Spring Lake, New Jersey
For a classic beach vacation, try this sleepy town

From the April 22, 2002 Issue of New York

Feel overwhelmed with too much to do? Take a ride to Spring Lake, N.J. -- only an hour and fifteen minutes via NJ Transit from Penn Station -- and ease into its deafeningly quiet, sublimely unhurried atmosphere. Founded in 1892, the town consists of rambling Victorian mansions with wraparound porches and sprawling lawns. There's a spring-fed lake in the center that, with its pedestrian bridges, swans, and weeping willows, has a wonderful, feels-so-fake-it-has-to-be-real vibe to it. And the boardwalk, which runs for two miles along an immaculate stretch of beach, is noncommercial, perfect for slow walks or quick jogs. Stay at the Breakers, a charmingly restored Victorian hotel right on the ocean. (Every room has a view.) For dinner, go to Whispers in the Hewitt-Wellington Hotel; it's BYOB, but the chef trained at Bouley. If you get restless, there are five world-class golf courses within a twenty-minute drive, and some pleasant galleries and shops along Third Avenue. But most visitors are content to do as little as possible.

NJ Transit (800-626-ride); the Breakers (doubles from $180; 732-449-7700 or breakershotel.com); Whispers (732-974-9755).