It doesn’t have to be summer to be a good time in Montauk.
The East End hamlet has been redefined as a summer party destination with the influx of bars such as The Sloppy Tuna and The Surf Lodge, but many don’t realize the town can put on a good show for St. Patrick’s Day.
Every year, the Friends of Erin organization hosts the second-largest St. Paddy’s Day parade in New York State with bagpipers, drummers, dozens of floats, live music and a slew of activities at local pubs around town.
If you’re looking for a good time out of the city, Montauk can provide it. This year’s parade is at noon March 25, but the festivities and spot-finding start at 10 a.m.
Getting there and back:
The Long Island Railroad may be an efficient way to get to the festivities, but beware, Long Island’s youth figured this out a long time ago. If you take the Montauk-bound train from Penn Station or from a station further east, book your ticket ahead of time and get there early so you can choose your seat. Otherwise, you’ll be sitting or standing among already-drunk 20-somethings.
Returning via train can be an ordeal — expect long lines to get back. Again, arrive early if you want to get back to the city unscathed.
Either way, you’ll need to walk to and from the Montauk train station, which is a 25-minute walk, or hire a local taxi to get to Main Street.
Tickets for the Hampton Jitney bus, which takes you directly to the Hamptons, aren’t available for March 25, so unless you’re planning to arrive earlier that weekend, forget it.
If it’s financially possible, rent a car so you can get there on your own time and avoid the smells and noise of the St. Patrick’s Day hell train. You’ll also have more freedom to hit up other hamlets if you so choose.
Stay for the whole parade
It’s tempting to skip the parade and just hit up the pubs, but the Montauk community spends a lot of time and effort raising money for the procession. Bagpipers, dance groups, civic groups, shop owners and local bands march and show off their costumes and floats, including the very funny satire group The Coneheads. Every year they choose a wacky theme to make you think. Last year, a bunch of them dressed up as President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and paraded down Main Street with a Trump banner saying “Trump: Putin America First.” If you skip the parade, you’ll miss out on gems like this.
This is just like any other St. Patrick’s Day parade, so go crazy with green. Green hair, green clothes, green sunglasses — it’s all welcome.
Taste the chowder
Pick up a mug of chowder, which is always sold outside along the parade route. It’s the perfect way to warm up on the typically chilly day.
Eat, drink and be merry at Montauk’s bars
There’s no shortage of beer and hearty food in Montauk. Shagwong Tavern on Main Street, which has been serving locals since 1936, is sure to have live music and a big crowd. Check out Tauk at Trail’s End on South Edgemere Street, 668 The Gig Shack on Main Street, The Dock Bar & Grill on West Lake Drive and O’Murphy’s off Flamingo Road for some good eats.
The Montauk Brewing Company on South Erie Avenue gives tastings of its brews and it’s easy to stop in since it’s so close to Main Street.
Treat Montauk like your own town
The village of Montauk is within the Town of East Hampton and it’s as small town as you can get. Locals go through pains to make sure its beaches, streets and sidewalks are clean and safe. The town has in recent years struggled to deal with the influx of partiers, so when you go, keep that in mind. Spend some time in its shops and feel its vibe by speaking with locals.
Expect to get out of the parking lots easily
In fact, let your New York ways go by the wayside for St. Patrick’s Day. Enjoy the slower pace. Getting out of the parking lot, or even just waiting for the train, will be a hassle since the parade is the second largest in the state.
Forget to dress warm
Even though the parade is happening at the end of March and it should darn well be warm by then, it likely won’t be, especially since Montauk is surrounded by water. So dress warmly. You can always take off layers.
Miss out on Montauk’s beauty
You can’t truly enjoy Montauk without taking time to discover its beauty. Nature is the hamlet’s No. 1 claim to fame. Take a jaunt to the beach, which is about a five-minute walk from the parade route or to the cliffs if you are down for a longer walk or have a car. The cliffs, or hoodoos as they’re called, are quite majestic and are accessed via the beach or by driving to Montauk State Park at the literal end of the island. Just keep driving east. You’ll also find the lighthouse there, which you can climb and hike around freely. If you come back after March 31, you can climb to the top and get the most spectacular view.