beach

So Ready for a Busy Summer Weekend!

Fort Tilden, by Samantha Casolari

Happy Friday! I don’t know why, but even though I’ve been super-busy, this weekВ seemed to drag on forever! I have a packed weekend ahead, but I’m glad it’s here, nevertheless.

One of my best friends is getting married on Sunday evening, and I’m excited to celebrate those two. (Congrats, Duh and Lou!)

Of course, I’m planning a bit of beach time, as well. I’ll likely be headed to RockawayВ tomorrow, on a quiet, solo beach trip.

Rockaway is also where the photo above was taken. It’s from Brooklyn-based photographer Samantha Casolari‘s series for Rockaway Summer, a new, free publication about the area. I picked up a copy of it at Rockaway Taco, two weeks ago, and it’s gorgeous—mostly due to Casolari’s dreamlike images. See more of them here.

Until next week, some links from around the web:

В Aerial photos that starkly display the wealth disparity in Mexico City.

More amazing aerials: India, by drone.

9 Characteristics of a culture that determine happiness, longevity and quality of life…I think we’ve got a ways to go, here in the US.

A ballet-inspired clock.

What really hot days look like in NYC.

The fabulous travel illustration blog Drawn the Road Again just celebrated its first anniversary.

A free, gorgeous cookbook with a great social mission: Helping people make delicious, simple, healthy meals on $4 a day.

And finally: What cat would use this?!

Thanks to Mal for the clock and cat links!В Have a good one!

(Photo byВ Samantha CasolariВ via T magazine)

A Genius Beach Bag

I’m a total beach girl, but I’ll admit that once I’ve left for the day, I don’t want it following me home.В I’m not a fan of stepping on sand that’s made its way into my apartment. (Which is woefully not anywhere near a beach.)

The other day, I stumbled upon this genius Quirky beach bag.

Quirky's Shake Bag 1

It looks like a typical beach bag, made from water-repellant canvas, with a few pockets for stashing your stuff.

Quirky's Shake Bag

But if you undo a panel on the side…

Quirky's Shake Bag

…it reveals a mesh bottom with a little pull-handle you can shake to get all the sand out.

Quirky Shake Bag

Pretty brilliant! It’s amazing all beach bags aren’t built this way.

Quirky, if you’re not familiar with it, is an awesome company where anyone can submit their product idea. People can vote on what ideas they’d like to see come to life, and each week, the Quirky team decides which products they’ll produce. Eventually, they’re brought to market, and people can purchase those items from the Quirky shop.

I love the Everlane tote I’ve used as a beach bag for the past two years, but maybe it’s time for an upgrade?

(Images via Quirky)

New Yorker Beach Covers

Though I haven’t taken any other summer trips since LBI, I’ve made a point to hit the beach at least one day eachВ weekend. Like I’ve been saying—the sun and surf are so refreshing after a week spent in an air-conditioned midtown office building!

Sure, NYC-area beaches don’t have the cleanest sand or prettiest water. And yeah, they can get crowded. But I do love seeing my fellow New Yorkers, from all walks of life, basking in the sun and splashing in the water.

That’s why I love this week’s New Yorker cover, byВ Mark Ulriksen,В celebratingВ summer on Coney Island: It’s a vibrant and accurate depiction of New Yorkers taking advantage of their beach within the city. (Funny, I’ve been to Long Beach, Rockaway, Robert Moses and Jones, but not Coney Island, this year.)

MARK ULRIKSEN’S “CONEY ISLAND”

The magazine also has a gallery of past covers that featured the beach. I loved this one, from 2009, of a couple wading in the moonlight:

banyai couple

And I really got a kick out of these two, from the 1930s:

1937_08_14_Hokinson_Beach

1939_07_08_Taylor_Beach

It’s amazing how little a day at the beach has changed since then. The styles and technology are different, but packing a picnic and/or eating hot dogs and battling crowds are still part of the experience!

(Images via the New Yorker)

So Ready for a Chill Weekend

rockaway surfers

Happy Friday! As usual, I’m thrilled it’s the weekend—because that means I’ll be at the beach. (Rockaway, this time.) Even though it’s a schlep to get to any of them from Washington Heights, it’s so worth it. Nothing comparesВ to a day at the beach in the summertime.

Until next week, some of my favorite travel links from around the web:

More amazing aerial summer photos.

Awesome: NYC music references, mapped.

Rainbow-hued balconies in Sweden.

Extreme Slip’N Slide! At Lake Powell, Utah.

10 words and phrases travel writers should avoid. I totally agree, but admit that I’m guilty of using most of them, at some point!

How to make your home feel like a beach house. After coming back from my beach house week, I’ve wanted to overhaul my apartment and make it feel more like a seaside place.

I want this tree tent.

Dogfish Head just opened an inn!

…this isn’t travel-related, but it’s good to keep in mind: Your happiness makes your friends and familyВ happier.

Have a good one!

A Week on Long Beach Island

In early June, a group of friends and I rented a house on Long Beach Island.

True to its name, Long Beach Island is a lengthy, skinny barrier island off the coast of mainland New Jersey. The ocean is on one side, the bay on the other.

LBI, as it’s lovingly referred to, is a favorite summer escape for those of us who grew up in or around NYC. It’s just two hours, by car, from the city. When I was a kid, I lived for our annual vacation there: long days at the beach, riding my favorite carousel horse at the little amusement park, eating pancakes at Uncle Will’s, a breakfast place. I was excited to return to the island as an adult.

OurВ rentalВ was in Surf City, a block from the bay, three from the beach.

vacation rental

It had five nice bedrooms…

DSC_0483

…plus an outdoor hot tub, grill, beach cruisers, kayaks and tiki bar!

tiki bar

Many previous renters raved about the tiki bar in their reviews.В To be honest, I was wondering what the big deal was. But once we settled in, the appeal was clear. The tiki bar was the perfect place to hang out, any time of day…

peter and mal

DSC_0130

karen

…especially when cool beers or frozen drinks were involved.

pina colada

Since it was early June, it was still off-season. Many shops and restaurants were closed, or only open Friday through Sunday.

I didn’t mind, though. Because that meant the beaches were dead.

walkway to beach

When you’re accustomed to packed NYC beaches, it’s a luxury to have a stretch of sand allВ to yourself.

setting up on the beach

Some days were a bit cool and cloudy for sunbathing. That’s when everyone broke out the paddleball and frisbee.

frisbee 2

frisbee 4

I didn’t partake in the games, in case you were wondering—I have zero hand-eye coordination!

I was jealous of the people who owned beachfront homes. How nice it must be to hear the sound of waves from your bedroom.

beachfront homes 1

One day…

beachfront homes 2

LBI is 18-miles long. One cloudy day, Evan and I drove to the southern tip. A year and a half ago, Hurricane Sandy hit the island hard. Surf City, the neighborhood where we stayed, looked like it escaped pretty unscathed. But we drove byВ areas that were still rebuilding. Any house that was under construction, whether a new or existing structure, was being built several feet into the air, on pilings.

Holgate, a community on the south end, was still recovering. We passed many homes that looked abandoned on their pilings, with the beach washed out and their wiring dangling below.

Evan and IВ drove until Long Beach Boulevard ended, then got out and walked onto the beach.

southern part of lbi

We couldn’t go to the very tip of the island, due to rare nesting birds. So Evan hunted for seashells.

On the way back to the house, we stopped for clam chowder. (The soup is so popular on LBI that the island hosts an annual Chowderfest!) I thought this looked like a ton of soup, but we gobbled it up, bread bowl and all, in minutes.

clam chowder in bread bowl

Our group mostly cooked at home. Each couple took a night and prepared a meal for everyone else. I’m lucky to have friends who are good cooks! Every dinner was so delicious that I didn’t snap a picture of a single one. Sometimes being in the moment with good eats and good friends trumps documenting every second.

Of the restaurants we did try, Mud City Crab House was, by far, my favorite.

mud city crab house

The seafood joint isВ actually located off the island, in Manahawkin, but was so awesome that we ate there twice. Their snow crab legs were amazing—and reasonably priced.

snow crab

I was also thrilled that they served blue crabs—my absolute summer favorite! I ordered those for dinner when we returned on another night.

We had to check out of our house on Saturday morning. Before we left the island, we stopped byВ Uncle Will’s, my favorite breakfast spot from when I was a kid.

uncle will's

The place was just as cute as I remembered, with pig-themed paintings on the wall. The ceramic Uncle Wills still held court over the restaurant, and were seated at tables where little kids were dining.

uncle wills

No joke—I was tempted to ask for Will to sit at my table! Just like when I was a kid.

The pancakes were also great.

uncle wills pancakes

Since we got back, my familyВ andВ I have been talking about saving up and pooling our funds to buyВ a beach house, in a few years. That’s the thing about NYC. It’s great to be able to find anything you need, any hour of the day. But the fast pace and crowds also make you crave more of this, especially in the summer:

lbi beach

Amazing Aerial Beach Photos

On any given day, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than on a beach.

That’s why Gray Malin‘s A La Plage photo series makes me so happy.В Malin shot each photo while cruising over beaches in doorless helicopters.

The result: Incredible aerial photos of happy people in gorgeous, sunny settings. LikeВ Australia’s Manly Beach

Manly Beach, by Gray Malin

to Brazil

Brazil's Blue Beach, by Gray Malin

…to St. Tropez

St. Tropez Tahiti Club, by Gray Malin

…and even Coney Island!

Coney Island, by Gray Malin

Just stunning.

I’ll be keeping up with Malin’s photos—and his cool blog—long after summer ends.

(Images by Gray Malin; found via weather.com)

Ocean Grove’s Tent City

I spent both days on the beach, this weekend. Even though the weather was a little cooler and the beach a tad more crowded than I’d prefer, it’s always wonderful to leave the city and spend some time in the sand and surf.

My new goal in life is to buy a beach house within train or easy driving distance to NYC. I don’t have anything fancy in mind. Just an airy place where I can go to escape NYC on the weekends.

Last week, I stumbled upon a very interesting community that mostly fits that description.

Ocean Grove is a NJ beach town about an hour away from NYC. It has Victorian architecture, a boardwalk, a small downtown area—and “Tent City.”

It’s exactly what it sounds like: a community of people who reside in canvas tents during the summer.

Colorful awnings and flowers decorate tent houses in Ocean Grove

Tent City evolved from a campground, where people stayed while attending religious meetings, in the 1800s.В At one time, there were as many as 600 tents.

Today, 114 remain, with some modern touches, like wooden back rooms, kitchens and bathrooms.

Inside an Ocean Grove tent

The tents don’t offer much privacy—they’re close together and residents can hear what’s going on in the ones around them. There’s no BBQing allowed, and Ocean Grove is a dry town. And, true to its origins, Tent City is still a religious community.

Each tent goesВ for $4,000 to $7,000 a season. Yet, the wait list is rumored to be decades long.

The interior of the Le Duc family's Ocean Grove tent

I can certainly see the appeal. I would happily move into a beachy tent for the summer…though preferably in a non-denominational tent community that allowed BBQing and booze!

(Images via the State of NJ, NJ.comВ and NJ Monthly)