Today, Manhattanites know Montauk as a party-hardy depot offering good surf and plenty of rosé in the summer. But long before it was luring young, urban bros and babes to easternmost Long Island, Montauk was a sleepy enclave for iconoclastic artists and writers like Andy Warhol and Edward Albee. And while adult playgrounds like Crow’s Nest or Surf Lodge shutter in the springtime, what remains of Montauk’s off-season offerings, from offbeat activities to swanky winter menus, prove that the area’s upscale developments can coexist with its original quirky character.
For longtime Montauk Highway joints Anthony’s Pancake & Waffle House and John’s Pancake House, you’d think the cards were stacked: in addition to specializing in remarkably similar breakfast fare, the quaint luncheonettes sit across the street from each other. But despite the stiff competition, both have been in business for over 60 years. As to which sells superior hotcakes? Some say go for fruit pancakes at John’s and chocolate chip at Anthony’s, but it may just be too close to call.
Saturday Workout and Wellness:
After you’ve fueled up on pancakes, look no further than stand-up paddleboard instructor Gina Bradley to burn off some energy, who utilizes land and sea in her off-season paddling program starting with a brisk hike through the Walking Dunes trails, Bradley leads her students to the serene Napeague Bay for 30-minute paddleboard sessions. For a less chilly, equally invigorating workout, try Bradley’s floating workouts at the Seawater Spa at Gurney’s Montauk, which alternate between paddleboard yoga and swimming drills. The spa’s indoor pool, the only one of its kind in North America, is fed by filtered water from the Atlantic and offers floor-to-ceiling views – whether you’re balancing on a paddleboard or relaxing on a chaise lounge.
The year-round spa at Gurney’s attracts a steady stream of wellness crazes, recently hosting pop-ups by Uplift Studio, Holly Rilinger from Bravo’s “Workout New York,” and Under Armour athlete Shauna Harrison. But for a deeper-rooted practice, health junkies can now try the Montauk Salt Cave, which harnesses the curative properties of salt. Founded by Shannon and Peter Coppola in an effort to cure their son’s chronic cough, the “cave” is laid with pink bricks of Himalayan salt imported from Pakistan. “The salt in the air is antiviral, antibacterial, anti fungal, anti microbial and anti inflammatory,” Shannon told ABC.
If you aren’t convinced by the medicinal properties of salt, there’s always alcohol: the Montauk Brewing Company, known for its color-coded cans, operates a tasting room and boutique selling branded glassware and apparel. And if you’re in Montauk this weekend, you won’t want to be caught without a beer cozy: a week after the rest of the country celebrated St. Patrick, the town will have its famous parade on Sunday, March 26th.
Sunday Morning (This weekend only!):
The second largest of its kind in the state, the Saint Patrick’s Day on Sunday, March 26th will showcase over 60 participants, including 20 floats and 8 bagpipe brigades, which spectators can take in over chowder donated by various local restaurants, a yearly fundraising tradition. The celebration kicks off with a cocktail party on Saturday, March 25th, with music by Billy and the Bar Fights and cocktails by none other than Gurney’s Montauk.
Gurney’s, which just turned 90, has undergone an extreme makeover since changing owners in 2013, representing both the old and new Montauk. New menus by Scarpetta Beach (an offspring of the Manhattan location) and Tillie’s offer buzz-worthy fare like lobster tagliatelle and a spicy sriracha mayo lobster roll, while the recently renovated dining rooms offer timeless, panoramic views of the ocean. But for a slice old-world Montauk, the St. Patrick’s Day parade is your best bet.