Fun after 5: Music, movies, shows fill nights at area beaches

Good old-fashioned sock hops are held Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Ocean Beach Park in New London. D.J. Bill Rinowski gets his groove on with prizes, games and competitions.
Good old-fashioned sock hops are held Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. at Ocean Beach Park in New London. D.J. Bill Rinowski gets his groove on with prizes, games and competitions.

When most folks think about a trip to the beach, they pack up for a daylong outing. Reclining beach chairs, umbrellas, food and Frisbee, sunscreen and sand shovels all get thrown into a huge canvas tote bag for a day of rest and relaxation. But there are plenty of reasons to stay, long after the sun goes down.

From magicians to movies, concerts to classic cars, there is abundant opportunity for fun in the evening. Take a step back in time at Ocean Beach for a sock hop, shake your stuff at a hula-hoop competition or snuggle into a blanket for movie nights at Misquamicut Beach. Concerts, magic shows and fun runs are among the many ways to extend your summer days.

A few highlights from Connecticut to the Rhode Island coast:

Harvey's Beach, Great Hammock Road, Old Saybrook

Enjoy kid-friendly and free Movies on the Beach July 19, Aug. 9 and Aug. 16 when the last light leaves the sky. Kids can enjoy the playground while you wait for the sun to set. There is also free popcorn and games an hour before the show.

White Sands Beach, 11 Seaside Ave., Old Lyme

Each Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m., from July 2 through August 20, Beach Dances for middle schoolers take place at White Sands Beach. The cost is $5, which includes music, snacks and fun, according to the Lymes Youth Services Bureau director Mary Seidner.

"It's something we have done for many years. It's an opportunity for kids to meet over the summer," says Seidner. "We have two different elementary schools merging together (in middle school) so it's a chance for them to meet, a fun activity over the summer."

Esker Point Beach, 900 Long Point Road, Groton

This season Groton celebrates 24 years of its Summer Soundwaves Beach Concert Series at Esker Point Beach, with a variety of musical genres to keep toes tapping. With free parking and shuttle bus from Fitch High School, checking out these sound waves has never been easier. They're a great family event, but organizers ask folks to leave pets at home. This beach has a picnic area with grills, picnic tables and space to spread out while enjoying views of Mouse Island. Concerts are held from 6 to 8 p.m. beginning June 20. Rain dates are Aug. 15 and 22, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

"It's a beautiful outdoor venue with a variety of family friendly bands," says program supervisor Ben Morse.

Summer Soundwaves Schedule:

• June 20: Eight to the Bar (American roots music - rhythm & blues, soul, Motown, Boogie woogie and swing)

• June 27: Ryan Montbleau Band (neo-folk, classic soul, jam and Americana)

• July 11: Will Evans Band (diverse genres, Evans was the primary songwriter, and drummer/frontman of the roots rock band Barefoot Truth)

• July 18: Sugar (R&B, rock, ballads, disco, funk, hip-hop, pretty much everything)

• July 25: Hope Road (tribute to Bob Marley and The Wailers)

• Aug. 1: Branded (spirited country rock)

• Aug. 8: Rewind (classic rock)

Ocean Beach Park, 98 Neptune Ave., New London

Ocean Beach Park has a lineup of after-dark activities that rival any Disney experience. Fifty acres filled with old world charm promises a plethora of summer sights and sounds.

"It's an old-style experience, a throwback, not that different from when it opened in 1940," says park manager Dave Sugrue. "The most unique thing about it is the beach. It's the number one draw. We have a lot going on here, but it's a gorgeous beach and the activities complement the 'sugar sand' beach experience."

Beginning May 20, the ever-popular Cruise Nights happen on Mondays at 6 p.m., sponsored by WNLC radio, attracting 150-200 cars each week. On Tuesdays starting June 25, Beach Blanket Movie Nights begin at sunset. The whole family gets admission for a $5 parking fee. Each week different magicians roam the half-mile boardwalk with magic shows at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays, and good old-fashioned sock hops are held Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. D.J. Bill Rinowski gets his groove on with prizes, games and competitions like the hula-hoop and bubble gum-blowing contest. On Fridays there is a free concert series sometimes accompanied by a kids show and/or fireworks display. Ocean Beach Karaoke with Q105 radio happens on Saturdays in addition to the pool, waterslide, miniature golf, video arcade, gift shop, food venues, carousel and amusement rides. Fees for activities vary and pets are not permitted. Visit for details.

Misquamicut and Westerly beaches, Atlantic Avenue, Westerly, R.I.

In Westerly, R.I., it's all about the movies and music. Big Screen Movies on the Beach have been a tradition going strong for the past 10 summers, according to Westerly–Pawcatuck area Chamber of Commerce events manager Molly Evak. The movies are sponsored by the chamber and are held at Atlantic Beach Park, 321 Atlantic Ave., at 8:30 p.m. beginning July 9. Look for family favorites "Puss in Boots," "Brave," "Big Miracle" and "Kung Fu Panda" this summer. Parking and admission is free, but be sure to blanket, snacks and bug spray.

If the comfort of your car sounds more appealing, check out Misquamicut Drive-In Movie Night every Thursday in July and August at 9 p.m., beginning July 4. Classic movies will be featured and shown in the pondside lot of Wuskenau Town Beach, at 316 Atlantic Avenue.

The Westerly Town Beach hosts Monday Night Jams with live bands from 6 to 8 p.m., July 1 through Aug. 14, and Blues on the Beach on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m., July 3 through Aug. 12.

Road races keep things moving beginning June 12 with the Tom McCoy Family Fun Run Series at 6 p.m. every Wednesday through Aug. 14. The race includes a ¹/³-mile run for children. The events begin at the Pleasant View Inn, 65 Atlantic Ave.

Free Hermit Crab Races are held every Wednesday in July and August at 7:30 p.m. at the Purple Ape, 17 Winnapaug Rd.

Classic Cruise Car nights create a sense of nostalgia every Thursday, May 16-Sept. 26 from 5:30 until dusk at the Wuskenau Town Beach Pondside lot, 316 Atlantic Ave. Pre-1980 cars are welcome.

Also on Thursdays in July and August, families can enjoy "Magic by the Sea with Larry and David" at 7 p.m. at The Windjammer, 321 Atlantic Ave. Admission is $5 for kids younger than 12; $8 for adults.

Watch Hill Village Green, Westerly, R.I.

You can't miss the village green driving into this scenic, seaside enclave from Route 1A. Admission is free to the Summer Concerts on the Green and free parking is available in a lot a few steps away. Bring chairs or blankets. The carousel is open and there is ice cream a short walk away. Shows are held every Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Here's the lineup:

July 2 – The Gnomes (world music, folk and fusion)

July 9 – Barefoot Truth (roots rock, Americana)

July 16 – Atwater Donnelly (traditional American folk and dance)

July 23 – Soul Shot (reggae, ska, and rock-steady)

July 30 – Mackie Burnette and Panorama (steel pan, calypso, reggae)

Aug. 6 – Al Copley (traditional blues piano and boogie)

Aug. 13 – Scott Gordley (jazz, funk and soulful blues)

Aug. 20 — Rowen Cunningham Band (American and bluegrass originals)


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