The seaside village of Sag Harbor, in between South Hampton and East Hampton, has long been overlooked by those drawn to the glitz and glam of East Hampton. However, those who did stay to discover Sag Harbor fell in love. These people weren't just tourists, as Herman Melville mentioned the little town in Moby Dick and it even won the likes of John Steinbeck.
This little village has caught the attention of those with a keen eye, so why haven't you heard much about Sag Harbor before? In reality, this village prides itself on being the "Un-Hampton" and many locals have kept its picturesque streets a safe secret. While tourist information is limited we've happened upon some great local intel, so we can truly discover the undiscovered!
What To Do
Founded in 1707, Sag Harbor started out as a whaling village and port, much like Cape Cod. Because it is still an active harbor today, the village not only has maintained its fabulous seaside industry, it also has made a point to pay homage to its historic past.
If you want to truly discover Sag Harbor, the first item on the list is a visit to the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum on Main Street, which is located in an old "Masonic Temple". You'd be surprised how interesting this museum is as your discover the history of Sag Harbor and the international community it garnered in the 19th century, all in hunt of the mighty whale!
Another historic gem is the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which is the oldest lighthouse in New York state! This picturesque lighthouse has now been converted into a museum and gift shop but everyone actually uses it as a great photo op. Every summer, hundreds of brides and grooms, families, and even religious groups flood the lighthouse to snap some stunning pictures amidst the Atlantic coast.
Besides historic sites, Sag Harbor offers distinct wineries and vineyards. One of the best is Channing Daughter's Winery located just between Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton. This winery is a rarity because it is actually a residence that contains twenty-five acres of vines, a small winery, and a tasting room. Although Channing Daughter's is small and quaint, they are the only winery on the East End growing and producing both white and red varietals.
Make sure to stop in for a tasting where you can try at least 6 different wines and learn about their unique winemaking process, which involves old-fashion stomping by foot! Be sure to check their events calendar for great events such as "Brooklyn Uncorked" or even a lecture series on artisan food and wine.
Tip: If stopping by for a tasting, arrive by around 4:30 at the latest and be sure to make an appointment if you are more than 6 people. They do not accept groups larger that 10 people because of their small size and if traveling by limousine, you must call ahead.
You can also visit the Sag Harbor Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM in front of the Breakwater Yacht Club on Bay Street. The market features homemade honey, pickles, Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Grapes of Roth wines, fresh local fruits, veggies and flowers, as well as locally made cheeses, breads and jams.
What to Eat
Sag Harbor's best eats are all about artisan beginnings, local ingredients, and healthy living. This is the perfect village to find some of the world's best granola, odd flavored ice cream, and even antique soda shops!
Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen is one place you don't want to miss. This 1920s inspired soda shop and luncheonette is where local residents casually enjoy burgers and homemade ice cream next to celebrities. Although it is a staple in most travel websites and major publications (like The New York Times) this little diner still maintains it charm and local feel.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard Rosé Cider is another must try. This is one of the few ciders that you can only get in the Hamptons because it is produced locally. Those at Wölffer Estate Vineyard have made this cider a direct reflection of summer in the Hamptons and say they have bottled, "the bohemian spirit that resides in everywhere". There is nothing better than sipping this cider at sunset!
South Fork and Spoon is without a doubt the best place to pick up your ready-made picnic basket for a day at the beach. What's more, this is The Hamptons' first personal shopping, food concierge, and home preparation service, which works with leading Hamptons foodies, specialty stores, vineyards, and restaurants. They will even prepare your home for arrival by chilling the wine, filling the coffee machine, and even putting fresh flowers around the house!
Cavaniola's Gourmet, in the heart of Sag Harbor, offers arguably the best selection of artisan cheeses on the East End. Cheese from all over the world are made from sheep's milk, goat's milk, and even semi-hard milk, which results in an unparalleled variety. Plus, the store even offers cured meats, imported oils and vineyards, freshly baked baguettes, and delicious chocolate bars. Want to take your Cavaniola’s experience to the next level? Head next door to its “wine cellar,” a boutique wine shop offering rare vintages.
Where to Stay
The best way to truly experience Sag Harbor is not by staying in a hotel, but rather renting your own estate for the week or weekend. It may seem like a daunting task to find the right estate to fit your preferences, but don't fret because Sag Harbor Estate is undeniably one of the most elegant and lavish homes in the area. It is perfect for corporate retreats, bridal showers, family reunions, or even just you and a couple of your favorite friends!
This elegant 6,000 square foot estate features 7 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 2 half baths, formal dining and living rooms, and a chef's kitchen. Entertaining is made easy with the gorgeous central living room accompanied by vaulted ceilings and large glass windows, which looks out at the inviting outdoor pool.
You may find yourself never wanting to leave the luxe estate but should you choose to stroll around, you'll find yourself nestled in a prestigious gated community complete with a guard house. This community offers a private beach, tennis, and a deep-water dock. This truly is the place to experience 5-start amenities in your own private estate.
Favorite Hampton's Caterers
We usually do not include a list of caterers in our local guides; however, entertaining is what the Hampton's is all about! Because of this, some of the world's best caterers are found in this little enclave of New York. So, when hosting your own bridal shower, corporate retreat, or family reunion, don't settle for anything less than the best caterers around!
East End Clambakes is the caterer you want if you're looking for the best Northeastern coastal cuisine. Besides the delicious lobster, clams, oysters, and swordfish that are sure to impress, the company's recognized past gives is just as extraordinary. New York Magazine listed East End Clambakes as one of the tres chic caterers of the Hamptons and it has been featured on "Good Morning America" and "The Cooking Channel". This catering company is the favorite of celebrities Aretha Franklin, Alex Vonfurstenberg, and Trish McEvoy.
The Golden Pear is another favorite and uniquely suited to cater business meetings, bridal showers, brunches, rehearsal dinners, and even beach parties. What makes this caterer unique is that they specialize in fresh, country-inspired cuisine, which is made at their own bakery.
Whether you are heading to Sag Harbor for a family vacation full of sandcastles and whaling history or a luxe bridal getaway, this small village is a great place to discover hidden gems and make new memories!
Do you have any questions about your upcoming trip to Sag Harbor? Might you have any local insights about the village?