beaches

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…

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…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

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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)

So Ready for a Beach Weekend!

Large Wall Art Large Scale Photography Coney Island Beach II Archival Art Print 30x30"

Happy Friday! For the first time in ages, it’s the weekend and I have absolutely nothing planned. But since the weather forecast is looking pretty good, Evan and I are thinking maybe two beach days in a row—or sneaking away for a night at a nearby beach town. Ahh, summer weekends…

Hope you have a relaxing few days planned, as well. Until next week, a few of my favorite travel-themed links from around the web:

Gorgeous beach photos, including the one above, of Coney Island, by NYC-based photographer Mina Teslaru.

Books that feature flying. Have you read any of them? I’ve been wanting to check out The Skies Belong to Us.

Photo #28. Talk about the coolest World Cup-viewing party!

Amazing photos of floating markets.

A few of NYC’s coolest park benches.

How powerful is your passport?

A bike pizza slicer!

Where’s my jetpack rental?!

(Image via Minagraphy)

Let Summer Begin!

Aaron_Rose_1

It’s finally here: the weekend that officially marks the start of summer! (At least, in my book.)

Anyone who knows me—or occasionally checks in on me, here—knows that I’m a total summer girl. I live for long, sunny days; beach weekends; steamy weather; and as much time in the sunshineВ as I can possibly manage.

I’m having a very-NYC Memorial Day weekend: going to a friend’s BBQ in Brooklyn, tomorrow, and to the beach (Rockaway) on Monday—as long as the weather holds out.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend! And until next week, some interesting links from around the web:

The photo above is from an awesome-looking exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York: In the early 1960s, Aaron Rose photographed Coney Island beachgoers. His intimate portraits have a romantic, nostalgic feel. (The very effects that we’re always tryingВ to create on our snapshots with Instagram and other photo programs!)

This even earlier shot of Coney Island, from 1947—can you believe the crowd?!

Speaking of Rockaway—have you seen this proposal to bring a glampground there?

Um, this has to be one of the craziest ballet photos I’ve seen!

For those of us superstitious about 8s and 4s—this made me laugh.

(Image via by Aaron Rose, via the Museum of the City of New York)

NYC Beach Day: Rockaway

For the past week, I’d kept my eye on Sunday’s weather. Each day, the forecast was holding steady at 80 degrees and sunny, and I figured it could be my last chance to hit the beach.

So I was thrilled, this morning, when I woke up to clear blue skies and sunshine. Even though I’d accidentally slept in (something I rarely do!) and wouldn’t get to the beach until nearly 1:30 p.m., I figured it would be worth it.

Rockaway is probably the nicest beach in the five boroughs. (Though, to be honest, that’s not saying much.) But it’s a trek for me—nearly two hours on the A train. I get on at one of the first stops in Manhattan and ride it through my entire borough, all of Brooklyn, and then, finally Queens.

By the time I arrive, I’m more than ready to get my toes in the sand. It helps that the stops near the shore are preceded by a “B”—for beach, of course. That always makes me smile.

b 90 street

I stopped byВ Rockaway Taco for an order of fish tacos, to go. Like me, they’re also in denial about the end of summer—until the end of the month.

summer's still here

I’m glad that the taco stand came back, this summer, and that Rockaway seems to be recovering, post-Sandy. Some houses near the water are still under construction, and portions of the boardwalk are being rebuilt. But the open concession stands and bathrooms along parts of the beach have allowed people to patronize the area all season long—which, hopefully, has helped the local economy, a bit.

we've some a long way

I got onto the beach on 95th Street and walked east until I found a decently empty, quiet spot.

rockaway beach

Then I happily tore into my fish tacos.

rockaway tacos

As I was eating, I realized I’d settled in a surfing section. Everyone around me had a board and everyone in the water was on one. (In fact, an NYC Parks department vehicle drove by about once an hour, telling non-surfers to get out of the water. I suppose the don’t want to worry about swimmers getting whacked by surfboards!)

rockaway surfersWatching the surfers made me want to learn how to do so. For most of my life, I’d been oblivious to the sport—I didn’t know any surfers, growing up, and it was something I associated with the west coast. But last year, when I was in Bocas del Toro,В Panama, I wanted to be one of the surfers who spent all day out in the middle of the ocean—they’d drag their boards into the little water taxis, then jump out when they saw a good spot. I realized that there’s a grace to riding the waves, which is appealing to me. Plus, as someone who’s afraid of the ocean (surprise—I’m a total beach girl who almost never goes into the water), I’m envious of the fearlessness surfers seem to possess!

rockaway surfers

Maybe I’ll add surfing to my list of goals…rockaway surferAnd speaking of surfing—I still find it odd that Rockaway has become the go-to beach for surfers, hipsters and twentysomethings! When I was growing up, “the Rockaways,” as we called it, was just a working class neighborhood on the edge of Queens.

I’d been to the boardwalk once or twice, back when the Parks department ran the concession stands (no saltenas or frozen bananas then!) and the sunbathers were all locals. At the time, the only beaches I’d been to were on Long Island and the Jersey shore, so I was surprised that one existed in my own borough.

I hadn’t realized how close the beach was to JFK, either—and that’s proven to be a nice surprise, this summer. As you’re lying on the beach, you’ll see dozens of planes flying overhead, so close that you can identify the airline—Virgin, Quantas, Delta, United.
plane over rockaway

Something about that just makes me happy. All those planes remind me of great trips I’ve been on, and ones I’ve yet to take. And I imagine that the airplanes are full of excited people going on vacation, or coming back with good memories from ones they’ve just taken.

airplane

airplane over rockaway

If there’s another warm, gorgeous weekend, this year, there’s a good chance I’ll be back in the Rockaways. For me, it’s worth the four hour, round-trip subway ride!