Life by the beach is a mixture of days on the water or strolling the main street, and nights exploring the many options for drinks with friends.
No doubt many people suspect Hampton was named after the chichi area of London, home to Hampton Court Palace, but the reality is far humbler. Dyas Hampton was a market gardener in the area, and a number of landmarks near his plot, including the beach, were named after him. As the gardens began being divided up for housing when the train line was extended to Sandringham, the locals decided to keep the name, since it sounded rather regal.
Today, Hampton is a one of Bayside’s well-heeled beachside suburbs, with a vibrant shopping strip dotted with boutiques, cafes and restaurants. There’s also Hampton Beach. This wide stretch of sand, with gently lapping water, is considered a safe spot for swimming, especially since there’s a surf life-saving club there. What you might not expect is the sensational view of Melbourne’s skyline you can see while lying on your towel.
If the kids have energy to burn, take them to Thomas Street Reserve. Its huge fort structure in the playground is a place of hidden nooks and crannies — a game of hide and seek here will keep them occupied for hours.
In the quiet backstreets, you’ll discover Cornerstone & Co, a beautifully designed cafe with timber shelving and wire-framed pendant lights. The menu is a little different too, adding Japanese and Italian flavours to many classic dishes. There’s also a healthy menu for those who want to eat tasty fare but keep it light.
If your children tend to be attached to their electronics, distract them at All Fired Up. The paint-your-own-ceramics store lets them choose a plate, mug or sculpture, then decorate it around a huge table with lots of other kids.
Take a few hours to browse Hampton’s beautiful retail precinct. Whether you’re looking for a new outfit to wear to a beachside barbecue or a wedding, you’ll find it at Chilli Bird. This fashion store has a range of women’s labels, including some by young, local designers. If you’ve given up finding a pair of heels that are stylish and comfortable, take yourself to Josephine’s Shoes. The fabulous footwear, imported from Spain, France, Italy and beyond, won’t have you wishing you were at home so you can take them off. For the perfect gift (even if it’s for yourself), try Davies & Son, a locally owned store with shelves full of quirky goodies made in Australia. Jewellery, homewares, accessories and skincare are just some of the lines to explore.
One of the stalwarts on the Hampton scene is Fazio’s Pizzeria. Every night for more than two decades, locals have been enjoying the wood-fired pizzas and traditional Italian dishes served in its bustling space. Another long-term resident on Hampton Street is Roti Boti Indian. The menu draws on all the country’s regions to present fresh, tasty dishes. There’s something for everyone, with heat ranging from mild to very spicy.
The fun doesn’t finish with dessert. Take a seat on the deck at The Brown Cow for a late-night glass of wine — it’s also a great spot for a beer with friends as the sun sets. The Coravin system (it allows a bottle of wine to be opened without pulling the cork) at Hampton Wine Co. means you can order premium wines by the glass. Take a seat at the high timber table and choose one of them or a cocktail for sipping.