Off-season guide to the Hamptons: Where to eat, stay and explore

When you think of the Hamptons, you undoubtedly think of the summer: Rosé by the beach, wearing all-white before Labor Day and clambakes galore. But what if we told you that it's actually the off-season months -- think September and October, April and May -- during which the East End is actually the most enjoyable?

What people don't tell you about going to the Hamptons for a weekend in the summer is that there is endless, unavoidable traffic, taking the train is a total nightmare and table waits at the best restaurants can exceed two hours. Though we still put up with those (admittedly inconsequential) problems during the summer to get out of the city, it's those spring and fall getaways to the Hamptons that are the most fun.

We recently headed out to the Hamptons on behalf of Audi, where we made note of everything that you should do should you also be lucky enough to get some time to leave Manhattan to enjoy some time by the beach this fall.

Getting there

We had the pleasure of driving an Audi SQ5 from Manhattan to the Hamptons, and to say that it was enjoyable would be an understatement. Clad with a so-called "virtual cockpit" and an expansive sun roof, the mid-size car was perfect for our drive and provided for a smooth evening ride out east to Amagansett, which took a little under three hours.

Though we would definitely recommended driving -- there are plenty of rental car options! -- the Long Island Rail Road is always an option. Though the train would still be crowded after work on a Friday, it wouldn't compare to the mayhem that is catching the LIRR on a summer Friday.

Where to stay

For our two nights in Amagansett, we stayed at the incredible Inn at Windmill Lane, a stunning 10-room inn located a two-minute walk from town. With top-notch service around the clock (free continental breakfast in the mornings, car service, food pickup and delivery options and an incredibly friendly staff), the inn is the epitome of a top-notch accommodation. We were able to use their chic cruiser bikes, lay out during the day on the sprawling green lawn and enjoy our cozy room complete with a fireplace and marble bathroom.

Other options include the likes of Gurney's Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa and Topping Rose House.

Where to eat

The Hamptons are full of delicious eating options, and it's easier to get into some of the most popular restaurants when you opt to travel out there during off-peak months. Case in point? EMP Summer House, the Hamptons outpost of upscale Manhattan eatery, Eleven Madison Park, which is open through mid-September. The gorgeous restaurant combines the laidback Hamptons vibe with its impeccable food to create a unique dining experience great for a golden hour dinner.

Another amazing option for dinner is Scarpetta Beach, located at Gurney's, which offers the amazing opportunity to have a delicious meal while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from on top of a cliff in Montauk. 

More dinner choices include Navy Beach, Duryea's Lobster Deck or The Crow's Nest in Montauk, Moby's and The Palm in East Hampton and Wölffer Kitchen in Amagansett.

For lunch, La Fondita is a fun order-at-the-counter roadside Mexican eatery perfect for some tacos, while Breadzilla offers incredible sandwiches in Wainscott, Joni's is perfect for the health nut in Montauk and Clam Bar is a popular destination in Amagansett. 

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See This Massive Estate In Westhampton Beach
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Where to explore

One of the perks of having a car while you're out in the Hamptons, like we did with our Audi SQ5, is that it's much easier to get to the most interesting places. The lack of public transportation and expensive taxis and Uber rates only make having a car even more necessary.

Of course, when you're out in the Hamptons, the most popular thing to do is head to the beach. Indian Wells in Amagansett is a lovely option, as is Napeague Beach for something a little more off the beaten path.

If you're looking for a little more culture, walk around Amagansett Square right in town. Though some of the seasonal shops may have closed after Labor Day, most of the establishments are year-round. There's Pilgrim Surf Suply, Love Adorned East End or Cavanila's Gourmet cheese shop to pop into, while down the street you can go to Tina The Store or Amber Waves Farm to see where the locals hang out.

Another option is stopping at Levain Bakery in Wainscott for one of their world-famous chocolate chip cookies on the way to check out the latest exhibit at the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. On the way back, drive through Sag Harbor to check out the now year-round goop store and stop by the Balsam Farms stand in Amagansett.

Where to grab a nightcap

Though the Hamptons are definitely less crowded in the off-peak months, there are still locals and people with houses that show up over the weekends at some of the best nightlife spots out there. Stephen Talkhouse is a legendary dive bar slash live music venue that hosts incredible shows all year, while The Surf Lodge in Montauk is the trendiest spot out there and is much easier to get into this time of year.

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Renee Zellweger's Hamptons Home
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