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The Hamptons: Things to do when it's too chilly for the beach
Summer has (unofficially) arrived and New Yorkers are heading east each weekend -- but the Atlantic Ocean is too chilly for most swimmers in late May and early June.
No need to cancel your plans -- there are plenty of things to do in the Hamptons that don't involve sand and surf. And if you have a car at your disposal, you can really explore the Island.
Take a hike
If you want to get away from the glitz and glamor of downtown, there's still plenty of hiking to remind you that this is still the country.
Check out the Pine Barrens, the the 305-acre Quogue Wildlife Refuge with wetlands, creeks, ponds and, of course, plenty of pines. Inside the trail, there's Old Ice Pond, the Quantuck Creek and the Dwarf Pine Plains. For more information, call the Pine Barrens Society at 631-369-3300.
Montauk also boasts some great hiking opportunities. There are the bluffs at Shadmoor State Park, pictured, a 99-acre park with 2,400 feet of trails. For more information, call 631-668-3781. And don't forget about Hither Woods, located off-the-beaten path with 3,000 acres oak woods, grasslands, walking dunes and beaches. For more information, contact the Town of East Hampton recreation department at 631-324-2417.
For a more organized hike, there's the East Hampton Trails, located in Northwest Woods. Free hikes are offered Wednesdays and Saturdays, as well as special hikes throughout the week. For more info, go to easthamptontrails.org.(Credit: Flickr/spacebarpark)
Go horseback riding
Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk boasts the title of oldest working ranch in the U.S. Saddle up (Western style) for a group or private beach ride along the beautiful coastline.
For reservations and information about summer events, give them a ring: 631-668-2744(Credit: Ian J. Stark)
Indulge in some ice cream
Even when the weather is chilly, it's hard to resist ice cream in some of these local shops.
You have the Parash family to thank. In 1925, Jim and Nicoletta Parash opened the Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen, pictured here.
If you want a taste of the old school, the Candy Kitchen is the place to go. Not much has changed since its soda-fountain days -- you'll notice the chrome ice cream counter, vinyl booths...and credit cards still aren't accepted. The ice cream is homemade, often with local fruit. It's located at 2391 Montauk Highway. Call 631-537-9885 for more info.
The Parash family also opened the Sip 'n Soda on Hampton Road in Southampton in 1958, and it's still run by Jim and Nicoletta's sons and grandson. All ice cream is made of the premises with a "secret recipe," which the family claims has never been written down. Sip 'n Soda is located at 40 Hampton Road in Southampton. Call 531-283-9752 or go to sipnsoda.com for more information.(Credit: Ian J. Stark)
Check out a lighthouse
Montauk Lighthouse, pictured, usually gets all the glory, as it should. The lighthouse was the first public works project of the United States, commissioned by President George Washington in 1792, and completed in 1796, making it the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the country. The original structure is still there, and you can walk up all 137 iron steps to the top of the tower. Admission is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors and $4 for children. There's also a museum and gift shop on the premises. For more information, go to montauklighthouse.com or call 631-668-2544.
On the North Fork, you can also visit the Horton Point Lighthouse, located in Southold and run by the Southold Historical Society. Restored in 1990, admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12.(Credit: Lorina Capitulo)
The Hamptons are almost as well-known for shopping as they are for beaches, and from designer duds and sporty summer casualwear to festive home decor, they truly have it all. So, if the weather's too chilly to put on your bikini, simply head into town and buy a few more (or just enjoy browsing if that train fare got the best of your wallet). Preppy fashionistas will find themselves right at home among the bright, cheerful offerings from East Hampton and Southampton destinations including C. Wonder, J. Crew and Joe Fresh, and anyone lucky enough to have a beach house (nautical-themed apartments in the city work, too) needs to explore the Missoni Home in Southampton and the Serena & Lily Beach Market in Wainscott.
Go to a museum
Sure, NYC is filled with culture and history, but would it kill you to learn something while you're on Long Island, too? Keep the kids occupied on a rainy day at the Children's Museum of the East End (376 Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Tpke., Bridgehampton), with workshops, games and performances aplenty, plus a fantasy tree house, a musical forest and more to explore. For a taste of Long Island's maritime history, visit the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum (200 Main St., Sag Harbor), where you can see work by local artists and more at the former home of a local man who made his fortune aboard whaling ships. And for an eye-full of photography and paintings featuring Long Island beach scenes, plus special events such as tours of must-see Hamptons homes, visit the Southampton Historical Museum (17 Meeting House Lane, Southampton). (Credit: Newsday)
Cuddle up around a beach bonfire
Now this is the right way to enjoy the beach on a chilly day! Snuggle up and take in the scenery as the sun sets over the water. Don't forget s'more supplies!
(And be sure to check local beach fire rules!)(Credit: Flickr/chrisschoenbohm)
Pick some berries
June 1 is the official start of strawberry season, and your favorite summer snack tastes even sweeter when you roll up your sleeves and pick it yourself.
You can get your hands dirty at a range of farms along the East End, but one local favorite is Patty's Berries & Bunches in Mattituck, open for pickin' June through October from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For $5 a quart, you'll have fresh fruit on the table and something to brag about.
410 Sound Ave., Mattituck 631-298-4679; pattysberriesandbunches.com (Credit: Shawna VanNess)
Go wine tasting
If you find yourself all the way out east and Mother Nature doesn't cooperate, grab a designated driver and head to the North Fork, because wine is great whatever the weather. For a side of farm life with your Riesling, head to Martha Clara Vineyards (6025 Sound Ave., Riverhead), complete with horses, pigs, llamas and, of course, a wide selection of locally-made spirits. Then continue east and grab a seat on the scenic back porch overlooking the vines at Macari Vineyards (50 Bergen Ave., Mattituck) or settle in at a picnic table with the whole gang at Osprey's Dominion (44075 Main Rd., Peconic) and enjoy a snack and live music on the lawn. (Credit: Randee Daddona)
If you're out on the East End and willing to explore, the North Fork is your best bet for antiquing. Route 25 is filled with old treasures, ranging from inexpensive relics that are sure to cause nostalgia (try the Jamesport Red Barn at 1576 Main Rd. in Jamesport) to high-end, one-of-a-kind home decor (try Material Objects at 1291 Main Rd. in Jamesport, and also enjoy a wine tasting on its scenic grounds). And if you make it all the way down to Southold, you'll likely get a free history lesson with your purchase at Treasure Exchange Antiques (54325 Route 25)-- the shop is run by the Southold Historical Society. (Credit: Randee Daddona)