50 Things to Do Before Summer in the Hamptons, #20-11

Penguins at the Long Island Aquarium
Penguins at the Long Island Aquarium. Photo credit: Angel Li

It’s crunch time! Memorial Day weekend kicks off Friday evening, bringing a flurry of activity to the Hamptons. With an influx and visitors and so much on the agenda, there won’t be time to do much else until after Labor Day. Each day this week DansPapers.com rounds up 10 activities to find time for before the Hamptons season officially begins.

Sag Harbor Cinema.
Sag Harbor Cinema. Photo credit: Oliver Peterson

See a Film at Sag Harbor Cinema

The iconic glowing red “Sag Harbor” sign at the Sag Harbor Cinema is such a valued part of the village that its residents will never let anything happen to it.

It’s where everyone loves to take photos when they visit Sag Harbor. It’s also a great place to see a movie.

Rather than the blockbusters and rom-coms that herald summer, Sag Harbor Cinema screens art house films, foreign imports, independent films and other under-appreciated films.

Make a point of appreciating this Sag Harbor and Hamptons treasure this spring.

Check facebook.com/SagHarborCinema for showtimes or call 631-725-0010.

 Ride horseback in Montauk before summer comes!
Ride horseback in Montauk before summer comes! Photo: Oliver Peterson

Ride Horseback at Deep Hollow

Hiking and biking have their place on the East End list of wonderful things to do, but experiencing nature and our beautiful beaches on horseback is something every local should try at least once.

It also happens that Montauk is home to nation’s oldest working ranch and the “birthplace of the American cowboy.” Deep Hollow Ranch offers trail rides for everyone from first-time riders to old cowhands, and it all happens among Montauk’s thousands of acres of preserved woods and coastal land. The 350-year-old ranch has a variety of educational, group and private rides to fit any taste, and none of them will disappoint.

See Block island Sound, the Atlantic Ocean and Oyster Pond, as well as historic Native American lands and that of early settlers. Sharing the moment with friends or family, and the horse beneath your saddle is not to be missed, so beat the crowds and head east before Memorial Day changes everything.

 Find hidden Hamptons treasure before the tourists! Photo: tyler olson/iStock/Thinkstock
Find hidden Hamptons treasure before the tourists! Photo: tyler olson/iStock/Thinkstock

Find a Hamptons Geocache

Have you heard of the outdoor recreational activity geocaching? Don’t be embarrassed if you haven’t. Geocaching was first devised back in 2000, but it’s still very obscure.

A geocache is like a hidden treasure box. Whether you know it or not, you are surrounded by geocaches right now. Almost every park and trail in the Hamptons has at least one.

Geocaches can be as small as a film canister or as big as a shoebox. These containers are hidden in a public and accessible place and the GPS coordinates are listed online at a website such as geocaching.com. Geocachers, as the participants in this activity are called, learn the coordinates then go out looking, aided by a handheld GPS device or iPhone. A cache may just contain a notebook to sign, letting future geocachers know you’ve been there, or there may be inexpensive trinkets such as wooden coins and gum-ball machine toys. The tradition is to take a trinket and, in exchange, leave one for the next guy, before returning the cache to its place.

As geocaching has evolved, some cool ideas for these trinkets have emerged. For instance, a trinket may include an identification code or QR code so that when it is found, the entire history of where it has been over the years can be looked up. These coded trinkets may travel just a few miles, or all over the world. So when you find a geocache hidden under leaves in Hampton Bays or hanging from a tree in East Hampton, the treasures inside may have roots in Europe or Asia. And it will be up to you to take them to their next destination.

It is amazing what can be found right under our noses—plus, geocaching could lead to a special place you wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

This activity is best experienced when parks are quiet and nearly empty. So get out there and find some hidden treasure before summer begins!

Ride the Greenport Carousel!
Ride the Greenport Carousel! Photo: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock

Ride Greenport’s Antique Carousel

The antique carousel in Greenport’s Mitchell Park is a must-see for any Hamptonite planning an outing to the North Fork. The Old-Timey music and classic feeling of this carousel is hard to come by, and Mitchell Park showcases some of the most beautiful views available in the village of Greenport. But don’t delay — this carousel is extra popular at the height of the season.

While the glass pavilion enclosing it may leave you wondering how “antique” the carousel could actually be, the ride itself is more than 100 years old! And, while the fare is a hefty $2, it should be noted that one lucky rider stays on the carousel for the next ride. That’s right; if you’re clever enough to draw the brass ring from the dispenser at the outside edge of the carousel, your next ride is free! This challenge offers some much-needed competition, so often absent from modern carousel rides. Many East Enders have fond (and/or painful) memories of coming to Greenport early in the morning with $4, vying for the brass ring and eventually having to be removed by a increasingly impatient father.

For a more mature audience, the carousel offers an interesting and relaxing break from the busier and busier streets here on the East End as we gear up for the season. Before Memorial Day, the Greenport carousel is open only on Saturdays and Sundays  from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. On any weekend day in late spring, a quick spin on this historic ride is a fitting and welcome activity.

After Memorial Day, the hours extend to weekdays, but don’t stall too long, or you may be waiting for an open horse!

Aquariums are wondrous!
Aquariums are wondrous! Photo credit: JaySi/iStock/Thinkstock

Go See the Fish (and more!) at Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center

Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center (formerly Atlantis Marine World) in Riverhead is expanding into exciting new territories that do not quite fit the “aqua-“ moniker. That is, the new space houses more than just sea creatures. Aside from the changes, Long Island Aquarium has retained what made Atlantis great: the Lost Continent-decor, the tanks of rare and exotic fish, the sea lion shows and the submarine simulator.

In the Lost City of Atlantis, one can visit with hammerhead sharks, piranhas, an electric eel—apparently not a “true eel”—and an array of “anemonefish”—also known as clownfish and, more popularly, “Nemo.” Outside, the exhibits range from penguins to Japanese snow monkeys and even a sleepy river otter. Additionally, the Sea Lion Coliseum directly behind the main hall features shows with Java the sea lion and his trainers at regular interviews. We won’t spoil any of his tricks, but we will say that Java is as athletic as sea lions come.

But every aquarium has all that! One thing that makes the Long Island Aquarium unique is the attention paid to its surroundings. The aquarium is situated on the shore of the Peconic River, a perfect opportunity to teach kids and adults about the local wildlife. To that end, admission to the aquarium includes a visit to the Interactive Salt Marsh outside, and a peek at some local wildlife within its walls.

And, under the same admission price, Long Island Aquarium offers an interactive stroll through the Butterfly Garden, a $1 chance to feed the birds in the Amazon Aviary and a peek at some of the coolest bugs you’ll ever see in the canopy of the Butterfly Garden.

All in all, the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center offers a fun and educational break from the norm—and you’ll learn something amazing about your surroundings!

Get out to Suffolk Theater in Riverhead before Memorial Day.
Get out to Suffolk Theater in Riverhead before Memorial Day. Photo credit: Oliver Peterson

See a Show—or Have a Drink—at Suffolk Theater

Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead is the new home on the East End for big-name artists. Since its re-opening in March 2013, the acts performing at the theater have garnered more and more attention. With a full bar and gourmet kitchen to boot, the theater makes for a great venue for your favorite acts, and a great place to discover a new artist you were on the fence about. The sound, the mood and the service at the Suffolk Theater are nothing but top-notch.

The Memorial Day weekend schedule includes stand-up by Bobcat Goldthwait, and music with That 70’s Band. Enjoy the last weekend of May with music by the Billy Joel Band plus a Neil Diamond tribute band. On June 5 is Fight Night with USA Boxing-sanctioned matchups and June 12 with Cirque After Dark.

Check out Suffolk Theater’s website, suffolktheater.com, for the show schedule.

Before any show, get there early to have a drink at the bar, or to sit down for an a la carte dinner.

 Surf! Now!
Surf! Now! Photo credit: Mike Watson/moodboard/Thinkstock

Go Surfing at a Hamptons Beach

The best thing about the pre-Memorial Day rush? You don’t have to share the waves! Nobody is hogging the beach anywhere on the East End, so feel free to surf without fear of crowding.

To all you prospective surfers or newbies, now is the best time to break out that board and hit the waves because no one is watching. Bring a wetsuit along though; the water is a bit chilly.

If you do decide to make your way to the beach, be sure to check the conditions. To those of you who don’t already know, surfline.com offers accurate forecasts, tide predictions, and even live broadcasts of the water at some of your favorite beaches.

Additionally, if you need some gear before you go out and ride the waves, make your way over to the Platinum Dan’s Best of the Best Surf Wear/Beach Wear shop, Flying Point Surf & Sport in Southampton. So stop reading this already, please, and pick up your board before it’s too late!

Take a Hike Through Quogue Wildlife Refuge
Take a Hike Through Quogue Wildlife Refuge!. Photo credit: Get to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge! Photo; US Fish & Wildlife Service

Take a Hike Through Quogue Wildlife Refuge

Nestled right next to Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, the Quogue Wildlife Refuge trails and Distressed Wildlife Complex are open from sunrise to sunset every day. Founded 81 years ago, the refuge includes 7 miles of trails that exhibit species and ecosystems peculiar to Long Island, including the famous dwarf pines in the Pine Barrens.

The refuge was founded in 1934 to maintain the local black duck population during a period of severe winters. Then known as the Southampton Township Wildfowl Association, the organization garnered a great deal of attention two years after its inception when it was successful in restoring the local duck populations. The refuge has since served to put local animal populations back on their feet in times of hardship, and to rehabilitate and care for severely and permanently injured animals.

But the refuge keeps up to date. The refuge is a welcoming place to visitors as well as to educational speakers. Visit quoguewildliferefuge.com to see the list of upcoming events at the refuge; this includes organic gardening workshops, healthy home environment presentations and nighttime hikes on the grounds. Be sure to sign your kids up for the Summer Field Ecology Program.

By summer the trails will be swarming with nature buffs and slowpokes, so before the rush, get some nature time in!

 Check out Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor!
Check out Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor! Photo: Bowen Dermont

Visit Mashashimuet Park

Mashashimuet (măsh′ăsh′shĭ′mōō′ĭt) Park in Sag Harbor fills right with summer campers, tennis pros and All-Star hoopsters during the season, so if you want to be sure to get your practice in, get there before school’s out or the summer.

Mash Park—bona fide local terminology—is the go-to spot for all things outdoor. With sprawling sports fields that are relatively unused between now and the start of the summer, you can always find a spot to throw a frisbee, play some soccer or football, and even play a game of baseball on the diamond. There’s a great playground for the kids—including a big rock and jungle-gym to climb, as well as some sweet see-saws. There are basketball, tennis and wall-ball courts for the sporting types, as well as trails through the woods around the park—which are solitary year-round.

Mashashimuet is situated at the intersection of Main Street and Jermain Avenue/Brick Kiln Road in Sag Harbor, across from Otter Pond. Be sure to visit the website, mashashimuetpark.com, for more recreational ideas and for a brief history of the park. If you’re planning on taking the kids, don’t forget sunblock, hats and some food for a picnic, because Mashashimuet is the perfect place to enjoy the little springtime we have left!


Plant a Vegetable Garden

The old adage about vegetable gardening on Long Island is to do your planting on Mother’s Day. That’s typically when it is safe to plant seeds—or seedlings started indoors—in your garden bed without risking them dying from cold.

If you failed to get your seeds in the ground already, you could head to Halsey Farm & Nursery in Water Mill, Hampton Nursery in Hampton Bays, or another one of t he Hamptons garden suppliers for some vegetable seedlings that are already several inches tall, giving you a greater chance of success this spring and summer.

When you manage your own garden, you can be confident that the food your feed your family is pesticide free.  And vegetables just taste better when your grow them yourself.

But by the time Memorial Day hits, it may be too late to get a garden started. So stop procrastinating!

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