Hammonasset Beach State Park
Boasting 900 acres, Hammonasset is two miles of sandy beach with mild ocean temperatures (we’ve enjoyed the sea there well into September) and a light surf, perfect for swimming, hiking, and surfcasting. More than 550 well-maintained campsites make for an inexpensive beach vacation when the big resort hotels are overflowing.
$10 weekends, $7 weekdays (day use). See Web site for camping schedule and fees.
1288 Boston Post Road
Scarborough Beach State Park
This strand, a soulful mile-long sweep of sand, is the best and most popular beach in the Portland area. Bracketed by the exclusive Prouts Neck summer colony at one end and the upscale Atlantic House condos at the other, Scarborough is the perfect place to spend a long, hot summer day swimming, surfing, sunbathing, beachcombing, exploring tidepools, and people watching. Arrive early on gorgeous days, as parking is limited.
Weekends April and November, daily May 1-Oct. 31 9-5; $4, children $2.
414 Black Point Road
Most of us head to the coastline during daylight hours for our fun, but one of our favorite hikes is led by MassAudubon in Wellfleet after dark. “Night Prowl” hikes are family-oriented adventures that take groups out in the evening in an effort to strengthen our senses by identifying nature’s sounds and smells with little visual assistance. MassAudubon also offers nighttime “Full-Moon Paddle” canoeing adventures, as well as a roster of daylight activities at the group’s 1,100-acre Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, which includes a vast salt marsh and a sandy beach.
$5, seniors and ages 3-12 $3
291 Route 6
Wentworth by the Sea
New Hampshire is home to the only remaining historic seaside grand hotel in the Northeast. Now owned and operated by Marriott, the Wentworth offers guests 161 luxurious rooms and suites, a full-service spa, two pools, and exclusive access to a country club and marina, all from its vantage point on Great Island, between Little and Portsmouth harbors.
588 Wentworth Road
New Castle, NH
Only 11 square miles, but what treasures. Pristine beaches … wild roses … steep red-clay cliffs overlooking an ocean that stretches toward Portugal. Kayakers glimpse rare birds dotting hundreds of freshwater ponds. Cyclists pedal up Spring Street to Southeast Light for a breathtaking view of Mohegan Bluffs, or ride to the end of Corn Neck Road, where a 20-minute walk through the sand (do it barefoot) heads to North Light. When you go, stand quietly and listen to the seagulls cry above this granite building set among rolling dunes. Here, you’ll understand the sea just a bit better.
Block Island Chamber of Commerce
1 Water St.
Block Island, RI
Interstate Navigation, State Pier, Galilee. 866-783-7996, 401-783-7996;