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I’ve just returned from a quintessential East Coast summer weekend in Fishers Island, NY. Never heard of it? You wouldn’t be the first. This spit of an island is only nine miles long by a mile wide and without any hotels or restaurants, you will likely only make it there if invited by friends for the weekend. Luckily, I have such friends and therefore had the pleasure of enjoying this island idyll where the cars have hood ornaments (think flying pigs or racing hares) and screen doors squeak with the familiar sound of summer.
At home with friends! With a single grocer on island, a couple of members only clubs, one deli, and maybe a single restaurant, having friends for a sunset BBQ and a signature cocktail is the way to go (dark and stormy). The families here have known each other for generations and like an extended family, everyone brings a dish, a bottle (Gosling’s anyone?), borrows flatware, and helps clean the kitchen late night.
The island-long bike path – added just two years ago – was a highlight for me. A mostly flat ride along boardwalks and pavement where you are assured bunny sightings and perhaps a turtle crossing, and alongside water where swans wade. Look for platforms on the overhead telephone poles where ospreys make their homes, and check out the paintings on the main road. A friend explained, ‘we are allowed to paint the road here, so we do!’ (This apparently happens at 3 a.m. and had me flashing back to memories of my own childhood when we’d ‘borrow’ golf carts and race along the fairways under the moon).
Don your tennis kit and get a match in at the newly renovated Community Center, or hope your friend is a member of the club.
Get on the water. Let’s hope said friends have paddle boards, or better yet, a boat. After living for 14 years in Venice Beach where I lived alongside the water but only ventured in a handful of times, it was wonderful to be on the water, all hair blowing and salt spraying. A special kind of heaven I’ve missed being out west all these years.
Beach of course! Check out Isabella, Chocomount, South Beach, or just park under the iconic blue and white umbrellas at the ‘big’ club. And if you are club bound then leave your mobile at home or be prepared to only use it in the cheeky red phone booth provided for this purpose at the club entrance. Another option is to swim in the ‘tank,’ a perfect old school ‘swimming hole’ located at the end of a dock and complete with a diving board and swimming platform. Members only.
Every island house I visited had piles of books, old board games, sea glass collections and binoculars for bird watching. It took my breath away to see red cardinals streaking across the clover covered ground.
Go see the gardens at Hooverness and take a peek in the glass house to see such works as ‘Sparta’ by Mark di Suvero.
Kinda nothing better than an island bar, especially if it’s the only bar on island. We capped our evenings with dance marathons at The Pequot. A seriously awesome dance floor that lights up in multiple hues a la Saturday Night Fever had me dancing until the wee hours.
Shop The Beach Plum for pink and green island prep and house essentials like beach bags, monogrammed towels, and tumblers or bumper stickers stamped with the iconic image of Fishers Island. For hurricane lamps and a touch of the island sophisticate, hit The Pickett Fence next door and pick up the perfect gift for your host.
Montauk is my beach dream. When friends offered me their Montauk casa for the weekend (how much do I love you?!), I was thrilled and even happier when I arrived in their perfect paradise atop a hill with views of the water from nearly every room, and the sound of the sea putting me to sleep at night. I love sleeping with windows open and an ocean breeze keeping the air cool.
My first car was a ’72 Olds Cutlass Convertible. I SO wished I had that car in Montauk with a surfboard in back and sand on the floor mats! Nothing fancy, and no manicured hedges, Montauk feels like an old surf town with rough natural beauty.
Our hosts left a list of their favorite Montauk highlights and we attempted to hit them all although some hadn’t yet opened for the season. Here is a peek at our weekend journey:
As usual, Erela and I ate A LOT. We dined at The Lobster Roll aka LUNCH on our drive out and headed across the street to CLAM BAR the next day. Hard to say what’s better. It’s kind of like a Nantucket vs. Martha’s Vineyard rivalry. We had good meals at both but if pressed I suppose I love the round tables and umbrellas at CLAM BAR on a sunny day. They get E’s vote too. Do I need to tell you that both menus are lobster and clam heavy? That’s probably a given?
My kid could eat black beans and rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so finding our way to The Hideaway was a no brainer. An open air spot perched in the parking lot overlooking the harbor, this place is local heavy (which made it super fun!), hard to find as there is only a small roadside sign saying ‘Mexican BBQ,’ and everything comes in plastic including the salty margaritas. We loved it.
We tried Dave’s Grill and Crow’s Nest for dinner but both hadn’t yet opened for the season. A bummer as they both come highly recommended. So we ended up at Gosman’s Inlet Cafe for sushi and chowder. Location can’t be beat if you want casual waterfront dining. They just renovated and the long narrow space is open to a patio. You can watch the fishing boats come in from anywhere and the sushi isn’t bad either. Head next door for mint chocolate chip ice cream with rainbow sprinkles for dessert.
Anthony’s was our choice for breakfast both mornings primarily because any place that serves up cinnamon toast gets my vote. Joni’s isn’t far and has a great menu (think fresh veggie juices and everything organic), but alas the cinnamon toast won me over on a cool morning.
Not usually my purview, especially with a tot in tow, but we discovered the bar at the Montauket as we were getting lost chasing the sunset. Most likely the busiest, most ‘happening’ spot in Montauk. A rundown, ramshackle hotel with a super fun sunset crowd. Kinda loved.
Get lost. We drove everywhere, exploring every street and dirt path. We never consulted a map or GPS. We hiked in the dunes of Shadmoor State Park until Erela complained her legs hurt. I highly recommend renting a bike as that is my preferred mode of transport these days and is the best way to park at the beach.
Give Rita’s Stable a go if you bring the kids and want to pet sheep like ‘puppy’ (my daughter requested repeat visits to see them) or have a pony ride.
Ditch Plains Beach was our favorite. A surfer spot with the Ditch Witch serving up lattes on the dunes. Loved seeing the morning surf riders warm their bodies at fires set up in the sand. You can’t do that in Cali. . .