Where to Dig Into Lobster Rolls, Take a Beach Hike, and Party in Montauk

This famous fishing town outside of NYC is surprisingly cool.


Montauk, once most popular among fishermen and surfers, today, offers an eclectic mix of parties, share houses, live music, breweries, lobster rolls, and, yes, still some of the best fishing and surfing in the Northeast.

About 120 miles from NYC, Montauk is accessible by train, but I prefer to spare myself the Hunger Games-like madness that ensues at Penn Station on a Friday afternoon and hit the road instead. For this trip, I rented a car from Turo, which is essentially an Airbnb for car-sharing, because I’d take the Hamptons traffic over the Long Island Rail Road’s crowded train cars any day.

After tackling the Long Island Expressway, you’ll find yourself on the appropriately named Montauk Highway, a.k.a. Route 27. Take a moment to admire small towns like Bridgehampton and East Hampton, each offering a mix of name-brand stores, local designers, and eateries. Stop for a bite to eat at TownLine BBQ in Sagaponack, Goldberg’s Famous Bagels in Southampton (the best bagels in all of New York, I swear it), or Carissa’s the Bakery in East Hampton.

Travel time:

4 hours from NYC by car.
3 hours from Penn Station on the Long Island Rail Road.

If you don’t do anything else: Lobster rolls in Montauk 

The most important stop you’ll inevitably make is for a lobster roll, and there’s a plethora of popular spots to choose from. So many, that some people even engage in lobster roll crawls.

In fact, you may overhear heated debates on who has the best one. Is it Bostwick’s Chowder House? The Clam Bar at Napeague? Someone will likely confidently pronounce The Lobster Roll (a.k.a. Lunch) as the winner. Personally, I’m Team Clam Bar, but, really, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

rj lerich/Shutterstock
rj lerich/Shutterstock
rj lerich/Shutterstock

Fill the weekend with: 

Things to do outdoors in Montauk

First stop: the beach. If surfing (or watching other people surf) is your thing, make your way over to Ditch Plains Beach for Long Island’s best waves-just remember the summer crowds will be out to play as well. If relaxation and convenience is more your speed, head to Kirk Park Beach, which is within walking distance of Montauk’s charming downtown. Here you’ll find sunbathing summer renters and weekend warriors discussing what hotspot they’ll hit that night. For a beautiful beach hike, check out nearby Camp Hero State Park.

Local museums in Montauk

If it’s your first time in Montauk, consider driving out to The End (yes, it’s quite the literally-named destination) to check out the famed Montauk Point Lighthouse commissioned by George Washington’s administration. Take a look inside and check out the lighthouse’s museum to see letters signed by Thomas Jefferson as well as preserved maps of Montauk from the 1800s. Down the road you’ll also find the Carl Fisher House, which hosts lectures and exhibits on Montauk’s history, and the Montauk Indian Museum, where you can learn about the Indigenous tribes that originally settled there.

Photo courtesy of The Surf Lodge
Photo courtesy of The Surf Lodge
Photo courtesy of The Surf Lodge

Nightlife in Montauk

For such a small beach town, the nightlife options in Montauk are abundant, with everything from bougie hotel bar scenes at Gurney’s Montauk Resort to local dives like Shagwong Tavern. Check out The Surf Lodge, a restaurant/hotel/live music venue that is attracting amazing talent this summer with acts like Anderson .Paak as DJ Pee .Wee and BLOND:ISH. For more tunes, The Montauket is always a great place to catch local bands accompanied by a killer sunset. And I’d be remiss not to mention Memory Motel, the famed dive bar and motel made famous by The Rolling Stones song of the same name.

Eat, drink, and sleep:

Restaurants & bars in Montauk

Pregame dinner with a visit to Montauk Brewing Co. for the East End staple Summer Ale before heading out to one of the many Montauk dining spots you’ve probably scrolled through on Instagram. There’s Harvest on Fort Pond, which serves amazing Italian cuisine featuring local produce and seafood, and the Crow’s Nest, for chill vibes and craft cocktails. For even more fresh seafood, there’s Inlet Seafood, Duryea’s (get the famous Lobster Cobb Salad), and Gosman’s, just to name a few. No matter where you choose, a good meal should always end with soft serve from John’s Drive-In.

Photo courtesy of Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa
Photo courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa
Photo courtesy of Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa

Where to stay in Montauk

The increasing popularity of Montauk means there are more choices in accommodations than in most other Hamptons towns. One of the largest (and possibly priciest in peak season) is the aforementioned Gurney’s. This resort-style hotel has a seaside version of Manhattan’s popular Scarpetta restaurant just off the lobby as well as a private beach and recently renovated Seawater Spa boasting a bath house and IV Drip Lounge. There are many other cheaper hotel options to choose from, as well as beach motels, but in the summer months, none of these will come that cheap. Weekend rentals are also a smart way to go-just fill the house with a bunch of friends hankering to escape the city.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTikTokTwitterFacebookPinterest, and YouTube.

Helena Fistel is a Supervising Social Producer at Thrillist.


Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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