Stone Harbor, NJ
Distance from DC: 200 miles, 3.5 hour drive
In a nutshell: This laid-back, largely residential town on Seven Mile Island is ideal to avoid tourists.
What to do: While some new luxury resorts have popped up lately, we prefer the classic beachy rooms of the Lark Motel. With a pristine outdoor pool and grill on the rooftop deck, the Lark is only two blocks from the beach. For a glimpse of nature, head down to Stone Harbor Point, which is home to a great ocean beach, tidal marshlands, and some of the best birdwatching in the area... look out for herons and egrets. Spend your days relaxing on the sparsely populated beaches. If you visit in September, look out for the Nuns’ Beach Surf Contest, which is... exactly what it sounds like.
Besides the beach, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy during the day, including rooftop mini-golf at the animal-themed Club 18, or the bohemian paradise Blue Eden for clothes, jewelry, and toiletries. For a midday break, stop at the renowned Quahog’s Seafood Shack for smoky shrimp and grits, or crab-stuffed pancakes. Enjoy the sunset and have dinner at bayfront Water Star Grille, which boasts an outdoor deck, shareable plates, and sparkling cocktails. And make sure you brave the lines at Springer’s. We recommend the "blue one."