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Inidan Well State Park, Connecticut.  

8. SUNKEN MEADOW STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Car. Long Island Expy. to Northern State Pkwy. E. to Sunken Meadow State Pkwy. N.
Cool Off: One of the few major beaches on the Long Island Sound, Sunken Meadow has much calmer swimming than its ocean brethren. The terrain gets prettier to the west, thanks to tall, glacier-formed bluffs.
Eats: Ciro’s 107 in King’s Park (a one-mile drive) serves Italian peasant food and good wines (631-269-2600).
Know This: $8 per vehicle. Info: 631-269-4333.

FIRE ISLAND
9. SAILORS HAVEN

Minutes From Midtown: 90
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Sayville ($24 round trip, includes ferry transport to Fire Island; $5 shuttle to ferry).
Cool Off: As the name implies, the main attraction is the 48-slip public marina. But an even better draw is the boardwalk trail through the serene Sunken Forest.
Know This: Info: 631-597-6183.

10. WATCH HILL BEACH
Minutes From Midtown: 95
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Patchogue ($24 round trip includes ferry transport), short walk to ferry.
Cool Off: Go dune camping: All 26 sites are within earshot of the ocean ($20 a night, two-night minimum; 631-567-6664).

11. OCEAN BEACH
Minutes From Midtown: 100
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Bay Shore ($28 round trip includes ferry transport; $4 taxi to ferry).
Cool Off: No radios, Frisbees, or picnicking on the beach (no alcohol either). But you’re in close proximity to the nightly villagewide frat party.
Know This: Info: 631-583-5940.

12. CHERRY GROVE
Minutes From Midtown: 90
Get There By: Train. LIRR to Sayville ( $20 to $40 round trip, plus $5 shuttle to ferry; $14 round-trip ferry).
Cool Off: Quiet, nudist-filled beach days coupled with wild, stripping-by-disco-light nights.
Eats: Have a beer while you watch the sun set from a second-floor deck of Cherry’s Pit (631-597-6820).

Connecticut


1. SHERWOOD ISLAND STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 75
Get There By: Train. Metro-North to Westport (from $20.42 round trip), cab to the park (about $10; 203-227-5157).
Cool Off: Technically a peninsula, the park is far enough from the mainland that the name seems appropriate. That buzzing you hear is the radio-controlled airplanes rolling stunts in the fields across the parking lot.
Know This: Info: 203-226-6983.

2. CALF PASTURE BEACH
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Train. Metro-North to East Norwalk (from $18.52 round trip), then cab or walk to the beach (about $5; 203-853-1267).
Cool Off: Rent kayaks at the Norwalk Sailing School (from $15; 203-852-1857), then paddle the kayak trail to the beaches of Shay and Ram Islands and on to Sheffield Island, where you can tour a 140-year-old lighthouse.
Eats: Stew Leonard’s runs the concession stand, which has everything from hot dogs to whole lobsters (served on weekend nights only).
Know This: Info: 203-854-7806.

3. PENFIELD BEACH, FAIRFIELD
Minutes From Midtown: 75
Get There By: Car. I-95 N. to Exit 21.
Cool Off: After a swim at Penfield or its neighbor, Jennings Beach, walk along the water to the historic Penfield Lighthouse, still in use by the U.S. Coast Guard. Penfield’s jetty is dangerous at high tide, so take a walk on Jennings’s instead.
Eats: Everything from fish and chips to salmon wraps at the Penfield concession stand.
Know This: $15 per vehicle weekdays; $25 on weekends and holidays. Info: 203-256-3191.

4. SEASIDE PARK BEACH
Minutes From Midtown: 120
Get There By: Car. I-95 N. to Exit 27.
Cool Off: Two and a half miles of coastline is hard to beat. But the park itself is also notable—it was designed by Central Park’s Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, and funded by P. T. Barnum as a gift to his hometown, Seaside Park.
Know This: $20 per out-of-state car. Info: 203-576-7233.

5. PEAR TREE POINT BEACH, DARIEN
Minutes From Midtown: 60
Get There By: Car. Take I-95 N. to Exit 10.
Cool Off: A true locals’ spot, in no small part because of the extortionate entrance fees. The soft sand and sheltered waters of the “back beach” are great for kids.
Know This: $40 per car. Info: 203-656-7325.

6. WALNUT BEACH, MILFORD
Minutes From Midtown: 90
Get There By: Car. I-95 N. to Exit 34.
Cool Off: Quieter than a lot of the state’s beaches, and with some of the best sand, too. On a clear day, you can see across the sound.
Eats: No concession stand, though the cafés and restaurants in Milford are within walking distance.
Know This: $5 per vehicle. Info: 203-783-3280.

7. SILVER SANDS STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 90
Get There By: Car. I-95 N. to Exit 35.
Cool Off: Take a low-tide walk out to forested Charles Island, where, legend has it, Captain Kidd stashed his treasure in 1699. Just be sure to find out when the tides are changing, so you don’t get stuck.
Know This: Unlike most of Connecticut’s beaches, it’s free. Info: 203-735-4311.

8. INDIAN WELL STATE PARK
Minutes From Midtown: 100
Get There By: Car. Merritt Pkwy. to Exit 52.
Cool Off: One of the only swim spots in the area, the park is often jammed with Housatonic River splashers.
Know This: $7 per out-of-state car during the week; $10 on weekends and holidays; $4 after 4 p.m. Info: 203-735-4311.

Reported by Christina Amoroso, Catherine Coreno, Kari Milchman, and Kathleen Reeves.


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