Discover a new waterfront where your family can enjoy fresh air, tasty food and each other’s good company. Here are seven places to consider:
Head to the end of Long Island, just beyond the famed Hamptons, for a relaxed experience in a beachy enclave where fishermen, surfers, urban hipsters and families easily mix in the salty air. Stroll along the docks to witness (and later sample) the arrival of the day's fresh catch, as tony yachts and the occasional sightseeing boat, spouting the area's seafaring history, inch into the harbor. Stay at the historic Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina, where all things nautical will serve as your holiday backdrop. A children's playground, stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and fishing expeditions provide plenty of opportunity for family fun. Head to the wide stretch of Atlantic Ocean beach a few miles away where you can watch surfers take on the world-famous wave action. Stop in to the Sloppy Tuna’s roof top deck, just steps from the sand, for a beverage, a lobster roll and one of the best views around.
Contact: www.discoverlongisland.com; www.GurneysResorts.com
Grand Marais, Minn.
Located on the shores of Lake Superior, this friendly, harborside village blends an artistic, creative vibe with an adventurous spirit. Home to nationally renowned artist schools and galleries, Grand Marais also serves as the gateway to the Gunflint Trail National Scenic Byway and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Hike Pincushion Mountain, set sail on Superior or bike along the shoreline. Plan a side trip down the historic Gunflint Trail where you’ll have the option to paddle across glacier-carved lakes, hike through ancient forests, fish for Walleye and sample Northwoods hospitality.
Contact: www.Gunflint.com; VisitCookCounty.com; www.OnlyinMN.com.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Porter, Ind.
Geocaching is a favorite activity of families who choose to explore this 15,000-acre Midwestern lakeshore. Be on the lookout for the rare Karner blue butterfly. Climb over dunes, along rivers and through wetlands as you choose from 50 miles of meandering trails where 1,100 native plants flourish. Take the Succession trail to the top of a dune for a view of the Chicago skyline. Kayak via the Lake Michigan Water Trail or claim your spot along the 15-mile stretch of sandy beach.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Baltimore
Decades ago, this spirited Maryland city bolstered a movement to transform industrial waterfronts into tourist meccas where restaurants, shops and appealing attractions would soon energize the local economy. Today, visitors flock to the Inner Harbor, which serves the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the U.S., bordered by the Susquehanna River on the north and the Atlantic Ocean on the south. Family travel plans often include a visit to the National Aquarium, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing and feasting on the region's famous blue crabs, oysters and clams.
Contact: www.visitmaryland.org; www.baltimore.org; www.aqua.org
Half Moon Bay, Calif.
This small enclave is an ideal spot for a relaxing coastal getaway. Sample Dungeness crab and other seafood offered by local fishermen. Visit the historic main street for shopping, galleries and restaurants where nearby farms showcase their fresh offerings. The state's magnificent redwood forest is a short drive away. There, you and your family can hike and picnic under the canopy of awe-inspiring trees. Stay in small seaside inns or more luxurious cliffside digs.
Facing the Inside Passage on the state's southeastern coast, this rugged frontier town welcomes visitors from cruise ships as well as other adventurers, eager to hear tales of the gold rush and to observe local wildlife. Visit the Tongass Historical Museum, the Totem Heritage Center and the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center to learn about the area's earliest residents -- the native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people. Ketchikan is home to the largest collection of totem poles in the world, many of which are scattered throughout town.
Founded in 1670, this Southern city and its scenic harbor provide an appealing blend of old and new. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and stories of Civil War-era prominence, beckon history lovers. Meanwhile, a burgeoning food scene, stunning beaches, nearby plantations, a top-notch aquarium and hip hotels nudge families to experience both. The Waterfront Park offers an ideal place to relax after an active day. As colorful sailboats and ocean-worthy ships slip in and out of the harbor, take note of nearby Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War rang out across the water.