Reaching deeply north into the South Fork and positioned between Water Mill to the west and Sagaponack to the east, Bridgehampton has a name that begs for even more geographical clarification. This one is easy: The bridge in Bridgehampton refers to a bridge built across Sagg Pond by Ezekiel Sandford in 1686. Bridgehampton is undeniably the essence of the East End, and for many Hamptonites, the summer simply does not end until the occurrence of the Hamptons Classic, one of the largest outdoor horse shows in the country. Perhaps Bridgehampton is even better known for the $43.5 million property rented by Beyonce and Jay-Z — and for Madonna causing a stir when she was accused of buying a parcel for a “tree farm,” adjacent to her horse farm, that was widely viewed as a bid for privacy, not agriculture. Perhaps she commiserated with another Bridgehampton resident, fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, who designed a leather handbag named for the hamlet.
Located in the town of Southampton, Bridgehampton was founded in 1640, but one of its most notable historical footnotes happened a century and half later, when a notorious criminal with a magnanimous streak and literary bent, the counterfeiter Stephen Burroughs, helped found the hamlet’s first library. A more complete story of Bridgehampton can be found at the Bridgehampton Museum, which contains such artifacts as 1,300 historical photographs, 300 historical books and Bibles, and collections of letters, ledgers, datebooks, textiles, and decorative arts. Bridgehampton also boasts the Children’s Museum of the East End, which attracts nearly 75,000 visitors annually, and the Dan Flavin Art Institute, a converted farmhouse that contains the late artist’s mesmerizing fluorescent works. And given the primacy of the Hamptons Classic, horse farms and other equestrian sites abound, from boarding and training at Billington Stables to elder care at Amaryllis Farm Equine Rescue.
Busy all year round, Bobby Van’s is that rare national chain restaurant (seven in New York, two in D.C.) that has become identified with the Hamptons. The menu has a few surprises, reaching beyond the standard steakhouse fare of steaks, chops, clams, and shrimp cocktail to offer such choices as Icelandic cod and a Spanish octopus salad. Meanwhile, Almond, a French-influenced bistro, is truly a Hamptons institution and a community builder, serving up artists’ and writers’ nights along with escargot and Le Grand Macaroni & Cheese with prosciutto and preserved summer truffles. And topping out the top three is Topping Rose House. One of the few luxury hotels in the Hamptons, the venue pulled off a big coup last year by enlisting no less than Jean-Georges Vongerichten to run its restaurant. Meanwhile, good shopping is happening on Main Street, where the usual suspects — J. Crew, Theory, Club Monaco — give way to more local boutiques.
Leighton Candler and her team strive to assess their customers' specific needs and personality, and then zero in on the right neighborhood, building, and apartment to fulfill their requirements.