The Beach vs. "The Beach"

Although the official last day of summer isn't until September 21, Labor Day marks the ceremonial end of summer. There is one thing that my new Michigander comrades and my tried and true Pennsylvanians have in common - their all headed to the beach!

The Beach vs. "The Beach"

Since my husband grew up in Michigan - The Great Lakes State - and I'm from far east Pennsylvania (almost in to NY and NJ) where the Atlantic Ocean can be found within a two our drive, we have very different ideas of what the beach is. So, in our household we have The Beach and "The Beach" - the latter always being spoken while using air quotes.

 I'm a beach baby through and through. I love the sand, the water, and the heat! Growing up my family vacationed at the beach almost every summer. Our go to vacation destinations were Ocean City, Maryland, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or Florida. We'd gather our beach blanket, chairs, sand toys, books, card games, and sandwiches and spend the entire day at the beach and in and out of the water. My brother, sister, and I had so much fun jumping waves, making castles, and boogey boarding. I had a tan that lasted until Christmas! There is no more nostalgic feeling for me than being sticky from salt water and covered in sand. We'd walk the boardwalk in the evenings or eat out at a local seafood restaurant. Fresh salt water fish - YUM!

Me circa 1984 or 1985

For Nick, going to the beach was a whole different story. He went the "The Beach."  His family also packed up all their beach essentials except they usually stayed in state - traveling west or north to the shorelines of Michigan. The enjoyed the sand, sun, and the fresh water of Lake Michigan. His family enjoyed fresh water fish and their nights on docks and piers. I didn't even realize people swam in and vacationed at large lakes!

Two sandy shorelines... but which is the real beach? For me, Lake Michigan shorelines are an imitation beach. They are beautiful and work for me now as a resident of Michigan, but there's nothing like that salt water! You smell it when you drive into the beach town and get excited because you know you are getting close to the ocean. You don't get that same anticipation with "The Beach." "The Beach" is also missing salt water taffy, boardwalks and shops, and shells! I could lay on The Beach all day just soaking up the sun, reading, inhaling the salt air, and listening the crash of the waves.

 My Beach History in Pictures...

Me when I was 8 or 9 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

My sister, me, and my brother in Myrtle Beach with the seagulls. We would feed like mini Ritz crackers.

Stone Harbor, New Jersey 1998 – The Atlantic Ocean – taken from the back of a charter fishing boat

Tampa Bay, Florida 1999- The Gulf of Mexico
My sister and me chillin' poolside in Myrtle Beach
My college roommate (also named Ashley) and me enjoying Panama City Beach in 2005! We're about to head to a church service in the sand.
Panama City Beach, Florida (and The Gulf of Mexico) at sunset
My first taste of "The Beach." Holland, Michigan 2007
This is the weekend Nick proposed! 

Oceanside, California 2011
Dipping my toes in the Pacific!

La Jolla, California 2011 - The Pacific Ocean

Traverse City, Michigan 2012 - "The Beach"

Glen Haven, Michigan 2012 - Lake Michigan

Riley "Beach", Holland, Michigan 2013 
Enjoy your 3 day weekend!



  1. AH! cool to see all the common things we share. I grew up about 15 minutes from the beach and the southern beaches FAR outweigh the northern ones. I too love the sand, salty air, sun and crashing waves. North Myrtle Beach is my new fav!!! Close enough to PA, and south enough to be a great beach !!!
    The pics of the MI "beaches" were pretty though :-)

  2. Ahhhhhh! I'm SO HAPPY that you've seen "my beaches"-- Panama City Beach is about a hour and a half from me and connected to Pensacola Beach, where I was raised (and still am). Isn't the sand beautiful there? I just love it. I can hardly consider anything else the beach when the sand isn't sugary white, ya know! And you know what else is awesome (totally bragging here)? Our "summer" lasts so much longer. We don't really even have a winter. Have a great weekend!

  3. I've always gone to "The Beach"! We lived in Iowa so the coasts were always so far away. I swam in the ocean while I was in Costa Rica and it was so different!

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  4. Since I grew up in North Carolina, to me the beach basically has to include the ocean. I wish my 3 day weekend plans included going to the real beach.

  5. being from chicago,the beach means lake michigan so i know how your husband feels. there is a difference though that i notice when i travel to the west or east coast that have "true" beaches with an ocean :)

    thanks for stopping by my blog!

    happy long weekend!

    cute blog you have!