Traffic keeps me away from Long Island in the summer, but those off-season deals draw me straight in come winter. Which is how we ended up at the Hero Beach Club in January. Here’s my off-season winter review…
The Hero Beach Club is perfectly situated right behind Umbrella Beach in Montauk. The rooms have balconies that overlook a grassy zone where there are daybeds and a bonfire. In the summer you can rent this area out in the special events and there is a swimming pool there as well, but in the dead of winter despite it being cold, it was still a good space to let Sally run around. The best part of off-season beaching winter is that it’s always totally quiet, which means you can take plenty of private, magical walks on the beach, and live your Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fantasy (minus the bed on the beach and the memory wipe)!
The most important thing about winter beaching, however, is that the rooms themselves are cozy. At Hero Beach Club, the rooms have clearly been thoughtfully redone recently, feeling clean and bright. They have nice light fixtures, beautiful furniture, and calming colors. It was a perfect mix of beachy without being completely overdone with whale, anchors, and boating knots (although, I am NOT opposed to nautical vibes, to be clear). The staff were very friendly and very helpful with area tips.
From the hotel, it’s an easy 10-minute walk to the center of town (or 1 minute drive!). Although a lot of Montauk is closed for the winter, we still found a few hidden gems. We loved Whites Drug Store in the center of town! If it were summer, it would have been a great stop for all of your beach needs (sunscreen, beach toys, cheap towels, etc), but they have plenty of winter goodies as well – a fun selection of kids’ toys and books, and most importantly, good jigsaw puzzles (which we spent the night working on back at the room while drinking wine).
Many of the restaurants are closed during the winter too, so be sure to call before making firm plans. In the morning, I ran over to Naturally Good Foods in the center of town to pick up coffee and muffins. They have a very large selection of organic foods and also make juices and smoothies! But I didn’t go crazy, since I already had my eye on a particular brunch spot and didn’t want to ruin my appetite.
That brunch spot was Gurney’s. Gurney’s is a popular upscale hotel that looks like an incredible place to stay right on the beach in Montauk. Their indoor saltwater pool is fed by the ocean and looks spectacular. It’s a bit beyond our price point to stay there, but I figured brunch would be a good excuse to check it out. There was valet parking when you pull up and a beautiful lobby with different hangout zones. In the lobby (just outside the restaurant) there is a coffee bar with a big table that had a huge bin of blocks for kids to play with, and proved useful while we waited for our food. The dining room had big windows and a nice deck outside with a fire going. Sally is at that age where she has trouble sitting for too long at a restaurant so Alan and I took turns taking her outside to wander and take in some of that sea breeze and view. The food was very good, which was to be expected. Overall, it was a lovely place to stop in for brunch!
Continuing home, we stopped at (one of) our favorite aquariums, the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead! I’ve written about this one before in the Shelter Island/Long Island post. This is the perfect place for a stop on the way back from Montauk with kids. It was cold out, but they still had the seal show going on outside where you can learn about the difference between seals and sea lions (spoiler, it’s their ears!) and watch various seals do tricks. We wandered through a magical butterfly garden, watched Japanese Snow Monkeys jump around, and even pet a few stingrays. There is a ton to do there and I’m sure we will be back again the next time around!