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Chic, celebrity-filled, sensational – these are words that describe Southampton. Add to this white sand beaches, impressive estates and a variety of recreational activities and the town of Southampton is truly an ideal place to visit.

Established in 1640 by English colonists as the first settlement in New York State, the community has preserved a good deal of its “Colonial” atmosphere. The Village of Southampton and several local buildings are included in the National Historic Registry. Visitors can take a self-guided historical walking tour with maps available at the Southampton Chamber of Commerce. Highlights of the tour include the Southampton Historical Museum and the Old Halsey Homestead, which is the oldest frame house in the state and served as English General Erskine’s headquarters while British troops were stationed in this area during the American Revolution.

An art community evolved around the turn of the century after William Merritt Chase founded The Art School in Shinnecock Hills, now called The Art Village. Due in part to the natural scenery and soft, diffused light and wispy clouds encompassing the South Fork, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Willem de Kooning, Fairfield Porter, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers and Eric Fischl maintained studios in the area.

Quaint shops on historic, tree-lined streets such as Jobs Lane dot Southampton Village. Approximately 200 retail stores in the village include antique shops, art galleries, fine giftware, gourmet shops and unique clothing boutiques. There are more than 20 restaurants in Southampton Village alone, with prices ranging from economy to fine dining. The Hamptons’ major health care facility, Southampton Hospital, is located in the village and attends to the medical and surgical needs of visitors and residents.

The village boasts seven miles of unspoiled beaches, some with free parking available. Town beaches have daily parking passes on a first-come, first-served basis. Southampton’s waters are a haven for boating and fishing. Shinnecock is a popular dive spot, and Tiana, Shinnecock, Peconic and Noyac Bays are popular among windsurfers.

There are also outstanding tennis facilities available, as well as three golf courses. The Shinnecock Golf Club, the site of the 1896, 1986, 1995 and the 2004 U.S. Open, is the oldest private 18-hole golf course in America. Stony Brook Southampton, Stony Brook University’s new four-year campus with a focus on the environment, recently took over the campus of Southampton College, preserving the open space and its historic windmill. The Southampton Cultural & Civic Center, The Parrish Art Museum and the Rogers Memorial Library sponsor a variety of activities for adults and children, including plays, art shows, concerts, readings and workshops. The Shinnecock Indians hold their Annual Labor Day Powwow, which is open to the public, at their reservation just outside of Southampton.