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While winters are relatively quiet, the summer season brings crushing crowds and a flashy nightclub scene. A drive along Route 27 requires immense patience, so it's worthwhile figuring out what kind of experience you're after so there's not a lot of backtracking. Eastport is a tiny hamlet filled with antiques shops; Westhampton is a little more Long Beach than a true Hampton; Southampton boasts old money, huge estates, and chic stores; East Hampton is the trendy, new-money capital of Long Island -- Jerry Seinfeld, Billy Joel, and Martha Stewart have homes here; Sag Harbor is a gorgeous town on the water where even the dry cleaner has antique irons in the window; Amagansett and Bridgehampton are cute little towns; and laid-back Montauk relishes its position at the island's tip -- set apart from the more exclusive villages, it's also a big draw for fishermen and surfers.


Miles of beautiful beaches on the ocean and on peaceful bays are just the beginning of the Hamptons experience. The Hamptons offers fishing, surfing and sun bathing, and many a temptation for the gourmet.
Generally referred to as simply "the Hamptons," the South Fork is actually made up of a group of towns, not all of which actually end in "hampton" and each with its own flavor. Regardless of name, though, this is where the rich and famous spend their summers, and with good reason: Some of the most gorgeous land in New York State -- and some of the best beaches in the world -- are here. In fact, ever since the railroad was built out to Southampton in 1870, people have been hooked on the South Fork.


WHEN TO GO

The Hamptons season, prime time for celebrity spotting while soaking up some sun, runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Come mid-September, you can almost hear the locals breathe a collective sigh of relief as they reclaim their home turf. Just in time, too: Mid-September and October are especially lovely in the Hamptons, and as the days grow crisp and cool, pumpkins sprout along Route 27 and the deserted beaches are perfect for a bundled-up walk along the shore before dining with friends in front of a crackling fire.

 

GETTING AROUND

You'll need a car to get between towns and beaches, but be sure to leave extra time—traffic on Highway 27 crawls at a snail's pace all summer long. For shorter distances, a bike will do.

TOURIST INFO

Hamptons Visitors Council
7 Manor Lane
East Hampton, New York 11937
Tel: 631 324 3082
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Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
330 Motor Parkway, Suite 203
Hauppauge, New York 11788
Tel: 877 386 6654
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