By Steve Haweeli.

Fireworks-on-BeachDoesn’t it always seem like July 4th arrives unexpectedly? If that’s the case, your plans may be thin, thus our last-minute guide to what to do, where to go and how to spend July 4th in the Hamptons.

Let’s face it, a visit to the Hamptons must include a stop at one of its pristine beaches. Most beaches require passes of some kind (resident or visitor); some offer reasonable parking fees for visitors too. As always, the earlier you go, the easier it is. Insider Tip #1: go at 4pm with a picnic dinner from any of the three Citarella’s in the Hamptons, grab a parking spot and start exhaling. Southampton boasts Coopers Beach [(631) 283-0247] off toney Meadows Lane; there’s Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack and the classic Main Beach [(631) 324-8158] in East Hampton perennially voted one of the top ten beaches on the East Coast.  Don’t be fooled, Atlantic Beach in Amagansett as well as Kirk Park Beach in Montauk are equally compelling and offer parking and facilities. Insider Tip #2: try any of the bay beaches; they’re less crowded but one runs more of a chance of nabbing a parking ticket.

For most Americans, July 4th is synonymous with fireworks. This year there’s a special treat on Friday July 1 (rain date July 3) – which will cost you $150 or more but it’s well worth it. It’s called an American Picnic with Fireworks by Grucci and highlights include a picnic buffet; carts filled with popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream and other all-American treats; arts and crafts, and carnival booths with games and prizes on the grounds of an ocean-front estate. The dress is American Picnic Casual. The spectacular fireworks display over Shinnecock Bay — orchestrated to patriotic music – is the most anticipated family Fourth of July fireworks event in Southampton. Want deets? Check out or call (631) 283-5847.

The Hamptons are often referred to as Hollywood East given the number of bold face names that frequent these shores. Register now for a screening of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 at East Hampton Library on Saturday afternoon July 2 from 1-3. Call (631) 324-0222 to register. You may even spot a celeb!

What else? Check out the new Arbor restaurant in Montauk or the newly re-launched Duryea’s Lobster Deck and Seafood Market overlooking breathtaking Fort Pond Bay … Walk into the always-packed Nick & Toni’s and have dinner at the bar (the wait isn’t as long) … Stay trim by taking a class at Elements Fitness Studio in East Hampton … Try the new Manna restaurant tucked behind the Water Mill post office for upscale Italian courtesy of chef Marco Barrila.

Above all remember these two things: be polite and avoid trying to make a left hand turn. Why? It’s gonna be packed!

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