The logistics of getting to the Hamptons can keep the carless from visiting: the rowdy Friday afternoon train ride, the beaches with pricey or nonexistent parking, the fact that Rockaway is supremely closer. But there’s a way to hack the inlet so you can take in its good stuff—clean, uncrowded beaches; fresh-picked produce; bonkers houses; sunshine—without a car, crowds or chaos.
Nestled between East Hampton and Montauk, Amagansett is the sleeper hit of the Hamptons: It’s convenient because it has its own Jitney and LIRR stops that are both a reasonable walk from the beach. Instead of clubby restaurants and designer boutiques on the way to the beach (though there are a few), you’ll pass some really special farmstands and a quaint town square—and even walk down some still-unpaved roads. It’s an ideal beach town, in the Hamptons of all places, that can be a manageable, enjoyable day trip from the city.
Here are two ways to pull off a day in Amagansett: One route has a few more (food-focused) stops, and the other is more for the beach hogs. Both are plotted on this Google Map for easy reference.
Getting to Amagansett
The Hampton Jitney and the LIRR stop on Main Street in Amagansett. Their stops are very close to each other, so the following plans will work for whichever method of transportation you choose. Both options will take about three hours, but have fairly frequent departure times. Onwards!
The Long Way
Right between the bus and train stops is Amber Waves Farm, your first stop for beach provisions. Not only is Amber Waves Farm a very busy farm—it has 18 acres, a CSA, educational programs, a wheat reintroduction program and more—but it’s also a hub for other small food businesses in the Hamptons. Last summer, I was introduced to Carissa’s Breads after more than my fair share of samples at Amber Waves. Their honey oat is mellow and fluffy, but their soured pickled rye bread is addictive—it’s so aggressively flavored, it sometimes wakes up your nose like a good pickle.
In addition to breads, the Amber Waves farmstand includes a coffee shop, pastries, prepared lunches, jarred foods and gifty items—in addition to their seemingly never-ending variety of produce. If you’re lucky, their pergola out front will be showered with enormous white hydrangeas.
Once you’ve grabbed a peach, some snap peas, a sandwich and a drink (or whatever catches your eye), head to your next stop for cheese and sweets.
The Amagansett Town Square has a number of fast options for lunch, including the Hampton Chutney Co., but you’re here to pick up more goods for your beach picnic. Head to Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop, which is a newer outpost of the famed Sag Harbor shop. Every time I’m there, I hope to run into Ina; it’s her kind of place. The building resembles a quaint colonial home, with a shingled exterior and flower boxes outside the windows; through the French doors, lovingly crafted food is pouring from every direction. The wheels of cheese flood out of the refrigerated cases onto the counters. There are so many little crackers and accompaniments in addition to flowers—and sweets. Edible East End was right when they said the desserts—cookies, tarts, cakes, you name it—are displayed like a Dutch master painting. Cavaniola’s has not one but three pastry chefs, so you know the sweets will be bountiful and good.
Now that you’re stocked up, and maybe have already snacked a little, you’ll walk down a residential street to get to the beach and ogle at many a mansion and garden. The internet has said that Indian Wells Beach can be a little rowdy, but that has never been my experience. If what you find isn’t what you’re after, walk in one direction or the other and you’ll find your patch of sunshine. If you head west, you’ll walk by a wildlife refuge and land at Atlantic Avenue Beach.
Once you’re sufficiently sunburnt on whichever plot of beach you choose, you’ll walk back to your ride home. But I reckon it might be around dinnertime and all the lunch provisions are long gone. When you get back to Main Street, you’re not far from La Fondita, which most say is the best Mexican food in the Hamptons. Grab your torta, tostada, nachos, or tacos—New York calls their fish tacos “the gold standard of Baja-style fish tacos”—and enjoy on the twinkly-lit patio. It was a good day, wasn’t it?
The Short Route
Bus/Train > Amber Waves Farm > Atlantic Avenue Beach
If you’re like “get me to the nice beach immediately,” this one’s for you. Before walking the mile to Atlantic Avenue Beach, make just one stop: to Amber Waves Farm for provisions. It’ll have prepared foods, fruit, drinks and anything else you’ll need to keep you happily fed during your beach day. You’ll then walk down to Atlantic Avenue Beach, which is on the other side of a wildlife refuge from Indian Wells Beach. You’ll find more kids at this beach than Indian Wells, likely because it also has a restroom and snack shack.
For more ideas about what to do in Amagansett—you just might come for the day and be compelled to return for longer—here are more suggestions from Edible Long Island.