If you're looking for a less crowded version of the Hamptons, you're going to love Montauk. Blessed with gorgeous scenery, idyllic beaches, and some of the best seafood restaurants you'll come across, it has all the makings of the ideal vacation destination. Even better, it's only a short hop, skip, and a jump from New York City. If you're planning your first visit to the area, don't miss some of these top attractions from our round-up of the 20 best things to do in Montauk for first-timers.
20. Wander around Gin Beach Market
If you like shopping, you're going to love Montauk’s Gin Market. Set against the stunning backdrop of Gin Beach, the market is the perfect place to stock up on some tasty treats before heading out to the beach for a day of sunbathing. Along with a fantastic collection of organic, vegan, and gluten-free groceries, the market also offers plenty by way of naughty but nice prepared foods and baked goods. While you're there, why not pick up a few of the local handcrafted items as gifts?
19. Browse the shops at Montauk Village
Montauk may be blessed with stunning natural beauty, but its attractions go way beyond state parks and beaches. As Travel Lens notes, Montauk Village is an alluring place to roam around. Its cobbled streets are lined with charming little cafes and well-stocked gift stores, making it the ideal place to spend a few hours picking up souvenirs, enjoying a coffee, and people watching. If you've got a sweet tooth, don't miss grabbing a treat from one of the village's very cute little ice cream parlors.
18. Treat yourself to a night on Tiny Star Island
Tiny Star Island is, as the name implies, a tiny island set in the middle of Lake Montauk. The island is home to the ultra swanky Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina, a very exclusive complex that ranks as one of Montauk's most luxurious places to stay. If you want to experience a taste of the high life during your visit, take Trip Savvy's advice and book yourself into one of the hotel's 84 rooms or 23 villas. The hotel's amenities are just as sensational as its location, with indoor and outdoor pools, a private beach, marina, a spa and fitness center, and Har-Tru tennis courts.
17. Fish for your supper at Lake Montauk
Lake Montauk was created back in 1927 by blasting a hole on the northern shoreline to connect a small lake with the Block Island Sound. Today, it's one of the most popular spots in the area for fishing. As a fun fact, Frank Mundus, a boat operator who used to operate from the lake, is believed to have been the inspiration for the character of Quint in 'Jaws'.
16. Tuck into some fruits of the sea at Duryea's
Duryea's used to be a popular but low key seafood shack with plastic chairs, paper tablecloths, and a casual vibe. These days, it's one of the chicest outdoor restaurants in Montauk. The menu is a series of delights - although as a word of warning, you're going to have limited options if you don't like seafood. The seafood towers are legendary, as are the deeply comforting clam and lobster bakes. The creamy lobster roll, meanwhile, will have you begging for more. Wash it all down with a glass of cold champagne for one of the best meals (with the best views) you'll have enjoyed in a long time.
15. Catch some rays at Kirk Park Beach
Kirk Park Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Montauk. Regardless of whether you want to catch a tan or catch a wave, it's a great place to head. All the necessary amenities are on hand, while lifeguards are on duty during the summer season from 10 am to 5 pm. There's plenty of water activities available if you want to try your hand at paddleboarding, surfing, or scuba diving. Otherwise, simply sit back in the sand, soak up some rays, and enjoy the magnificent views.
14. Surf fish at Camp Hero State Park
Comprising of over 415 acres of stunning landscape, Camp Hero State Park is a must-visit for nature lovers. Maritime forests compete for attention with freshwater wetlands, dramatic bluffs, and spectacular ocean views. Trails are scattered throughout the park, offering multiple opportunities for horseback riding, biking, and hiking. Thanks to the undisturbed nature of the environment, it's a haven for wildlife and birds. To cap it off, it's one of the best spots in Montauk for surf fishing.
13. Have a picnic at Hither Hills State Park
Enjoy eating al fresco? Then pack a picnic and head to Hither Hills State Park. With scenic picnic sports, a stunning stretch of sandy beach, acres of playing fields, a kid-friendly playground, year-round fishing, and hundreds of trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country sking, it's one of Montauk's most gorgeous spots. While you're there, don't miss the unique "walking dunes" of Napeague Harbor on the eastern boundary of the park. If you want to extend the fun, camping is available.
12. Enjoy a beer at Montauk Brewing Company
If you're teetotal, feel free to move onto our next suggestion. If you enjoy some amber nectar from time to time, stick around. Established in 2012 as a small, strictly local business, the Montauk Brewing Company has now grown into a local institution. Its range of craft beers is incredible, and you can try them all for yourself in its tasting room. The refreshing Watermelon Session Ale is the perfect accompaniment to a hot afternoon, but each of its flavored brews have their merits. Once you've sampled the goods, visit the shop to buy a few to take away.
11. Wander around Gosman's Dock
Trip Advisor reviewers have ranked Gosman's Dock as one of the best places to visit in Montauk. It's not hard to work out why. The cute little dining shopping area is a charming place to head to enjoy the view, sample some local icecream. and enjoy some world-class seafood at its namesake restaurant. If you visit in summer, you might even be lucky enough to catch one of the regular concerts that play out from 6-8om every Sunday from July through August.
10. Check out the cheery trees at Shadmoor State Park
Montauk isn't short of state parks (the area boasts 6 in total), but few of them can match up to the haunting beauty of Shadmoor. The panoramic views over the ocean from the steep bluffs are truly breathtaking, as are the rows of majestic black cherry trees and clusters of rare sand plain gerardia that fill the park. If you're a fan of all things small and chirpy, the park offers plenty of great opportunities for birdwatching, while historians will jump at the chance to check out the park's two perfectly preserved World War II bunkers. With 2,400 feet of beach, acres of freshwater wetlands, miles of hiking trails and miles of bluffs, the park is a nature lover's dream.
9. Ride horses at Deep Hollow Ranch
Most people prefer to enjoy Montauk's stunning scenery on foot. But even when scenery is this good, hiking can start to lose its appeal after a while. If you're looking for an easier ride, head to Deep Hollow Ranch. This working ranch offers escorted horseback rides along the length and breadth of Montauk's shoreline. If that wasn't enough to tempt you, it's also a great place to soak up some local history - as the oldest working ranch in the US (and, according to its website at least, the birthplace of the American Cowboy), it offers a unique opportunity to experience a glimpse into the America of old.
8. Enjoy a cocktail at Surf Lodge
According to CN Traveler, the Surf Lodge is Montauk's hippest venue. The line to get in is usually painfully long, but if you're prepared to wait it out, you're in for a treat. Under a canopy of braided lights and stars, Montauk's twenty-something hipsters and heirs gather to admire their man buns and nod along to local indie bands. If that all sounds like too much effort, skip the club and reserve a table at the lodge's restaurant instead. The food is expensive but exquisite.
7. Take a whale watching tour
If you want to experience something truly memorable while you're in Montauk, book yourself on a whale watching tour. The opportunity to watch these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is truly worthwhile and will give you plenty of memories to take away and savor for years to come. Viking Fleet runs whale watching tours regularly throughout the year, along with organized fishing trips that are equally worthwhile.
6. Take the family to Playhouse Community Centre
If you're visiting Montauk with the kids in tow, don't miss a visit to the Playhouse Community Centre. The center is home to an ever-revolving line up of plays, musicals, concerts, exhibitions, and events, making it one of the area's most popular cultural hubs. If you happen to visit on one of the very few occasions it's not hosting something spectacular, take the opportunity to check out the aquatic part of the center - kids, in particular, will love its amazing range of water-based fun and games.
5. Catch a wave at Ditch Plains
Montauk is known for its spectacular surf. Every season, thousands of water sports fanatics descend on the town to catch some waves. Even if you're more of a beach lizard than a surfer, it would be remiss not to try it for yourself during your visit. According to those in the know, Ditch Plains is one of the area's top spots for surf. It's also a great place to try some paddleboarding and bodyboarding. The beach itself is stunning: fringed by craggy cliffs and blessed with some of the cleanest waters and whitest sands on this side of the Atlantic, it's heaven for beachcombers.
4. Top up your caffeine levels at Left Hand Coffee
Montauk isn't short of coffee shops, but according to heatherrinder.com, Left Hand Coffee can compete with the best of them. Although the food menu is limited, the cute decor, friendly service, and delectable brews make up for it. As the cafe specializes in organic, ethically sourced coffees, you get to polish your halo while sipping on one of the best Iced Chai Latte's in New York state.
3. Enjoy nature at Montauk Point State Park
If you get a thrill from natural beauty, the stunning landscape of Montauk Point State Park is guaranteed to please. The park is crammed with flora and fauna, not to mention sweeping views over the ocean. Take a stroll around the beach, climb the rocky outcrops, or even try a spot of surf fishing - wherever you choose, you'll leave with plenty of great memories.
2. Enjoy a bite at Navy Blue
Montauk isn't short of first-class restaurants, but if you want to try the best of the best, take the advice of Trip 101 and head for Navy Beach. Not only is its beachfront location gorgeous, but its menu is also a smorgasbord of delights. The seafood options are obviously to-die-for, but there's plenty of meat and vegetarian dishes to try if fish leaves you cold. Once you've finished dinner, burn off the calories by taking a quick stroll around the restaurant's 200-meter private beach.
1. Tour the Lighthouse
The Montauk Point Lighthouse ranks as one of Montauk's top attractions. And it's not just us who think so. The oldest lighthouse in New York state also happens to be the world's most photographed, with millions queuing up each year to take a snap of the iconic sight. The lighthouse is located right at the tip of Long Island, giving it an 'end of the world' feel that, appropriately enough, has earned it the nickname of 'The End.' Tours are available, and there's also a great little museum that chronicles its history. If you want to take away a souvenir to remind you of your trip, don't miss a visit to the gift shop before you leave.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn