Why a New England vacation beats heading south — FranklyStein

paugI'm always amazed by the people who head south in the summer. It's hot and humid — even worse than it is here. The South is better for a winter getaway or a spring break destination. The summer is a good time to head north.

I'm biased. I've been spending summer vacation in Rhode Island since I was a kid. In my mind, it's the ideal summer vacation destination. It's cooler and there's often a refreshing (sometimes brisk) breeze off the ocean. In the evenings, you might need a light sweatshirt — even in mid-August.

The New England coastline is nothing like the Maryland shore or even the beaches farther south. Huge rocks, boulders and bluffs break up the beaches. You might have a stretch of beach for swimming and then a rocky point.

treasureWhen the kids get bored of playing in the surf, they can hunt for sea life among the rocks. My kids spent hours in the rocks when they were little — crushing mussels. and using them to catch crabs. They would make puddles in the wet sand and create little habitats with crabs, starfish and minnows. I love hunting for sea glass on the beaches between the rocky points. It can be plentiful, especially after storms.

The ocean is a tad chilly but still great for swimming. I was there last weekend and it was in the mid-60s — which felt totally refreshing, if not a bit numbing. If that sounds a bit chilly to you, rest assured, it can get up into the mid-70s by late summer.

The area also has a string of salt water ponds that offer calm water for sailing, kayaking and water skiing. When I was a kid, I raced Sunfish sailboats on one of those ponds and learned how to Windsurf when the sport was brand new.

The coast is also dotted with quaint towns great for sightseeing and shopping. My kids love Watch Hill, the southwestern-most point in Rhode Island. If you aren't in the mood to shop, you can walk the length of Taylor swiftNapatree Point out to a deserted fort or down a scenic side road to a lighthouse. Kids can ride the antique flying horse carousel and tweens and teens can try to catch a glimpse of Taylor Swift, who has a house just up the street (the big white house pictured on the right). We've never seen her, but many of my friends have.

Newport is another Rhode Island town worth a stop. My kids love the Cliff Walk which has amazing views of the ocean on one side and historic summer mansions on the other. We often make the trek there in the off season when the crowds are smaller.

If this is tempting you to explore New England, don't miss our story 3 New England vacations for fun and learning. Find out where to stay and what to see in Newport and while you're up there, plan a few days in Boston. The story offers several educational and fun stops not to miss in Bean Town.

If the ocean or a big city is not your cup of tea, the story also includes a section on Vermont, where you can soak in the pastoral beauty on hikes or bike rides and visit such landmarks as the Ben and Jerry's ice cream factory.

Why would you ever go south again?

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Life editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.