To the uninitiated, descriptions of the Hamptons often include a combination of rote phrases: playground of the elite, glitz and glam, celebrity magnet, exclusive escape, and “isn’t The Great Gatsby set there?”. Outsiders are easily fooled into thinking that the East End is a summer party destination that blinks out of existence in the winter months only to materialize again when Gwyneth Paltrow declares shorts season. But to locals, the off-season is just another time to shine. The reasons families spend Christmas in the Hamptons are myriad, and unique to each household, but here are a few popular points they make:
Experiencing a Peaceful Escape
Wintertime in the Hamptons offers a different kind of respite from the city. It’s quiet, the streets have no traffic, and the moody winter sea accords even greater drama to the empty dunes. It’s the perfect time of year to bundle up and stroll down the beach like a romance novel heroine. Or, if you prefer something more structured, you can take scheduled trail walks alongside the bay and harbors. There are even “Seal Hikes” at Montauk Point State Park, where up to four species of the aquatic mammals can, like you, be observed wintering on the beach.
Photo: Gurney’s Resort
You Can Still Go Swimming.
Gurney’s Montauk offers a heated, sand-filtered, ocean-fed indoor seawater pool in their spa. Or, if you are really brave, Coreys Wave Professional Surf Instruction will get you out in the water at Ditch Plains Beach with a wetsuit.
Photo: Parrish Art Museum
Art Lovers Rejoice
Spend quality time with the likes of Cindy Sherman, Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Annie Leibovitz at the Parrish Art Museum. It’s rare to spend time alone with these treasures, and for New Yorkers, the feeling of quiet you get wandering through the 12,000 square feet of exhibition space without the crowd is perhaps equally as precious.
Photo: East Hampton Library
The Community Takes Center Stage
Christmas in the Hamptons is a family-friendly, community oriented, affair. Something is always happening in spaces like the Montauk Library, which offers everything from tai chi & yoga classes to kids story time. Similarly, East Hampton Library sponsors classes and activities for all ages like teen game nights and books clubs, and the The Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center hosts musicians and comedians all year. Plus, more and more local retailers are saying open during the off-season (and a lot of them slash their prices).
There is Always Something To Do
A thriving wintertime community means that you’re never lacking in Christmas-y choices. Examples include ice skating at Town Pond or Buckskill Winter Club (which boasts an NHL regulation-sized ice rink), wine, live music, and vines wrapped in some 15,000 LED lights at Wölffer’s Candlelight Fridays, seeing The Montauk Lighthouse lit up, Sag Harbor’s Harborfrost festival on Main street, and more. If you’re looking for an adorable new Christmas tradition, we suggest popping over to the Gingerbread University in Riverhead to build and decorate gingerbread houses with the kids.
Photo: Baron’s Cove
Hosting Is Easier
People may visit the Hamptons in the summer months looking to experience the culinary attractions like Nick & Toni’s, Bobby Van’s, and The American Hotel, but the winter is the only time your guests are pretty much guaranteed a table. Take your visiting family to quintessential hangouts like 75 Main or Baron’s Cove where you can catch live music on the weekends, and have any overflow guests stay at places like The Inn at Windmill Lane or Gurney’s when they’ll have more rooms available for better rates than in the summer.