When Jake was just 6 weeks old, we bundled him in blankets, compulsively Purell-ed our hands each time our fingertips touched an elevator button at grime-y commuter hub Penn Station, and hoped for the best as we boarded his very first LIRR train for a 3 hour trip out to The End of Long Island.
My husband and I have been coming out to Montauk for many years now. Before the Ronjo had work done, (a golden spray-tan for the iconic statue out front and a facelift for the once-scary accommodations,) transforming the hotel into a Hamptons-style beach club that now bills guests separately to sit around its pool; when the Sloppy Tuna was still Nick’s, a seafood shack with a sloppy peeling paint-job. Even before the Surf Lodge came on the scene five years ago and ignited fueds with the neighbors, clogging up the lakefront road with their patrons’ surfboard-topped parked cars, reaching 10 miles in each direction.
Yes, the past few years have seen major changes — some welcome, some less so – and though Montauk can no longer be referred to as a “sleepy fishing village,” it will always be a place for families. So we deemed it the perfect spot to take our son for the 4th of July, on his first trip outside of New York City.
As new parents, every non-event moment was exciting — he napped in my arms as we walked him down the beach. We stared at him as he cooed on our giant beach blanket. We propped him up next to our table at all our local spots, in his car-seat attached to the trusty snap-n-go wheels. As the sky darkened on the 4th, we held him tight and watched the sky light up in all different colors.
We returned last summer when Jake was one year and six weeks old. This time he flirted with waitresses and danced to polka at the new German beerhall Zum Schneider. He sat up in a high-chair at the excellent Crow’s Nest restaurant, then toddled freely around the expansive grounds that lead down to the lake. He stayed up late watching the live dixieland band play at South Edison as Mom and Dad chowed down on salty shisito peppers and day boat fluke sashimi topped with chili jam and cilantro. He even participated in some pancake eating at Mr. John’s Pancake House – which we have always favored over Anthony’s dueling pancake house across the street. He laughed at the ocean, dug holes in the sand and had his first taste of sweet seedless watermelon at Navy Beach. What a difference a year makes!
This year, we fully expect him to be catching our fish and lighting our beach bonfires.
LIRR from Penn Station to Montauk, 3 hours
4 South Elmwood Ave, Montauk
Phone: (631) 238-5963
17 South Edison St, Montauk
Phone: (631) 668-4200
4 Old West Lake Dr, Montauk
Phone: (631) 668-2077
Mr. John’s Pancake House
721 Montauk Hwy, Montauk
Phone: (631) 668-2383
16 Navy Rd, Montauk
Phone: (631) 668-6868