After years of sitting in beach bound traffic, TravelingMom Judy Antell discovered the ultimate Hamptons traffic hack: stay in Quogue, Hampton Bays, or Westhampton Beach. These towns offer access to the same gorgeous beaches, but they are 20 or so miles from where the traffic really accrues. And with a bicycle, you can go tour around and pedal past all the cars.
Ever since the rise of Waze, the back roads of the Hamptons, New York City’s premiere beach retreat, have been exposed. But there are still ways to avoid the soul-crushing traffic that overwhelms many surf seekers. We were going to a wedding, so we had to be on time.
Hamptons traffic hack
One of the key Hamptons traffic tips is to stop before the Shinnecock Canal. This body of water connects the Peconic Bay to the Atlantic Ocean. It was the traditional dividing point between Suffolk County and ‘the Hamptons.’ But a shorter drive, gorgeous white sand beaches and pristine water make these towns the equal of their western, more traffic clogged cousins.
And in fact, on our recent trip to Quogue, the inn where we stayed gave us a beach pass for the car. It turns out, Quogue is actually in the town of Southampton. Our beach pass gave us access to those very same beaches, with a much shorter drive.
The wedding that was the focus of our trip was in Westhampton, well before the canal. But some of the guests still managed to hit heavy traffic and delay the start of the wedding by an hour.
Bike to Bridgehampton
To get further out into the Hamptons, we biked. There is a very wide shoulder on Route 27, the main road through the Hamptons. Most villages have a speed limit of 30 mph. Outside the villages, the speed limit varies. But on a crowded summer day? Bikes move faster than cars. We carried on a chat with a couple in an open air Jeep. We passed them multiple times, they passed us, and we biked alongside them. When we stopped for our classic windmill photo, they stopped to say good-bye.
We rested at Duck Walk Vineyards, a winery in Water Mill that has free live music on Saturday and Sundays. Wine plus heat plus biking didn’t compute, but we did get a cheese snack. And use the clean bathrooms.
Start your weekend on a Saturday
Driving out to the Hamptons on a Friday is a lose-lose situation. And Thursday has become the new Friday. Leave early on Saturday morning and you are almost guaranteed a shorter drive. Come back on Monday or Tuesday and your trip back to New York City will also be quicker.
Park quickly: don’t create more traffic
When I was a young, inexperienced driver, I remember getting flustered when I had to parallel park on the streets of New York City. Cars would back up behind me and honk. In many of the Hamptons villages, street parking is also a challenge. No one wants to wait an extra second. The Chrysler Pacifica hybrid I drove had parallel and perpendicular park assist, plus a 360 surround view camera. It’s a snap to park, even in New York City. And you don’t create more traffic.
Gas up early – or not at all!
With the hybrid, we didn’t have to stop for gas, a time suck that can eat away precious beach time. NYC has fewer and fewer gas stations, and the ones in Hamptons are always crowded. We charged up the hybrid van at our inn. The outstanding gas mileage made this eco warrior delirious with glee.
Entertain the children: the trip will feel shorter
This isn’t just a Hamptons traffic hack. Every trip at least feels shorter if the kids are happy. If you are bringing the family, a minivan is the way to go.
The roominess in a minivan is a given. But this one has more in mind for kids.
The Pacifica has an integrated Blu-ray / DVD player, with screens in the back of front row seats. Even a short trip feels endless if the kids are complaining. This entertainment system could have kids begging to get back into the car.
What You Need To Know About the Pacifica Hybrid
The minivan has super comfy seats, with arm rests that fold away if you don’t want them. The Paficica we drove had a premium Harmon Kardon audio system, with Sirius radio. The remote start and hands-free power liftgate and power sliding doors make access easy.
The second row seats are also captain’s chairs, and just as comfortable and roomy as the driver and front passenger seats. The third row, which folds into the floor of the vehicle, was comfortable enough for my 6 foot 4 inch friend.
The Pacifica had the standard Chrysler UConnect system, with easy to use navigation. t also had the upgraded UConnect theater with wireless streaming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
The minivan had everything. In addition to standard features like blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, the vehicle had lane departure warning and full speed forward collision warning.
With the third row folded flat, we fit two bicycles, plus luggage, in the car – and we could have easily fit 4 people.
This is another place where the Pacifica truly shines. The plug in gives you about 25 miles of pure electric range. We juiced up at our inn and were good to go for trips around the Hamptons. But even driving on gasoline, the hybrid was thrifty.
The base price of the Pacifica hybrid limited is $44,995. The one I drove had a customer preferred package with premium audio and more advanced technology, plus a panoramic sunroof that even let third row passengers enjoy the sky. Total price: $48,580.
Note: Chrysler loaned me the Pacifica hybrid. Opinions expressed are my own.