No summer destination offers more undiscovered wonder than the East End of Long Island. There is no end to what you can find. Especially with some inside help.
For our inaugural Summer Superlatives, 2019 edition, the Dan’s Papers team is proud to present 100 must-see, must-do and must-know scoops on food, arts, lifestyle, real estate and icons of the Hamptons and North Fork. There is no better place to begin your adventure.
We begin our 2019 Summer Superlatives with this brief list of must-see spots and things on the Twin Forks.
Find more entries in a variety of 2019 Summer Superlatives categories.
There is perhaps no more iconic image of the East End than the Montauk Lighthouse. The beacon as been beckoning people to The End since it was commissioned by George Washington in 1792 and built in 1796. Walking to the top is one thing, but walk around the back of the lighthouse and you will come across the invisible line of 71.86 West longitude. You have just come to the easternmost point no only on Long Island, but in all of New York State.
Best Beaches (Anywhere)
Summertime in the Hamptons means long days on long stretches of beautiful sand, splashing and swimming in the surf and soaking in the oceanfront scene. Dr. Beach, aka Florida International University professor Stephen Leatherman, has named both Coopers Beach in Southampton and Main Beach in East Hampton to the top spot on his annual list of Top 10 Beaches in America. And those are just two of the many sandy escapes along our southern shore.
Most Humble Roadside Attraction
The Witch’s Hat in Aquebogue is that perfectly small-town architectural icon. Originally known as “The Lighthouse,” it was built in 1928 and sold such treats as candy and ice cream to motorists passing by. It fell into disrepair over the years and could have been lost to history, but five years ago it was saved by a group of preservationists not because it was worth millions or because it was going to be developed into something worth millions, but simply because it was worth saving.
Most Mis-Described Gateway Monument
Stargazer greets thousands upon thousands of visitors as they enter the Hamptons coming through Manorville, and bids them all adieu on their return trips north and west. Linda Scott’s beloved sculpture has been called everything from a rooster to “some strange creature,” but it is actually a deer with an antler in its mouth.
Most Circular Horse Path
The 100-year-old merry-go-round inside the Jess Owen Carousel House in Greenport’s Mitchell Park, where you can still grab the brass ring.
Most Artful Cemetery
Green River Cemetery in Springs includes graves of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Elaine de Kooning, Alfonso Ossorio, Stan Ven der Beek, Jimmy Ernst, James Brooks, Ibram Lassaw, Dan Christensen, Jan Yoors, architect Charles Gwathmey, actor Peter Boyle, writer A.J. Liebling, art critic and curator Henry Geldzahler, chef Pierre Franey, novelist Jean Stafford, poet Frank O’Hara and other luminaries. 787 Accabonac Road, East Hampton
Most Isolated Windmill
Windmills are more associated with the East End of Long Island than any place this side of Holland, and most of them can be visited, or at least photographed easily enough. But the Gardiners Island Windmill, built in 1795, located on the site of the original Gardiners Island Lighthouse, remains as remote from the rest of the world as the island itself has for hundreds of years.
Most Misattributed Street Name
Privet hedges are ubiquitous in the Hamptons, providing residential privacy, but they have not become so prominent that they name our highways and byways. So while taking a ride down Hedges Lane in Sagaponack, know that it was not named for the thick, sky-reaching flora, but rather for the Hedges family. Close second: Southampton’s Gin Lane, which has nothing to do with Prohibition or rum-running and much more to do with an Old English word for a common grazing area, hearkening back to our agricultural past.
Oddest Home for Vestiges of a Model-T Ford
Driving down Route 24 in Flanders, the eyes of the Big Duck gaze down upon travelers today just as they have since farmer Martin Maurer came up with the idea back in 1931 to build an eye-catching location out of which he could sell eggs and poultry. Today the 20 foot-high structure is home to a quirky gift shop, and those red eyes remain the tail lights of a Model T Ford.
Most Lighthouses You Can See in One Place
More that just a pristine and secluded-feeling strand of stand, the 363-acre Orient Beach State Park is the perfect place for lighthouse lovers to get their fix. An official United States Lighthouse Society passport stamp location, the park offers views of four lighthouses—either with the naked eye or some help from binoculars—and you can get a “passport” stamped as proof that you’ve added them to your collection. Orient Beach State Park, 40000 Main Road, Orient
Oldest Stars & Stripes
Looking at all the American flags flying proudly throughout the East End, consider that the stars-and-stripes design may have originated right here. The Hulbert Flag at the Suffolk County Historical Society museum, which some historians believe was made by Bridgehampton’s Captain John Hulbert during the Revolutionary War and carried by him and local militiamen on their march escorting prisoners to Trenton and then to the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia in 1775.
Most Historic Shopping Experience
Hildreth’s, the oldest family-run and -owned department store in America, remains in the identical spot where Lewis Hildreth opened the family’s first general store in 1842.
Most Triumphant Return
Rising from the ashes of the devastating December 2016 fire, the Sag Harbor Cinema sign was relit before a cheering crowd over Memorial Day weekend. Its lighting signified a crucial step in bringing back the cinema brighter and better than ever as the Sag Harbor Cinema Arts Center. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a drive to Main Street in Sag Harbor.