Photo courtesy of the LongHouse Reserve
The Other Side of the Hamptons
The Hamptons—that thin spit of Long Island jutting into the Atlantic—is famous for its shingled mansions and manicured lawns, lobster rolls and social scene. But there’s another side to the East End that visitors tend to overlook. This one celebrates the artists who have helped shape American culture, the surfing spots miles from the scene (and crowds) at Ditch Plains, and the preserved wilderness that still exists amid all of the urbane sophistication. We love it all, of course, but these are the places we head to when we feel like getting off the beaten path.
Textile designer, author, and collector Jack Lenor Larsen transformed his woodsy, sixteen-acre East Hampton property into an avant-garde art refuge in 1991 with the purpose of creating a kind of fantasyland for visitors. Sculptures from the likes of Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, and Willem de Kooning are strewn around varying landscapes created by Larsen—including a miniature redwood forest, sand dunes, a tropical garden, and huge grassy lawns. It’s also an art history lesson (if you want it to be), as tours are offered by staff members or by dialing in to a recorded audio tour by Larsen himself. And while summer is the ideal season, when the grounds are almost jungle-like in their lushness, winter can also be magical, as the sculptures are framed by the stark austerity of bare branches and illuminated by the season’s silvery light.
Mark Borghi Fine Art
Mark Borghi Fine Art Gallerist Mark Borghi opened an outpost of his Upper East Side gallery in 2004, bringing to Bridgehampton the work of some of the most important postwar and contemporary American artists. Exhibits have included a Willem de Kooning retrospective, early works from Frank Stella, Andy Warhol Polaroids and prints, and currently, a survey of religious iconography from sculptor and jewelry designer Adria de Haume.
It’s an intimate experience to visit the house where two of America’s greatest artists made some of their best-known work. Jackson Pollock and his wife Lee Krasner moved to East Hampton in 1946, bought this property with a loan from Peggy Guggenheim, and set up a studio in the barn, which they used for the next decade. Much of the furniture, all of the art, and assorted possessions—Pollock’s collection of jazz records and his personal library—haven’t changed since those days, and wood floor of the studio is still splattered with thick remnants of paint. The house also hosts a superb exhibition program, with rotating shows of work by Pollock and Krasner, as well as their contemporaries, like abstract painter Louis Schanker.
Artist Robert Dash moved to Sagaponack from New York City in the ’60s and turned his two-acre homestead into a horticultural oasis. Visitors can stroll various gardens dreamed up by Dash and inspired by history, like the High Renaissance, the early Greeks, and the Tudors—a refreshing departure from the clipped, exacting lawns that tend to be the template for greenery here. Other quirky elements include a grove of ramrod-straight ginkgo biloba trees, and the Telephone Pole Path, a walkway made entirely of reclaimed, sliced telephone poles. Aside from strolling the grounds, guests can participate in Madoo’s range of cultural events, like the lecture series exploring landscape architecture, art exhibits, and winter wreath-making workshops.
What to Pack
Courtesy of @greatsouthbayimages.jpg
This sandy, rocky inlet between Southampton and Hampton Bays was formed by a 1938 hurricane known as the Long Island Express. It eventually became a haven for surfers and fishermen (it’s a particularly popular spot for striped bass). The best, biggest, and most consistent surf breaks are located at the bowl, a section of beach on the Hampton Bays side of this long, thin strip of shore, created by from perfect combination of wind, tidal patterns, and rock jetties. Even if you aren’t a surfer, though, it’s worth a stop for the ruggedly beautiful beach, which is often empty even in the height of summer. And afterward, drop by the snack bar at Tully’s, a Hampton Bays institution for its lobster rolls and baskets of fried oysters.
Photo Courtesy of @greatsouthbayimages
Shelter Island is a quick ferry ride across the water from both Sag Harbor and the North Fork town of Greenport. It’s here you’ll find one of the best natural oases in the area, covering over 2,000 acres of hiking trails, marshes, creeks, and forest. It’s also an ornithologist’s dream—a place where ospreys, snowy egrets, and piping plovers nest. And while most New Yorkers head to Shelter Island in the summer months, autumn can be just as rewarding, with its bright spray of foliage and cooler temperatures that make long hikes just a bit more pleasant. For an overnight stay, check out one of our favorite little hotels on the East End, the Chequit—a charming, meticulously renovated Victorian inn built in the late 1800s.
The surfing can be excellent at this expansive stretch of Southampton shoreline, but really you come to Coopers Beach for the stunning natural surroundings and the ease of spending a day at an alternative to busy, scene-y Ditch Plains in Montauk and East Hampton’s Main Beach. It’s one of the few Hamptons beaches with lifeguards on duty, and the sizable dunes act as a buffer against the strong wind that often whips in off the Atlantic. Chairs and umbrellas for rent mean not having to schlep your own, while the snack bar eliminates the stress of figuring out lunch plans (and the showers come in handy for rinsing off before heading back to the car). Parking fees are borderline extortionate, but there’s a friendly neighborhood vibe that really does make it worth a trip.