Mom’s Top Tips for Things to Do With Kids in the Hamptons
The Bump presents Where In the World Is The Bump, a series of summer travel guides featuring tips, favorite picks and insider know-how from local moms for families looking to visit their cities this season. From the best baby-friendly restaurants to preschooler-approved playgrounds, savvy packing lists and more, you’ll get all the honest, parent-proven advice you need to plan your trip.
I’m Kim, senior editor over at WeddingWire (sister brand to The Bump). My husband, Dan, and I have been married for nine years and we have two kiddos, 6-year-old Aaron and 4-year-old Eliza (Lizey). Though we’ve lived in the Washington, DC area for about eight years now, I grew up on Long Island and spent loads of time in the Hamptons (Dan and I even got married there!). We travel out East with the kids at least once a year and absolutely love it. Yes, the Hamptons may be crawling with celebs (and traffic!) during the summer months, but at its core, the area is quite family-friendly with lots of opportunities for outdoor adventures. Ever since Aaron was born, we’ve seen the Hamptons in a whole new light—and I’m thrilled to share some of our family’s favorite things to do with kids in the Hamptons.
Many restaurants in the Hamptons have an adults-only atmosphere, and finding a restaurant that’s kiddo-appropriate can be an adventure. Through much trial and error, we’ve identified several spots in the Hamptons that are actually family-friendly.
Estia’s Little Kitchen, Sag Harbor
This is one of our favorite hidden gems. While it’s not located in the main village of Sag Harbor, it’s a must-visit, particularly for breakfast (the scene gets a bit fancier, and less kid-friendly, at dinnertime). The grown-ups love the Mexican breakfast specialties, and the kids devour pancakes and bacon. Plus, there’s a lovely garden where the kids can run around if there’s a wait—which there inevitably is on the weekends.
Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen, Bridgehampton
This Bridgehampton mainstay offers diner classics, including Aaron’s favorite grilled cheese and my beloved tuna melt. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, ideal if you’re looking for a casual bite at any time of day. And if the kids are on good behavior, they can enjoy an ice cream cone at the counter. Note that Candy Kitchen, along with many other restaurants and businesses in the Hamptons, is a cash-only establishment.
Union Cantina, Southampton
If your kids are anything like mine and could subsist on rice and beans alone, this Mexican eatery in Southampton is a must. Aaron loves the chicken tacos off the kids menu and Lizey could eat her weight in guacamole. And—bonus!—there’s a patio complete with cornhole sets for your kids to enjoy while they’re waiting for their food. Oh, and don’t miss the churros for dessert.
Bostwick’s Chowder House, East Hampton
I don’t know about your crew, but for us, eating outdoors is infinitely easier than a meal indoors. And we particularly love the outdoor seating at this seafood spot. The vibe is super-casual (think paper plates and plastic utensils), and both the adult and kid food is delicious.
The Lobster Roll, Amagansett
Perhaps best known from the Showtime series The Affair, this roadside restaurant (also known as LUNCH) offers casual seafood in a chill atmosphere. Of course, the lobster roll is a must-order, but if your littles are finicky eaters (like mine), the extensive kids menu will win raves.
Big Olaf’s, Sag Harbor
While not technically a restaurant, a family guide to the Hamptons is incomplete without a recommendation for this ice cream shop in Sag Harbor. Every summer we stop by for a fresh waffle cone and take a stroll on the nearby beach or along Long Wharf Pier to gawk at the megayachts.
The Hamptons are known for their beaches, so if you’re the type of family who can spend an entire day at the beach, you’re pretty much set (we like Mecox Beach in Bridgehampton, but Coopers Beach in Southampton and Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack are also popular). My kids, on the other hand, can spend a few hours at the beach and are then asking “what’s next?” So we’ve had to do some digging to find fun non-beach activities out East. Here are a few of our favorites:
Montauk Lighthouse, Montauk
One of the highlights of our most recent trip to the Hampton was visiting the Montauk Lighthouse. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive, but there’s something about lighthouses that kids find fascinating. Plus, being at the eastern tip of Long Island is pretty amazing—the views are pretty spectacular. This year, we were particularly excited that both of my kids were tall enough to climb to the top (you have to be at least 41 inches and able to climb 137 steps up a winding, narrow staircase)—though there’s lots to see even if you can’t make the climb. The look on Aaron’s face as he peered out the top of the lighthouse was priceless. Bonus: After checking out the lighthouse, you can enjoy lunch at George’s Lighthouse Cafe, visit the on-site playground, go for a hike or head to the beach.
The Children’s Museum of the East End, Bridgehampton
Ideal for a rainy day or just when your kids need to let out a little energy, this museum is a kid’s paradise. They can pretend-drive a firetruck, pick up fruits and veggies at a mini farmer’s market, take the wheel of a pirate ship and much more. There’s also a mini golf course and playground out back.
South Fork Natural History Museum & Nature Center, Bridgehampton
If your kids love animals and sea life, this museum located directly across the street from the Children’s Museum is a must-visit. It’s a bit of a smaller space, but perfect for budding scientists or marine biologists. There’s a touch tank on the lower level where kids can feel starfish and other creatures, and a nature preserve and hiking trails if you’re so inclined.
Seven Ponds Orchard, Water Mill
Though the Hamptons are now known as a beachy escape from New York City, much of the area is still farmland. Farm stands abound (we particularly love Babinski’s Farm Stand and The Milk Pail in Water Mill), but if you’re looking for a more interactive farm experience during the summer, head to Seven Ponds Orchard, where your kids can pick berries, snap peas and more, depending on the time of year. There’s also a playground your littles can enjoy post-picking.
Hamptons Mini Golf, Southampton
My kids love a round of mini golf in the summertime, and this Southampton course is one of our favorites. The holes represent different Hamptons landmarks, and there’s even a little cafe to enjoy lunch or a treat after playing.
Parks and Playgrounds
No matter where we travel, we always end up at a local playground. A few of our favorites in the Hamptons include Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, Agawam Park in Southampton, and Herrick Park in East Hampton.
• Packing for a trip to the Hamptons really depends on when you’re visiting. In the summer, it does get quite warm during the day, but you may want to pack some light jackets and long pants for cooler nights. Sunscreen and bug repellent are musts, as it can get buggy in the warmer months.
• Ticks are an issue in the Hamptons. Bring bug spray and try to avoid running around barefoot outside. We do a quick tick check on our kids nightly to catch any critters.
• If you’re traveling from New York City, you’ll probably end up driving out East. While you may have heard of the Hampton Jitney bus line, it’s not particularly kid-friendly. The Long Island Railroad is an option, but it often gets crowded and uncomfortable (so not ideal for littles) in the summer. Those traveling from out of town might find flying to MacArthur Airport in Islip and renting a car more convenient—it cuts out a good portion of the drive. Traffic can be pretty nasty in the Hamptons, particularly on summer weekends. The main highway, Route 27, only has one lane each way, which makes for frequent snarls. But unless you’re staying within walking distance to a town, you’ll probably (and unfortunately) need a car to get around.
• Beach parking can be difficult to come by and pricey, so be sure to do some research before driving to the beach. Coopers Beach in Southampton, Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack and Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett all have ample parking, though you’ll have to pay to park.
• When it comes to finding a place to stay with kids in the Hamptons, renting a house via Airbnb may be your best bet. There are certainly hotels ( Gurney’s in Montauk is popular), but you might be more comfortable having a kitchen and laundry facilities at your disposal.
• Dragging all of your baby gear out to the Hamptons can be, well, a drag. Fortunately, you can rent gear such as cribs, baby baths, high chairs, and more from Hamptons Baby Gear, which will deliver all of your necessities.
• Most of the towns in the Hamptons have a major grocery store, including King Kullen in Bridgehampton and Stop & Shop in Southampton and East Hampton. There’s also a Kmart in Bridgehampton for other supplies.
• Want to take the kids to a movie? Avoid the Regal East Hampton Cinema—parking can be really difficult during the day. Better options include the Regal UA Southampton Theatre, which has its own lot.
Published July 2019
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