enjoy the farmers’ harvest season.
There’s not a long list of things to do, just enough to break up the weekend. Around the middle to end of November, some places (including state parks) close for the winter. So take a look at your calendar for the coming weeks.
Here’s what you need to know.
Farm fresh. Talk to anyone who heads out to the Eastern End of Long Island in the fall and they’ll inevitably mention the farm stands. Indeed…keep your eyes open for them. Agriculture is Long Island’s largest industry and going during harvest time means you will not go home hungry. Not only are there fresh vegetables and fruits, but all the fall favorites including pumpkins and squash plus apples, apple cider and cider doughnuts. Some places have apple and peach pies, right out of the oven. Honey, jams and maple candies too!
The beach is yours. One of the greatest things about going to Montauk in the fall is that you feel like you own the beach. Yes, you may see beachcombers, surf-casters, and maybe some surfers. But in general, the sand, the view and the warmth of the sun is yours alone.
Get out and bike. Best way to explore town and the nature areas beyond is on bikes. At the Montauk Bike Shop, you can get kids’ cruisers, off-road bikes, tandems, trailers…whatever suits you best (locks and helmets are included). Don’t miss Hither Woods which is on the Western edge of town. Covering 3,000 acres, it has about 40 miles of trails through woods and grasslands. A really popular round-trip route from the bike shop is to the lighthouse and back which is about 11 miles total. It’s relatively flat.
Bring the binoculars. Montauk is prime birdwatching territory as it is on the Atlantic Flyway for migrating birds. And best time? Fall and early winter. Head to Montauk State Park for the best sightings. You’ll see thousands of sea birds. In general, Montauk teems with birds including ospreys, bird eagles, ducks, geese and songbirds.
Walking and hiking. Montauk is home to five state parks and other nature areas offering all sorts of great hiking opportunities. Super short but packing a powerful punch is the ¾ mile trail through the “Walking” Dunes. The dunes are intensely beautiful, some reaching as high as 80 feet. Camp Hero State Park, which is a former military base, has five trails that take you to and through fabulous scenery including a maritime forest, freshwater wetlands and ocean bluffs. Hither Hills West has trails through Oak Woods, grasslands, walking dunes and on beaches.
Way to go. Unless you’re planning to do a lot of exploring on “The island,” and want to have your own car, the Hampton Jitney is an easy way to get between Manhattan and Montauk. It picks up and drops off at several mid- and uptown locations and runs right through the year.
On board, there’s free wi-fi, bottled water and a firm no-cellphone rule (but for the 3-minute emergency exception). Price is $30 one way; $53 round trip. Order tickets online here. For getting around the region, call Surf Taxi (tel: 631-668-1111).
Driving to Montauk. Off-season means weekend traffic to and from “The Island” is not as bad as it is in July and August. But it’s still busy enough to put a dent in both Friday and Sunday afternoons. If driving, do yourselves a favor; head out early in the morning on Friday and on Sunday, consider waiting until the bulk of the weekend visitors have left (usually by mid-afternoon) before heading home.
Eat seafood here. Plan to make a dinner reservation at Dave’s Grill. You can only do this on the day of, calling them after 4:15pm (tel: 631-668-9190). The seafood is unfailingly good—helps that’s it’s on the waterfront right by the fishing docks. Our favorites include Dave’s Original Cioppino which is fresh fish, lobster, scallops, clams, shrimp, mussels and calamari poached in a thick fish and tomato reduction. They also make a mean lobster roll with ½ pound of lobster meat served on a toasted brioche with fries and slaw.
Our go-to hotels. In general, accommodations in Montauk lean towards super simple with no frills. But if your tastes lean toward down pilows and 300-thread-count sheets, consider the Montauk Yacht Club Resort and Marina. You can take your pick of rooms (including villas and suites). Many have unobstructed water views as well as terraces or balconies. Be sure to book a spa treatment ahead of time. Our vote goes to the “Yachter’s Massage,” which is a deep tissue massage that will leave you feeling blissfully relaxed. There are also indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, yoga classes and a fitness center.
In the nearby Hamptons, there are more options for staying including the Swedish-owned c/o Maidstone. Dating back to the 17th century, it's a nineteen room inn across from the green in East Hampton; open year round.
Photo Credits: Beach photo ©Valeri-Fotolia; lighthouse photo Mnapoli501-Fotolia; trees by Montauk-Online.com; deck at the Montauk Yacht Club and Marina.