The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile walking (Credit: Newport, RI Visitors Bureau / Kate Whitney Lucey)

The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile walking path winding between the sprawling lawns of the Newport mansions and the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean in Newport, R.I.

Beach getaways close to Long Island

Long Island beaches attract visitors from around the world. But if you live here, it can be fun to experience other beach cultures for a change. To see how the seaside is enjoyed in nearby states, take an overnight or weekend trip to one of the following sandy shores.

Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn.

Connecticut's largest beach is a two-mile stretch along
(Credit: Hartford Courant / Patrick Raycraft)

Connecticut's largest beach is a two-mile stretch along Long Island Sound, at Hammonasset State Park in Madison, about two hours from New York City. Head here to sun yourself, launch a canoe or kayak into the gentle Sound or fish from the stone breakwater. Meigs Point Nature Center, inside the park, offers talks and walks focused on local wildlife. Madison was colonized by the British in 1639 and is full of history. Before heading to the beach you can make an appointment to tour the Deacon John Grave House (built in 1685) for a look at Colonial living. Madison's classic green was established in 1842, and today it is surrounded by shops, hotels, and restaurants. Stay at Beech Tree Cottages, a group of renovated buildings in the classic American travel tradition, that opened in 2012. Take home a souvenir from The Little Station, a funky gift shop full of handmade goods in a vintage filling station on the property.
MORE INFO
Hammonasset State Park, ct.gov (parks & forests)
Deacon John Grave House, deaconjohngrave.org, 203-245-4798
Beach Tree Cottages, beechtreecottage.com, 203-245-2676

Horseneck Beach, Westport, Mass.

Horseneck Beach at the western end of Buzzards
(Credit: Massachusetts Department of Cons)

Horseneck Beach at the western end of Buzzards Bay in Westport, Massachusetts, has two miles of sandy shoreline and breezes made for windsurfing. But its claim to fame is unusually warm water, thanks to the Gulf Stream that just grazes the southern Massachusetts coast. After a day at the beach, there are several ways to relax. The Head Town Landing Country Store has an eye-popping selection of penny candy as well as hot dogs, ice cream and lemonade. Buzzards Bay Brewery hosts BYOG (Bring Your Own Grillables), firing up a grill for visitors who want to grill their own food while enjoying craft beers from the Tap Room. If you want someone else to do the cooking, head to The Back Eddy, an upscale seafood shack where local produce and sustainable fish are the specialties. Accommodations in Westport are scarce, although there are plenty of B&Bs in nearby North Dartmouth and New Bedford. You can reserve one of the campsites that overlook the beach. Or for something different, try a farm stay at the Stonehaven Family Farm, just a few miles away. You'll get a large suite with a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, a farm breakfast included in the room rate and an opportunity to feed the animals and collect eggs.
MORE INFO
Horseneck Beach, 1.usa.gov/1mnLAoQ
Head Town Landing Country Store, westportheadcountrystore.com, 508-636-6191
The Back Eddy, theblackeddy.com, 508-636-6500
Stonehaven Family Farm, stonehavenfamilyfarm.com, 508-636-1361

Duxbury Beach, Duxbury Mass.

Duxbury Beach is a 6-mile-long barrier beach just
(Credit: MOTT)

Duxbury Beach is a 6-mile-long barrier beach just 35 miles southeast of Boston, great for combining with a trip to The City on the Hill. The beach itself is classic New England: A sandy section for swimming, and a pebbly spot with clam beds and a boat launch. The highlight for newcomers may be the old-fashioned bathhouse, where you can buy ice cream, ices, hot dogs, grilled cheese and fries. If you like your shore dinner with an ocean view, Blakeman's, a full-service restaurant serving lobster and fried seafood baskets, operates right on the beach. Get out onto the water with the folks from the Island Creek Oyster Co. They offer afternoons on Duxbury Bay aboard one of their oyster skiffs, plenty of oysters included in the tour. The town of Duxbury has a preppy New England vibe. Beautifully maintained sea captains' mansions line Washington Street, the main drag. The Old Burying Ground is the final resting place of some well-known Pilgrims, including Myles Standish. A newer attraction: The Art Complex Museum, which houses the collection of the Weyerhaeuser family (of lumber business fame), with important pieces of Shaker furniture and American paintings and prints by John Singer Sargent, Thomas Hart Benton, Grant Wood and many others. Stay at the Winsor House Inn, a Duxbury institution with a fancy restaurant.
MORE INFO
Duxbury Beach Park, duxburybeachpark.com
Island Creek Oyster Farm, islandcreekoysters.com, 781-934-2028
The Art Complex, artcomplex.org, 781-934-6634
Winsor House Inn, winsorhouseinn.com, 781-934-0991

South Shore Beach, Little Compton, R.I.

To discover Rhode Island's seashore, head to Little
(Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel)

To discover Rhode Island's seashore, head to Little Compton, where you'll find two beach experiences in one. South Shore Beach has a long strip of white sand that becomes a lively local playground in summer. Walk east and cross a shallow tidal creek to quiet and unspoiled Goosewing Beach, a wildlife refuge owned by the Nature Conservancy, which protects endangered shore birds including the piping plover. Country lanes leading to and from the beach are lined with cow pastures, orchards and hayfields. This is an area with long-standing summer traditions. Enjoy fried clams at Evelyn's Drive-In in Tiverton, which has been open since 1969. Gray's Ice Cream has been scooping mint chip and cherry vanilla since the 1920s. That doesn't mean there's nothing new to taste. Stop by Sakonnet Vineyard and sample the winery's current releases. And then check into Stone House 1854, on the National Register of Historic Places but renovated to include amenities such as green heating and cooling systems, spa treatment rooms and a private beach.
MORE INFO
South Shore Beach, visitrhodeisland.com
Evelyn's Drive-In, evelynsdrivein.com, 401-624-3100
Gray's Ice Cream, graysicecream.com, 401-624-4500
Stone House 1854, stonehouse1854.com, 401-635-2222

Sachuest Beach, Middletown, R.I.

Middletown, a few miles from Newport on Aquidneck
(Credit: Sachuest Beach)

Middletown, a few miles from Newport on Aquidneck Island, boasts several beaches, with Sachuest Beach (known as Second Beach by locals) often cited as the best. The western end attracts surfers, the sandy stretch in the middle satisfies sunbathers and swimmers and the eastern end borders a nature preserve with plenty of bird-watching opportunities. If ocean scenery isn't enough, turn toward the shore to admire the Gothic spires of St. George's School. Head into Newport to witness one of the sailing regattas that regularly take place during the summer or to tour the famous "cottages." Villa 120, a luxury B&B with formal gardens and antique furnishings, offers a taste of Newport cottage living away from the crowds in town.
MORE INFO
Sachuest Beach, visitrhodeisland.com
Villa 120, villaonetwenty.com, 401-619-5993

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Spring Lake Beach, Spring Lake, N.J.

"Genteel" may not be the first word that
(Credit: Wikipedia)

"Genteel" may not be the first word that comes to mind in relation to the Jersey Shore, but it is a perfect description of the Victorian town of Spring Lake. Closer than Cape May (just 65 miles from Manhattan), but with the same turn-of-the-last-century charm, it is home to New Jersey's longest noncommercial boardwalk (sorry, funnel cake fans) and two miles of sandy beaches. Picturesque wooden footbridges span the spring-fed lake that gives the town its name. The downtown shopping district, just steps from the ocean beach, is packed with boutiques, antiques shops and outdoor restaurants. Spring Lake Community House houses the Spring Lake Theatre Company, which mounts plays and musicals each summer. Stay at the Spring Lake Inn, former stables built in 1888 and renovated to a luxurious standard.
MORE INFO
Spring Lake Beach, visitnj.org/spring-lake
Spring Lake Theatre, springlaketheatre.com, 732-449-4530
Spring Lake Inn, springlakeinn.com, 732-449-2010

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