Growing up, I didn’t stay at the beach as a vacation. When my family went to the beach, we drove there in the morning, spent the day on the sand, and stopped for dinner at an Applebee’s on the drive home. After graduating from college, I started going to the beach with my partner’s family, who had spent a week in the same beach town every year for the past twenty years. Without that history, I had never really understood the appeal of spending that long at the beach. Last week, we were there for what was my sixth time going and the obvious reason finally hit me.
Beach towns are walkable. Because people don’t want to stray far from the beach, most of the things you want are right there. At dinner time you can walk to your choice of restaurants without worrying about finding somewhere to park. If you want to go out for drink, you don’t need to decide on a designated driver or make sure you don’t have too much to drive. Want some ice cream? Walk to the ice cream shop. Forget something you need to make dinner? Walk to the grocery store. Want some exercise? There’s probably a boardwalk or promenade separated from cars that you can walk or run on. People can ride bikes relatively safely too because there’s less car traffic and strength in the number of people walking or cycling. For myself and many other people who have only lived in the suburbs, going to the beach for a week is a rare glimpse at not being car-dependent and it’s nice.