Beach Bums

The looming recession and killer deadlines have you longing for simpler times: drives down memory lane to classic yesteryear beach towns with sandy hotel room floors. Give the wallet a break and ask to borrow Mom’s station wagon.

California Cruisin’
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is one of the last surviving seaside amusement parks in the U.S. No upscale shops and eateries here; just carnival games, snack booths, and the legendary Giant Dipper roller coaster. The boardwalk stretches along Main Beach, immortalized by The Beach Boys in “Surfin’ USA.” Surfin’ not your thing? Head to nearby Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Bring the tent and the s’mores.


Mother May I
Cape May is Jersey Shore classic with a twist. After the day on the beach, feast on Jersey Shore clam chowder at The Merion Inn. Then take on the ghostly past with The Original Haunted Cape May Tour. You’re in the oldest seashore resort in the U.S. There’s bound to be a few skeletons in the closet.

mack daddy!

Car-free Zone
Wondering what your great, great, great grandparents did for fun? Cruise back to the elegant Victorian 1880s on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Hike, bike, or sail around. Just don’t think about driving — cars are banned. After all that exercise, you need to refuel with fudge from Ryba’s — considered among the best in the country.

the real oc!

The Other OC
Stroll the Ocean City, Maryland, boardwalk and score seashell necklaces and paintings by local artists at Inlet Village. Stop by a stand for a crab cake sandwich, heavenly Boardwalk Fries, and saltwater taffy. Come nightfall, take a spin on the carousel at Trimper’s Rides and recreate your first kiss, awkward tongue and all.

mo betta boca!

Ever wonder what Florida looked like before spring break? Hello, Boca Grande. Pristine white sand beaches, the sparkling blue-green Gulf, a century-old lighthouse, and no MTV cams. There’s not a lot to do beyond lounging under Banyan trees and sipping cocktails on the front porch at The Anchor Inn. You’ll blend in with the retired locals if you zip around town in their vehicle of choice: the golf cart.

See? The good ol’ days aren’t so far gone.

Top photo: Santa Cruz County CVC/Frank Balthis