If you're looking for a relaxing getaway, Montauk, on the extreme East End of Long Island, is the place to be. It seems to have something for everyone in the family, whether you crave excitement or exercise, or just want to read a book on the sand or tackle some waves.
From the western edge of the community to the lighthouse at Montauk Point, Montauk boasts more than 5,000 acres of parkland, a host of surf schools, fishing and camping adventures, and more. It's a welcoming destination with a host of diverse activities sure to entertain kids of all ages.
Stopping off in the Hamptons along the way? Check out our list of great East End activities for families and our guide to summer fun on Long Island.
You can't beat the beaches on Long Island's East End. Photo courtesy of Montauk Yacht Club
1. Hit up the beach. It's one of the most popular things to do in Montauk for a reason. Montauk's white-sand beaches have been ranked among the top in the United States.
2. Hunt for seashells and more. Seashells and sea glass are abundant along Montauk's coastline. Take the kids on a scavenger hunt along Gin Beach on East Lake Drive or elsewhere. Wear your water shoes or flip flops.
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Family-friendly Rick's Crabby Cowboy is a great spot for dining after a day at the beach. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
3. Sample a waterfront restaurant. Some restaurants offer private access to beaches, allowing diners to sit and watch the waves as they eat. Navy Beach boasts a kid-friendly menu and outdoor seating right on the sand. If you're spending the day at sea, you can even anchor your boat there. Rick's Crabby Cowboy Cafe is known for its family-friendly atmosphere. Lobster rolls, clams, and striped bass are just some of the offerings. For the members of the family who prefer something less fishy, its classic BBQ options won't disappoint. Vegetarians can even get in on the action with Rick's veggie burgers.
It will feel as if you can see forever from the top of Montauk Point Lighthouse. Photo courtesy of the lighthouse
4. Climb the lighthouse. The view from the top of Montauk Point Lighthouse is breathtaking, and the narrow stairwell can be lots of fun for adventurous kids. There is an $8 parking fee as well as a separate fee ($11, adult; $5, children younger than 12) to enter the lighthouse. Keep in mind children under 41 inches tall are not permitted to climb the lighthouse. If you have little ones, you can still admire the lighthouse from the ground while enjoying the landscape.
5. Learn more about WWII. History buffs will not want to miss Camp Hero State Park. While the park boasts beautiful views of the coastline, hiking trails, and great fishing spots, what truly makes it unique is its connection to World War II. The Montauk Air Force Station, as it was originally called, was created to prevent a German invasion of New York's coastline.
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6. Go fishing. There are plenty of great spots to fish in Montauk. If you need to stock up on gear and bait, a great spot is Montauk Marine Basin, where bait shops line the marina.
7. Charter a boat. Whether you love to fish or just enjoy watching the sport, chartering a boat is an exciting experience. You'll find much bigger catches than what you can get along the shore, including sea bass, tuna, and even sharks.
8. Catch some waves. You don't have to be a surfing pro to enjoy the waves. For kids and adults who just can't get enough of the water, consider attending a surf camp or having a private lesson. Paddle boarding is another option, and a great workout.
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Set sail with the family on a Montauk-based catamaran. Photo courtesy of the Montauk Catamaran Company
9. Sail on a catamaran. See Montauk from a new perspective with a Mon Tiki catamaran tour. Sailing options include a sunset cruise or a sail-and-swim option.
10. Go for a bike ride. If you don't have room to pack the bikes, don't worry. There are rental shops across Montauk. If you're looking for an adventure, try one of the trails at Camp Hero. For a more leisurely pace, a ride through town is a fun alternative.
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Who doesn't love a pony ride at Rita's Stables? Photo courtesy of the stable
11. Interact with animals. An especially good option for those with younger kids, Rita's Stable hosts a small petting zoo with goats, bunnies, and chickens. Kids can even ride a miniature pony.
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12. Go horseback riding. Montauk is the perfect place for a trot. With multiple parks, riding trails, and horse stables, it is a must for equestrians.
13. Take a hike. For the adventurous family, hiking through one of Montauk's state parks, such as Camp Hero or Shadmoor, is a must. Remember to watch for ticks and stay on the trails.
14. Have a picnic. Pack a lunch and have a picnic with the family at one of Montauk's parks or beaches. If your kids love kites, Hither Hills State Park is the place to set up your picnic basket.
15. Go camping. Pitch a tent and rough it in the great outdoors. Montauk County Park also offers a campground for trailers and RVs.
16. Or stay at a hotel. If camping isn't your thing, there are plenty of options to choose from when staying in Montauk. Beachfront hotels offer a host of amenities. You can also rent an entire home if you need room for a larger brood.
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Homemade ice cream and Oreos are served together at John's Drive-In. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
17. Indulge in homemade ice cream. Local favorite John's Drive-in has been scooping ice cream since 1967. The restaurant also serves up classic American food such as burgers, fries, and wraps.
18. Shop for sweets. Fudge N' Stuff isn't just for fudge lovers. The shop has plenty of candy to satisfy your sweet tooth. If you prefer cake and cookies, check out the Montauk Bake Shoppe.
19. Miniature golf. The whole family can enjoy a game of mini-golf at Puff 'N' Putt. After a round, you can also rent a kayak, canoe or paddleboard at their dock. If you prefer a regulation-size course, Montauk Downs State Park boasts one of Long Island's top courses.
20. Shop for souvenirs. You'll find lots of Montauk-specific items, including travel mugs and T-shirts, in stores around the community. If your kids are smaller, visit Captain Kid Toys, a local staple.
21. Visit a playground. When the kids need to expend extra energy, take them to one of Montauk's local playgrounds. Tess Mackenzie Ryan Playground is shaded and best for those 3 and older.
22. Attend a camp or workshop. Surfing camps aren't the only option in Montauk. There is also a thriving theater and arts community. Neo-Political Cowgirls offers summer theater workshops, where girls 8-16 can hone their acting skills. Montauk Library offers weekly workshops for kids from birth to age 5, where parents and children can play and create a craft together.
23. See a show. The Montauk Playhouse Community Center occasionally offers tickets to ballet, orchestra, and even bubble shows. Check its calendar to see what is offered during your trip.
Join the Viking Fleet and be on the lookout for whales, turtles, dolphins, and more in their natural environments. Photo courtesy of Viking Fleet
24. Go whale watching. The Viking Fleet offers tours throughout the summer with a marine biologist on board. You'll see whales, dolphins, and more.
25. Go to a festival. The summer isn't the only time to visit Montauk. Fall boasts the annual fall festival, as well as craft fairs, and a clam chowder contest. Winter is all about the holidays. You can see Santa at the lighthouse or even watch the Santa parade. The Montauk Chamber of Commerce regularly updates its event calendar.