The forecast for cloudiness and scattered showers gave way to sunny skies this Labor Day weekend, so we decided to explore Montauk, NY and see if we could do it in one day. Whether you’re getting up at 4am like we were to catch one of the early trains out of Penn Station, or leaving from the city, the three hour train ride along the coast dissuades some from making a trip to Montauk a day trip, but it can be done and it’s well worth the effort! Get the LIRR Montauk train schedule here.
Montauk is the last stop on the LIRR and the end of the Hamptons, at the tip of Long Island, and so is affectionately sometimes referred to as “The End”. The train station is about halfway between Montauk Harbor and the downtown village area. It’s easiest to get around by car or bike, however taxis and other on call car services are readily available. We took a taxi for $20 to the lighthouse and started our day there.
Montauk Point Lighthouse
Commissioned by George Washington and constructed in 1796, it is the first lighthouse in New York State. The surrounding area has plenty of spots that let you gaze at the Atlantic Ocean and the Montauk coastline. There is a nearby bar and grill for grabbing a bite, a drink or lounging in the outdoor seating area. There’s a nice gift shop, but the main attraction is climbing the 137 iron steps to the top of the lighthouse for some exercise and the best views.
After taking another taxi back into town, we asked to be dropped off at Montauk Harbor. A fisherman’s village, you can rent boats here for deep sea fishing excursions or whale watching trips. We wandered through the gift shops and Gosman’s fish market, then ate clam strips and fish tacos at Gosman’s Clam Bar, located right next to Gossman’s restaurant, one of the best restaurants in the area, especially for seafood. Both have outdoor seating, so we ate lunch while watching the cruisers sale by on the water. Another notable place to eat here is Clam and Chowder House at Salivar’s Dock – our taxi driver recommended the clam chowder, which we decided we would save for a less hot day.
Downtown – The Village
A quick Uber ride got us down to The Village, where we meandered through an Arts and Crafts festival that happened to be going on, as well as the many gift shops that dot the main street . The most happening spot was 668 the Gig Shack, which had live music that afternoon and a Caribbean vibe. Another happening place to eat looked like Tacombi , which reminded me of Tacos No. 1 in Manhattan, the same authentic Mexican taco and fresh juice sort of place.
We had a train to catch and not a lot of time left, so we opted to keep exploring. Farther down we got lemonade at the Montauk Bake Shoppe where locals were getting salads and sandwiches to go. Right next door at Fudge n Stuff we grabbed a cup of butter pecan ice cream and enjoyed it with two spoons on the colorful ocean blue bench outside.
Beach hotels beckoned to our left, so we walked down the road right onto Montauk Beach, a strip of public beach lined with beach hotels. This we promised to come back for, but with no more than an hour to catch our train we reluctantly turned to leave.
Walking back towards the train station we happened across three great spots – Primavera Pizza, where we grabbed a slice and some garden salad to eat on the train, St. Peter’s Catch, a place to get lobster rolls and other good things to go, and right next to it The Montauk Brewing Company with a crowd enjoying a drink (or more) at tables outside.
I recently had the Montauk Driftwood Ale and fell in love with it, so it was hard to keep walking. It was becoming clear that one day was just going to give us a taste of Montauk.
Another hot spot where there was definitely a party going on was The Surf Lodge which we also walked by as we were heading back to the train station. It’s a small hotel painted white with a vibrant bar scene that spills out onto the deck overlooking the water. People were already lined up at the door.
For us, our day ended as we nestled into our train seats with our salads, threw on sweatshirts against the blasting AC, and got ready for the three hour ride home. Montauk is beautiful and deserving of many more trips to come.