My very first post has to be about my family’s favorite place, Montauk. The lighthouse sits at the very tip of the south fork of Long Island, affectionately referred to as “The End.” This National Historic Landmark boasts a museum with a bevy of history from George Washington to Roosevelt’s Rough Riders to Amistad and more. The entire family can enjoy the day here with a playground, hiking, fishing, and ocean beach access (not for swimming, but don’t forget your sunscreen). The 137 spiral stair climb to the top of the lighthouse is the best part of the visit for me. The views are magnificent and the air is intoxicating! If you plan ahead, you can take advantage of outdoor events such as Lighthouse Weekend, the Great Eastern Music Festival or a terrific local band at the park’s concession restaurant. If you prefer, you can pack your own food for a picnic on the beach or playground area tables.
The area’s unique atmosphere, landscape, and local legend,inspired the movie Jaws.
- President George Washington commissioned the building of this lighthouse, the first lighthouse in New York State–completed 1796.
- Montauk Point Lighthouse is the 4th oldest active lighthouse in the U.S.
- Captain Kidd, the pirate, is rumored to have buried his treasure by the foot of the lighthouse site around 1699 at two ponds. Look for the “Money Ponds.“
- The U.S. Army occupied the lighthouse and grounds during WWII.
- The area of Montauk derives its name from the Montaukett tribe that lived here. They were Algonquian-speaking.
- One of the most notable shipwrecks, the British HMS Culloden, is 150 feet off Culloden Point and has become the first underwater park on Long Island. Grab your scuba gear!
- Deep Hollow Ranch claims to be the oldest working ranch in the U.S., dating back to 1658.
For an added bonus, you can visit the new Montauk Ocean’s Institute.
There is a fee for parking ($8/day between 8am-4pm) and the lighthouse ($12 adult, $8 senior, $5 child), but the money is well spent. The lighthouse hours change seasonally and weather permitting. It is typically open daily during the summer hours and only on weekends in the off-season. Check their website for up to date info. Notes: Children must be at least 41” tall to climb the tower. Senior citizens 62 and older park for free Mon-Fri with a valid NYS driver’s license.
Family Adventure Rating ♥♥♥♥♥
Cost– If you live in Suffolk County, this trip can be very low cost. You can pack your own food and drinks to minimize expenses. Parking, lighthouse tickets, and gas all factor in making this trip under $80 for a family of five. Don’t forget to pack essentials for the day so you don’t incur extra charges (Sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, fishing equipment, picnic blanket, cooler for food, etc.)
Parking & Transportation– Parking is close and there’s plenty of it. The lot is in the center of the Montauk Point State Park which allows easy access to each feature- lighthouse, beach access, hiking trails, eatery, bathrooms, playground). The lot can accommodate larger vehicles like RV’s. If you don’t have your own transportation, the LIRR goes to Montauk. (Public buses run primarily in the summer to Montauk.) There are private taxi, bus and limousine services that will bring you to your destination from as far as NYC or as close as the LIRR. Make sure to factor in traffic (Friday night rush hour, late morning beach goers) when planning your trip.
Location– Montauk is isolated at the tip of Long Island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean so it can be a journey to get there. However, it is its isolation that makes it such a beautiful and relaxing location. You are close to a full day’s worth of activities if you take full advantage of the park.
Day Trip or Overnight– If you live within Suffolk County, this can be a day trip. Depending on how far you live, you may need to start super early and end late. We have left by 8am and returned home by midnight to make a really full day at Montauk (beach, shopping, food, friends). If you’re coming from further, it’s a good idea to stay overnight. There are many hotels, bungalows, campsites and other types of rentals that you can match with your budget. Places fill up fast in the summer, so plan ahead. Hither Hills State Park is close by and has an amazing camping facility on the beach, but it can fill up a year in advance.
Experience- If you enjoy nature, the ocean, and beaches then this is heaven for you. If you love the outdoors and have a conservation-type attitude, you will return again and again. For all others, there’s a significant amount of history to enjoy and some newly rediscovered science fiction for entertainment. Did you know that Netflix’s Stranger Things is based on a book, The Montauk Project, which is based on conspiracy theories surrounding Montauk’s very own Camp Hero (right next to the lighthouse)!
Combination- There is so much to do in Montauk that you can easily find enough to do to fill an entire day or even week. Exploring Montauk State Park can fill an entire day or weekend on its own. Additionally, there are plenty of beaches on the ocean and bay sides, shopping and food. Our favorite… Ditch Plains!