by D.J. Wilson- One of America’s favorite pastimes is spending lazy summer days on the beach. The combination of sand, sun and adventure has attracted people throughout history. America’s interest in the seashore experience sprouted during the Victorian era, a period of time from 1837 to 1901, marked by the reign of Queen Victoria of England. During this age of modest behavior, women would enter wheeled “bathing machines” to change into bathing dresses to be lowered to the water’s edge. America’s love for the seashore has evolved since the first public beach was opened in Revere, Massachusetts in 1896. Here are three great modern day American beaches, bound to give you beach fever. Choose from any of these or be sure to check out great ones near you this summer.
MAIN BEACH, LONG ISLAND, NY – The splendor of the dramatic Atlantic Ocean awaits you along the glistening soft white sand, exciting surf for those who love to swim great waves, lifeguard protection, a pavilion, snack bar, rentable lockers and clean restrooms. Folks who visit rave about the cleanliness and blue hue of the water, a “wow” factor considering this hidden gem is just about a two hour drive from New York City. The beach and dunes are considered fragile ecosystems and the village goes to great lengths to protect the vegetation and bird nesting areas. The drawback to visiting this beach is limited parking, with space designed mainly for residents and to prevent crowding. Folks may choose to get dropped off, bike over or walk to the beach instead. A weekend stay in the quintessential town is most inviting! East Hampton Fire Department sponsors annual fireworks at Main Beach on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend beginning at dusk. For more information and for an off-season beach schedule, visit www.easthamptonvillage.org and click on the link for beaches.hores of Main Beach, located in Southeastern Suffolk County, New York, in the picturesque Village of East Hampton. Main beach has a well-deserved reputation as one of the premier beaches on the East Coast due to minimal development along the shore, which is chiefly residential. Open daily during summer months, from the last Saturday in June through Labor Day, this family-friendly beach destination
SIESTA PUBLIC BEACH, SIESTA KEY, FLORIDA – A short drive from downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key is a barrier island off the central western coast of Florida, between Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. This eight-mile-long Florida Island is known for having one of the most beautiful powdery, white sand beaches in the world, made up almost entirely of quartz. The tranquil and warm gulf waters, shallow water depth along the shoreline, and year-round life-guarded areas make this an inviting beach for families, especially for those with small children. If you seek water adventure, rent a kayak or catamaran along the beach and spend an unforgettable day in the sun. Whether you simply wish to stroll along the sand, search for seashells and sand dollars, or picnic in a designated pine-tree covered picnic area complete with grills, you’ll enjoy making this your family playground. There are concession stands, restrooms, and volleyball and tennis areas. As an added bonus, the beach is within walking distance to Siesta Village, an island shopping and dining area. The Island offers unique shopping, accommodations, dining and night-life. The drawback is its popularity as the beach hosts more than 15,000 on a weekend. Happily, the beach is wide, offering the right amount of space for most beach-goers. For further information on this and other Florida beaches, visit www.visitflorida.com
SILVER LAKE SAND DUNES & SILVER LAKE, MEARS, MICHIGAN – Located in Oceana County, between the shores of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, are magnificent dunes which attract over a million visitors each year. The dunes have areas for off-road vehicles, with other zones ideal for walking, hiking or simply enjoying the pretty beaches of Lake Michigan and Silver Lake. Situated on the South end is Mac Wood’s Dune Rides, offering visitors 40 minute tours of the exciting Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Silver Lake beach is a beautiful spot where you’ll be happy to spread your family beach blanket. Enjoy the warm sand and nearby picnic areas, playgrounds and restroom facilities. Here, the channel of warm water is greatly enjoyed by children, while the Big Lake is suitable for older swimmers. The State Park Campground is open to the public. A day pass is required to use the beach area and may be purchased at the registration booth for a nominal fee. There is also a public boat launch. The drawback to this beach is a small parking facility. Folks may park in the pedestrian area lot and walk to the beach on the west side of Silver Lake. Others may choose to boat across Silver Lake to relax on the beach and enjoy the dunes. Don’t let that hold you back from taking in the beauty of the nearby attractive red-brick lighthouse, dating back to the 1870’s. The Little Sable Point Lighthouse is located just off Silver Lake Road. A visit here is certain to provide a favorable impression. For information on Silver Lake State Park, visit www.Michigandnr.com/parksandtrails
Though cultural influence has greatly changed and days of modesty remain but a memory, Americans continue to enjoy time at the seashore. The beach is more than the brightly colored blankets and umbrellas which dot the shore; it’s more than the coolers, sodas and sandwiches we bring; it’s more than the plastic flip-flops, giant sunglasses and floppy sunhats we wear. It’s an all-encompassing experience, from the rays of sunshine, the grains of sand, the rushing of the tides, the cool ocean breeze, the sound of gulls and the laughter of folks on the boardwalk, or even the simple silence of a peaceful lake.