For decades Montauk served handily as the Hampton’s frontier—the slightly counter-cultural, anti-scene last stop with wild dunes and rolling surf. Tastemakers from Andy Warhol to filmmakers like Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry, who shot “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” here, proclaimed it as their own. But then the Surf Lodge opened and the Lizzie Grubman scene arrived in their Escalades, leaving those who’d thought they’d found their low-key, healthy, affordable getaway in search of a new destination.
So, in the tradition of travel magazines that are always ready to anoint “the next Prague!” or “the next Provence!”, we’ve decided to dust off our divining rod and proclaim the next Montauk. The pre-requisites? It must be ever-so-slightly off-the-map, but near enough to New York City. It must offer the delights of summer without the crowds of August. And it must deliver on well-being experience. A lobster roll would be nice, too. The nominees are…
Orient Point, Long Island
Like Montauk of yore, it’s a tiny hamlet with not much more than an ice cream shop and a hardware store. It’s also got that end-of-the-road vibe, thanks to its location at the eastern tip of the North Fork. Nature rules here, and Orient Point State Park has hiking, beaches, and views of the Sound and the teeny island lighthouse nicknamed the Coffeepot in the distance. The town of Greenport is just 15 minutes away where you can have drinks and dinner at the stylish Frisky Oyster, a favorite haunt last fall when Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, and Elijah Wood, there filming The Romantics. There are even multiple yoga studios—Stirling Yoga and the Temple Yoga Center, both on Main Street.
Narragansett, Rhode Island
At 170 miles from NYC, this laid-back beach and surfing town is closer and less crowded than Cape Cod. Its four beaches are along 26 miles of coastline, and there’s clamming on the Point Judith Pond and lobster rolls shacks. Aunt Carrie’s, which has specialized in clam cakes since 1920, even won a James Beard award as an “American Classic.” Proof that the town is getting ready for its close up—there’s a juice bar (the bizarrely named Crazy Burger Café and Juice Bar, named after the Luna-Sea burger for the record) and a shop selling natural and organic skin care called Most Naturally.
Just 70 miles from NYC, Milford was a resort destination for the gilded set during Victorian era. It now entertains a more down-to-earth, outdoors-y set with the 70,000-acre Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It’s a destination for river rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and a network of waterfalls, including Bushkill Falls, the Niagara of the area, which are reachable via boardwalks. And there’s no need to camp. Hotel Fauchère is a stylish, though somewhat pricey, inn where you can enjoy a warm bath and a good night’s sleep on Frette linens after your day on the river.