I turned 34-years-old a week ago and decided to embark on a little 24-hour getaway to Montauk on the east end of Long Island to celebrate. While my birthday looked very different this year—there was no going out to dinner with friends, venturing into NYC for a concert, or singing at a swanky piano bar until the wee hours of the morning—this low-key birthday spent with a close friend in one of my favorite locales was just what I needed to mark this next trip around the sun.
I decided to venture out to Montauk again because I was worried about traveling too far with everything going on in the world, and I also was concerned about how the weather would be in mid-November (we have had snow on my birthday, and we’ve also had 70 degrees, so who knows?). Fortunately, my friend was amenable to getting away for an overnight trip, so we crafted a short itinerary complete with some window-shopping in Southampton followed by a visit to the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill before making our way to our hotel out east. On the way home, we planned a visit to the North Fork for a wine tasting at the Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck.
Our first stop of the day, the Parrish Art Museum, founded in 1898, is home to 15 temporary exhibits each year with a focus on the east end of Long Island. While the building itself is an architectural masterpiece, the 14 acres of meadow that it sits on with lush landscaping is also worth admiring. On a wet and chilly November day, the Parrish Museum proved to be the perfect escape. With social distancing guidelines in place and reduced crowd sizes in mind, the museum allows visitors 90-minutes to peruse the artwork inside, although you likely won’t need that much time. While we didn’t get to take in the magnificent sculptures outside making up the Field of Dreams exhibit (thanks, Mother Nature), we were treated to large-scale sculptures and paintings inside with the Material Witness collection, along with some bold abstract pieces and a collection of photographs that had the criminal justice major in me reading the background behind each one.
After visiting the museum, it was time to continue on our journey to our hotel (of course, there was a stop at my beloved Hampton Coffee along the way). I reserved a room at Hero Beach Club, an oceanfront boutique hotel in Montauk that I had driven by many times during the summer, but had never stayed there myself.
The location can’t be beat—especially in the summer when you want to go from your room to the beach. But even on a chilly day, Hero Beach Club proved to be an idyllic oasis to take in the views from of a moody Montauk. I was very pleased with the beachy décor of the room, but it was the oceanfront views, private balcony overlooking a sculpture garden, and being able to hear the waves crashing throughout the night that made my stay extra special.
Of course, getting to spend time with a friend and ordering a take-out dinner, complete with a birthday dessert, wasn’t bad either.
I truly believe that time moves faster when you are out east. Knowing this, I took full advantage of my beautiful beachside haven and woke up early the next morning just as the sun was rising. Being able to watch the sunrise from my bed on my actual birthday was a great way to start the day. As the time was nearing for our departure, we decided to take a short beach walk—which proved to be serene on the nearly empty beach.
I’m always sad when I have to depart Montauk. I love the quiet lifestyle out there, and even though it’s only a couple of hour’s drive from where I live, it feels like a world away.
Our last stop on our journey was to visit the Shinn Estate Vineyards for a wine tasting, about an hour and a half drive from Montauk. I picked the Shinn Estate after surveying a few friends who had recommended it and also because it had an ample amount of outdoor seating (and reservations were highly suggested). The Shinn Estate is set in a 125-year old barn and sits on more than 28-acres of land. The brief glimpse I got of the interior seemed like something out of a Restoration Hardware store (and who could be mad about that?), and the outdoor tables, which were all socially distanced ranged from cozy tables with floor seating to old wine barrels that were used as high-tops. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt in this setting—it was a pretty crowded afternoon at the estate, but people were very compliant about keeping their masks on and mainly stayed seated at their tables. We sat at one of the tables on the far side of the lawn, which meant that there weren’t too many people walking past us. At one point, I marveled at how “normal” things felt. It was nice to see people outside, talking and laughing, and engaging in activities that we used to do more of earlier in the year. For the wine tasting, we ordered a “flight” (or a selection) of different red wines ranging from light to dark. Each flight contained five small glasses that totaled one full glass of wine. I am by no means a wine expert, but I particularly enjoyed their light wines.
Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday. It was such a treat to get to spend my birthday with my friend and enjoy Montauk one last time before we get into winter. I also loved getting to finally do a wine tasting and to visit a new place at the Shinn Estate. As I get older, I’ve learned to place more emphasis on the experiences that accompany my birthday, and this was yet another one that will go down in the memory books.