Iconic and elegant, the collection of hamlets and towns on east Long Island known as the Hamptons attracts tourists from New York and beyond, especially when the weather heats up and families flock to its beaches. It’s pricey to actually live in the Hamptons, making a getaway a reasonable method of enjoying its relaxing seaside atmosphere. If you don’t plan on driving, reserve seats on the Hampton Jitney ($24-32 one-way) or a train from NYC proper. Keep in mind that lifeguards won’t set up shop until mid-May at the earliest and pack up at the end of August.

Best Beaches in the Hamptons for Families

1. Havens Beach, Sag Harbor, NY

About the beach: lifeguard present, restrooms available

The delightful bay town of Sag Harbor has everything a family could want in an East Coast vacation: monuments dating back to 1700, art galleries, seafood restaurants and most importantly, a nice place to play and camp on Havens Beach (a playground with swings and slides will satisfy some youngsters). Down the sand, observe hermit crabs and other wildlife crawling around, or gaze at the various parked yachts to the right of the beach. Plenty of parking is available, but you’ll have to pay $10. Up Ferry Road, visit Provisions, a high-quality organic food store popular with health-conscious locals (or those stocking up on supplies for the vacation house). Before moving on to other parts of the Hamptons, don’t miss a puppet show at Goat on a Boat at Bay Street Theater—watch talented performers put on kid-friendly productions that switch up on a weekly basis.

Stay in Sag Harbor!

2. Cupsogue County Park, Westhampton, NY

About the beach: lifeguard present, restrooms available

Head about 20 minutes from Westhampton to the westernmost area of the West Hampton Dunes for a long and quiet strip of white sand; consider utilizing the serenity of this area for a family picnic or a view of the spectacular sunset. From time to time, live music at the Beach Hut puts the icing on the cake at Cupsogue, though the restaurant always has great ocean dishes like crab cakes, yellowfish sandwiches and calamari. If rare shorebirds along this beach have your kids yearning for more protected animals, drive inland to the Quogue Wildlife Refuge: this 305-acre free facility houses a bobcat, a bald eagle, foxes and several types of owls, as well as a butterfly garden with tortoises crawling around inside. Parking is $15.

Stay in Westhampton!

3. Main Beach, East Hampton, NY

About the beach: many lifeguards present, restrooms available

With a boardwalk, showers and an on-site snack bar, this popular town beach routinely attracts crowds in the summer for its soft sand and magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean. If the surf permits, try your luck at boogie boarding or bodysurfing—don’t worry, Main Beach has a handful of attentive lifeguards watching the tide. While walking along the shore, keep your eyes peeled for neat seashells and driftwood. Chowder Bowl, the dedicated restaurant next to Main Beach’s parking lot, serves up ice cream and hot dogs for hungry patrons during summer months. Parking costs a whopping $25, par for the course in an area commonly referred to as a “playground for the rich.” In town, history nerds might opt to tour old colonial properties, like Mulford Farmhouse (built in 1680) or Osborn-Jackson House (enlarged in 1760), both maintained and furnished to authentically depict 18th-century Long Island. These museums can be found along Route 27; the farmhouse costs $4 per adult (admission for Osborn-Jackson is a suggested donation).

Stay in East Hampton!

4. Cooper’s Beach, Southampton, NY

About the beach: lifeguards present, restrooms available

Of all the beaches in Southampton, Cooper’s is the only patch of sand with lifeguards on duty—a must-have for families trying to plan a safe, fun vacation. Depending on the time of year, this coveted spot might be pleasantly deserted or hopelessly crowded. Lovely wooden mansions frame the beach behind tumbleweed grass; those that want to relax all day can rent umbrellas and chairs at the concession stand for $15 and $10 respectively. Unless you have a “summer visitor” pass for long-term beach bums, parking will be $40 per car (better make the most of the day!). Once the group tires of sunbathing, stroll around Southampton village for gems like Pelletreau Silver Shop, a 300-year-old landmark that doubles as a handmade jewelry store. Drive about two miles east to Parrish Art Museum, home to an outdoor Roy Lichtenstein sculpture, landscapes by William Merritt Chase and plenty of modern and traditional art pieces by artists once or currently living on the East End. Admission is $10 for adults and free for guests under 18.

Stay in Southampton!

5. Indian Wells Beach, Amagansett, NY

About the beach: lifeguard present, restrooms available

Lively, sporty and sometimes rowdy, Indian Wells Beach boasts a carefree attitude, but has cut back on chaos since East Hampton enacted an ordinance prohibiting alcohol. Even without booze, locals treasure this beach, which unfortunately requires a summer pass for parking. Smaller kids can dig around for crabs and build castles on less touched sand, while athletic tweens might want to play a game of volleyball on the public net. Forget the picnic—for many, the best part about Indian Wells is the flurry of food trucks present in the summer; expect delicious choices like clam tacos or lobster rolls. Need a break from all the tourists? Head west into East Hampton for a soothing stroll through LongHouse Reserve, a botanical garden (open by appointment) full of sculptures that transform the verdant grounds into a futuristic playground. Well-behaved (don’t climb on the art!) children will be wowed by Yoko Ono’s giant chess set, totem poles topped by ram heads, a humanoid flamingo and other sensational pieces. Adult admission is $10, with free admission for kids under 12 and high school students carrying ID.

Stay in Amagansett!

6. Ditch Plains Beach, Montauk, NY

About the beach: lifeguard present, no restrooms

Don’t forget about Montauk, the furthest hamlet in the Hamptons from NYC and the least swanky of the affluent towns listed here. Surfers love low-key Ditch Plains Beach, where one can find some serious waves year-round: contact the highly-rated CoreysWave Professional Surf Instruction for a group or private lesson. Sand dunes, bluffs and large rocks hugging the water give Ditch Plains a unique feel compared to the rest of the Hamptons, making for breathtaking photos. Late-night partiers and powerful high tide makes this beach a prime location for collecting sea glass. As with Indian Wells, you’ll need a summer pass to park at Ditch Plains. A short walk from the parking lot is the beloved Ditch Witch, where iced coffee, tea and lemonade complement a stacked menu of wraps, quesadillas and sandwiches—just don’t eat all this yummy stuff before going swimming or surfing. Finally, take in the view at Montauk Point Lighthouse, a monument so old that George Washington himself authorized its construction. For $10 an adult and $4 per child, your family can gaze out toward the Atlantic Ocean from the top of the sandstone tower, that is, after climbing 137 iron steps.

Stay in Montauk!

This article was written by Juliana Cohen.