Toss these on the grill

CLAMS AND MUSSELS | Set them directly on the grill and shut the cover for about two minutes. They're ready when they pop open.

CORN | Shuck and de-string the ears, then spread butter on all sides, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and grill on medium for 20 minutes.

LOBSTERS | Start by boiling in the normal way, but stop after five or six minutes. Flip 'em over on a cutting board, cut in half lengthwise. Grill, covered, shell-side down on medium, basting with melted butter and any herbs or spices you like for 10 minutes.

• PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS | Marinate with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and your favorite herbs; grill steak-style for about 10 minutes.

• SWEET POTATOES | Poke each tater with a fork, wrap it in foil, and grill on medium for 20 minutes. Then unwrap and grill directly for another 10.


The great outdoors

• SACHUEST POINT's 250 acres of grasslands, dunes, and coastline is home to more than 200 bird species, and is a short walk from Third Beach in Middletown. |

• The NORMAN BIRD SANCTUARY, 583 Third Beach Rd, Middletown, offers seven miles of hiking trails spanning 300 acres. And oh, those fine feathered friends! |

• The BLOCK ISLAND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE on Corn Neck Rd attracts many bird watching enthusiasts. New Shoreham serves as a pit stop for migrating songbirds, so catch some here before you head to Ballard's Beach. |

• ARCADIA STATE PARK offers a little bit of paradise, with more than 10,000 acres of land perfect for fishing, biking, and horseback riding. The park stretches from Richmond through Exeter and into West Greenwich, but the best entry point is at 260 Arcadia Rd in Hope Valley |

Walden Pond

Road trips

• WALDEN POND is one of those summer daytrips that you arrange while you daydream about pulling a Bon Iver, lounging in a cabin by yourself for a few months, and dreamily punching out your brilliant novel on a vintage typewriter. But we'll let you in on a secret: If Henry David Thoreau showed up tomorrow, fishing rod and pen in hand, lookin' to catch some pond-side peace and tranquility, we're not sure Walden is where he'd find it. But here's the good news! You're not a 19th-century Transcendentalist, so it will suit you just fine. The reservation includes 335 acres of open space for you and yours to hike through, swim in, and picnic on. Pets aren't allowed, along with fire (obviously) or grills, and leave the beers at home, since this is a family joint. | Walden Pond State Reservations, Route 126 South, between Lincoln and Concord, MA | 978.369.3254 or

• LAKE COMPOUNCE is haunted. Allegedly. Legend has it that Chief John Compound of the Mattituck Tribe drowned himself in the lake shortly after selling his land to white settlers. Therefore, all of the park's freak accidents and bizarre occurrences are often attributed to some sort of ancient Native American death curse, Poltergeist-style. But the only unwanted visitors you're likely to see haunting North America's oldest theme park this summer are hordes of local, season-pass-wielding preteens jacked up on Pepsi and fried Oreos. Otherwise, this Connecticut attraction manages to be mostly charming and apparition-free. It has a big water park, a famously scenic mountainside roller coaster called Boulder Dash, and a classic "New England in the summer" vibe, complete with a fudge shop and an old-fashioned trolley. All in all, pretty quaint — vengeful spirits and sugar-sprung tweens aside. | 822 Lake Ave, Bristol, CT | 860.583.3300 or

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