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The Baltimore Sun

Is it possible to spend enough time at the beach? I don't think so.

More often than not, whether your lounge chair is parked at Ocean City, Cape May, N.J., or the Outer Banks, N.C., you'll find that summer speeds by way too quickly.

And even though the destination may be a perennial favorite, visited by generations of one family over many decades, each season dawns fresh with anticipation for both the well-tread path and the newly uncovered hot spot.

The Sun's annual Beach Guide looks at what's old, new and improved at shore destinations from New Jersey to South Carolina. This year, we found new hotels in Virginia Beach, Va.; an updated street mall in Cape May; a new theme park in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; a restored shoreline in Bethany, Del.; the best bar in Nags Head, N.C.; and some luxurious spots in Ocean City that you may have missed.

That's the thing about the beach - there's always more to discover. As the surroundings evolve, blending historic homes with pristine condos and hamburger shacks with Zagat restaurants, the beach itself also changes. Each rippling wave deposits a grainy new visitor to the shore. And suddenly, everything old is new again.

We can only hope there's enough time to explore it all.

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