Winter in Montauk is a rugged beach town diorama, a smattering of boxy dwellings and plywood scraps on a pristine beach. The numerous surf shops are boarded up until summer; locals gather instead at the Shagwong Restaurant, where the beer flows freely and the radiator thaws the cold right out of your flushed cheeks.
Often referred to as “The End,” Montauk is located on the easternmost tip of Long Island, a barely-there strip of land extending defiantly out of New York state into relentlessly cold Atlantic waters. Standing in the middle of The Plaza is a surreal experience, indeed—one can turn to both sides and see the coastline fade into the horizon. A brisk walker can reach one shoreline from the other in about 7 minutes flat.
Despite its relative isolation, Montauk has played a prominent role in American pop culture. Andy Warhol had an estate here. The Rolling Stones played pool at the Memory Motel. The Montauk Project took place here. In the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kate Winslet whispered surreptitiously into Jim Carrey’s ear—“Meet me in Montauk.”
Indeed, Montauk is an endearing No Man’s Land during the winter months. Lopsided sunbathing chairs dot the empty coastline. Bold signage adorns the sun-bleached buildings. Sharp A-frames hug the shoreline awaiting their owners. “The End” is at once rugged and quirky yet deeply restorative—the timeless Long Island retreat gives way to a sandy blank canvas, a nondescript surf town where one can take in the offerings of the Atlantic Ocean in poignant solitude.
See a local perspective of winter in Montauk via Grant Monahan’s “The Offseason“, and if you’re coming out, peek our 2017 guide to which businesses and watering holes on the East End have their doors open and lights via “Open Out East: Winter 2017“.