"It's coastal grandmother chic!": discover seaside escapades only a train ride away from New York City

With a hashtag amassing over 369.1 Million views on TikTok as of Spring 2023, the “coastal grandmother aesthetic” has become an irresistible trend that has anchored itself at the intersection of fashion, lifestyle and culture. TikTok user Lex Nicoleta, who coined the term, describes it as an aesthetic that would resonate with people who enjoy “coastal vibes”, Nancy Myers movies, cosy spaces, home cooking and the work of culinary legend Ina Garten. A coastal grandmother can be any age, and she doesn’t even need to have any grandchildren, but she must love timeless, chic and, most importantly, comfortable clothes, cooking for her friends and family in an open space kitchen, and taking long walks by the beach with her partner’s sweater tied around her shoulders.

As you begin to make your summer plans, we’ve compiled some excellent seaside escapes along the east coast that will not only allow you to live out your greatest coastal grandmother ambitions, but are also accessible by train from New York. New York So grab your favourite LL Bean tote bag, pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay and get ready to relax and enjoy a weekend away to truly embrace the coastal grandmother lifestyle.

Sunset at Hamptons Beach, New York

- © Paula Montenegro Stock / Shutterstock

1. The Hamptons

While the Hamptons may conjure up images of flocks of wealthy Upper Eastsiders or Gossip Girl “white parties”, it’s undoubtedly the perfect place to live out your most lavish coastal grandmother dreams. The Hamptons is made up of two towns, Southampton, where you’ll find the beaches of Bridgehampton and Westhampton, among a few others, and East Hampton, where you’ll find the beaches of Montauk and Amagansett. The former is great if you want to experience a more formal side of the Hamptons and gaze at the lavish mansions and perhaps even attend a gala, whereas the latter is the perfect place for a more laid-back experience with some great surfing spots and for relaxing on the beach.

Footpath through the dunes at Hamptons Beach, New York

- © Darwin Brandis / Shutterstock

Take the time to explore the area, go on long coastal walks along the stunning golden sand beaches, sit and watch the sunset and perhaps even go on a bike ride through the towns.  We particularly love the beaches in Montauk, the iconic Atlantic Avenue Beach in Amagansett, and Cooper’s Beach in Southampton, all of which are perfect for an afternoon walk. 

For dinner, why not pay the iconic Nick\&Toni’s a visit for some hearty family Italian dishes or head to Channing Daughters for a wine tasting. 

Getting there

The Long Island Rail Road services run year-round to the Hamptons and Montauk from Penn Station. Peak tickets cost around $30, while off-peak tickets cost about $22,50. Find out more about the train services and specific schedules on the MTA website

Where to stay in the Hamptons

We love Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa for its epic beach views, relaxing atmosphere and exceptional location. 

Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa New York

Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa

Gurney’s Montauk provides year-round lodging in Montauk, situated directly on the beach and 13.4 kilometers away from Montauk Point Lighthouse. Guests can enjoy complimentary WiFi access during their stay.
£350 /night

2. Port Jefferson, Long island

This delightful town on Long Island’s Northern shore was settled as a rural town in the 17th century, but transitioned into a more industrial area in the 19th century. Today, Port Jefferson’s economy centres around tourism and New Yorkers love to visit its glorious sandy beaches. The locals are friendly and welcoming and it’s really easy to head into town to grab a drink after a nice long walk on the beach.

Sunset at Port Jefferson, New York.

- © Si Thu Kyaw / Shutterstock

Perfect for a day trip away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Port Jefferson is a fantastic harbour of peace and a wonderful place to connect with your inner coastal grandmother. Make your way to the Village Beach for a nice long restorative walk. 

The town has some great local restaurants and eateries, we especially loved the Fifth Season for its fresh food and stunning seaside views, and Cafe Local’s for a delicious lunch and a great selection of artisanal coffee. 

Getting there

The Long Island Rail Road services regularly run from Penn Station to Port Jefferson. You can find out more about fares and specific train schedules on their designated webpage

3. Mystic, Connecticut

This idyllic Connecticut town was once an important sea port. These days, its seaside economy is still its defining trait but the town has also developed into a charming harbour of warmth and peace. Located on the Mystic River, Mystic may not technically qualify as a coastal town, but the dazzling waterfront views certainly make up for it. The town has a quintessentially Connecticut feel, with a mainstreet bursting with classic small-town-America charm and overall out-of-time and almost old-fashioned atmosphere.

Mystic seaport, Connecticut.

- © cvrestan / Shutterstock

A fantastic spot to relax and enjoy views of the glistening waters, Mystic is a wonderful place to enjoy local wines and foods. Head to Jonathan Edwards Winery for a tour of the stunning grounds and tastings, or Red 36 for some amazing seafood with an unbeatable outdoor space overlooking the waterfront. 

Getting there

Amtrak runs regular services from Penn station to Mystic. On average, the trip takes 3 hours. Find out more about train schedules and prices on the Amtrak website.

Where to stay in Mystic

Harbor View Landing makes for a perfect Connecticut experience, with breathtaking harbour views, fantastic amenities and a wonderful green space, there’s no denying its appeal for a weekend away from the city.  

Harbor View Landing New York

Harbor View Landing

Located in Mystic, within 2.9 km of Mystic Seaport and 18 km of Foxwoods Casinos, Harbor View Landing provides accommodation with water sports facilities and free WiFi throughout the property as well as free private parking for guests who drive.
£335 /night

4. Asbury Park, New Jersey

Bursting with personality, Asbury Park is often overlooked for other Jersey shore beach locations but this small seaside town packs a great deal of fun, and crucially, provides an excellent beach experience without being too far from the city. It also has a wide boardwalk and many cute little stores along the way that only serve to enhance its classic small beach town charm.

Aerial of Asbury Park, New Jersey.

- © FotosForTheFuture / Shutterstock

The beach is wide and perfect for a long walk, or a sit down to read the latest Emily Henry book (Beach Read would be the obvious choice here, but People We Meet On Vacation works too). The beach is also open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and until 6pm on the weekend. Beach passes are sometimes required to get access during the summer period or on holiday weekends, you can find out more about these on their webpage

Getting there

The New Jersey Transits' North Jersey Coast Line takes visitors from Penn station all the way to Asbury Park Station. The journey takes around an hour and a half. You can find out more about train schedules and timetables on their website.  

5. Jones Beach

Jones Beach State Park is synonymous with family fun. It’s a wonderful place to embrace your inner coastal grandmother, and share that side of yourself with the whole family. With sweeping white sand beaches and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s a welcoming and accessible coastal town that provides a breath of fresh air for any visitors.

Moon rising over Jones Beach State Park.

- © Scott Heaney / Shutterstock

Perfect for a day trip away from the city, head to Marshall’s Ice cream Bar on Merrick Road for a sweet treat before embarking on a signature walk along the coast. 

Getting there

The New Jersey Transits' Babylon Branch takes visitors from Penn station Freeport station. Visitors can then hop on NICE’s N88 bus which will take them all the way to Jones Beach. You can find out more about train schedules and timetables on the MTA website.  

Overall, it’s safe to see why the coastal grandmother aesthetic has gained such traction in the past year. It’s comforting, luxurious and delightfully simple, and there’s no better way to honour your inner coastal grandma than to take a moment for yourself to enjoy the salt air and sunshine and reconnect with the wonderful places the east coast has to offer. 

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