Looking for the best New England beach towns?
New England’s beach towns have a classic charm found nowhere else! Founded from centuries-old fishing communities, these towns have incredible, untouched views of the Atlantic and an abundance of fresh local catch daily that is famous worldwide. The beaches are known for their soft sands (and chillier waters!), rocky coasts, and numerous historical lighthouses.
However, these towns are more than their beaches and seafood. There is an intangible charm, an abundance of life and culture, in New England’s best beach towns. From hundreds of miles of bike paths to whale watches to thriving art centers, New England is bustling with summer activities in its quaint communities.
For those who want to sit back and relax with some oysters and a spa day, or those who want to get out and surf, swim or bike along the coast, New England has a beach town for you. While there are hundreds of noteworthy communities along the coast of New England, these beach towns in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are a must-visit on your next trip!
Maine has some of New England’s best beach towns with walkable town centers, fresh seafood (maybe you’ve heard of Maine lobster?!), and soft sand beaches. Expect charming fisherman villages and quintessential views of New England’s famous rocky coastline. Maybe you’ll see a lighthouse or two!
1. Ogunquit, ME
Ogunquit is consistently rated one of the best beach towns in New England. This charming town of only 4 miles offers beautiful ocean views and a quaint town center. Not only does it have some of the prettiest New England beaches, but offers visitors plenty to do and explore within walking distance. The main Route 1 strip is completely walkable as you are able to get from your hotel to the beach to cute artisan boutiques and classic seafood restaurants easily.
In addition to beach activities, Ogunquit has a mile-long cliff walk, the Marginal Way. Take the Marginal Way to Perkins Cove to experience untouched ocean views. If you’ve had enough sun for the day, grab a ticket for a show at the Ogunquit Playhouse and stop by the Ogunquit Museum of American Art.
Top Pick: Where to Stay in Ogunquit
My top choice for Ogunquit is the Abalonia Inn, a historic building located within walking distance of the beach. Adorned with wood floors, and colonial-style furniture, you are sure to be transported back in time to New England’s past.
Book your stay at Abalonia Inn here! This charming inn will sell out quickly!
2. Kennebunkport, ME
Kennebunkport is a quintessential New England beach town known for its soft sand beaches, boutique shopping, and abundance of lobster.
Check out Goose Rocks Beach which is great for swimming as its white sand beach is protected from bigger waves by an offshore barrier reef. Explore the ocean and rent a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak. If you want to beach comb rather than swim, Colony Beach is great for watching the boats come to shore.
Shop at the many boutique and artisan shops at Dock Square and swing by the charming Seashore Trolley Museum. Besides the posh shopping and white sands, Kennebunkport offers scenic back roads. Try to look for many lobster traps scattered along the shore in the fishermen’s village at Cape Porpoise. Truly an ideal New England holiday!
3. York, ME
If you are looking for a classic New England beach town full of lobster and lighthouses, York Maine is a perfect choice. An easy day trip from Boston, York is made up of York Village, York Harbor, York Beach, and Cape Neddick, referred to collectively as “The Yorks,” but each has a unique New England charm. Enjoy fresh lobster and seafood throughout your visit.
No car, no problem! Take this guided van tour of coastal Maine from Boston. Book soon!
Known for its beaches, York has Soft Sands Beach which offers stunning ocean vistas but also views of the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick. Take the scenic Cliff Walk in York Harbor and explore the history of Old Gaol Prison built in 1656. It doesn’t get more classic New England than York!
Top Pick: Where to Stay in York
My top pick in York is this simple yet nautical oceanside Inn Cutty Sark Motel. This location is unparalleled as the Nubble Lighthouse is 1640 feet from Cutty Sark Motel, while Long Sands Beach is 656 feet from the property.
Click here to book your accommodation in York, Maine.
4. Bar Harbor, ME
Bar Harbor Maine provides an ideal New England beach town experience with a walkable downtown, fresh seafood, and ocean views.
Bar Harbor is an especially remarkable destination as it is located close to Acadia National Park. Go to Acadia, New England’s only National Park, to hike or camp or follow the Park Loop Road around a large portion of Mount Desert Island. There are plenty of pull-offs to view amazing rock formations and waves crashing along the rocky shoreline. Check out Sand Beach, and Echo Lake Beach, two popular swimming destinations within Acadia National Park.
With Bar Harbor, your vacation destination is complete as you can enjoy the best of both worlds- a charming beach town, and a national park!
Top Pick: Where to Stay at Bar Harbor
Enjoy a quaint stay at Sand Bar Cottage Inn a 5-minute walk from Town Beach. This accommodation comes with a complimentary American breakfast as well as amenities such as a garden, free private parking, a terrace, and a bar. This 4-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk service.
Click here to book your stay at Sand Bar Cottage Inn! This accommodation will sell out quickly.
5. Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Old Orchard Beach is a picturesque beach town with seven miles of soft sand. Spend the day swimming, and relaxing on the beach.
Old Orchard is famous for its historic carnival-like pier that offers 500 feet of restaurants, vendors, and entertainment to visitors. The beach view from below the pier is a perfect photo opportunity! The town also is the home of Palace Playland, a beachfront amusement park that is great for kids. Its classic old-fashioned atmosphere makes it one of New England’s best beach towns.
You may have not even realized that New Hampshire has a coastline! While New Hampshire is known for its skiing, hiking, and fall foliage, its 30 miles of coastline between Maine and Massachusetts offers lovely beach towns with tons of family-friendly amenities and entertainment.
6. Hampton, NH
While there are only 30 miles of New Hampshire coastline, New Hampshire has many beautiful beaches including Hampton Beach State Park. Hampton has an expansive coastline which allows plenty of space to spread out and relax for the day.
Hampton is a lively beach town that is extremely popular in the summers for families due to its on-beach RV camping, interactive activities, close proximity to food, and amenities. There is a lot of kid-friendly entertainment such as talent shows, live music, weekly fireworks, and sand castle contests. You could easily spend an entire weekend on the beach!
Tired of the beach? Visit Hampton’s Oceanarium for close-up encounters with sea life.
7. Rye, NH
Rye is an underrated beach town and a New Hampshire secret! This cute small town has beautiful views, and great beaches, but also unique excursions.
Check out Wallis Sands State Beach for gentle waves and views of the Isle of Shoals, or Jenness State Beach for a day in the sun. When you get tired of the beach be sure to visit Odiorne Point State Park for some military history and to see old World War II bunkers! The Seacoast Science Center is also a great option for kids with interactive exhibits and educational talks.
End your trip with a Granite State Whale Watch or take a ferry to Star Island. Lastly, try some fresh seafood in the abundance of quality restaurant options.
Rhode Island has some of New England’s best beach towns with famous beaches and high-quality restaurants. Experience the grandeur of Rhode Island’s past with tours of mansions and ruins.
8. Newport, RI
Newport, Rhode Island is a classic beach town with the old grandeur of New England coastal elites. Enjoy beaches with soft sand, world-class sailing, and views of mansions along the coast. Easton’s Beach and Second Beach framed by Sachuest Bay are known for their stunning vistas. See the Atlantic lapping against the rocky shores as you stroll along on an elevated paved path, the Cliff Walk, just a short walk from downtown.
The town is famous for its history of the Gilded Age and its Newport mansions overlooking the sea. Take a tour of the mansions and make sure to stop by at Christmastime to see all the decorations. You are sure to feel as if you’ve stepped into The Great Gatsby!
Click here to book your Newport Gilded Age Trolley Tour. This tour will sell out!f6eecb
After visiting the mansions and beach, check out the many nautical boutiques or visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame, or the National Museum of American Illustration. If you are visiting in the summer try to catch the Newport Jazz Festival or Newport Folk Festival.
Top Pick: Where to Stay in Newport
My top pick in Newport is the Serenity Inn. This bed and breakfast is situated in a historic hill neighborhood, occupying a Victorian house constructed in 1855. It is conveniently located just a few blocks away from downtown Newport, where you can explore numerous shops and restaurants.
Within a 10-minute drive from the inn, you can find the 450-acre Norman Bird Sanctuary, boasting 7 miles of scenic hiking trails.
Click here to book Serenity Inn in Newport now! This residence will sell out very quickly!
9. Narragansett, RI
Its popular beaches and noteworthy views make Narragansett one of the best beach towns in New England. There are several great beaches to choose from but Narragansett Beach is one of the most well-known spots. It attracts crowds for its views of The Towers, historical remains of the 1886 Narragansett Pier Casino which is now a modern-day event space.
Make sure you visit Point Judith Lighthouse, an iconic Rhode Island landmark, and check out the Narragansett Pier for unique, nautical shops.
10. Block Island, RI
Take a ferry from Point Judith to Block Island, a charming island located 9 miles south of Rhode Island. Technically the beach town is called North Shoreham but is known as Block Island colloquially. It offers secluded beaches, gorgeous cliffs, and delicious seafood.
Like other New England beach town islands, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Block Island is extremely bike friendly. It has a 13-mile loop where you can bike around the island, try the snack shacks, and get some fresh lemonade. Head north to Crescent Beach, and soak up the sun with the summer beachgoers.
Besides beaches and biking, the real highlights of Block Island are the Southeast Light, and Mohegan Bluffs. Southeast Light, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1875 and sits atop the cliffs and overlooks the ocean and offshore wind farm. The Mohegan Bluffs are a must-see as the cliffs have a drop of 200 feet directly down to the ocean!
Top Pick: Where to Stay on Block Island
The Sullivan House on Block Island is a gorgeous 5-star accommodation. Located just steps away from the Ford Benson Town Beach, this 1904 built hotel offers family rooms, a garden and private parking for its guests as well as a terrace and bar. The hotel is conveniently located near Mosquito Beach and Scotch Beach – only 0.4 miles away!
Click here to book your Block Island accomodation!
11. Westerly, RI
Westerly has great beaches, and scenic views but also a cute and lively downtown for shopping and eating. A popular Westerly activity is to visit the Watch Hill neighborhood and its Watch Hill Beach. Watch Hill is an upscale neighborhood with gorgeous New England mansions and happens to be the summer home of Taylor Swift. Admire the Watch Hill Lighthouse and the surreal view of the ocean.
If you are in the mood for some pampering, Westerly’s Ocean House is one of the premier spas and hotels in New England.
Top Pick: Where to Stay in Watch Hill
Watch Hill Cottage is walkable to the beach in less than 5 minutes. Perfect for larger groups who want quick restaurants, shopping, and beach access.
Massachusetts and its islands have an abundance of New England’s best beach towns. Travel up to Provincetown for a whale watch or art show, or take a ferry to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. There are so many charming beach towns to explore in Massachusetts!
12. Provincetown, MA
Provincetown, Massachusetts is the epitome of a great summer destination. One of the best beach towns in New England, it is located on the tip of Cape Cod and has a unique remote feel to its beaches and town.
It is known for its beautiful protected beaches, vibrant art, and culinary scene as well as a welcoming atmosphere for LGBT+ visitors! Make sure you dedicate some time to exploring the many colorful galleries and the numerous seasonal events.
Provincetown is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, 40 miles of protected beaches, marshes, bogs, and trails along the Atlantic. Designated by President John F Kennedy in 1961, the National Seashore offers visitors untouched biking trails and uncommercialized views of the ocean. Explore Provincetown on the Province Lands Bike Trail!
Top Pick: Where to stay in Provincetown
The Brass Key GuestHouse is located 4 minute drive from Herring Cove Beach on the Cape Cod National Seashore and a 5 minute walk to Providencetown city center. This charming adult’s only accommodation offers spa services and an outdoor pool.
Click here to book your accomodation in Provincetown!
13. Nantucket Island, MA
Nantucket Island, a beautiful and posh island 29 miles south of Hyannis, is an entire beach town in itself.
Nantucket is an upscale beach town offering elegant dining, artisan boutiques, and a fantastic ocean atmosphere. Utilize the vast network of bike trails to see the various beaches (you cannot go wrong with any of Nantucket’s beaches) and check out the Sconset Bluff Walk that offers views of the Sankaty Head Lighthouse.
Book a private guided fishing tour in Nantucket! Click here to reserve!
There are six ferries a day from Hyannis, some high-speed, but you will need to plan ahead since spots are limited. Relax, sip some wine, and take in the coastal breeze!
Top Pick: Where to Stay Nantucket
Nantucket is full of upscale B&Bs but the Union Street Inn stands above the rest. This 12-bedroom boutique B&B offers easy access to Nantucket’s shops, restaurants and ferries. Enjoy a complimentary full breakfast and bike rental.
Click here to book your accomodation in Nantucket!
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
Martha’s Vineyard is perfect for those seeking a balance of downtime and entertainment. With no shortage of gorgeous beaches, great food, and charming town centers, Martha’s Vineyard’s Edgartown and Oak Bluffs have much to offer visitors.
Come in the summer for a relaxing weekend or visit in October for the Food and Wine festival. The entire island is bike friendly and allows no stoplights or chain restaurants to ensure its quaint feel.
14. Edgartown, MA
Edgartown is unique for its historic homes that have a Greek revival style. Stroll along the streets and see classic-style whaling captains’ homes from the 1700 and 1800s.
If you are looking to immerse yourself in nature, take a quick ferry over to Chappaquiddick and the remote Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. You’ll be able to take guided kayaking tours along the waterways.
15. Oak’s Bluff, MA
Oak’s Bluff is a great beach town for its soft sand beaches but also its whimsical architecture, historical landmarks, and abundance of activities. Check out the fairytale-like Campground Cottages (for rent but pricey!) as well as the historic Flying Horses Carousel from 1876. Lastly, visit the alpacas at the Island Alpaca Company! You are able to take a self-guided tour and get up close and pet the animals.
Top Pick Where to Stay in Martha’s Vineyard
This historic Martha’s Vineyard hotel, Summercamp, is located in Oak’s Bluff and offers oceanfront views. The property is a renovated 1879 house with modern amenities and a 24 hour front desk. Walkable to many restaurants as well as the Oak’s Bluff Ferry less than 5 minutes away.
Click here to book your accomodation in Martha’s Vineyard.
16. Wellfleet, MA
While arguably every beach town on Cape Cod should make the list, Wellfleet is special for its untouched beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore. Like Provincetown, Wellfleet is part of the 40 miles of protected beaches, marshes, bogs, and trails along the Atlantic. Designated by President John F Kennedy in 1961, the National Seashore preserves beaches and other monuments.
Must-see beaches are Marconi and Cahoon Hollow Beach. Cahoon Hollow Beach has a hidden view of the Atlantic Ocean alongside huge 75-foot sand dunes. Head up the dunes and grab a drink or have some oysters at classic Cape Cod restaurant Beachcombers.
If you want to explore Wellfleet’s natural beauty with more than just biking, check out the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, rated one of the best hikes in Cape Cod! Walk along a boardwalk path to see the swamp marshes and sand dunes.
Top Pick: Where to Stay in Wellfleet
The Lodge in Wellfleet is a cute vacation home within close proximity of Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and 3.7 miles from Cape Cod National Seashore.
Click here to book your stay in Wellfleet!
17. Hyannis, MA
Hyannis has a great beach atmosphere, with plenty of popular beaches and fresh seafood. Rent bikes or paddleboards to explore the area- by land, or sea! Kalmus Beach is a famous white sands beach in the area and worth a stop to soak up the sun.
In addition to great beaches, and a fun coastal atmosphere, Hyannis is known for being the longstanding family compound of The Kennedys. To learn about the Kennedy family and their Massachusetts legacy, check out the John F. Kennedy Memorial. If you are craving some art be sure to visit the Cape Cod Museum of Art.
Top Pick: Where to stay in Hyannis
Seacoast Inn is a charming renovated home in close walking distance to the shops and restaurants of Main Street. A 5 minute walk to the ferries to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and a 5 minute walk to the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum.
Click here to book your accomodation in Hyannis!
18. Plymouth, MA
Plymouth is a great beach town for those craving a bit of New England’s (and America’s) history. Visit the original “Plymouth Rock”, the landing site of the pilgrims in 1620, and a full-sized replica of the Mayflower ship. Plymouth is a great site for whale watching or day trips to Boston!
If you aren’t sick of seafood yet, check out Plymouth’s thriving restaurant scene full of fancy or casual seafood. Choose a casual grab-and-go style restaurant, or go fancy with an oceanside view.
While Connecticut’s beach towns aren’t usually too well-known, there are some real hidden gems along New England’s southern coast.
19. Madison, CT
Madison is a quaint, small beach town with a laid back charming atmosphere straight out of a Hallmark movie. Madison has a quiet downtown with independent shops and lots of ice cream and seafood for a hot day!
While it doesn’t attract the crowds other beach towns in New England attract, Madison still has lots to do! Swim or spend the day at Madison’s Hammonasset Beach State Park. It has one of the longest shorelines which leaves plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the surf and sand!
The Meigs Point Nature Center is a great spot to bring children to check out the educational programs and interactive learning about Connecticut’s natural coastline.
Wrap-up: New England’s Best Beach Towns
There are countless New England beach towns that demonstrate the region’s cute and historic seaside charm. The perfect blend of relaxation and adventure, New England offers incredible beaches, world-class spas, and Michelin-star restaurants as well as surfing, kayaking, and sailing. The daily fresh seafood alone will make anyone’s mouth water!
From exploring the Pilgrim’s landing spot to visiting the JFK Memorial, or taking a tour of the Newport mansions, you are sure to experience New England’s history firsthand. New England’s best beach towns offer so much to explore. What are you waiting for?