The last stop on the Hamptons trail, Montauk is the easternmost tip of Long Island, 118 miles from New York City. Montauk has more of a rustic charm than the rest of the Hamptons, and landscape-wise, it has dramatic, high bluffs along its beach areas. It’s also known for its six state parks, and since it’s a peninsula, there are superb fishing waters.
Things To Do In Montauk
Montauk Lighthouse And Museum
At the endpoint of Montauk stands the lighthouse and museum. The lighthouse was the first one erected in New York state and is the fourth-oldest still-active lighthouse in the U. S. It was listed as a historic monument in 2012 when it was entered in the Register of Historic Places. The museum is located in the lighthouse keepers cottage from 1860 and contains historical documents and photographs, including documents signed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The Gilmartin Galleries display artifacts and souvenirs from the booming whaling industry of the early 1900s.
The state parks of Montauk are outdoor paradises where loads of outdoor activities are offered. The most popular of the state parks in Montauk, Hither Hills is a sprawling, 1,755-acre park in the Napeague area that is especially geared toward campers. Facilities and activities include a wide, sandy beach with big ocean waves, a walking trail dune high above the landmark dunes, cross-country skiing in winter, fishing (including night fishing), bike paths, a picnic area with fireplaces, birdwatching in the Napeague Bird Conservation Area, wooded areas, and hunting areas.
Shadmoor State Park
The high bluffs with stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean are the highlight of Shadmoor State Park. The historical side of the park contains two concrete bunkers from WWII, which had artillery guns to protect the area from enemy boats. There are special birdwatching platforms dotting the park, picnic areas, and saltwater fishing spots. Two stairways lead to the 2,400-foot beach. The Shadmoor State Preserve Trail is a 2.5-mile loop that’s more like a walk than a hike. Shadbush and cherry trees, plus the almost extinct gerardia plant are just some of the foliage and fauna in the park.
Pro Tip: The trail, especially in the summer, has a high number of ticks, so leave the dog at home and dress accordingly
Montauk Point State Park
A unique view of where the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound converge sets Montauk Point State Park apart from the other parks in the area. Another unique thing you can do here: spot seals on the rocks of the park. There are hiking trails and also access to cross-country skiing. Other amenities and activities in the park include horseback trails, playgrounds, hunting grounds, surfing and windsurfing, and fishing. Montauk Point State Park is the access point for the Montauk Lighthouse and Museum.
In 1927, real estate developer Carl Fisher blasted through Lake Montauk to flood it with seawater. Today, it’s a major port and supports commercial fishing boats and fleets as well as private fishing boats. Montauk has repeatedly reported record fish catches by fishing charter boats from Lake Montauk. The bay also has ferry services to Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island, and New London, Connecticut, during the summer months.
One of the most popular and beloved institutions of Montauk is Gosman’s Dock. A small, family-owned fish stand started in 1943 has morphed into a restaurant, food, and shopping complex. The casual restaurant, cafe, and clam bar serve just-caught seafood that makes its way to the docks daily, assuring freshness. A gourmet food market and a clothing and Montauk souvenir shop round out the rest of Gosman’s. In July and August, a concert series takes place on an outdoor stage.
Deep Hollow Ranch
One of the best ways to experience the gorgeous coastline of Montauk is on horseback. The oldest horse ranch in the U.S., Deep Hollow Ranch is a family-owned and operated and provides trail rides on its private compound. From beginners to pros, Deep Hollow Ranch can accommodate any kind of rider with group and private tours. They also have a beach trail along the Block Island Shore. A summer pony camp for kids ages seven to 12 runs from June to August.
Double D Fishing Charters
The highly rated Double D Charters has over 20 years of experience and fishing charters for all ages and levels of fishermen. Half- and full-day fishing excursions are available on boats that have a maximum capacity of 15 people. Sunset cruises, children’s fishing camps, and ferry services are also available. Striped bass, mako and thresher shark, and summer flounder are among the various types of fish caught on a typical Double D’s voyage.
Best Restaurants In Montauk
The range of restaurants in Montauk has greatly improved in recent years, going from a handful of standard-fare seafood shacks and restaurants to places that rival some of New York City’s more sophisticated restaurants.
Duryea’s Lobster Deck
Overlooking Fort Pond Bay, the 80-plus-year-old Duryea’s Lobster Deck recently got a makeover and is now an upscale take-out restaurant and market. Grilled or steamed two-pound lobsters, New England clam chowder, grilled swordfish, and mussels Mariniere are just a few of the tempting seafood specialties, and if you want surf and turf, they have grilled chicken and skirt steak on the menu, too. Another menu pleaser is their lobster roll picnic service, which includes shrimp cocktail, crudites, tuna tartare, lobster cobb salad, lobster rolls, and, for dessert, fresh baked cookies. The market has a coffee bar, gourmet foods, and a gift and home accessory boutique.
A favorite New York City restaurant, Scarpetta Beach has brought its Italian cuisine to Montauk. Focusing more on the available local seafood, the menu has dishes such as branzino fish, gnocchetti with blue crab, black cod, and halibut in a crust.
Clam Bar At Napeague
No trip to Montauk would be complete without indulging in a lobster roll. The Clam Bar At Napeague has consistently delivered one of the best lobster rolls in Montauk for over 40 years. Other lobster dishes are lobster BLT, a vine-ripened tomato stuffed with lobster salad, and a two-pound lobster, steamed lobster served with corn and melted butter. The clam menu includes clams on the half-shell and clam strips.
Navy Beach may be a little difficult to find, but it’s absolutely worth your time to search out. It’s one of the only restaurants in Montauk that has tables on the sand by the beach. A great place to have a drink and/or a meal and watch the sunset, Navy Beach has a versatile menu with seafood chicken, pasta, steaks, burgers, and salads.
Best Hotels In Montauk
Gurney's Montauk is synonymous with Montauk. The hotel prides itself on being the only hotel in Montauk that has a private beach. There are 152 rooms, suites, and cottages, all with king beds, rain showers, Nespresso machines, wet bars, mini-fridges, and beachfront views.
Fun Fact: President Richard Nixon wrote his acceptance speech at one of Gurney’s cottages.
The Ocean Resort Inn
If you are looking for a family-friendly stay and a good value in sometimes pricey Montauk, The Ocean Resort Inn is it. Less than a minute walk to the beach, the inn has cozy and clean rooms, and the studios and suites have in-room hot tubs. All rooms have flat-screen TVs with cable and HBO, mini-fridges, microwaves, and coffee makers. If the ocean water is too rough, take a swim in the heated saltwater pool.
Montauk gets its origins from the Montaukett tribe, who spoke Algonquian and inhabited the village in 1614 when explorer, Captain Adriaen (Arjan) Block landed his ship there. In 1792, Congress approved the construction of the lighthouse that was built at the end of the island and was one of the first-ever lighthouses in the U.S.
In 1839, slaves overtook the schooner Amistad, which was coming from Cuba, and landed in Montauk seeking provisions. The story was told in the Steven Spielberg film Amistad from 1997.
In the early 1920s, city planner Robert Moses started to establish six state parks which were connected by the new Montauk State Park Highway. In 1926, Florida real estate magnate Carl Fisher, who flooded Lake Montauk with seawater, purchased 10,000 acres of land in Montauk, planning to develop the village in the same way as Miami Beach had been developed, as a resort for the wealthy. From 1926 to 1932, Fisher developed a Tudor-style village with 30 buildings.
During WWII, much of Montauk was used as a military base with a seaplane landing site.
Many artists, writers, and celebrities -- including Dick Cavett, Andy Warhol, Edward Albee, Peter Beard, and Rufus Wainwright -- have called Montauk their summer home. Montauk served as the primary location on the recent Showtime series The Affair.
- Montauk is three to three and a half hours by car from New York City. The train from Penn Station in New York takes three hours and 15 minutes.
- June and September are the best months to enjoy summer-like weather without the crowds of July and August.
- For additional inspiration consider our town-by-town guide to the Hamptons and these 10 fabulous and affordable restaurants to try in the Hamptons.