Even if you're not a New York native, you've heard of the Hamptons. It's the one place in New York that gets just as high praise as the Upper East Side in terms of glitz and glamour, but with a beachy, seaside twist that's incomparable to anywhere else. There's something about the excitement and flashiness of each luxury shop-lined street corner, the seafood restaurants that overlook dramatic views of the Atlantic, and the photos of beaches that could be mistaken for Cape Cod, they're so pristine. While it's true that the Hamptons takes quite a bit of money in order for someone to live its lifestyle, that doesn't mean visiting costs nearly as much as being a full-time Hamptonite.
It also doesn't mean there aren't plenty of rookie mistakes one can make when visiting the Hamptons. Just as looking up at tall skyscrapers gives a person away as being a tourist almost immediately, there are newcomer Hamptons habits that scream 'rookie' right away. While it's not likely that someone will give you a withering stare for not moving fast enough down the block in the Hamptons, there are some tips visitors should know before visiting - such as what to skip and how to avoid mondo summer traffic.
Don't Be Surprised When Menu Prices Are Three Times What They Are Anywhere Else
Not surprisingly, when you go to the Hamptons, you're also paying for the atmosphere as well as the food. That's not to say that the food in this region of Long Island isn't exceptional or worth paying for, but not all of it is worth paying so much for (more on that later).
With that being said, if you go to a restaurant that overlooks the ocean, has pristine white tablecloths, more than one fork, and a full seafood menu, chances are, you'll be paying at least double what you anticipated so plan accordingly.
Fancy Hotels Are Great, But Airbnb Offers Cottage Rentals For Half The Price
Airbnb has truly revolutionized the world in terms of travel budgets. People no longer need to rely on deals or discounts in order to book a hotel at a destination of their choice, and rentals allow the flexibility to visit places that were previously off-limits.
The Hamptons is a great example of this as many rentals cost much less than a hotel that has beach access, or is in the middle of one of the town villages. Cottage rentals are also well worth the money; having the entire place to oneself, being able to cook in a kitchen, have multiple rooms, and, oftentimes, private beach access, more than justifies the price.
Be Aware Of The Order Of Hamptons Towns, And Beaches, To Avoid Confusion
There's an order to the Hamptons. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just Southhampton - this is just the third to last stop on what's actually a long highway. Each Hamptons town also has corresponding beaches, and each beach has its own rules (again, more on that later).
When driving, Eastport is the final town before Westhampton, followed by Quogue, Hampton Bays (the cheaper of all the Hamptons), Southhampton, Bridgehampton, and East Hampton, the last Hampton stop before Montauk, AKA The End. There are additional towns dotted in between and if you're looking to save money, it's worth it to stay in one of these and make day trips to the Hamptons.
Hamptons Summer Traffic Is The Worst, Avoid It By Doing This
Unfortunately, summer Hamptons traffic is unavoidable - to an extent. The best way to beat it is by not ending up in it at all, which means avoiding Friday travel. Ideally, visitors will want to already be in the Hamptons by Friday or will want to leave on a Saturday.
Similarly, leaving on a Monday or Tuesday is better than leaving on a Sunday. If you want to ensure you'll be traffic, there's always biking - or just leaving unbelievably early and skipping the stop for a gas fuel-up.
Beach Parking Is Confusing, But You Don't Need To Pay For It If You Do This Instead
Not only is parking in the Hamptons a frustrating experience with tourists and locals competing for coveted stops, but the beaches can also be a warzone. If you're not a local, the fact is this: parking for the day will cost no less than $30 (in Southampton) and a parking pass for the entire season will cost no less than $375.
This means in only three days, you'll be spending nearly $100 on parking alone. So, how to avoid this? One option is to rent or spend the money on accommodations that have beach access. Another option is to rent a place that's close enough to the beach that a walk is doable, or even consider biking there. The last option is to spend $5 on the Hamptons Hopper beach shuttle ticket which makes stops between Hampton Bays and Montauk
To Save Money, Try Smaller Restaurants Or Seafood Shacks
There are affordable seafood restaurants in the Hamptons and in the towns between them. Yelp, of course, is a great resource for determining whether or not an establishment is worth visiting but this also means taking reviews with a grain of salt - oftentimes, people will be harsher on places with their high expectations given the area.
Therefore, asking the locals is a great way to find under-the-radar locations that are still affordable - ask your Airbnb host or hotel concierge what their recommendations are.
Pro Tip: The High-End Stores In The Village Are No Different Than Those Anywhere Else
We get it - just like in New York City, there's something about being able to walk into a Prada store to shop. The atmosphere is intoxicating and it's only heightened by perfectly pruned and landscaped Southampton streets.
However, the fact is this: those high-end luxury brands are no different than they would be online, or at another store location, without the online discounts or variety that you would find shopping virtually. Skip the $300 handbag and go for a smaller, boutique store instead - the locals will appreciate it, and you'll walk away with a one-of-a-kind item.