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A Local's Guide to Montauk

A great town to visit or to call home

The People's Guide is a new series examining the many neighborhoods of the Hamptons, led by our most loyal readers, favorite bloggers, and other luminaries of our choosing. Got something to say? We'll be happy to hand over the megaphone.

Keri Lamparter, an amateur photographer, local history buff, and lover of all-things Montauk, summered there every year as a child. Now an owner of a Montauk-based firm that specializes in marketing, PR, and communications for non-profits and small businesses, she’s resided year-round in the hamlet since 1995.

Tell us something we don't know about Montauk.

The first two numbers in the Montauk telephone exchange (668) stand for the first two letters in Montauk, as in "MO8-1234," which is how phone numbers were listed in old ads. Many people don’t know that! The same is true for Amagansett (267 or "AM7") and East Hampton (324 or "EA4").

What are some local customs of note?

For the last couple of years on the day after Labor Day (aka "Tumbleweed Tuesday"), Montaukers have gathered on the village green to collectively breathe a sigh of relief that they made it through another crazy summer. Montauk’s own Nancy Atlas provides the music and people contribute food and drink. People bring their kids and everyone drinks, dances, and celebrates.

Can you tell us about some hidden gems in Montauk?

Well, if you have a recycling center permit this won’t be news to you, but one of the best views in Montauk can be found at our lovely dump. No visit to Montauk is complete without a stop there! Another gem is the NIBI MTK boutique at the Atlantic Terrace hotel. They have a great selection of beachy-boho clothing, swimwear, and accessories—and I hear they’re adding a kids line this summer.

Do you need a car to get around?

For a short visit, you can get away with relying on taxis and local transportation but I’d recommend visiting by car—you’ll have a much easier time exploring all that Montauk offers.

Is Montauk good for kids?

Montauk is great for kids. Despite our recent reputation as a partying destination, Montauk is and always will be an ideal place for children. My favorite childhood memories all happened right here—beachcombing, boogie boarding, fishing, sailing, mini-golf, ice cream at John’s Drive-In

Not only is Montauk good for kids; kids are good for Montauk. They make us remember why we fight so hard to protect this beautiful place.

How about telling us about the most beloved neighborhood joint.

That would have to be a tie between the Montauket and the Dock restaurant. Two quintessentially-Montauk places that—thankfully—haven’t changed much over the years.

What's the nicest park?

The most breathtaking state park is Shadmoor, between the village and Ditch Plains. The coastal cliff side trail has spectacular views and a dramatic drop to the crashing waves 60+ feet below.

What's not-so-swell about Montauk?

The environmentally and economically unsustainable shore-hardening project on the downtown beaches is tragic. Science clearly shows that hardening structures—like the geo-bags installed over the winter—adversely impact beaches. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be made the decision to sacrifice our beautiful public beach to protect the private interests of a handful of business owners. The disastrous results of that decision are already apparent. It’s a heartbreaking situation.

What's the neighborhood housing stock like?

I’m not seeing as many for-sale signs in my Hither Hills neighborhood as I have in years past but not being in the biz, I checked in with my friend John D’Agostino, Associate Real Estate Broker at Martha Greene Real Estate, for his take on what’s happening. He pointed out that Montauk has many micro-markets—homes by the ocean, the bay, the golf course, condominiums—all of which offer buyers a multitude of purchasing options.

Is it better for buyers or renters?

According to John—for those who qualify under the new East Hampton Town rental registry law—the wide variety of available summer vacation rentals give renters the opportunity to explore all of the flavors of Montauk, without making a long-term commitment. For buyers, it’s well worth noting that Montauk continues to lead the region in overall park and preserved lands, which is a very attractive factor for those seeking a summer home or long-term investment property.

What's Montauk's best-kept secret?

This is a small town—there are no secrets! Seriously, many visitors to Montauk are well aware of our beautiful beaches and fantastic restaurants, but they may not know that over 70 percent of the land in Montauk is preserved park land and there are countless paths to explore. When it’s too windy to walk the beach, a hike on one of the trails is a great outdoor recreational activity.

What's the stereotype about the town?

That after Labor Day everything closes and there’s nothing to do. While many places do shut down in the off-season, there’s still plenty to do and a vibrant year-round community here.

Thanks! Now, the final word on Montauk.

Montauk gets in your bones. I’ve never once met a person who visited and didn’t want to return—or moved away, and didn’t miss this place terribly. I’m thankful to live in such a beautiful area and for our close-knit community of eclectic folks, who genuinely care for their neighbors and this special place we call home.