Happily one sunny Labor Day weekend we decided to spend the day exploring Montauk, NY. The furthest point out on Long Island, most consider it a weekend getaway but hotel prices can skyrocket during the summer and holidays. We decided to be brave souls and take public transportation out from New York City and just spend the day there. Yes, it meant getting up at 4am for a three hour train ride (one way), but that is what we decided to do – it can be done and it’s well worth the effort! Get the LIRR Montauk train schedule here.
Montauk is the last stop on the Long Island Railroad as you meander through the Hamptons all the way to the tip, which is sometimes called “The End”. The train station is about halfway between Montauk Harbor and the downtown village area, both which we wanted to see. There were plenty of taxis and car services around the train station, and for around $20 we got a ride to the Montauk Lighthouse and started our day there.
If you have ever spent a summer in Manhattan in sweltering heat, surrounded by steel buildings for the most part, you will appreciate how I felt the minute my feet stepped out of our taxi. Immediately you are hit with a strong ocean breeze. Stunned by the cool air and bright light, you walk along the path up a slight incline, until there it is just over some tufts of grass and bushes – the blue Atlantic ocean stretching out in front of you as far as the eye can see. I stood there for a long time, just breathing the air and taking in the view.
To get even better views, one should visit the Montauk Point Light House, which is right there.
Montauk Point State Park and Lighthouse
Commissioned by George Washington and constructed in 1796, the lighthouse is the first ever built in New York State. It has a museum, but for a modest fee the main attraction is climbing the 137 iron steps to the top of the lighthouse for amazing views of the ocean and surrounding area.
We also visited the museum for some history, I got a little replica of the lighthouse at the giftshop, and we stopped at the adjacent bar and grill to relax in its outdoor seating area. The lighthouse is located in Montauk Point State Park, which has numerous nature trails for exploring when taking a longer trip here. For us it was time to grab a taxi back to Montauk Harbor before heading into town.
This is the original fisherman’s village, which was what Montauk was for many years. Here you can rent boats for deep sea fishing excursions or whale watching trips. We wandered through Gosman’s fish market, then ate clam strips and fish tacos at Gosman’s Clam Bar, located right next to Gossman’s Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in the area, especially for seafood. Both have outdoor seating, so we ate lunch here while watching the cruisers sail by on the water.
Another notable place to eat here is Clam and Chowder House at Salivar’s Dock – our taxi driver recommended the clam chowder, which we decided we would save for a less hot day.
Downtown – The Village
A quick Uber ride got us down to The Village, where we meandered through an Arts and Crafts festival that happened to be going on, as well as the many gift shops that dot the main street. The most happening spot was 668 the Gig Shack, which had live music that afternoon and a Caribbean vibe. Another happening place to eat looked like Tacombi , which reminded me of Tacos No. 1 in Manhattan, the same authentic Mexican taco and fresh juice sort of place.
The day was passing quickly. For a pick me up, we got a lemonade at the Montauk Bake Shoppe where locals were getting salads and sandwiches for lunch to go. Right next door at Fudge n Stuff we grabbed a cup of butter pecan ice cream and enjoyed it with two spoons on the colorful ocean blue bench outside.
Beach hotels beckoned to our left, so we walked down the road right onto Montauk Beach, a strip of public beach lined with beach hotels.
This we promised to come back for, but with no more than an hour to catch our train we reluctantly turned to leave. To make a beach weekend getaway out of a trip to Montauk, see below links to some of the hotels we noted in the area.
Walking back towards the train station we happened across several great eating and drinking spots – Primavera Pizza, where we grabbed a slice and a salad to eat on the train, St. Peter’s Catch, a place to get lobster rolls and other good things to go, and right next to it The Montauk Brewing Company with a crowd enjoying a drink or two at the tables outside.
I recently had the Montauk Driftwood Ale and fell in love with it, so it was hard to keep walking by. It was becoming clear that one day was just going to be a taste of everything there was to enjoy in Montauk.
Another hot spot was The Surf Lodge which we also walked by as we were heading back to the train station. It’s a small hotel painted white with a vibrant bar scene that spills out onto the deck overlooking the water. At 5pm people were already lined up at the door.
For us, our day ended as we nestled into our train seats with our take out, threw on sweatshirts against the blasting AC, and got ready for the three hour train ride home. Montauk is beautiful and deserving of many more trips to come.
Date of trip: September 2018
A random list of beach hotels in Montauk: