The Hamptons can seem like a fortress, a getaway for New York City’s wealthiest residents where everyone else isn’t welcome. The thick privet hedges around some of the mansions in the area, grown to keep tourists from gawking at the estates, bolster that suspicion. But there are plenty of places in the towns and villages at the east end of Long Island that aren’t shut off to less-monied visitors.
“The area is a lot more laid-back than people imagine,” says Grace Cassidy, the editor of Curbed’s Hamptons site for the past three years, who grew up in the area and still lives in Hampton Bays.
In our travel guide, the final project for Curbed Hamptons, you’ll find unexpected ways to experience the area that don’t require a lot of cash (or a car—see our guide to getting around without one). We’ll introduce you to a 20-foot-tall duck statue that makes an excellent Instagram backdrop, the most popular post-beach sunset spot for a glass of wine, and a bike ride that takes you past locals clamming and small cottages on stilts, and that ends at a large bayside beach.