coopersbeachIt’s all about the chocolate chip cookies.

tatesYes, you can go to gourmet stores around the metropolitan area and buy Tate’s cookies. But if you want the best, the freshest, the crispest chocolate chip cookies, you have to go to the source.  You have to go to Southampton, New York.

Southampton’s charms are well documented during summer months. It has miles of pristine beaches and the toned, beautiful people who frequent them. In off season, you might have to search a little harder. But you can find plenty of ways to enjoy a low price (in the Hamptons!) weekend away, whether a romantic getaway or a family vacation.


Where to Stay in Southampton

A good place to start is the Southampton Inn, where you can lay your head for a mere $179 a night in fall, winter or spring. Even in the height of summer, prices don’t top $489, which for the eastern end of Long Island is a bargain.

There are connecting rooms, or a family of four can stay in one room with 2 queen beds. The hotel also has mini fridges in every room for snacks, and cribs and roll-away beds.

Pet-Friendly Hotel

The pet-friendly hotel also lets you bring the family dog on vacation. If your dog likes to romp on the beach, you can go to the quiet beaches off-season and enjoy a little secret; on a sunny winter day, it is actually warmer on the beach than in the city. Oh, and there’s no parking fee (in season, it is $40 a day; the hotel shuttles guests to and from the beach for free).

You can walk into town from the hotel, to Agawam Park with climbing equipment for kids, and to restaurants and shops.  If it’s too cold for the playground, there is a game room at the hotel, with board and video games, kid-sized kitchen and art supplies.

What to do in Southampton

Kids can also play at the Children’s Museum of the East End. The musem is a couple of miles away, in Bridgehampton, an eternity in season, but under 10 minutes from Southampton in winter. The museum has a ball pit, a windmill, and an East End Farm Stand where you can shop for fruits and veggies.

In early fall, you can still shop those farm stands for real, or go apple and pumpkin picking nearby. As the corn mazes dry up and the weather gets colder, there are candlelight tours of Rogers Mansion, part of the Southampton Historical Museum, and holiday lights along Main Street. The Southampton Inn gives out holiday stockings November 25 – December 26, with coupons and gifts from local merchants.

The period rooms in Rogers Mansion, built in 1843, for a whaling captain, let you see what life was like for the monied class years ago.  You can see antique toys, including porcelain dolls, dollhouses, trains, soldiers and mechanical banks. An even bigger exhibit of tin, wooden and cast-iron toys runs November 12 – December 31. The museum also has holiday caroling that ends with hot chocolate.

You can create your own cheer at Wollfer Estate Vineyard which offers Candlelight Fridays October  – April. Kids can drink juice, listen to live music and nibble on cheese and charcuterie plates while adults sample wine.

The Parrish Art Museum, also right in town, has rotating exhibits of its vast collection of paintings, photographs and sculpture, many by artists who lived and worked in the area. The museum is slated to move to bigger headquarters nearby in 2012, but this space, with its magnificent gardens, will surely be put to good use.

If you want to see the estates of the 1%-ers, take a guided tour with Bruce Michael, who offers entertaining custom tours of Southampton.  You can even see through those privacy hedges in off-season, and fantasize about your own estate.

Your kids may still be thinking about cookies.