Montauk is best known as a summer beach destination -- rightfully so, with its miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront. But as it's easily accessible by train or bus (the Jitney) from points west and the ferry (including Viking Fleet) from points north all year round, it makes a nice, quiet getaway spot, especially after the busyness of the holidays.
Once you're there, though, there are the questions that accompany most off-season visits. Where to stay, what to do, and where to eat? On a recent weekend trip, I got some answers:
Where to stay
Many of the beachside hotels that are the most common accommodation in Montauk shut down for the winter months. The water is freezing, obviously, so the beach has less appeal. That's why the Montauk Manor is a nice alternative. It has an indoor pool, an ok bar, and a large and stately lounge for sitting in front of the fire with friends or reading the paper by yourself. It's positioned perfectly for great views of the water, from a desirable distance. The Manor has special deals and rates during the off season, too, as does another potential lodging place, Gurney's.
Where to eat
Finding a place to eat is not easy, but not impossible. The two main pancake places in town are open all winter, right across from each other on the west end of Main Street. Some people prefer Anthony's, but I ate at John's and was perfectly happy. If you're looking for something fancier around dinner time, Harvest, right on Fort Pond, is one of your best choices.
What to do
The oldest lighthouse in New York is the one at Montauk Point, having been completed in 1796. Through the museum at its base, you can climb the tower. From there, you might be able to spot some of the seals that also visit the area in the winter. For a better chance of viewing them, though, try a seal watching tour (check On Montauk for dates and locations).
Even in the cold, the beach is one of the best aspects of Montauk. If you bundle up enough, you can enjoy quite a long and beautiful walk along the grey Atlantic. If you then need a break from the peace and quiet of Montauk, head into East Hampton (by train or taxi if you don't have your own car, the latter being quite pricey) for boutique shopping and a meal or some exploration of historic homes -- the Easthampton Historical Society maintains five of them and offers concerts and lectures throughout the winter months.
By Anna Welch (eyesoftheworld)