50 Things to Do Before Summer in the Hamptons, #50-41

Cupsogue Beach at Cupsogue County Park.
Cupsogue Beach at Cupsogue County Park. Photo credit: Erin O'Reilly

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.

Enjoy a campout at a local county park before the campgrounds get crowded.
Enjoy a campout at a local county park before the campgrounds get crowded.

Camp at an East End County Park Without the Crowds

Early spring is a great time to get closer to nature.

Starting Memorial Day weekend, and especially after school lets out for the summer, the East End’s county park campgrounds can get crowded—very crowded. But pick a weekend in April or early May for a campout, and your group may be the only souls in sight when you pitch your tents.

County parks such as Sears Bellows in Hampton Bays or Cedar Point in East Hampton are valuable resources that often go under appreciated. Getting to enjoy these parks without the crowds will make you really appreciate that they are there for you.

Hike, roast marshmallows over the fire, capture photos of animals, and more. Whether with your kids, or with a group of friends, enjoy a campout when you have the space to spread out.

Get out to the movies and have a theater to yourself.
Get out to the movies and have a theater to yourself. Photo credit: Oliver Peterson

See a Movie by Yourself

A movie theater isn’t the first place people think of when they want some alone time, but before Memorial Day in the Hamptons they may actually find some privacy there.

Sure, you can go to the cinema alone between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but can you truly see a movie by yourself?

Before the peak season gets off and running, during a weekday screening of a film there’s a good chance you could be the only person there.

Go see a comedy and laugh as loud as you please, or pick a tearjerker and cry freely. You can even text message your friends and answer phone calls—you won’t bother anyone.

48 dinner plate

Get a 7 O’clock Dinner Reservation

Though many more Hamptons restaurants are open between Memorial Day and Labor Day, giving locals so many more choices of places to eat, that doesn’t mean its easier to get a reservation during the summer. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

Good luck getting a 7 p.m. table anywhere on a Saturday night after Memorial Day.

If you want to eat dinner out at your leisure, now’s the time.

 Turn left while you still can! Photo: supergenijalac/iStock/Thinkstock
Turn left while you still can! Photo credit: supergenijalac/iStock/Thinkstock

Turn Left — a Lot

Anyone who spends time in the Hamptons between Memorial Day and Labor Day knows that traffic can be a drag, to put it mildly. Celebrate the offseason and our open roads this week with a long succession of left turns on the region’s busiest thoroughfares.

Try crossing the Town Green from James Lane in East Hampton and making a left on Route 27—then try doing the same across the highway from 114. Farther west, turn left on Route 27 from Cobb Road in Water Mill, then—just for kicks—head back into Southampton, loop around at North Main Street and return to 27 so you can make an easy left heading east at the traffic light where Flying Point Road and Hampton Road intersect with the highway.

As an added bonus, zip around Sagaponack without even considering the possibility of hitting a pedestrian or bicyclist. The possibilities are nearly endless!

 Photos/Artwork: Oliver Peterson, Backgrounds: imagoRB and vegavin/iStock/Thinkstock
Photos/Artwork: Oliver Peterson, Backgrounds: imagoRB and vegavin/iStock/Thinkstock

Visit Camp Hero in Montauk

It’s always surprising to discover a Hamptons local who has never visited Camp Hero in Montauk. For years this defunct Air Force base was closed off to all but the few brave, or dumb, enough to trespass and risk arrest or a summons, but the grounds have since been opened to the public as part of the New York State Parks Department. Called “Area 51 East” by many, Camp Hero is swathed in layers of legend and mystery, including rumors that it was once home to time travel and brainwashing experiments.

Unfortunately, the base and its massive SAGE radar tower are way out near the tip of Montauk Point, which can be quite a slog, even during the slower months. Now is the time to visit and see why this site has become world famous for paranormal investigators, UFOlogists and conspiracy theorists. Pick up a copy of The Montauk Project by Preston Nichols with Peter Moon before you go—it details a litany of crazy stories about the nefarious secret projects that occurred there—think subterranean laboratories, time travel, extraterrestrial contact and clandestine mind control programs, not to mention a sasquatch-like “beast.”

Incidentally, the grounds also make for a lovely hike.

Sound fun? You bet it does.

 Now's the time to get your parking passes. Photo credit: Terry J Alcorn/iStock/Thinkstock
Now’s the time to get your parking passes. Photo credit: Terry J Alcorn/iStock/Thinkstock

Get Your Beach Pass

Depending on where you live in the Hamptons, there are a few different ways and places to get a beach parking sticker, and different proofs of residency to be shown. At some beaches a summer pass can be purchased at the booth right when you drive in. But what if you don’t have a stack of addressed utility bills and a copy of your lease in your glovebox?  If your paperwork is not in order when you get to the beach, prepare to head back home—or to pay for a daily non-resident permit that you really shouldn’t need.

For residents, now is the time to go to your local village hall or town parks office to get your parking sticker.

No one wants to arrive at the beach on a beautiful day, sit in a line of cars, and go through these headaches. Prepared residents can drive right by the line and get a sweet parking spot.

 Jump out of an airplane before Memorial Day! Photo: Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Jump out of an airplane before Memorial Day!
Photo credit: Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Jump out of an Airplane

For most, the Hamptons evokes images of riding boats, luxury cars and sweet waves, rather than air currents, clouds and the very sky itself. But the offseason (especially in this beautiful weather) is prime time for skydiving—and we’re got a world class operation right next door at Skydive Long Island in Calverton (skydivelongisland.com).

This place gets pretty busy with thrill-seekers during the summer, so jump out of an airplane now before the population multiplies. Besides, there’s no time like the present to start checking off your bucket list, no matter how scary the prospect. Skydive Long Island offers the highest altitude jumps and the largest skydiving aircraft on the Island, and choosing the tandem option—being strapped to a pro’s back—means you can jump out of a plane, and experience a free fall on your very first visit.

Jumping from 13,500 feet, you’ll experience up to a one-minute free fall, hurtling toward the earth at speeds up to 120 mph, followed by a smooth 5–7-minute descent while enjoying expansive, gorgeous views of Long Island from under the canopy. What could be better?

 Daniel Hurst/iStock/Thinkstock
Daniel Hurst/iStock/Thinkstock

Sign Up the Kids for Summer Camp

Summer break is a long way off, still, right? Wrong!

Before you know it, it will be time to drop the kids off for their first day of summer camp. But every camp has only a certain number of spots to fill.

They say, “Good things come to those who wait,” but that’s wrong too. The best summer camp programs fill up fast. Now is the time to get registered.

Turn to the Dan’s Papers Summer Camp Guide Parts for such advice as, How to Choose the Right Summer Camp and Apps and Websites for  Choosing a Summer Camp. Also see a comprehensive list, including detailed descriptions, of the East End’s 2015 Summer Camp Programs: Parts I, II and III

Eat Out Every Night of the Week!
Eat out every night of the week! Photo credit: JackF/iStock/Thinkstock

Eat Out Every Night of the Week

The East End is a moveable feast, and it’s time to get moving if you want to get to all those restaurants before they fill up with summer crowds. On both forks there’s a bounty to behold before the calendar flips to June. You’ll find that many prix fixe specials that were available over the winter and in early spring don’t stick around past Memorial Day. The time to dine is now!

The chickadees are hungry at Morton,
The chickadees are hungry at Morton.
Photo credit: PaulReevesPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock

Feed the Birds at Morton Refuge

Arguably one of the most magical spots in the Hamptons, the Elizabeth A. Morton National Wildlife Refuge (2595 Noyac Road) in Sag Harbor is a must-visit before summer. The birds here literally eat right out of your hand!

This 187-acre peninsula on Noyack and Little Peconic Bays is home to diverse habitats, including upland forest, fields, ponds, salt marsh, beach and a lagoon. Enjoy the wildlife-rich walking trails and end your hike on a beautiful beach. You’re bound to see white-tailed deer, chipmunk, painted turtles, green frogs, an array of songbirds, osprey, wild turkey, duck, piping plover, terns, herons and more (you might even spot a beaver on the right day) along the way.

With all the flora and fauna at Morton, the modest and ubiquitous chickadee may be the biggest thrill of all. With a little patience, these tiny songbirds will eat seed right out of your hand—guaranteed, every time you visit. It’s great for adults and kids, and an excellent place to bring a date.

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