Life Out East

Where Are the Hamptons and Why Are They So Popular?

For those who grew up in the Northeastern part of the United States, or are familiar with the New York area, knowledge of the Hamptons might seem to come by default. But for many others, “the Hamptons” is merely a name. So, what are the Hamptons? Where are they? Why is the area so popular?

Here, we’ll answer the most basic questions about the popular region of Long Island known as the Hamptons.

What Are the Hamptons?

The Hamptons is a group of towns, villages, and hamlets, concentrated on the eastern end of Long Island. Most famously, the region is a popular getaway for people from New York City. The Hamptons is known for its rural setting and amenities. The highly esteemed Cooper’s Beach, the historic Shinnecock Golf Club, and the Hampton Classic — which has been running since before 1900 — are just a few of the things that draw visitors from not just the city, but from across the nation, and even the globe.

The seaside region is most notably associated with celebrity sightings. Many of the rich and famous spend their summers on spacious estates nestled along the Atlantic Ocean, often hidden behind tall hedgerows. Comedian Jimmy Fallon is known for making appearances in Hamptons hot spots such as the Stephen Talkhouse, Alec Baldwin is often spotted there, and many of the Real Housewives are out and about during the summer months.

But while many Hamptons visitors are wealthy, not all are. Residents and visitors of varying ages and tax brackets come to the East End to spend time in notoriously expensive areas such as Sagaponack and Water Mill, but just as many find their place in more affordable areas like Montauk, Hampton Bays, and Westhampton. All of them are great places enjoy the ocean breezes, white sand beaches, excellent seafood, lively parties, and rural atmosphere of the South Fork.

Sagaponack has the highest median property sale price at $6.85 million, with Water Mill next in line with a median of $3.9 million. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the median home sale price in Noyack and Hampton Bays are $859K and $902K, respectively.

Are the Hamptons in New York?

The Hamptons lie on the far southeastern end of New York’s Long Island. Westhampton — which is where the Hamptons starts — is 80 miles east of New York City and takes about two-and-a-half hours to get to by car (with no traffic). But Montauk, which is at the very end of the island’s South Fork, is another 50 miles east of Westhampton. From NYC, getting to Montauk takes at least three hours, but it can often be closer to four.
In between Westhampton and Montauk, visitors will find the popular towns of Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sagaponack, East Hampton, and Amagansett, among many others.

What Towns Make Up the Hamptons?

The Hamptons are technically made up of only two townships: The Town of Southampton and the Town of East Hampton. However, each of those townships includes smaller villages and hamlets with their own zip codes, school districts, and personalities.

Southampton has jurisdiction over the village Southampton (of course) and the villages of Westhampton Beach, Quogue, Sagaponack, and Sag Harbor, which is shared with the Town of East Hampton. The hamlets include Westhampton, East Quogue, Hampton Bays, Shinnecock Hills, Water Mill, and Bridgehampton. Southampton Town also includes the hamlets of Eastport, Speonk, and Remsenburg, but these towns are not usually considered to be part of the Hamptons.

Of the two townships, Southampton Town tends to be a little bit more laid-back. West-of-the-canal areas, such as Westhampton and Hampton Bays, draw many for their relaxed attitude and relatively affordable real estate. But once you start going further east, real estate gets noticeably more expensive. People will really feel like they are in the Hamptons once they hit Southampton village.

East Hampton Town, on the other hand, feels a bit more “old money.” It is home to the tony Maidstone Club and was where Jackie Kennedy Onassis spent her summers. East Hampton typically has stricter rules and regulations than Southampton, too. But East Hampton Town is also home to the more laid-back areas of Montauk and Springs.

East Hampton’s villages include Sag Harbor and the village of East Hampton. Its hamlets are Wainscott, Springs, Napeague, Amagansett, and Montauk.

>> Escape the Usual Hamptons: 5 Smaller Waterfront Hamlets on the East End

What Is the North Fork?

The North Fork of Long Island —which stretches from Riverhead through Greenport and all the way to Orient Point — offers a similarly rural and relaxed environment but is usually considered a less distinct and exclusive area.

However, the North Fork is growing in popularity with vacationers and offers many unique charms. It’s preferred by many for its robust year-round population and affordable real estate. The priciest town on the North Fork is Orient, which has a median home sale price of $1.89 million. The most affordable is East Marion with a median of $524K.

And while the North Fork does have many great beaches, they are along the Long Island Sound rather than the ocean. What the area offers in place of the ocean is vast farmland, family-owned restaurants, and a small town vibe.

Why Are the Hamptons So Popular?

The Hamptons offers the perfect mix of oceanside locale, rural atmosphere, historic charm, and exclusivity, all within driving distance of New York City. The area was conceived as a summer colony to provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and centuries later, it has maintained that same attitude.

It’s known for its sophisticated art scene — in particular, artists such as Jackson Pollack, Lee Krasner, and William de Kooning lived in Springs. The Pollack-Krasner House is now a museum that is open to the public, and people can see the artists’ studios. Galleries such as the Parrish Art Museum and Guild Hall offer exhibits throughout the year.

>> Living in the Hamptons Year-Round: Why I Love It

During the summer months, Hamptons parties can often last well into the morning hours. People flock to Ditch Plains in Montauk to experience Long Island’s most famous surf spot before heading to Hither Hills for a nature hike, and restaurants of varying price points are available for dining — from inexpensive taco joints like Tacombi (Montauk) and La Fondita (Amagansett) to East Hampton’s 1770 House, where an entree can cost you nearly $50.

And even though there are many celebrities that spend time in the Hamptons, visitors won’t see paparazzi crowding them to get a juicy photo. This atmosphere makes the area an ideal escape for society’s elite.

There really is something for everyone on the East End.

How to Get to the Hamptons

From New York, getting to the Hamptons is an easy trip via train, car, or bus service, such as the Hampton Jitney. The most well-heeled might even travel by helicopter.

Read more in our complete guide to spending summer in the Hamptons, or see where your favorite celebrities live in the Hamptons.

[This post has been edited and republished.]


Inspired to find your next home on the East End? Search Out East for rental and sale properties in the Hamptons and North Fork.

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