August is here already, And we’re scratching our heads and asking, “Where did the summer go?” With a few weeks left to celebrate summer, why not head to one of your favorite Atlantic beaches to wrap up the season? Give these coastal destinations some thought when planning your next beach trip.
Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May (population 3,463) is considered by many to be America’s original seaside resort. Its beautiful beaches are located within a 10-square mile area of the Cape May Peninsula on the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean — actually the southernmost point of New Jersey. The area is also home to quaint towns, iconic 19th-century frame buildings (including the Emlen Physick Mansion), and the 1865 Cape May Lighthouse, which stands 157 feet tall in the Cape May Point State Park. There are farms and wineries to visit, accommodations that range from budget to luxury, and good restaurants, many specializing in fresh seafood. (Look for details about fall restaurant week, which is coming up soon.)
Visitors enjoy whale watching, dolphin tours and dinner/dance cruises aboard the Spirit of Cape May. Beaches range from isolated areas such as Higbee Wildlife Management Area (with no facilities or lifeguards) to the City of Cape May, offering sand, surf, and a plethora of beach services, as well as bars and restaurants. Sunset Beach in Lower Township has easy parking, food at the Sunset Grill, and brilliant sunsets. Another popular beach is The Cove, known for its fantastic views, great surfing, and flag-lowering ceremony at the end of the day. There’s also Poverty Beach, which attracted service workers in the old days. Park the car upon arrival and walk or rent a bike. Taxis are available, too. (capemay.com)
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Highly-rated Rehoboth Beach (population 1,400) is known for its ocean views and iconic boardwalk which began in 1873. It is lined with restaurants, shops, hotels, and amusements such as Fun Land. The bandstand nearby offers free concerts, movies, and theater performances throughout the summer.
In recent times the town has taken on a new character as the “Summer White House” because President Joe Biden and his family vacation here. With its close proximity to DC, the beach is a natural draw for the Washington crowd. Rehoboth Beach has everything people look for in a beach -- good sand and sun, art galleries and museums, miniature golf and small theme parks, attractive places to stay, and a variety of restaurants. In fact, Eating Rehoboth, an event featuring food tours and tastings, has become quite popular over the years.
Visitors also enjoy Sea Otter Tours, focusing on the geography and history of Southern Delaware, and Delmania Discovery Tours centering on beer tastings and tours. History buffs are attracted to the Rehoboth Beach Museum, the Indian River Life Saving Station, and the Rehobeth Railroad Station, which houses the chamber of commerce. Nature lovers gravitate to the Delaware Seashore State Park, Gordons Pond, and Dune Nature Park. The Jolley Trolley at Rehoboth Beach is a good way to get around. (visitdelaware.com)
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City (population 6,972) was recently named one of the top 10 beaches in America by Trip Advisor, and its three-mile boardwalk was voted one of the country’s best by the Travel Channel. Visitors enjoy swimming, sunning, surfing, fishing, bicycling, kayaking, and canoeing on 10 miles of coast and playing golf on 17 different courses.
Free movies are shown on a big screen on the beach three times a week, and free music and entertainment, including yard games such as corn-hole and spikeball, are the norm. Drone shows are scheduled through Aug. 13. Concerts and fireworks are free, too. Arcades and amusements are plentiful as well. Ocean City is sporting a brand new performing arts center, where Jay Leno will do a show on Oct. 6-7. The Ocean City Center for the Arts hosts exhibits and receptions the first Friday of every month and offers workshops for all ages and events such as the Plein Air Painting Competition and the Sand Castle Home Tour.
Sunfest, the city’s most popular festival, is set for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 this year. Ocean City offers a plethora of accommodations, including chain motels, high-end hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns, and campgrounds and a variety of restaurants, including those specializing in fresh seafood (ococean.com).
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Located at the juncture of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean in the southeastern part of the state with a population of 450,201, Virginia Beach offers something for everyone. It boasts 35 miles of sandy beaches, a 3-mile boardwalk on the oceanfront, family attractions such as the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, a thriving food and craft beer scene, and exciting arts and entertainment venues.
It hosts a series of special events such as Movies in the Plaza every Saturday through Aug. 28, the Atlantic Coast Kite Festival on Aug. 14-15, and the Virginia Beach Funk Fest Beach Party Aug. 24-25. The Summer of Women exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art runs through Oct. 24. Virginia Beach offers a variety of accommodations and restaurants, where you can get fresh seafood. A new option for travelers is the Get Outdoors Pass, which gives discounts to attractions, tour operators, rentals and more — available digitally. Ride the ROX, a new luxury bus service between Virginia Beach and Washington was launched recently. (visitvirginiabeach.com)
Nags Head, North Carolina
Nags Head on the Outer Banks is the home of two national seashores, scenic lighthouses and interesting islands. Visitors stay in quaint bed-and-breakfast inns, classic motels on the beach, condos in gated communities and 10-bedroom beach houses with elevators. Pitching a tent in a designated campground is also an option. Dine on your favorite seafood at highly rated restaurants or have breakfast with the locals. When it comes to activities, there’s no limit to choices. Try fishing, kayaking, hang gliding or walking on the beach.
Now in its 84th season and considered the No. 1 attraction on the Outer Banks, “The Lost Colony” on Roanoke Island runs through Aug. 21. (It was dark last year during the pandemic.)
The outdoor drama tells the story of the English settlers who arrived in 1587 but disappeared after a few years. An upcoming special event is The Lost Colony Wine/Beer & Culinary Festival, presented by The Roanoke Island Historical Association on Sept. 25 (thelostcolony.org).
The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo, located within the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, is welcoming visitors during its 70th year of operation! Another national historic site in the area is the Wright Brothers National Historic Site at Kitty Hawk, where the first manned flight occurred in 1903. (nps.gov and outerbanks.org)
Dr. Beach’s List
Here are the beaches listed on the 2021 “10 Best Beaches in America,” compiled by Dr. Beach, also known as Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman (a coastal expert and former professor at the University of Maryland) and published annually for the past 30 years in Forbes Magazine.
1. Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
2. Coopers Beach, Southampton, New York
3. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach, Outer Banks, North Carolina
4. St. George Island State Park, Florida Panhandle
5. Lighthouse Beach, Buxton, Outer Banks, North Carolina
6. Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
7. Caladesi Island State Park, Florida
8. Coronado Beach,San Diego, Califollrnia
9. Breakwalker Park, Kiawah Island, South Carolina
10. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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