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Beach-bum breaks

Sunning, surfing, skinfests and a cooler full of beer await.

1/5

Sandy Hook Beach

2/5

Sea Gull's Nest

3/5

Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash

4/5

Sandy Hook Cottage

5/5

Highlands and Sandy Hook, New Jersey (1 hour from NYC)

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Take the Sea Streak ferry(Pier 11 at South and Wall Sts * E 35th St at FDR Dr * seastreak.com) directly to Conners Highlands, then a cab (available at the ferry station; call Middletown Cab at 732-671-4600 if you don't see one) to picturesque bed and breakfast Sandy Hook Cottage. There, you can rent a bicycle ($30 per day, guests $25) as your main mode of transportation throughout the weekend—whether you're meandering down a trail (there's a seven-mile path along the water, and a more rigorous route in Highlands) or traveling over the bridge to the Sandy Hook shoreline. Gunnison Beach is New Jersey's only nudist spot for sunbathing (accessible by a free shuttle bus from the ferry, a rigorous walk or a bike ride). "Volleyball is usually going on all day," says Dale Distasio, president of Friends of Gunnison Beach. "Just ask if you can join the game." (Though you may want to be careful when you dive for the ball.)

Sandy Hook Cottage
If you'd rather keep your suit on, lie out on Beach B (but be warned: there are no lifeguards on duty here) or BYO board to Beach C to try out surfing—it's the only place in Sandy Hook where the sport is allowed. As the day winds down, visit Beach D, the home of Sandy Hook's sole restaurant, the family-run Sea Gull's Nest(100 Hartshorne Dr, Highlands; 732-872-0025, seagullsnest.info) to witness a truly kitschy tradition. Every night at dusk, a patriotic song sounds through the speakers, and "everyone stands and wildly applauds as the sun dips below the horizon," says co-owner Scott Segall. When you're tired of picking sand out of every crevice of your body, escape the beach and visit the area's two historic lighthouses: Twin Lights (just a few steps from the Sandy Hook Cottage) and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the nation's oldest. For more recent Jersey history, catch a 20-minute cab or the 45-minute public bus (at Bay Ave and Watch Witch Ave in Highlands) to Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash(35 Broad St, Red Bank; 732-758-0508, jayandsilentbob.com), director Kevin Smith's shop, where you can snag an autographed Kevin Smith action figure ($18). Smith drops by "once in a blue moon," according to manager Walt Flanagan. Reenact Dante Hick's "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" breakdown and chomp on some beef jerky at the Quick Stop from Smith's cult career-launcher, Clerks, located in Leonardo, just five minutes from the B&B.

Stay here


It's impossible to stress at picturesque Sandy Hook Cottage(36 Rte 36, Highlands; 732-708-1923, sandyhookcottage.com, $199--$299). The cozy inn offers unbeatable views of the NYC skyline and the Long Island beaches, comfortable rooms decorated in a soothing, nautical theme, a filling breakfast (with fruit, yogurt, juice, cereal and a hot entree) and, best of all, a no-children policy.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (2 hours from NYC)

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Once you land at Myrtle Beach International Airport (Delta, United and US Airways all fly ther direct for cheap), you're just a ten-minute cab away from the surf and sand. The beach is free to enter, but you may want to rent a chair and umbrella at the nearest lifeguard stand (items start at $20 per day). Take booze breaks at Bummz Beach Cafe (2002 N Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach; 843-916-9111), a laid-back burger joint and bar complete with a deck and ocean-facing Adirondack chairs. Happy hour lasts from around 4 to 6pm—"the hotter it gets, the later it gets," says general manager Wayland Wright. (Hope for a heat wave.) For the best grub, take a drive to Murrells Inlet, a cluster of bars and restaurants alongside a marsh. Locals get their fill of upscale comfort food at the Dead Dog Saloon (4079 Hwy 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; 843-651-0664, deaddogsaloon.com); join them and order a big plate of shrimp and grits ($18). When night falls, don your skimpy finery and grab a cab to the 350-acre lakeside shopping center Broadway at the Beach (broadwayatthebeach.com). Dancing and drinking go down at the Celebrity Square, home to ten flashy and festive clubs and bars. What happens at Myrtle Beach stays at Myrtle Beach.

Stay here


The Sea Dip (2608 N Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach; 800-334-1467, seadip.com; $75--$182) is a simple, clean motel with unexpected perks: two whirlpools, an outdoor pool and a lazy river running through the South Tower, indoors. Each room features a balcony and a full kitchen equipped with pots, pans and silverware, so you can save money on food and spend more on drinks.

Do this

Do this


Once you land at Myrtle Beach International Airport (Delta, United and US Airways all fly ther direct for cheap), you're just a ten-minute cab away from the surf and sand. The beach is free to enter, but you may want to rent a chair and umbrella at the nearest lifeguard stand (items start at $20 per day). Take booze breaks at Bummz Beach Cafe (2002 N Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach; 843-916-9111), a laid-back burger joint and bar complete with a deck and ocean-facing Adirondack chairs. Happy hour lasts from around 4 to 6pm—"the hotter it gets, the later it gets," says general manager Wayland Wright. (Hope for a heat wave.) For the best grub, take a drive to Murrells Inlet, a cluster of bars and restaurants alongside a marsh. Locals get their fill of upscale comfort food at the Dead Dog Saloon (4079 Hwy 17 Business, Murrells Inlet; 843-651-0664, deaddogsaloon.com); join them and order a big plate of shrimp and grits ($18). When night falls, don your skimpy finery and grab a cab to the 350-acre lakeside shopping center Broadway at the Beach (broadwayatthebeach.com). Dancing and drinking go down at the Celebrity Square, home to ten flashy and festive clubs and bars. What happens at Myrtle Beach stays at Myrtle Beach.

Stay here


The Sea Dip (2608 N Ocean Blvd, Myrtle Beach; 800-334-1467, seadip.com; $75--$182) is a simple, clean motel with unexpected perks: two whirlpools, an outdoor pool and a lazy river running through the South Tower, indoors. Each room features a balcony and a full kitchen equipped with pots, pans and silverware, so you can save money on food and spend more on drinks.

Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware (4 hours from NYC)

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On this part of the Delaware coast, you don't have to choose between a raucous weekend filled with debauchery and a relaxing, haute getaway: You can have both. Situated on the same piece of coastline, both Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches offer crashing waves and warm, soft sand. Rehoboth requires a parking permit to enter ($13 per day on weekends) and hosts a bustling boardwalk and an amusement park, which means you're more likely to trip over kids on your way to the bar or the bathroom. By contrast, the more raucous town of Dewey Beach is 1.1 miles long, and only three blocks wide. "People come down and pretend like nothing else matters," says Doug Moore, a bartender at local watering hole The Starboard (2009 Hwy One; 302-227-4600, thestarboard.com). "It's like every weekend is a bachelor or bachelorette party." A DJ spins at the shark-themed Starboard every single evening; the joint also has an unbeatable DIY Bloody Mary bar on Saturdays and Sundays ($6.50--$8.50). For live music, head to standing-room only concert venue Bottle & Cork (1807 Highway One, Dewey Beach, 302-227-7272), where Los Lonely Boys headline June 13, and Citizen Cope plays July 26 and 27. The music scene in the neighboring town of pricier, calmer Rehoboth is much mellower.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, the young and old, straight and gay gather at the Rehoboth Beach Bandstand (rehobothbandstand.com) for free outdoor concerts (June 18--September 4, 8pm). The lineup is as eclectic as the crowd; this summer's schedule features an Elvis impersonator, a brass band, a country group and a finalist from America's Got Talent. When you're out exploring, snacks are a must, naturally, and a bucket of vinegar-topped french fries from Thrashers (26 Rehoboth Ave, Rehoboth Beach; 302-227-8994; $4--$9) is ideal whether you're drunk or sober; the beach stand is open until 11:30pm every night during the summer. Prefer finer dining? Head to the Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave, Rehoboth Beach;bluemoonrehoboth.com, 302-227-6515), an old Victorian home that serves fresh-caught fish and killer steaks and chops. The upscale eatery has a bit of a double life—on Friday evenings it hosts a free drag show. Jetting from Rehoboth to Dewey (and vice versa) will take about 45 minutes if you're strolling along the beach, and only about five minutes if you hop the Jolly Trolley (302-227-1197, jollytrolley.com; $2--$3). Don't bother assigning a designated driver and catch this brightly colored shuttle—pulled by an SUV—all weekend long.

Stay here


For the closest proximity to your three main priorities—bars, the beach and party-happy peers—check into Adam's Ocean Front Resort Motel (4 Read St, Dewey Beach; adamsoceanfront.com, $195--$225), a basic abode with a beachfront pool and gratis continental breakfast. Cheaper than most options in Rehoboth, Adam's is also one of only a handful of places to stay for a weekend in Dewey; most young vacationers cram into seasonal rental houses.

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