by Mike Virgintino,
A transformation from cattle drives to popular fun destination in just a few hundred years. Beaches, golf, restaurants and other attractions draw tourists.
Montauk was an undeveloped and unpopulated 11-mile long peninsula at the east end of Long Island as recently as 100 years ago. The few visitors at that time, who enjoyed the fresh air, foraged for wild berries, hunted and fished, were the ancestors of the many people who today enjoy the numerous upscale activities found in the town and in the nearby Hamptons.
For hundreds of years, annual cattle drives were noisy and dusty as herds were brought east during May and then driven back toward New York City or to market during November. Now a swath of bedroom communities along with the seasonal Montauk and Hamptons destinations fan out from the main roads. An imagination is needed to “see” a Long Island with a lot more open space for cattle and sheep grazing along with the huge farms that raised ducks and potatoes.
When the cattle grazed out east, the land became devoid of vegetation. It was hilly and treeless. A few boarding houses for the workers dotted the landscape. The famous lighthouse at the tip is about as old as the country, having been commissioned by President George Washington.
Montauk changed into a leisure destination during the 1920s. A developer plunked down his money to convert the area into a playground for the wealthy. When the economy nosedived at the end of that decade, work was halted and the fun plans were shelved. However, the foundation had been established for future development and enjoyment. Today, Montauk is a popular weekend, week-long and even summer-long destination for many residents of New York City and environs that include New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Montauk’s Family Fun
An abundance of family fun can be found in Montauk. Ocean fishing can be enjoyed with private charters and party-fishing outings. Tuna, marlin and sharks are caught.
For anyone who loves the water but prefers to keep toes in the sand, a number of beaches can be found along miles of ocean front property. Some beaches may require a permit that can be purchased on a weekly or seasonal basis.
Other attractions just a few minutes from most hotels, motels, or summer rentals, include nature trails, horseback riding, golf, sailing and other water sports. For some of these activities, beginner lessons are available at various locations in the town. Popular restaurants and nighttime entertainment abound in Montauk. Many include waterside patios. At peak times, reservations are recommended. Some establishments are open year-round while others are seasonal.
To learn more about Montauk, call the Montauk Chamber of Commerce (631-668-2428), or click on the Montauk visitors guide. Originally published with Suite101