Beach getaways beyond Atlantic City

  • Bay Head, NJ

  • Lake George, NY

Bay Head, NJ

Bay Head, NJ
This preppy country village town is surrounded by well-maintained Victorian homes and an uncrowded shoreline: Check out a beach yoga class (Fri 6--7pm; Sat, Sun 8--9am. $10) on Howe Street Beach, and poke your head into more than 30 specialty shops that line the area, including Cobwebs Gift Shoppe (64 Bridge Ave, 732-892-8005) for antiques and vintage jewelry. Former Bay Head resident L. Ron Hubbard toiled on his Dianetics manuscript here in the s5—though you may not find any literary (or Scientology) inspiration by the sea, so fill your time with crabbing, windsurfing, waterskiing and sailing on the Jersey Shore.

Cape Ann, MA
Cape Ann’s Good Harbor features a pristine but small stretch of sand with dozens of activities: Sign up for a whale-watching tour with 7 Seas Whale Watch ( or go snorkeling with Cape Ann Divers (, which also offers scuba instruction and free guided shore dives each week. Work up an appetite ogling shipwrecks and several rocky reefs, then kick back at Azorean ( for a spread of Mediterranean cuisine; the Tower of Tapas menu features six small plates (including fried calamari, mushrooms stuffed with fish and a mixed cheese plate) for $30. If you can, visit the weekend of August 14 and 15 for the annual Gloucester Waterfront Festival, during which 150 local artisans and vendors exhibit their wares.; daily parking fee $15

Kiawah Island, SC
The romantic beach of Kiawah Island, less than 20 miles from Charleston, is unspoiled and peaceful, making it an ideal location for whatever your favorite sea sport happens to be, as well as pelican- and dolphin-watching. You’ll find 30-plus miles of paved biking trails across the island (rentals from Kiawah Island Getaway $37.50 per week, includes a folding beach chair) that course through lagoons hosting a menagerie of alligators and herons. The island also includes four public golf courses, Bohicket Marina (for boat rentals and deep-sea trips), and a number of shops and restaurants. The Rosebank Farms Caf (Seabrook Island; serves Southern-style fare starring seafood harvested straight from local waters.

Kismet, Fire Island, NY
While the resources at this tiny five-block town are fairly limited, with just one market, two restaurant/bars (Surf’s Out and the Kismet Inn) and an ice-cream shop (but no public bathrooms on the beach—you’re on your own there) it’s still a quick and quaint getaway just an hour from the city. Aside from the sand and sea, the beach hamlet features a large marina packed with partying boaters, and public courts for tennis and basketball. Book early for your stay at Margarita Villas (; rooms from $650 for a weekend); there are only six available units, but most have a private deck.

Lake George, NY
You might arrive at the “Queen of American Lakes” with a mission to loaf 24/7, but it would be difficult to do nothing in this beautiful place, located a little more than three hours from NYC in the Adirondack Mountains. Lake George Beach, also known as Million Dollar Beach, attracts a mixed crowd, while the quieter, shallow waters of Usher Park Beach are ideal for families. In addition to whitewater rafting, horseback riding and wine tasting at Adirondack Winery (, you can tour the mountains without even strapping on hiking boots: Plan a hot-air balloon adventure with Adirondack Balloon Flights ( It’s $275 per person for a small-group flight; if the smooth ride and insane views aren’t enough of an incentive to get you to try it, imagine the photographs you’ll be able to take home.

Ocean Beach Park, New London, CT
The newly renovated Ocean Beach Park is a clean, landscaped space: There’s a ton of local events competing for your attention nearly every day of the summer, including a beach party on Saturday 24 (6--9pm) hosted by Q105-FM. You can also spend a day riding the water slide ($14), carousing in the Olympic-sized pool (10am--5pm; $5) or one-upping your family or S.O. at miniature golf ($5) and in the video arcade. In the evening, stuff face at the Sandbar Caf and Lounge, which also has a view of the boardwalk stage’s free concerts.

Ocean City, MD
Shocking news: There’s another O.C.—a closer, less-drama-fueled, mellower town that hasn’t been immortalized in teenage soaps or reality television—worth parking your beach towel in. The three-mile Ocean City boardwalk is filled with arcades, shops, an amusement park and a bike lane. It’s even outfitted with a tram that will shuttle you back and forth across its entire length. But we recommend walking and taking plenty of pit stops as you go—especially if there’s food involved. Stuff yourself with a few pounds of saltwater taffy and fudge at Candy Kitchen (, followed by a basket of salt-and-vinegar fries at Thrasher’s (410-289-7232) and a large chocolate milk shake at Dumser’s Drive-in (410-524-1588). When you’re finally full of delicious junk, there are ten miles of sandy beach—take your time sussing out the best spot, throw down a towel and commence your relaxation mission. There’s also plenty of surfing, fishing, kayaking and canoeing here, not to mention 17 golf courses. When the day winds down, head to Sunset Park, a promenade with a delightful view of the bay, free concerts and a lovely sunset. The West Ocean City Park & Ride offers free parking across the bridge and a $1 Ride-All-Day shuttle service pass; the shuttle runs to and from the boardwalk daily from 6am to 2am.

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