Weekend Travel Guide: Amagansett, New York 2022
contributor Travel Editor Tracey Minkin shares a three-day itinerary of fun in our favorite destinations around the world. Find more travel inspiration in Jump of the weekend.
I’m the person hiding in the Hamptons. There’s nothing wrong with the whipped-up Montauk scene or the old-fashioned literary cocktail party that takes place at the American Hotel. But for me, the sweet spot on South Fork is Amagansett, with its quieter, more compact downtown, easy access to some of my favorite gardens, museums, and distilleries (you read that right), and some stellar shops that are a short hop away. And now, with a beautiful little sanctuary hotel for me to relax behind the garden walls, this anti-Hamptons paradise is complete. Here are my favorite haunts for quiet Hamptons to Amagansett.
Sleep in splendor
While many charming little hotels and inns promise a Hamptons escape, the recently opened reform club does well on that. With a master gardener’s careful maintenance of his orchard (spoiler alert!), a small team including local architects and artists (famous painter and musician Dan Rizzie) gathered inspiration for their redesign of the old inn at Windmill Lane over the course of about two years. The result is a serene and sublime retreat with luxury cottages, suites, the 21 House summer home, winding paths, a garden and yes, an orchard created with Charlie Marder’s nursery and design group, to a meditative walk and the occasional gossip.
Interiors are as assured and serene as the garden lounges, with original artwork curated by owner Randy Lerner. which also owns Amagansett Square. One can truly retreat to the Reform Club with books and backgammon and never leave the property – even your meals can be sourced from local restaurants and delivered for private dining in the garden. It’s a leafy Hamptons paradise.
If you venture outside in the morning, good for you! And you deserve the excellent hot (and frozen) dishes of Jack’s Stir Brew Cafe on Montauk Highway (there are great vegan baked goods if that makes you even happier). If you venture out mid-day, browse the abundance at Amber Waves Farm, Market & Cafe, which features the farm’s beautiful produce along with other locally grown beauties, as well as coffee delights ranging from breakfast tacos and farm tostadas to socca and surf bowls.
Continue your taco journey (if you’re on one) to the local favorite The Fondita on the Montauk Highway. And if you’re a good planner ahead, book this: After a pop-up home run in Marram Montauk in 2020, NoHo culinary institution Donna Leonard has taken up residence on Main Street in Amagansett for good with her latest: il Buco al Mare. The seafood – from octopus and prawns to canned fish – is superb. The same goes for rustic and contemporary interiors. Finally, well worth the run to Sagaponack for the cocktails and bottles of locally distilled vodka, gin, aquavit and liqueurs at Sagaponack Farm Distillery. It’s a new twist on Long Island’s deep potato-growing tradition, and it’s the best souvenir you’ll find.
Other people’s gardens
There’s no good visit to the Hamptons without a visit to Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack, the two acres of idiosyncratic and wondrous garden loved and tended for 40 years by artist and writer Robert Dash. It’s a masterclass of observation: Eastern, Early Greek, Tudor and High Renaissance influences permeate the gardens, and there’s something to learn every time you go. Check the website for special classes this spring, like May’s Tabletop Topiary Workshop with British topiary artist Darren Lerigo. Book ahead to see “The Artists’ Circle: Selections from the Robert Dash Collection” for exquisite ephemera (until May 21); Madoo itself will reopen for the season on April 29, by reservation only.
Perhaps the most intimate marriage of art and garden in the Hamptons is Longhouse Reserve, textile design titan and collector Jack Lenor Larsen’s 16-acre preserve and sculpture garden in the northwest woods of East Hampton. Led by a horticulturist Walks in the gardens with spring colors Saturdays until the end of May are an ideal way to discover the place, but you can also book a date and time to walk around; LongHouse Reserve opens for the season on April 30.
Fell in love with Charlie Marder’s serene orchard in The Reform Club? Visit its charming 40 acres Marders nursery and design in Bridgehampton for horticultural inspiration and memories. Try attending one of the lecture series events to up your gardening game, and for a breezy evening, check out the classic Friday night outdoor movies.
A little art, ’cause you’re in the Hamptons
Whether it’s to avoid the sun, dodge a downpour, or simply expand your mind, several museums around Amagansett are must-sees, and Parrish Art Museum in its vast space inspired by an artist’s studio by Herzog & de Meuron Architects, is at the top of the list. Don’t miss Parrish’s flagship exhibition this season: “An Art of Changes: Jasper Johns Prints, 1960-2018,” a fascinating insight into the artist’s six decades of printmaking (April 24-July 10). From there, the recently opened Peter Marino Art Foundation is on public display from the architect’s private collection, in the restored Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton (opening for the season May 30). Venture north to Sag Harbor for artists Eric Fischl and April Gornik’s project, the churchwho inhabits a restored former Methodist church and will feature rotating exhibits, starting with this season’s “Empire of Water.”
Some shopping, ’cause you’re in the Hamptons
You’re here to relax, yes, but that doesn’t mean a leisurely little trip to Amagansett isn’t a great idea. Especially when there are the latest Turkish loafers colors to consider at House Sabah on Main Street and beach-perfect layers (including a canvas sun hat) to acquire at Jenni Kayne in Amagansett Square. Done and done. For your spring fashion selection, allow time to Tiina the store, the stunning boutique curated by former model and design assistant to Karl Lagerfeld, Tiina Laakkonen. For a fabulous second edition of fashion, head to Bridgehampton and Community, the post-Marfa (and highly successful) expansion of fashion designer John Patrick in the Hamptons. And for another must-have fashion edition, the bohemian edition, come home to Amagansett and Ulla Johnson, designer’s eponymous storefront in Amagansett Square. Quench your thirst for exterior design at Mecox Gardens, everyone’s favorite flagship in Southampton.
Before you leave
Consider booking a retreat within a retreat: a day (or more) at the divine Shou Sugi Ban House in the nearby watermill. Inspired by the Japanese principles of wabi sabi and steeped in the practice of wellness and healing arts, this is a place for serious dining. Call well in advance to discuss booking spa rituals as a day guest or give in and stay multiple nights.