Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Southampton, NY

  • Published 2022/05/30

Southampton, New York, is a famous vacation destination for the elite and celebrities.

However, behind Southampton’s glitz and glamour is a magnificent countryside known for its beaches, arts, and natural areas.

Southampton is one of the small villages that comprise Long Island.

Despite its size, Southampton is widely famous across New York as one of the top travel getaways from the concrete jungle.

Southampton is a beach town where people across the state spend a few days revitalizing themselves.

At the same time, you can enjoy its tranquil atmosphere, fresh air, warm community, and vibrant arts.

Traveling to Southampton is an opportunity to get your much-deserved relaxation finally.

Here are the best things to do in Southampton, NY:

Check Out the Exhibits at Parrish Art Museum

Exterior of Parrish Art Museum

Americasroof, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill is one of the best places to visit in Southampton.

Water Mill is a hamlet within the town of Southampton.

This art museum is famous for its extensive collection of artworks from various artists from the North and South Shores.

You used to find this museum in Southampton itself, but it later moved to nearby Water Mill.

Roman sculptures at Parrish Art Museum

James Kirkikis /

The move gave the museum a more spacious area to display its unique and beautiful artworks.

Whether or not you’re an art enthusiast visiting Southampton, check out the Parrish Art Museum.

You can find more than 3,000 artworks from the early 19th century to the present day in this museum.

These artworks belong to renowned artists like April Gornik, Eric Fischl, John Chamberlain, Donald Sultan, Chuck Close, and Elizabeth Peyton.

Spend an hour or two browsing at this excellent art center; don’t miss out on the Parrish Art Museum.

Breathe Fresh Air at Cooper’s Beach

Daytime view of Cooper's Beach

Joe Trentacosti /

Cooper’s Beach is the most famous beach area in the village for tourists.

This famous beach boasts pristine white quartz sand, great waves, and grass-covered dunes.

Many celebrities and people from New York love returning to this spot in Southampton.

Beach hut and benches at Cooper's Beach

Joe Trentacosti /

Cooper’s Beach is also a public beach.

You can visit the beach for free, but you need to pay for the parking.

Pack your blankets, umbrellas, and picnic basket because you need to visit Cooper’s Beach.

In addition, Cooper’s Beach is just a stone’s throw away from restaurants and shops in Southampton.

Colorful sunset at Cooper's Beach

Peetlesnumber1, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Step inside the Halsey House & Garden

Another historical attraction you shouldn’t miss in Southampton is the Halsey House & Garden.

This historic house belonged to Southampton’s early settlers, Thomas Halsey and his family.

He and his family, along with eight other families, transferred from Lynn, Massachusetts, to gain religious freedom back in the 1600s.

They found themselves in Southampton in 1640 and settled there for good.

They then built a homestead in 1648 and grew it into an estate over the years.

Today, the Halsey Home is a charming historic building that features 17th-century and 18th-century artifacts and the original furnishings of the Halsey family.

In addition, Southampton locals donate artifacts or memorabilia to the site for public display.

Step inside the Southampton Arts Center

A sculpture at Southampton Arts Center

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Southampton is an emerging arts destination in New York.

The village features many art galleries and museums.

One of the places you don’t want to miss is the Southampton Art Center.

Sculptures on the grounds of Southampton Arts Center

Leonard Zhukovsky /

Besides being a vibrant place to see local and regional artworks, Southampton Arts Center is also one of the oldest art centers on Long Island.

It is in a community center built in 1897.

Today, you can find dozens of rotating and fixed art exhibits in this art center, not to mention numerous exciting art workshops you can join.

Indulge in Delicious Seafood at Plaza Cafe

Since Long Island is a coastal area, its dining options focus on seafood.

Taste the local cuisine of Long Island at the Plaza Cafe.

Plaza Cafe is one of Southampton’s most famous restaurants.

Newsday has already touted the cafe as the “Best Seafood Restaurant in Long Island.”

Likewise, the New York Times has rated this local Southampton restaurant three stars.

It features an eclectic collection of locally harvested seasonal and sustainable fresh seafood items.

Historically, the Plaza Cafe started serving Southampton locals and tourists in 1997.

The restaurant serves a fresh and sustainable seafood menu.

Overall, Plaza Cafe is a highly recommended restaurant on Long Island that you should try at least once.

Enjoy the Outdoors at the Shinnecock East County Park

Daytime view of Shinnecock East County Park

Joe Trentacosti /

This community park in Southampton flanks the Shinnecock inlet, which meets the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Compared to Cooper’s Beach, Shinnecock East County Park features a rugged and undeveloped beach terrain, treating you to its unaltered and natural beauty.

The waters of Shinnecock East County Park

Joe Trentacosti /

Many love to come back and enjoy Shinnecock East County Park’s coastline, which boasts a scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition, Shinnecock East County Park is a famous fishing area and camping site.

Visitors can spend a few days there, enjoying its unspoiled charm.

Rocky pier at Shinnecock East County Park

Joe Trentacosti /

Appreciate Unique Artworks at the Watermill Center

This fascinating and unique art center features an entirely different art scene.

Visionary artist Robert Wilson opened the center in 1992.

The center features an interdisciplinary laboratory for humanities and arts.

Likewise, this art center integrates the creativity of performing arts into the visual arts using scientific research and humanities resources.

It may sound too technical for many, but it’s a fascinating and charming place to find unique artworks.

Besides the unique artworks, Watermill Center is also an exciting place to visit, especially if you check out its gardens, art grounds, art collection, and research library.

Check Out the Southampton History Museum

Rogers mansion museum complex at Southampton History Museum

DanTD, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Head to the Southampton History Museum for a bit of history in your Southampton travel adventure.

This charming museum was organized in 1898 and was officially incorporated in 1910.

It mainly features the early life of Southampton’s settlers and prominent personalities, primarily the first British settlers in the area.

Part of this museum is the Rogers Mansion Museum Complex.

This section in the Southampton History Museum features more than a dozen historical buildings and structures dating back to the early 1800s.

Spending an hour or two at the Southampton History Museum is educational, especially for those curious about US history.

Besides the historical buildings, the entire museum houses more than 8,000 pieces of memorabilia that contain Southampton’s past.

Pour a Glass of Excellent Wine at Duck Walk Vineyard

Welcome sign of Duck Walk Vineyard

Leonard Zhukovsky /

For a more relaxing travel experience in Southampton, head to Duck Walk Vineyard in Water Mill.

This place in Long Island is famous for its excellent wine tasting by the glass or even by the bottle on its cozy patio.

You can stroll along its 140 acres of scenic vineyards.

Otherwise, check out its winery, which produces more than 5,000 cases of excellent wine each year.

Duck Walk Vineyard is famous for its Vidal Ice Wine, Blueberry Port, and other award-winning wine varieties.

Its founder, Dr. Herodotus Diamanos, opened the winery and vineyard in the 1980s.

He was one of Long Island’s winemaking pioneers.

Today, it has two locations on Long Island: Southampton and Water Mill.

Watch Live Performances at the Southampton Cultural Center

The Southampton Cultural Center is part of the Southampton Arts Center.

Instead of the usual art galleries and exhibits, you’ll enjoy live performances from its in-house artists.

Southampton Cultural Center regularly schedules theater plays, musical performances, classical recitals, and other performances for the public.

In addition, it’s also a place for learning as it features workshops, lectures, and year-round classes if you want to learn or hone your skills.

Step Back in Time at Greenport

View of Greenport village from across the water

Aleksandr Dyskin /

Greenport is one of Long Island’s villages adjacent to the north of Southampton.

This centuries-old Long Island fishing village is a famous destination for history buffs.

Daytime view of Greenport's harbor

Joe Trentacosti /

It features a laid-back environment famous for its fresh local oysters, a century-old carousel, and antique shops.

Once you’re done touring through Southampton’s attractions, check out this place is highly recommended to head to.

Sunrise over Greenport's marina

Michael Rega /

Experience Birdwatching at Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge

Head to Conscience Point National Wildlife Refuge for a unique Southampton experience.

This national wildlife refuge encompasses more than 60-acres of grasslands, salt marsh, and woodlands home to native bird species.

You will likely spot prairie warblers and blue-winged warblers’ nests on switchgrasses.

In the spring, ospreys appear in this wildlife refuge, making it an excellent place for birdwatching.

Before it became a wildlife refuge, Southampton obtained this area in 1964 from its former owner.

The village converted it into a teeming coastal grassland habitat for many of Long Island’s native flora and fauna.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Tilt at Southampton’s Wind Mills

Bed of flowers in front of Southampton Windmill

littlenySTOCK /

Long Island’s eastern side has the most windmills in the United States, thanks to its constant breeze.

Most of these windmills were constructed in the late 1700s to early 1800s.

Early settlers in Southampton and other villages on Long Island’s eastern end went to these windmills to turn their grain into flour.

If you have what it takes to find as many windmills as you can on Long Island’s eastern side, then feel free to roam the place.

Daytime view of Hook Windmill

Dee Golden /

Head to Southampton Windmill first along Montauk Highway and find your way through the other windmills along the coastal road along the Atlantic Ocean.

You’ll come across other windmills, such as the Hook Windmill, Corwith Windmill, Beebe Windmill, Wainscott Windmill, Hayground Windmill, and Gardiners Island Windmill.

Each of these windmills has its own backstories.

Some of them have spooky stories, making your experience genuinely worthwhile.

Corwith Windmill of Southampton

Susan Kehoe /

Catch a Beautiful Sunset at Foster Memorial Beach

Beach umbrellas at Foster Memorial Beach

Jaclyn Vernace /

Foster Memorial Beach in Sag Harbor is famous for its stunning sunsets and sea breeze.

If you want to find tranquility on Long Island or Southampton, then head to Foster Memorial Beach along Long Beach Drive.

The sand and waters of Foster Memorial Beach

Jaclyn Vernace /

Upon arriving at Foster Memorial Beach, find a bench along its grassy area to witness its stunning sunset.

In addition, Foster Memorial Beach is also a famous lounging and picnicking area in Sag Harbor.

After watching beautiful sunsets, walk along Sag Harbor’s streets and find your preferred eatery or restaurant to complete your experience.

An ice cream truck at Foster Memorial Beach

Jaclyn Vernace /

Shop for Antiques in Sag Harbor

Exterior of La Maisonette

Marlon Trottmann /

Besides its stunning sunset, Sag Harbor is also a famous Long Island destination for antiquing.

This small village near Southampton is where you can find most of the antique shops on Long Island.

If you’re searching for a unique souvenir, head to Sag Harbor and visit one of its many antique shops.

Along Sag Harbor’s Main Street is the famous Black Swan antique shop.

At the same time, Sage Street Antiques is situated along Division Street.

For Belgian and French antique collections, visit La Maisonette along Bay Street.

At the same time, Ruby Beets features a unique store inside a former silent movie theatre.

You’ll likely spend your entire day browsing and enjoying Sag Harbor’s antique shops, so don’t miss out on this leg of your trip.

Final Thoughts

Southampton has its own unique identity, which you’ll see and experience through its rich history and vibrant arts community.

There are so many exciting things to experience in Southampton that you will likely spend the entire weekend there.

Pack your bags and visit Southampton today!

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