25 Writers on Their Favorite Beach Vacations


The stereotype of Old Orchard Beach, on Maine’s southern coast, is of a place crowded by schlubby Quebecois dads wearing ill-advised Speedos, sweeping powdered sugar from their chest hair after inhaling slabs of fried dough. Speaking as a schlubby dad who loves the place, I know this has basis in fact. Yet Old Orchard Beach’s unapologetic lack of pretense is part of its appeal. And there’s a seven-mile crescent beach, a charmingly dated amusement park and a spring-break-lite atmosphere on the 500-foot pier that’s lined with bars, restaurants and souvenir shops.

Who goes there: Summer crowds descending from the north earned O.O.B. its nickname, “the French Canadian Riviera,” but the rows of rental cottages also fill with plenty of working- and middle-class New England families.

Must-eat: Crisp, crinkly “pier fries” from the original Pier French Fries counter on Old Orchard Street. Naturally, you can get them as poutine. BRIAN KEVIN

Four hours north of Manhattan, the “Queen of American Lakes” beckons all to its sun-dappled shores. The accessible southern terminus of Lake George, with kitschy arcades, wax museums and speedboats crowding the waterfront in the village of the same name, attracts the most tourists. My advice: Bypass it all and keep going north. On your way to Silver Bay, one of a handful of little towns that dot the northwest shores of the lake, you’ll pass through a time machine of sorts. Up here cellphone service is spotty, shops and restaurants are few and far between and the pleasures of lake life — naps on a sun-warmed dock, rowboat picnics, long swims in water so clean that it qualifies as drinking water — are of the old-school variety.

Who goes there: Mostly middle-class families from the Northeast.

Rainy-day activity: A fierce game of shuffleboard at the Y.M.C.A. compound, followed by a “Tongue Mountain” banana split at its general store. BONNIE TSUI

While the Hamptons were sacrificed to the Kardashians and Real Housewives of New York City long ago, Montauk has managed to hold onto its laid-back vibe and blue-collar roots, despite an influx of noisy newcomers. Early-morning surfers grab breakfast burritos from the Ditch Witch food truck to beat waves of Brooklyn moms, hipsters and occasional celebrities. At the beautifully rugged Ditch Plains beach, old-school New York accents still drift by, though they’re disappearing fast. An active night-life scene means that some hotels (like the Memory Motel, which the Rolling Stones sang about in 1976) are better for drinking than for sleeping.

Who goes there: Crowds from all of N.Y.C., though Williamsburg and Manhattan dominate.

Must-eat: John’s Drive-In, est. 1967, for the Big John Burger and homemade ice cream (I’m partial to the mint-chip).



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