The Hamptons is known for glitzy parties and celebrity sightings, but these New York beach towns are just as popular with families as they are with the rich and famous. You might have to look a little harder to find fun things to do with the kids, but once you start looking, you’ll be surprised by how many kid-friendly options you turn up.
Hit the Beach
The beach is a big part of the Hamptons’ appeal. Be prepared to arrive early -- cheap parking is limited, and finding a spot can be a challenge later in the day. The family friendly vibe at Indian Wells Beach (no website; 4 Indian Wells Highway, Amagansett; no phone) makes this Amagansett beach a place for kids to play -- you don’t have to worry about them throwing sand on a lounging celebrity. The bayside beach at Long Beach (no website; 10 Long Beach Lane, Sag Harbor; no phone) is warmer and calmer than the Atlantic beaches, making it a choice for kids who want to try a new sport such as windsurfing or young swimmers who get nervous when big waves strike.
Explore the Local Nature
The South Fork Natural History Museum and Nature Center (sofo.org) hosts all kinds of kid-friendly classes and workshops. Kids can join in salamander or bird hunts, sharpen their mad scientist skills in chemistry workshops or learn to recognize the bugs in their backyard with hands-on programs. Check the center’s online calendar for upcoming events. Kids can’t help but get excited about nature studies when they’re paddling on the Hamptons waterways with naturalist Mike Bottini (mikebottini.com). Bottini also leads nature hikes and special programs on topics such as turtles and river otters. Find upcoming events on his website. If you want to explore nature on your own, head to Cedar Point County Park (suffolkcountyny.gov), where kids can explore miles of nature trails in the 607-acre park.
Visit a Museum
The Children’s Museum of the East End (cmee.org) is a little like a big indoor playground. Kids can get their groove on in the Musical Forest, crawl through a mouse hole and dress up in turn-of-the-century garb at this interactive museum. It’s closed on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly. The Montauk Point Lighthouse (montauklighthouse.com) -- the fourth oldest lighthouse in the United States -- is a Hamptons landmark, and the museum offers an interesting look at what life was like for early lighthouse keepers. For kids, the highlight is climbing the spiral staircase to the watch deck.
Have a Little Fun
Kids can paddle a boat across Fort Pond, practice their swings on the miniature golf course or just feed quarters into the games at the arcade at Puff ‘N’ Putt (puffnputt.com) in Montauk. In winter, the action is at Buckskill Winter Club (buckskillwinterclub.com). Let the kids wear themselves out skating around the National Hockey League regulation-size ice rink, then warm up with mugs of hot chocolate in the clubhouse. Make a point to stop by the antique carousel in Mitchell Park (greenportvillage.com), where kids can try to grab the brass ring to get a free ride.