While most full-time residents of New York City love their big, scrappy town, sometimes the crowded streets, the cacophony of aromas and sounds that waft from restaurants and apartments, and the hectic pace - particularly in the summer months, when the mercury gets longer and tempers get shorter - can be a bit much.
So what happens when the idea of a person-packed sidewalk makes you cringe? When a soothing weekday trip to the Met just isn't doing it for you anymore? For certain lucky city dwellers, the answer is: get out of the city and head east to the Hamptons. With its cluster of peaceful, picturesque village-neighborhoods on the East End of Long Island, each rich with history and community atmosphere, the beaches and clear skies of the Hamptons make the 100-mile trek from the gritty city - usually made by car, rail, or on the Hamptons Jitney, a bus that picks up in Midtown Manhattan and drops off in the East End - well worth the trip.
The weekend and summer exodus to the Hamptons began around 1870, when some residents of Westhampton Beach - inspired, no doubt, by the construction of a Long Island Railroad link to the village - got the bright idea to rent out rooms to travelers from the city. Other year-round residents in nearby towns knew a great idea when they saw one, and soon tourism began to overpower fishing and farming as the main sources of revenue for the Hamptons.
Westhampton itself includes the tiny hamlets of Westhampton Beach, Westhampton, Remsenburg, and the amusingly named communities of Quogue and Speonk. Thanks to beautiful natural surroundings - which include lush woodlands, pastoral farmland, and scattered small lakes and ponds - proximity to New York City, and the arrival of young families buying property, Westhampton has become not only the gateway to the East End, but one of the fastest-growing communities on Eastern Long Island, seasonal or otherwise.
Shopping, a thriving social scene, and white sand beaches - as well as some seriously impressive real estate - make Southampton the epicenter of the Hamptons, and a magnet for high-profile celebrities, socialites, and power brokers from the city. Established in 1640 by English colonists, Southampton is home to both ultra-modern beach mansions as well as many historical sites, including the National Historic Registry, the Southampton Historical Museum, and the Old Halsey Homestead.