NATURE & NURTURE

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Beach season is upon us. And maybe that means the same lazy traditions we have always held dear: boardwalk browsing in A.C. while munching caramel popcorn, cooking a sunburn while scarfing Grotto Pizza in Rehoboth, or enjoying an afternoon beef-and-beer at Abbey Burger Bistro in Ocean City. And that’s OK! We’re not here to judge (just writing that paragraph made us hungry). But we think it’s worth noting that numerous health and wellness options are popping up throughout the region’s beach communities—part of a growing trend toward scenic fitness, organic fine dining and body-pampering treats so delicious we sense a new beachgoer tradition on the tide. Here are a few of our favorites.


Atlantic City Surf School and Club

Atlantic City

Feeling core-confident upon arrival? You might sail straight to surf school. Run by a national surfing champ and a two-time NSSA national team member, the Atlantic City Surf School and Club (acsurfschool. com, 609-347-SURF) offers lessons for all levels, including intensive Weekend Warrior camps designed to get you hanging 10 in three days or less. Also look for kids’ programs, including the brilliantly titled Teenie Wahinnie camp for ages 9 to 13. Really, can you imagine a cooler Facebook pic than you standing upright, catching a sky-blue wave? (Yes, the pros say they can at least get you to stand on the board, but often more.)

Or ease into your beach exercise routine with free boardwalk fitness classes starting (not that early) at 10 a.m. Work up a light sweat dancing Zumba amid the amazing Étude Atlantis installation on the A.C. boardwalk at California Avenue. An optical illusion of painted stripes, the “walkable mural” designed by John Roloff, serves as a fun and trippy backdrop for music and stage acts as well as fluid aerobic
exercise. Classes offered June 21-Sept. 1 and also include a regular AC Beach Body Boot Camp starting at 9 a.m. Visit atlanticcitynj.com for the full schedule.


A treatment room at Spa Toccare in the Borgata Hotel and Casino

Sore muscles deserve luxurious TLC, so reward yourself at Spa Toccare at the Borgata Hotel and Casino (theborgata.com), where you can choose among mega-rich facials, massage and moisturizing body floats. The Egyptian Milk and Honey Cocoon Float, which lasts 50 minutes, results in two perks: velvety-soft skin (at least for the night) and a new level of relaxation (at least until your cell rings). Then again, Table Thai Bodywork’s tempting too, especially for those on the wellness wagon. Nicknamed “assisted yoga,” the 50-minute practice walks each client through individually tailored stretching and breath work aimed at achieving spiritual invigoration and a state of “profound rest.” Sounds downright, well, heavenly.


The cool pool at The Water Club at Borgata

Sidestroke note: The Water Club at Borgata, the immense luxury hotel located steps from older brother Borgata, houses its own spa called Immersion, which features many of Toccare’s spoil-me services plus a gasp-worthy infinity lap pool and whirlpool overlooking the Atlantic. Here, taking a dip is more like taking a tranquilizer. Spa cuisine by celeb “Iron Chef” Geoffrey Zakarian is also potentially addictive—happy guests gather in the Sunroom Lounge nightly for cocktails and not-terrible-for-you tapas.

If retail therapy is your bag, visit the nearby Tanger Outlets (tangeroutlet.com), where you can take a bite out of the kids’ back-to-school shopping budget with savings at Lacoste, Abercrombie & Fitch, J. Crew and Puma. Tanger also has outlets in Ocean City, Md., and Rehoboth Beach, Del.—perfect for reducing road rage after a bout with traffic on the Bay Bridge.


Lums Pond State Park in Bear, Del.

Delaware

If you’re looking to get back to literal nature on your summer getaway, good news: the newly launched Delaware Trail Maps website (destateparks.com) makes it extra easy to snag an immediate overview of the more than 150 walking, biking, running, paddling, canoeing and swimming options sewn throughout the striking nearby state.

At Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, Del., for instance, did you know you can canoe past rare bald cypress trees, picnic under a canopy of natural shade and then consider a game of horseshoes? Check the site. There’s also kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird-watching—and more. Meanwhile, the Junction and Breakwater Trail, another camera-ready, non-commercial option, offers high-steppers a lovely lighthouse overlook. You’ll follow a section of the former Penn Central Rail Line, marching past mature hardwood and conifer forests and inspiring open fields. This trail is user-friendly for hikers, bikers and babies in strollers, so feel free to bring the kids along for the communing.

Later, wake your taste buds with fresh, organic dishes from critical darling Planet X Cafe (302-226-1928, planetcafe.com) in Rehoboth. (Keep your eyes peeled for the precious pink, blue and green house with a wraparound porch.) Both meat-lover and vegetarian menu options abound, and here, natural does not mean simple or plain. The popular Zen Bowl with scallion stuffed chicken thighs with red Thai coconut curry quite simply rocks—as does the stacked eggplant with creamy herb Boursin cheese and tangy Italian Puttanesca sauce. The moderately priced restaurant’s Buddha Bar also features organic wine—salud! Reservations suggested. 


Sunset paddle with 48th Street Watersports

Ocean City, Md.

From 9 a.m. ’til dusk, test some new waters by standup paddle boarding (SUP, man), one of the fastest growing workouts on water. For the $20/hour price of a board rental, coaches at 48th Street Watersports (410-524-9150, 48thstreetwatersports.com) will guide you through the strategic basics of the sport. At the end of the day, the popular Sunset Paddle class puts training travelers to the test with muscle-toning moves made less intimidating thanks to the darkening, romantic setting of the Isle of Wight Bay. Perfect for couples, cohorts and singletons, but interested paddlers should call ahead for reservations.


Ocean City Brewing Company

New arrival Ocean City Brewing Company (443-677-3075, ocbrewingcompany.com), native Joshua Shores’ family-owned, all-organic brewpub, is a fitting and festive place for fitness-centric visitors to indulge in a natural craft beer (or two) after a long day on the water. “We call it clean and green,” Shores says. “We don’t use preservatives or chemicals. All spent grains are recycled to farms for feed or made into dog biscuits, which we sell in our gift shop.”  (Cute, non-cliché gift idea for friends back home.) Twelve to 20 craft beers are on tap on any given day—from light beers to dark ales—and the bar features 15-foot Oktoberfest-style tables to encourage communication among locals and renters alike.


Frontier Town High Ropes Adventure Park

Assateague Island

Wild horses are usually the draw at Assateague, the 37-mile-long barrier island located off the eastern coast of Delmarva, spanning both Maryland and Virginia. But now you can also go on a zip-lining escapade at Frontier Town High Ropes Adventure Park (800-228-5590, frontiertown.com). Not sure what zip-lining consists of? Picture wooden platforms built in trees, linked by cables, ropes, bridges and various fun obstacles to heighten your senses as you climb, swing and “fly” (wearing a helmet; attached to cables, natch) through the air with the greatest of ease. Choose your degree of difficulty based on fitness level and comfort. The park is situated between Frontier Town Water Park and the Wild West Theme Park—so package deals are available. Kids under 10 are not permitted. And if you really want to rough it (we rarely do) consider the family campground. Yee-haw!


Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina

Cambridge, Md.

When you’re simply looking to hole up in a nice hotel, but still keeping health and wellness foremost in mind, the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina (410-901-1234, chesapeakebay.hyatt.com) offers deep pampering and ample outdoor activities in balanced measure.

Nestled on 342 acres, the resort’s sporting opportunities (beyond the award-winning, championship golf course) are divided between land—such as bike touring, tennis, volleyball and working out in the StayFit gym with views of the Choptank River—and water, where you can kayak, water-ski, crab/fish, go tubing or take a cruise with official Chesapeake Bay watermen.

The newly renovated Sago Spa and Salon, named for an underwater grass indigenous to the Chesapeake region, now features locally inspired treatments, like the Eastern Shore Remedy massage and the Old Fashion Back Tonic, a hot massage using steaming towels infused with rosemary, basil, bay laurel and arnica gel.

Heck, you can even book a hypoallergenic room at this we’ve-thought-of-everything resort, which for the first time this summer, is offering all-inclusive getaway deals, starting at $479 per night, based on double occupancy. If you’ve got kids on board, ask for the Family Petite Suite, which features bunk beds for the gang (and a king bed for Mom and Dad).

Get a sitter for dinner, though, because the resort’s new summer season restaurant, the River Marsh Gastropub, provides an ideal spot to drink and de-stress, just the two of you. Menu highlights—cheddar beer soup, Chesapeake crab hush puppies, Guinness-braised short ribs, crispy pork belly tacos and sticky toffee pudding—are decidedly bad for you. But no one’s watching. And, hey, sometimes bad-for-you can be divinely good for the hungry traveler’s soul, too.

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