GETTING THERE: The drive from D.C. to the Hamptons, on New York's Long Island, is about 310 miles (about six hours). By air, Southwest flies from BWI to Long Island's Islip, which is less than a hour west of the Hamptons by car; round-trip fares start at $117.
WEATHER: Fall is usually sunny and pleasant, with little rain and temperatures in the mid-60s to -70s by day, and about 10 degrees cooler at night. The Atlantic also stays pretty mild, at around 70 degrees.
WHERE TO STAY: Places to rest your head range from luxurious inns to camping. Motels with kitchenettes are the way to go if you want to take advantage of the local harvest, and relative bargains abound at local B&Bs (although even in the fall, this area is no bargain hunters' paradise). Here are some options for a range of tastes and budgets:
* Bridgehampton Inn (2266 Main St., Bridgehampton, 631-537-3660, www.bridgehamptoninn.com) features six rooms and an acre of garden in the back. Surrounded by tall hedges, the inn is just a block from Bridgehampton's restaurants and shops. Breakfasts, which include local fruit and a cheese plate, are served on the terrace. Rates from $225 a night double.
* The Dutch Motel (488 Montauk Hwy., East Hampton, 631-324-4550, www.thedutchmotel.com) is a good choice if you want to be able to cook or are traveling with a family. Rooms range from studios and two-room suites to cottages with full kitchens. A glass-enclosed pool and three new cottages are set to open this fall. Rates from $108.
* Montauket Hotel (88 Firestone Rd., Montauk, 631-668-5992) has bare-bone rooms, but they sure are cheap (from $65) -- and the sunset and view of Fort Pond from the outdoor bar are free.
* Hither Hills State Park (50 S. Fairview Ave., Montauk, 631-688-2554, http://nysparks.state.ny.us/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/nysparks/parks.cgi?p+118) features 168 campsites available through mid-November; only the dunes stand between you and the ocean. Rates: $48 for out-of-state residents, $24 for New York residents. The park includes a playground, and the new visitors center has bathrooms and showers.
For other lodging options, check the resources listed below.
INFORMATION: Hamptons.com is a lively and frequently updated Web site featuring events and snippets of news from local papers. The East Hampton Star (www.easthamptonstar.com) is a local treasure, chock full of listings for nature walks and other activities. The Web site of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce (631-324-0362, www.easthamptonchamber.com) has a calendar of events and a business directory. The Southampton Chamber of Commerce (631-283-0402, www.southamptonchamber.com) offers similar info.
The Long Island Convention & Visitors Bureau (631-951-3900, www.licvb.com) offers a wide range of information on the East End, including lodging (check "Hot Deals" for last-minute bargains), an events calendar and activities.
-- Anne Glusker