Breaking up with summer is so hard, especially for New Englanders. The summer fling is short-lived, and it’s already time to kiss the season goodbye and move on.
Or stay together — just for September.
It was one of the best summers for a beach vacation in New England — endless sunshine, warm temperatures, even a few heat waves. And September can be just as lovely, and with many perks — fewer crowds, warm ocean temps, lower room rates, less traffic, and no mosquitos. Families with preschoolers also have the luxury of vacationing in September, as well as people without kids, of course. Here’s a beach bucket list of reasons September is the best time to visit the shore for a getaway.
“All New England surfers cherish the fall,” says Dustin Turin, owner of Surf Camp Maine at Scarborough Beach State Park, Scarborough, Maine. “In September, the water is still warm from summer, the beaches are almost empty, and we are at the peak of tropical activity for the year.”
And the surf forecast looks particularly interesting this year. “Many of the seasonal hurricane projections are still calling for this hurricane season to be the most active it has been since 2012,” says Mark Willis, chief meteorologist at Surfline Inc. Still, the Atlantic Ocean is unpredictable. “As all surfers know, even if you get a bunch of hurricanes or a ton of waves from frontal systems, things like local winds and tides can make or break a surf session,” says Willis. Surfline updates its site twice daily with expert forecasts. www.surfline.com
Surf Camp Maine offers a Fall Surfing program for kids 12 to 16 years old every Sunday, as well as lesson for all ages from 9 years old and up on Thursday and Saturday mornings. “It’s an awesome time of year to take a surf lesson,” says Turin. www.surfcampme.com
While beach bonfires in summer are typically prohibited in most towns, you can enjoy the Beach Day bonfire celebration at Red River Beach in Harwich as part of the annual Harwich Cranberry Arts & Music Festival festivities. The cranberry bogs might not be ready for harvesting just yet, but the Cape’s popular little red berry will be feted with sand sculpture contests, live music, and that bonfire on Sept. 10. (The festival’s other activities take place the following weekend). www.harwichcranberryfestival.org
The dog days of August are over and that’s great news for dogs who’ve been whimpering to get out there to catch a Frisbee, dig a hole, take a walk. In September, many New England beaches, which had prohibited dogs during the summer months, reopen again for our four-legged friends. Dates and rules vary from town to town, though. For instance, the beach welcomes dogs back on Sept. 15 in Chatham and in Seabrook, N.H. (where leashed dogs are allowed), but not until Oct. 1 in Gloucester and even November in a few other beach locations.
Sipping a seasonal cocktail at the shore’s edge in September is a treat, and there are a couple of beachy bars that stay open until at least Columbus Day. The Beach Bar at Ocean Edge Resort & Golf Club in Brewster debuted this summer, sitting high on a dune overlooking Bay Pines Beach. Come for the sunset over Cape Cod Bay and sip a Cape Cod Cranberry Mojito to celebrate the Cape’s cranberry harvest season. (Open only to guests staying at The Mansion or in the Presidential Bay Collection guestrooms.) www.oceanedge.com
One of the beauties of having kids who aren’t in school yet is that the school calendar doesn’t dictate your vacation. Parents of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers can stay at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, and participate in the Parent/Toddler program, offered Sept. 6-23. Mom and dad can share age-appropriate developmental play time with their little ones (crafts, books, rides on an antique firetruck, and marshmallow roasting for s’mores). Another plus — post Labor Day rates in September begin at $225 per night as compared to $480 per night in summer. www.winnetu.com
You can also book a beach cottage at sprawling Castle Hill Inn in Newport, R.I., and play on the resort’s private beach, just outside your door. Post-Labor Day rates begin at $775 per night (in summer, they start at $1,095 per night) and include breakfast and afternoon tea. Nice: Beach butlers are on hand to serve food and drink while you sunbathe. www.castlehillinn.comLaurie Wilson can be reached at email@example.com.