It’s a Friday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. You are sitting in a tiny, overheated and drab cubicle at your unpaid internship, checking your e-mail for what seems like the hundredth time and counting down the minutes until 5 p.m. You will then walk to the nearest Metro stop in the blazing heat, or pouring rain, and ponder which bar to go to for happy hour. This is how your summer will go, day by day, week by week, until it is time for fall classes to start again.
What you need is the fresh sea air and a long stretch of white sand to spice things up. You need to be soaking up the sun in a bathing suit rather than a business suit.
You need to go to the beach. From Virginia to New Jersey there are plenty of shores from which to choose. Whether you are looking for a quiet escape from the city or a chance to relive the craziest incidents of spring break, there is a beach to suit you.
1. Cape Henlopen, 123 miles from D.C. Cape Henlopen offers surfers and beachgoers four miles of a quiet and less-frequented stretch of smooth sand and often-gentle waters. For only $5 a day, tourists can enjoy a public nature center, fishing pier, bathhouse and tennis and basketball courts at Cape Henlopen. The Cape Henlopen State Park is also home to one of the east coast’s highest dunes, measuring 80 feet high. And for those looking to seek riches, Captain Kidd supposedly buried his treasure in the dunes of the beach in 1700. Cape Henlopen is best described as pleasant, and offers tourists an active vacation rather than one packed full of bars and parties.
Cape Henlopen Motel
(302) 645-2828 / $45 per night
Blue Water House (302) 645-7832
$75 per night
Sleep Inn (302) 645-6464
$70 per night
2. Rehoboth, 122 miles from D.C.
Rehoboth can be described as the Dupont Circle of the Delaware beach scene, with its trendy shops, bizarre and large restaurants and gay-friendly atmosphere. The nightlife here is reminiscent of any college bar scene, and can also be confused with an episode of one of MTV’s Spring Break shows. Tourist traps such as a multitude of T-shirt shops and temporary tattoo parlors line the small boardwalk. Most of the waterfront lodging consists of small rental homes, but hotels can be found farther inland.
Boardwalk Plaza Hotel (302) 227-7169
$79 per night
Summer Place Hotel (302) 226-0766
$80 per night
Lord and Hamilton Seaside Inn
(302) 227-6960 / $130 per night
The Sea Voice Inn (302) 226-9435
$135 per night
3. Dewey Beach, 123 miles from D.C. As far as Delaware beaches are concerned, Dewey Beach is by far the biggest attraction for college students. Spring Break seems to last year round, with bars and events such as the annual bar golf, similar to D.C.’s bar crawls, held in August. Bargain motels and hotels flourish, as well as time-share rentals that dot the edge of the shore. Dewey Beach is the neighboring town to Rehoboth, so both beaches can be enjoyed on a vacation to either of these cities.
Best Western Gold Leaf
(302) 226-1100 / $59 per night
The Marina Suites (302) 227-1700
$169 per night
Adam’s Oceanfront Hotel
(302) 227-3030 / $135 per night
Atlantic View Motel
(302) 227-3878 / $139 per night
4. Fenwick Island, 134 miles from D.C. The beaches of Fenwick Island are both breathtakingly beautiful and relatively quiet compared to other beaches in Delaware. Once a quiet resort, Fenwick Island is quickly getting remodeled with trendier hotels and villas that are taking the place of older homes and cottages. Like any typical beach resort town, fishing marinas, souvenir shops and bars and restaurants fill the area. This is the perfect area to kick back and work on your tan during the day and then hit the bars for a chill, relaxed night with friends.
Fenwick Sea Charm Motel
(302) 539 9613 / $70 per night
Fenwick Island Resort
(302) 539-2333 / $29-129 per night
1. Ocean City, 137 miles from D.C. Ocean City has something for everyone. The beach is filled with everyone from families to high school students to college students. Bargain hotels, amusement park rides, eateries, bars and shops line the boardwalk. The beach is a wide expanse of white sand that is usually crowded by midday. Tourists can do anything from playing a round of golf to getting inked. There are at least three bars in walking distance of wherever you choose to stay.
Park Place Hotel (410) 289-6440
$49 per night
Quality Inn Boardwalk
(410) 289-4401 / $29 per night
Flamingo Motel (410) 289-6464
$39 per night
1. Ocean City, 191 miles from D.C. Nicknamed “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” Ocean City is not the place to go to party. The city is “dry” alcohol-wise, making this beach a calmer and quieter vacation destination. But hey, at least the scent of stale beer won’t tarnish the clean, sea air. And if you go in August, you might be there to witness the annual beautiful baby contest. If you are looking for good, wholesome fun on a clean boardwalk, amusement parks and a relaxing, flat beach, this town is the place for you.
Days Inn (609) 398-2200
$55 per night*
Georgian Hotel (609) 399-0756
$64 per night
2. Wildwood, 192 miles from D.C.
Get ready to do the twist and the hand jive. Wildwood is known for its retro, 50s and 60s-style hotels and attractions. Their glaring, neon lights will bring any tourist back to the era of the Rat Pack and Frankie Avalon. Tiki bars and various retro-style lounges dot the landscape of this beach. Ferris wheels, the presence of turquoise-colored everything, plastic palm trees and, of course, a nice dry martini make this beach a perfect blast to the past. And like most New Jersey beaches, Wildwood offers a two-mile-long boardwalk complete with amusement parks and various shops, bars and lounges. So crank up the Elvis and put a peanut butter and banana sandwich on the grill to fry.
Rio Motel (609) 522-2267
$82 per night
Surf Comber Motel (609) 522-2267
$70 per night
El Ray Motel (609) 522-2974
$60 per night
Mango Motel (609) 522-2067
$65 per night
1. Chincoteague, 164 miles from D.C. Chincoteague was once described as the perfect travel destination for lovers along the Virginia coast. Wild ponies roam freely throughout the area. If you are traveling at the end of July, you can witness Pony Penning Day, which usually takes place the last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday of the month. At the event, firefighters swim ponies from an off-shore island to the beach and then auction them off to perspective buyers. Chincoteague is a great place for nature lovers, as most of the local animals are accustomed to their human neighbors and are willing to come out in the open. This beach area is pretty quiet, and only offers a handful of shops and family restaurants.
Comfort Suites Chincoteague
(757) 336-3700 / $90 per night
2. Virginia Beach, 208 miles from D.C. While the traffic out to Virginia Beach can be as hellish as driving through D.C. rush hour, this area offers a more upscale version of Maryland’s Ocean City. In the heart of the town is “the strip,” which is full of shops, restaurants and bars. For women who can’t resist a man in uniform, Virginia Beach’s proximity to Wilmington, N.C. – which is home to a military base-gives the area a military feel. (A good point of comparison is the amount of attractive men in Annapolis, Md., where the Naval Academy is located). This beach is much more family-oriented than Ocean City, but outdoor cafes and scantily clad members of the opposite sex keep the younger set of tourists coming season after season.
Alamar Resort Inn (757) 428-7582 $65 per night
Best Western Oceanfront
(757) 437-1972 / $49 per night
The Dunes Oceanfront Hotel
(757) 428-7731 / $89 per night
*All prices are starting rates; holiday and weekend rates may be higher./