33 Best Beach Towns in New England to Visit in 2024 🌊

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Exploring beautiful beach towns in New England is without a doubt one of my favorite things to do in the region. Especially when it comes to summer in New England, is there anything better than getting a little face time with the coast?

There are so many incredible beach towns New England has to offer, like Rockport MA, Milford CT, York ME, Hampton Beach NH, and so many more! I love places where you can find that salty sea breeze and lots of fun stuff to do on land, too.

Whether it’s the beaches of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, or Connecticut that call to you, these are some of the coolest and best beach towns in New England!

A woman poses with the ocean behind her in one of the best beach towns in New England to visit, Rockport Massachusetts.

Best Beach Towns in New England: What to Know

You can find soft sand beaches in New England that you can sink your toes into (hello, Ocean Beach Park in CT!), but it’s more likely that you’re going to need water shoes to wade into the ocean or even just walk along the shore.

Some of the New England seaside towns I mention in this post are more about enjoying the view and the nautical, seafaring culture (and seafood – yum!) than it is about swimming off its shores.

I personally love getting out on the water, and New England coastal culture has a ton of great whale watching, nature cruises, and lighthouse tours that are perfect for that. You’ll see when you get to my section on beach towns in Maine, it’s one of my favorite things to do in New England beach towns!

If you’re wondering where the prettiest beaches in New England to swim in are, I’d say stick to the Cape and southern New England. If it’s dramatic cliffs, ruggedly beautiful shorelines, and nautical adventure you’re after, it’s Maine all day for me.

A hand holding a mug that says Maine against the backdrop of a heavily forested shore

Best Beach Towns in Massachusetts

1. Rockport, MA

Rockport at a Glance:

  • What to See: Motif #1, Bearskin Neck
  • Where to Eat: Roy Moore Lobster Co
  • Where to Stay: Emerson Inn
A woman stands and looks out over the water in the New England beach town of Rockport, Massachusetts
I love this view!

One of my personal favorite beach towns to visit in New England is Rockport, Massachusetts. This seaside community has just about everything I love about coastal New England!

You’ve got lobster, lighthouses, leisure, what more could a person possibly want?

A red fishing shack is seen on a long stone pier with a coastal New England town beyond it
Rockport is one of those interesting, artsy towns in New England.

There’s the iconic Motif Number 1, which is a definite must see on Cape Ann. Said to be one of the most painted building in the world, you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the simple beauty of this bright red fishing shack.

This is an artists town, after all, and we love strolling down Bearskin Neck and popping in to all the art galleries and shops. We always find the most interesting things here!

A store front with colorful shirts on display and a sign saying "Good Vibes Only" out front

There are swimming beaches on Rockport like Front Beach and Long Beach, but I really enjoy just sitting on the sand and taking in the views.

A woman stands and looks out over the ocean in Rockport, MA

When in Rome, you gotta do like the Romans, and when in Rockport, you gotta eat lobstah! One of my favorite lobster restaurants in New England is Roy Moore Lobster Co in Bearskin Neck. Try the lobster roll, it’s delish!

The front of a popular lobster shack in a coastal New England vacation spot, Rockport MA
Gotta have lobstah in coastal New England!

There are plenty of cool places to stay on Cape Ann, but I adored staying at the Emerson Inn.

Water front view from a porch at one of the top inns in Rockport, Massachusetts on a sunny day
Just look at this view from the porch!

You can read more about my experience there, but if you’re looking for a historic place to stay by the sea, this is an amazing option.

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2. Nantucket, MA

Nantucket at a Glance:

  • What to See: Sankaty Head Lighthouse, Nantucket Whaling Museum
  • Where to Eat: Charlie Noble
  • Where to Stay: Nantucket Hotel & Resort
A small boat in a body of water
Editorial credit: Mystic Stock Photography / Shutterstock.com

There are several incredible beach towns in Massachusetts, and Nantucket Island is one that offers those quintessential New England vibes all across this beautiful island.

Pristinely preserved beaches and stunning scenery abound, like the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk that ventures along the gorgeous bluffs, providing fantastic views of the Atlantic and Sankaty Head Lighthouse. 

There are plenty of fabulous beaches to choose from on island, depending on what you’re looking for, and plenty of fun things to do outside of the sand and surf, too! Nantucket Whaling Museum is a definite must visit for all marine history buffs.

There are wonderful restaurants like Charlie Noble, one of the best casual spots on the island for classic New England seafood staples like lobster rolls and fish & chips.

The island of Nantucket has many lodging options, including gorgeous hotels and vacation rentals, but if you’re looking for a splurge-worthy resort option, check out the Nantucket Hotel and Resort.

Amenities abound like beautiful swimming pools, onsite dining, and so much more. Nantucket is a New England beach town that wouldn’t know how to disappoint if it tried!

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3. Chatham, MA

Chatham at a Glance:

  • What to See: Chatham Lighthouse Beach
  • Where to Eat: Mac’s Fish & Lobster
  • Where to Stay: Captain’s House
A family sits on a lawn in Chatham, Massachusetts on an early summer day
My little fam during our last Chatham trip!

One of my favorite Cape Cod beach towns, Chatham is GORGEOUS.

With that quintessential Cape Cod Charm vibe, Chatham is located on the “elbow” of the Cape and mostly surrounded by the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, meaning incredible beach views are not hard to find.

A sandy beach in Chatham, Massachusetts
Beautiful Lighthouse Beach in Chatham MA

I love how walkable this New England beach town is, and we loved exploring during our June visit. The weather was absolutely sublime for taking in sights like the Chatham Lighthouse and enjoying a dip or two from Short n Sweet Ice Cream!

Chatham Lighthouse with well mowed grass surrounding it.
Chatham Lighthouse, Chatham, Massachusetts
A hand holding up ice cream in front of an ice cream place in Cape Cod
Ice cream + New England Beach Town = Perfection

During our last visit, we stayed at the darling Captain’s House, and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

A historic Cape Cod B&B in Chatham, MA

It is a beautiful property that is just bursting with Cape Cod charm with pristine landscaping, a gazebo, and marvelously well kept historic detail throughout.

A lush yard with a white gazebo is seen with adirondack chairs and beautiful flowering trees

You can read a more detailed review of our stay at the Captain’s House here, for more info!

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4. Provincetown, MA

Provincetown at a Glance:

  • What to See: Provincetown Dunes
  • Where to Eat: The Lobster Pot
  • Where to Stay: Breakwater Hotel

One of the most colorful and vibrant communities on the Cape, Provincetown is the New England beach town that seems to never really slow down!

Not only does Provincetown have gorgeous beaches that draw visitors in from near and far, but this beautiful beach town is also known for its progressive and inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly culture and fantastic art scene.

Most everywhere in P-Town proudly displays rainbow flags and stickers, from the cool little shops and art galleries that line Commercial Street to the large collection of Cape-Codder art found in the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and all around town.

Provincetown is also home to stunning natural scenery, like the Provincetown Dunes, one of the most beautiful places in Massachusetts. Biking is a popular activity in P-Town, with excellent trails like Province Lands Bike Trail that offer views of cranberry bogs, the sand dunes, and a beech forest.

There’s whale-watching, museums, community events and so many other terrific things to do in Provincetown, but once you’ve worked up your appetite, consider stopping by the Lobster Pot, one of the top spots for lobster rolls on Cape Cod.

Provincetown also has some great places to stay, including some excellent Airbnb options, with several offering ocean views! Breakwater Hotel is a popular option, with rooms overlooking Provincetown Harbor and Long Point Lighthouse.

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5. Wellfleet, MA

Wellfleet at a Glance:

  • What to See: Marconi Beach, Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail
  • Where to Eat: Wellfleet Bookstore & Restaurant
  • Where to Stay: Event’tide Resort Motel and Cottages

Of course, it’s hard to go wrong when visiting any beach town on Cape Cod, but Wellfleet is an absolute gem of the Cape with its fantastic beaches.

Marconi Beach is a favorite among residents and tourists alike on the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore, featuring those quintessential New England beach views.

This is also the home to one of Cape Cod’s best hikes along the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, where walking along the boardwalk into this lushly forested space just steps off of the sand dunes is often described as an ethereal experience.

Wellfleet also has kettle ponds that serve as freshwater beaches, but it’s kind of a “you have to know someone” type of thing as access is closely guarded by locals, unless you can make friends with a townie willing to share!

Wellfleet has plenty of great things to do, like visiting the Wellfleet Drive-In Theatre or taking a Sunset Sail out at sea.

There are also plenty of wonderful Wellfleet restaurants to check out, but one fun option is the Wellfleet Bookstore & Restaurant where you can enjoy spectacular seafood before hunting through the second-hand bookstore for your new favorite book.

As for where to stay in Wellfleet,  Event’tide Resort Motel and Cottages is the winner of “Best Motel on Outer Cape Cod” for 22 years and running! Plus, a stay at an Event’tide cottage can put you right beside your favorite beach.

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6. Hyannis, MA

Hyannis at a Glance:

  • What to See: Hyannis HyArts Artist Shanties
  • Where to Eat: Anejo, the Beechtree Taqueria
  • Where to Stay: Anchor In

Another great Cape Cod beach town, Hyannis, Massachusetts is the perfect place for an elevated New England beach town experience. This town is full of arts, culture, and of course, beaches!

Visit the Hyannis HyArts Artist Shanties, where you can peruse locally made art and handcrafted goods that could be the perfect souvenir, then head over the JFK Museum. This museum remains one of the best ways to learn about the historical and cultural significance that the Kennedy family has had on Cape Cod.

Of course, can’t forget about the beaches! Kalmus Beach is popular for surfing and Veterans Beach is very popular for families as it has great amenities and a playground.

Hyannis is full of fantastic places to eat, but a visit to Anejo, the Beechtree Taqueria is a definite must do while in this Cape Cod town. Not only will you love the food at this popular Hyannis restaurant, but the outdoor seating is below a beautiful weeping beechtree planted in 1776!

As for where to stay, you’ve got great options there, too, but the Anchor In is always a solid choice for those looking for a hotel on the water.

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7. Oak Bluffs, MA

Oak Bluffs at a Glance:

  • What to See: Flying Horses Carousel, gingerbread cottages
  • Where to Eat: Red Cat Kitchen
  • Where to Stay: Summercamp

Oak Bluffs is one of the most visually distinctive beach towns on Martha’s Vineyard.

You’ve got the whimsical gingerbread cottages at the Oak Bluffs Campground and  the Flying Horses Carousel, built in 1876 and still functional to this day.

A spacious front porch decorated with coastal colors and outdoor furniture overlooks the waterfront
Photo courtesy of the Summercamp property; how adorable is this front porch??

You’ll even find some somewhat quirky fun at the Island Alpaca Company, a working alpaca farm and shop where you can find all kinds of alpaca-related goodies… including the alpacas!

Oak Bluffs beaches are some of the most popular beaches on Martha’s Vineyard, with sandy beaches and spectacular ocean views attracting swimmers, sunbathers, and sandcastle builders alike to come enjoy the sights and sounds of the sea.

Of course, you’ll also find some excellent restaurants on this beautiful island, as well as some very cool places to stay.

Double beds decorated in a coastal theme are separated by a small table and lamp in a Martha's Vineyard hotel room
Photo courtesy of the Summercamp property; these rooms are so cute!

Summercamp is a boutique hotel with an aesthetic that is lighthearted and breezy, offering
lots of great amenities.

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8. Sandwich, MA

Sandwich at a Glance:

  • What to See: Tidal Flats, Sandy Neck Beach Park
  • Where to Eat: Belfry Inn & Bistro
  • Where to Stay: Belfry Inn & Bistro

Did you know that Sandwich is the oldest town on Cape Cod, making it one of the most historic beach towns in New England?

It’s one of those Cape Cod towns that is extraordinarily scenic, offering a variety of ways to get out and explore this beautiful section of coastal New England. There’s Shawme-Crowell State Forest, where you can hike, and the Tidal Flats of Cape Cod Bay where you explore by sea.

If you’d rather just hit the beach and admire the beauty there, that’s okay too! Sandy Neck Beach Park is the perfect spot for that.

When it comes to where to stay in Sandwich, consider booking a room at the Belfry Inn & Bistro. The architecture is dreamy as can be, and word on the street is that the onsite dining isn’t so bad, either!

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Best Beach Towns in Maine

9. Old Orchard Beach, ME

Old Orchard Beach at a Glance:

  • What to See: OOB Pier, Palace Playland
  • Where to Eat: Joseph’s by the Sea
  • Where to Stay: Alouette Beach Resort
A sandy beach with a ferris wheel in the background at Old Orchard Beach, Maine
Taken during my visit to OOB a few years back – isn’t this darling???

Seven miles of sandy beach await you in Old Orchard Beach, locally known as OOB. I visited here with my family a few years ago, and this cute New England beach town is so much more than just swimmable sandy beaches!

The Old Orchard Beach Pier is 500 feet of restaurants, bars, vendors, and live entertainment, with views that absolutely slay. You can enjoy your day at OOB in the sun and sand before heading up to the pier for a bite and a beverage. 

As for where to eat in OOB goes, Joseph’s by the Sea is AMAZING. It’s def not the budget option, but if you can snag a seat overlooking the water, it’s basically heaven on earth.

Two women pose in front of the Old Orchard Beach Pier
My mom & I in front of the OOB pier!

OOB has more claim to fame than just your standard beachy fun, too, because it is also the home of Palace Playland, New England’s only seasonal beachfront amusement park.

A long sandy beach with an amusement park at a popular New England beach town, Old Orchard Beach
Old Orchard Beach, Maine

There are many fun things to do in Old Orchard Beach, but when your day is done, consider a stay at Alouette Beach Resort.

You’ll have a wide range of options between economy and luxury that can accommodate most all needs, including a need for incredible ocean views!

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10. Kennebunkport, ME

Kennebunkport at a Glance:

  • What to See: Goose Rocks Beach, Dock Square
  • Where to Eat: The Boathouse
  • Where to Stay: Sandy Pines Campground
A sandy New England beach town with pink flowers framing it
Kennebunkport is one of my personal faves when it comes to New England beach towns to visit!

A beautiful beach town with that sturdy Maine energy mixed in with a little bit of the posh, Kennebunkport has been the summer home of the Bush family for decades now. After your visit, you’ll get it!

Sandy Maine beaches are a major draw here, and Goose Rocks Beach is one of the most popular for tourists and residents alike. Its white sand beach is protected by an offshore barrier reef, protecting swimmers from being battered from some of the bigger ocean waves.

A couple hug on one of the beaches in Kennebunkport, Maine
Just having a blast in Kennebunkport!

Swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing are always a good time off of Kennebunkport’s shores!

A man and toddler walk towards the ocean's edge
My husband and little brother getting some Vitamin Sea 😉

There are plenty of other cool things to do in Kennebunkport, too.

Check out the local art galleries and shop in Dock Square, explore quaint museums like the Seashore Trolley Museum, or even just drive by the Wedding Cake House, the ornate and whimsical historic home that really does resemble an old wedding cake!

A woman and toddler on the Christmas trolley in Kennebunkport, Maine
My son and I enjoying a ride on the Christmas trolley in Kennebunkport!

We visited Kennebunkport at Christmas not too long ago and it was so much fun! The Christmas trolley was enjoyed by all, especially my son.

Kennebunkport also has so many great places to eat and stay, but I have a recommendation for a fun, kinda off-the-grid experience.

amy peeking out the door of a glamping cabin in maine - a brown cabin with yellow doors and fairy lights on the eaves
Me peeking out of one of the glamping cabins!

 I went glamping at Sandy Pines Campground with my husband a few years back and it was a BLAST! Definitely a little more comfortable and amenity-filled than the average pitch a tent/sleep on the ground camping experience goes, this was an incredible trip.

Or you could opt for the Boathouse, one of the prettiest waterfront boutique hotels in Maine.

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11. York, ME

York at a Glance:

  • What to See: Cape Neddick Light
  • Where to Eat: Stonewall Kitchen Cafe, Fox’s Lobster House
  • Where to Stay: York Harbor Inn
A sandy shoreline of beach in York, Maine
I took this one during a recent trip to York – I love this view!

One of the cutest small towns in Maine, period, York is comprised of York Village, York Harbor, York Beach, and Cape Neddick, referred to collectively as “The Yorks.”

I absolutely love this little slice of heaven in coastal Maine!

Each has its own distinct vibe for whatever you’re looking for in your New England beach town getaway. Obviously, there’s York Beach, with Long Sands Beach and Short Sands Beach being known for their soft sand beaches and incredible views; it’s one of the best places to catch the sunrise!

You can also see the Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick from Short Sands Beach if you’re looking for those lovely lighthouse views.

A woman stands on a rocky shore with Cape Neddick Light behind her in York, Maine
Me & Cape Neddick Light!

You can also find a coastal Maine Christmas tradition here outside Fox’s Lobster House: a lobster trap tree!

A woman poses smiling in front of a lobster trap tree in coastal Maine
Lobster Trap Tree in York, Maine

York Village is the historical section where gems like the Old Gaol, Maine’s first prison built in 1656, can be found.

York Harbor is home to the scenic Cliff Walk and the Wiggly Bridge – yup, just how it sounds!

We recently visited York and had lunch at the Stonewall Kitchen cafe and let me tell you… it’s a must visit!

The exterior of Stonewall Kitchen Cafe in York, Maine

Not only were there a ton of great options on the menu, but I bet you’ll end up leaving with a few great culinary souvenirs from the store, too.

A woman and toddler sit at the Stonewall Kitchen Cafe in York, Maine
Patiently waiting for our food at Stonewall Kitchen Cafe!
Jars of jams and sauces line the shelves at Stonewall Kitchen Company Store in York, Maine
So. Many. Delicious. Choices.

There are several great places to stay, including one of my personal favorites: the York Harbor Inn, which makes for a stay with that perfect balance of comfort and luxury.

I stayed here a few years back and it is a gorgeous property. Definitely a perfect location for a New England beach getaway!

There are so many fun things to see and do in York, making this beach town one of the best places to visit in coastal Maine.

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12. Rockland, ME

Rockland at a Glance:

  • What to See: Historic schooner J&E Riggin
  • Where to Eat: Rockland Cafe
  • Where to Stay: Rockland Harbor Hotel
A seaside Maine beach town with a ferris wheel and boats in the distance
Taken during one of my fave trips to Rockland, Maine!

I absolutely adore Rockland! This is such an excellent beach town for those classic New England seaside vibes, for family vacations, solo travel, or romantic/friends trips.

During one of my first visits to this lovely seaside town, I went on a “Lobsters & Lighthouses Cruise” with my friend Nicki, and it was an absolute blast. When it comes to things to do in New England beach towns, getting out on the water is definitely an essential bucket list item.

amy sitting in the front of a classic sail boat, maine coast
I’m on a boat 🎵

In fact, I had such a blast that I booked another traditional schooner trip out of Rockland with my husband on the J&E Riggin!

This is such a unique opportunity to experience nautical culture of coastal Maine, I recommend everyone get out on the water like this at least once. It’s an incredible way to see marine wildlife up close and get a little interactive taste of what life has been like for those living on and near these waters for centuries.

In addition to being able to assist in ship duties like raising the mainsail and the anchor (the latter seemed best reserved for those who are all muscle, I didn’t volunteer for that one!), we also got to experience a traditional lobster bake!

Lobster and corn spill out of a pot at a traditional lobster bake in Maine
Enjoying a traditional lobster bake is def a bucket list Maine beach town activity!

This was a very cool – and literal – taste of coastal Maine life.

You can read more about my experience here: Sailing on a Maine Windjammer Cruise: Everything you Need to Know

Rockland is also home to the Maine Lobster Festival, held for 5 days the first weekend in August. Planning your trip to this New England beach town during the festival would be a great choice for the lobstah lovers out there!

Water along the Maine coast full of sail boats
Rockland is such a beautiful coastal Maine town, isn’t it?

If you prefer culture, there’s the Maine Lighthouse Museum, the Farnsworth Art Museum, the Olson House, and more to be explored in Rockland.

Rockland Cafe is the place to go when it’s time to eat. You’ll find classic Maine specials featuring fresh caught seafood daily. It’s the type of place that’s always a good idea!

A ferris wheel at sunset in Rockland, Maine
This was one of the prettiest sunsets to witness IRL, too

As for where to stay, you’ve got plenty of options, but Rockland Harbor Hotel is an excellent choice if you’re looking to book a hotel near the water.

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13. Ogunquit, ME

Ogonquit at a Glance:

  • What to See: Footbridge Beach, Perkins Cove
  • Where to Eat: Beachfire Bar & Grille
  • Where to Stay: The Mariner

When the town motto is “Beautiful Place by the Sea,” you can bet it’s going to be high on the list of beautiful beach towns in New England!

Known for its soft white sand beaches and cute little Main Street, Ogunquit is a must-visit. Ogunquit Beach has excellent beach amenities including nearby restaurants and gift shops, and Footbridge Beach is a quaint spot with a picturesque wooden bridge that is a perfect backdrop for vacation photos!

Ogunquit is a gorgeous community with a lot of visual appeal, whether you’re shopping at Perkins Cove, setting sail on the ocean, or riding the Ogunquit Trolley around town.

There are so many great shops in Ogunquit, like On the Main, a gift shop with local art and both handcrafted and commercially manufactured beach-themed goods that could be the perfect souvenir from your beach town getaway.

Ogunquit has so many neat things to do, including taking in a show at the darling Ogunquit Playhouse.

There are lots of great options for where to stay and what to eat while in Ogunquit, but The Mariner is hard to beat, with great options for accommodations including rooms with water views and within walking distance to the beach!

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14. Stonington ME & Deer Isle

Deer Isle at a Glance:

  • What to See: Marine wildlife, Pumpkin Island Light
  • Where to Eat: Stonecutters Kitchen
  • Where to Stay: The Inn on the Harbor
A historic home in a classic fishing village in Maine
I had to snap a pic, pretty seaside Maine vibes

Located on the southern tip of Deer Isle, Stonington is almost a bit of a hidden gem when it comes to beach towns in New England, in my opinion!

It’s more classic fishing village than it is tourist spot, but it’s an incredible place to go and escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

A harbor in Stonington, Maine with boats on the water
Getting out on the water is always a must do in coastal Maine

Stonington is a fishing town, so you’re going to see a lot of action out on the water, and it’s a much slower pace than some of the other Maine beach towns on this list, like Kennebunkport.

A woman looks up at colorful buoys in Deer Isle, Maine

When you think Deer Isle, think rocky shores, salty sea breezes, and lobster pounds.

Wildflowers on a beach in one of the prettiest beach towns in Maine

And of course, beautiful beaches.

A man and a woman pose in a hug on a beach in Deer Isle Maine
Just enjoying coastal Maine with my love!

Deer Isle is a beautiful summer destination, and I think getting out on the water is a definite must.

A rocky beach in Deer Isle, Maine

We enjoyed a trip to see Pumpkin Island Light. Isn’t it lovely?

The Pumpkin Island Lighthouse on Little Deer Isle, Maine
Our view of Pumpkin Island Light

If you’re looking for Maine beach towns that are slower paced, less crowds and touristy shtick, Stonington and all of Deer Isle make for an excellent option!

Wondering where to stay on Deer Isle? The Inn on the Harbor is a lovely choice and it’s in Stonington.

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15. Bar Harbor, ME and Acadia on Mt Desert Island

Bar Harbor at a Glance:

  • What to See: Acadia – Thunder Hole, Sand Beach
  • Where to Eat: Side Street Cafe
  • Where to Stay: Bar Harbor Inn & Spa
A street in Bar Harbor Maine with shops and cars parked alongside
We love Bar Harbor!

This is one of my favorite coastal New England spots! Bar Harbor and Acadia both deliver big when it comes to great beach town sights and things to do.

I always love visiting Bar Harbor and Acadia. Beautiful beaches abound to enjoy those gorgeous ocean views, and Sand Beach and Echo Lake Beach are both popular summer swimming spots in Acadia National Park.

Feet of two people in the foreground who are looking out at the blue beach.

Of course, there are gorgeous natural attractions at Acadia like Thunder Hole and hikes that offer fantastic views.

A man and a woman kiss at the top of a hike in Acadia National Park
Just smoochin in Acadia, NBD

One of my personal favorites is Beehive Loop Trail. As long as you’re not afraid of heights, it’s amazing!

Stone walkway edged into the side of a rock surrounded by a forest.
As long as you’re not afraid of heights… Seriously though, we loved this hike!

Whale watching is a popular thing to do in Bar Harbor, too, with companies like  Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. We took a scenic nature tour in October and got to see lots of great wildlife, like seals and eagles.

A large body of water with a mountain in the background under a blue sky.

There is so much to do even beyond the water, like visiting Bar Harbor Cellars, one of the best wineries in New England.

You can follow this ready-made 3-day itinerary for Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park to help plan your trip to this coastal town!

Options for where to stay are plentiful, but I personally recommend Bar Harbor Inn.

A field with flowers in front of a white mansion

It’s absolutely gorgeous, with onsite restaurants, a spa, heated outdoor pool and hot tub, complimentary breakfast, and many rooms even have ocean views!

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Best Beach Towns in Connecticut

16. Milford, CT

Milford at a Glance:

  • What to See: Silver Sands State Park
  • Where to Eat: The Lazy Lobster
  • Where to Stay: Hilton Garden Inn
A boardwalk on sand at a beach in Milford, Connecticut
One of my favorite beach towns in Connecticut!

One of the most darling beach towns in New England, Milford has a tasty claim to fame: they claim to be the first to serve up a buttery warm lobster roll!

If you’re familiar with New England foods, you’ll know this is kinda a big deal.

Besides being home to some fantastic seafood, Milford is also home to gorgeous Silver Sands State Park.

A wide sandy expanse of beach in Milford, Connecticut

I love this beautiful area. You can walk the picturesque boardwalk and take in those spectacular views of Long Island Sound, then take a dip. Plus, this is the warmest water at New England beaches you’ll find!

Walnut Beach is another popular Milford beach, and it has a lovely pier that’s perfect for taking great New England beach pictures!

Coffee cup from Walnut Beach Coffee House in a hand in front of Walnut Beach, Connecticut
Don’t forget to swing by Walnut Beach Coffee House before you head out to the beach!

Stroll the Milford Green and downtown Milford, where you’ll find the waterfall at the Milford Duck Pond.

This feels like one of those quintessential New England scenes that you see in postcards, and it’s a definite must visit while in Milford!

Looking for where to stay in Milford? The Hilton Garden Inn is just a few miles from Silver Sands State Park and has an indoor pool!

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17. Madison, CT

Madison at a Glance

  • What to See: Hammonasset Beach State Park
  • Where to Eat: Bar Bouchee
  • Where to Stay: Scranton Seahorse Inn

Sunset view of houses near the water

Madison is known as one of the cutest small towns in Connecticut, so this little New England beach town delivers big on quaint Connecticut charm.

Home of the Hammonasset Beach State Park, one of the neatest state parks in CT and the longest shoreline beach park in the state, there’s plenty of space on the sand for your sandcastle construction and sunbathing needs!

If splashing in the Sound doesn’t sound like your thing, check out Meigs Point Nature Center. You can enjoy nature walks, touch-tank programs, and workshops about the wildlife and natural history of coastal Connecticut. 

In Madison’s quietly quaint downtown, you’ll find cute shops like R.J. Julia Booksellers, the independent bookstore and café/bistro that hosts literary events year-round. This is a warm and welcoming space to soak up all the small-town New England vibes.

As far as where to stay, Scranton Seahorse Inn is one of the dreamiest B&Bs in the state and is even walking distance to beaches and downtown.

There are lots of fun little small-town things to do in this coastal cutie, and Madison has a lovely little restaurant scene, too. 

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18. Westport, CT

Westport at a Glance

  • What to See: Compo Beach
  • Where to Eat: Spotted Horse Tavern
  •  Where to Stay: Inn at Longshore

Home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the region, Westport, Connecticut is one of those must visit New England beach towns for those who love the water.

A woman stands and looks out over the water in one of the most popular beach towns in Connecticut
Even in cooler weather, Connecticut beach towns are still beautiful places to visit.

Situated along Connecticut’s Gold Coast, Westport has the most ocean and river waterfront in the state, so if you love those water views, you’re going to love this town!

With three gorgeous town beaches and a state park, there’s plenty of lovely outdoor space to enjoy. Compo Beach is one of the most popular beaches in New England, with a great boardwalk, concessions and other amenities that make it perfect for a day at the beach.

Sherwood Island State Park is 235+ acres of natural beauty, so if you’re looking for the perfect place to spend the day playing, picnicking, swimming, and just lounging around on the sand, this is the place!

If you’re looking to book a room with water views, consider The Inn at Longshore. It’s grounds are dreamy as can be!

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19. Mystic, CT

Mystic at a Glance

  • What to See: Olde Mystick Village, Mystic Aquarium
  • Where to Eat: Mystic Pizza
  • Where to Stay: The Whaler’s Inn
An anchor in Mystic, Connecticut
No doubt about it, Mystic is proud of its nautical culture!

One of the cutest waterfront villages in all of New England, Mystic is one of my personal favorites.

Surprisingly perhaps, there’s technically only one public beach in town! Williams Beach Park is 120 feet of quaint and cozy sandy shore that is hosted by the Ocean Community YMCA, with a nice playground for the kiddos to play on when they tire of splashing in the water.

Near the Mystic River Bascule Bridge, Mystic River Park doesn’t have a beach for swimming in, but the lovely boardwalk and green space is perfect for hosting town events and resting a while beside the river.

two white adirondack chairs face a calm river in mystic CT

It’s always neat to watch the Mystic River Bascule Bridge do its thing!

A closeup of the Mystic Drawbridge on a summer day

Mystic is one of my favorite Connecticut beach town destinations because there are so many fantastic things to do.

The exterior of shops and restaurants in Olde Mystic Village
I took this during a June visit – how freaking beautiful is this??

Visit Olde Mystick Village and check out all the neat shops and restaurants. There are some extra cool shops here.

A colorful Alice in Wonderland themed shop with brightly colored lamps hanging from the ceiling
Alice in the Village is so cute, I def recommend popping into this whimsical spot!

Also on the agenda should be a visit to Mystic Aquarium. My son loved making friends with the Beluga Whale!

a smiling beluga whale peeks out from behind a stroller where a toddler boy sits smiling
My son befriending a beluga at Mystic Aquarium

Mystic is also home to Mystic Pizza of Julia Robert’s early movie fame, and many other excellent Mystic restaurants.

The exterior of a building that houses iconic Mystic Pizza in Mystic CT

There are so many great places to stay in Mystic, but for a historic Mystic hotel experience that is just right around the corner from Mystic River Park, consider a stay at The Whaler’s Inn.

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20. Old Saybrook, CT

Old Saybrook at a Glance

  • What to See: The Kate
  • Where to Eat: Fresh Salt
  • Where to Stay: Saybrook Point Resort & Marina

When you’re looking for a beach town that is less go-go-go and more “rest and relax a bit,” then Old Saybrook might be just what you’re looking for!

With Harvey’s Beach being one of the most beautiful beaches in Connecticut, there is plenty to find here in the way of wonderful waterfront views. You can even work on your short game with Saybrook Point Mini-Golf, where they invite you to “Putt a Round by the Sound” and enjoy that sweet sea breeze while you play.

This super cute small beach town offers laid-back activities like antique shopping – you never know what kind of cool vintage treasures you might find!

Afterwards, take in a show at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, lovingly referred to as “The Kate,” where you can catch all kinds of different performances, from dance to music to even magic.

Spend a little time at Myrcene Ale sampling some of the flavors of shoreline Connecticut before turning in for the day.

If you’re looking for a splurge-worthy spot to stay, consider staying at Saybrook Point Resort & Marina.

On-site full-service spa service, private balconies, stellar views of the Sound, and a killer on-site restaurant await you. After a stay like that, how could you possibly not feel rested and revitalized from your seaside vacation?

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21. New London, CT

New London at a Glance

  • What to See: Ocean Beach Park
  • Where to Eat: On the Waterfront
  • Where to Stay: Stonecroft Country Inn

New London is the home of Ocean Beach Park, the perfect New England beach town for anyone craving those boardwalk beach town vibes! Splash around in the ocean or wiggle your toes in the soft, white sand of the beach before heading up to walk the wooden boardwalk that spans about a half-mile along the sand.

Ocean Beach Park also has other fun things to see and do like an arcade, a mini-golf course, rides, food stands, shopping, and there’s even an Olympic-sized pool if you’re not into those salt-water vibes!

white lighthouse under a blue sky near the water

New London’s historic waterfront district offers a little something for everyone, with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and more.

Check out the Lyman Allyn Art Museum or the Garde Arts Center when you’re in need of a little art and culture, and the Custom House Maritime Museum, the Nathaniel Hempsted House, or the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse when you’re looking for a little historical appreciation.

There are plenty of great options for where to eat and stay, but just up the road is one of the prettiest properties in CT: Stonecroft Country Inn. It’s a beautiful place to stay, especially for a couples trip.

New London is one of the prettiest beach towns in New England!

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22. East Lyme

East Lyme at a Glance

  • What to See: Rocky Neck State Park
  • Where to Eat: Flander’s Fish Market
  • Where to Stay: Inn at Harbor Hill Marina

Looking for a CT beach town that has a soft, sandy beach?

Look into East Lyme, home of Rocky Neck State Park and a 1.5 mile gently sloping beach that won’t tear up your feet if you go barefoot! This scenic park is more than just beach, too, with boardwalks, nature trails, and a well-maintained stone pavilion that offers incredible views from the top!

East Lyme is also home to a few town beaches that non-residents can buy day or season passes for, but there’s more to this beach town in Connecticut than just beaches!

Visit the Samuel Smith Farmstead for a peek at a historic colonial farm and then explore the cute little shops, restaurants, and more that make this little seaside community special.

Come nightfall, check in at the Inn at Harbor Hill Marina for a boutique B&B style stay that’s within walking distance to the beach!

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23. Greenwich, CT

Greenwich at a Glance

  • What to See: Tod’s Point
  • Where to Eat: The Ginger Man
  • Where to Stay: The Delamar

Ahhhh, Greenwich!

This CT beach town is a popular coastal escape from NY, and it’s no wonder when you take into consideration how beautifully kept the beaches of Greenwich are! Non-residents will need to buy day passes to access Greenwich’s beaches May through October, but it’s a small price to pay to splash in the Sound at gorgeous, amenity-filled spots like scenic Greenwich Point Park.

In addition to its beaches, Greenwich Point Park (aka Tod’s Point) also has walking trails for a scenic waterfront nature walk and is one of the most beautiful places in the Nutmeg State, so be sure to visit while in Greenwich.

There are plenty of fun things to do in this wealthy beach town, like shopping the designer stores on Greenwich Ave, and if you’re looking for a lavish place to rest your head at night, The Delamar is one of the best hotels in New England for a luxury getaway! When in Rome, right??

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Best Beach Towns in New Hampshire

24. Rye, NH

Rye at a Glance

  • What to See: Wallis Sands State Beach
  • Where to Eat: Ray’s Seafood Restaurant
  • Where to Stay: Inn at Rye Place

A rocky coast with houses in the distance

This sweet little New Hampshire Seacoast town is home to beautiful beaches, seaside views, and some of the best seafood on the New England coast. Does it get much better than that?

Two of Rye’s most popular beaches attract visitors from all around for their sandy beaches, beach amenities, and spectacular scenery.

Wallis Sands State Beach has gentle surf and lovely views of the Isle of Shoals, and Jenness State Beach is typically a little more crowded, with Summer Sessions Surf Shop and Sandpiper Café conveniently located right across the street so you can easily meet all your surfing and refueling needs.

Rye is a tiny little town, but with attractions like Odiorne Point State Park (wait until you see the old WWII bunker remnants, so cool!) and the Seacoast Science Center there’s plenty of fun to be had beyond the beach.

Another popular Rye activity is getting out on the water for a whale-watching excursion with Granite State Whale Watch or catching a ferry out to Star Island (open June through September) to experience that Isle of Shoals serenity for yourself.

Back on the mainland, swing by Ray’s Seafood Restaurant for some of the best seafood on the Seacoast with incredible ocean views before laying down your head for the night at one of the cute places to stay like The Inn at Rye Place.  You’ll be going to bed happy!

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25. Hampton Beach, NH

Hampton Beach at a Glance

  • What to See: Hampton Beach
  • Where to Eat: Boardwalk Cafe & Pub
  • Where to Stay: Ashworth by the Sea
A beach at one of the most popular beach towns in New Hampshire
Beautiful, right? I love Hampton Beach!

This little Seacoast beach town is home to Hampton Beach, the biggest and most popular beach in the state, and is even considered one of the most beautiful places in all of New Hampshire.

I went a few years back and had such a fun time with my fam!

You’ll find all the beach amenities you could possibly need and then some, with snack bars, gift shops, restaurants, beachfront hotels, and arcades easily accessible during your day at the beach.

A woman and a toddler posing on a beach in Hampton, New Hampshire
Just having fun with one of my favorite little lifeguards in one of my favorite beach towns in New Hampshire!

There are also lots of great events in Hampton Beach, like regular fireworks shows, festivals, and even an annual sand sculpture contest that results in some pretty impressive sand art!

More than just the beach, Hampton also has cool things to do like visiting the Oceanarium, where you can explore marine wildlife with hands-on activities like touch tanks. This is definitely a great thing to do with kids… and those of us who are young at heart, he he!

You can head to Smuttynose Brewing Company at historic Towle Farm for a few brews and a bite to eat in a gorgeous location, with 17 acres to explore.

You have several choices for where to lay down your head at night, with a few being oceanfront. Ashworth by the Sea is a great choice for those wanting to be within easy walking distance of the beach.

Wherever you stay, Hampton is a beach town vacation that will put you to sleep with a smile on your face.

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Best Beach Towns in Rhode Island

26. Newport, RI

Newport at a Glance

  • What to See: Newport Mansions
  • Where to Eat: White Horse Inn
  • Where to Stay: Hotel Viking
A sweeping view of the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge under a grey sky
Crossing this bridge is my happy place!

This seaside city is known for a lot, including its history of Gilded Age grandeur and the spectacular scenery that still exists today, including the magnificent Claiborne Pell bridge.

Le swoon, every time!

A photo of Newport RI with red cobblestone ground and flowers in bloom
Bannister’s Wharf in Newport RI

Easton’s Beach, or “First Beach” as it is most commonly known in Newport, is beloved for its soft sand, gentle waves, and fabulous views.

Newport is a beach town that is gifted in the amazing views department, with a Cliff Walk that offers dramatic up close and personal views of both the grand old Newport mansions and the incredible Atlantic Ocean.

This was taken on our Cliff Walk during a winter visit to Newport a few years back.

The coast of Newport's Cliff Walk as seen in the winter
Newport Cliff Walk

Newport also has a fabulous restaurant scene. The White Horse Tavern is America’s oldest tavern, and its historical value – and incredible menu offerings – cannot be overstated!

Otherwise, this is a true seafood lovin’ beach town in New England. You’re going to find plenty of excellent options, pretty much anywhere you go!

Bowen's Wharf sign on a cobblestone street in Newport, Rhode Island
Bowen’s Wharf, Newport RI

There are lots of fun things to do in Newport, but the absolute must-do on any Newport itinerary is visiting the glorious Newport mansions.

An ostentatiously decorated Gilded Age mansion with lots of gold and elaborate decor.

You can just peek from the outside if you’re pressed for time, but touring these behemoth symbols of affluence and grandeur of the Gilded Age is the best way to see the scope of elegance, luxury, and mega-wealth that these giant homes were once a testament to.

A woman stands and smiles in a Newport Mansion in Newport, Rhode Island
Just enjoying the view!

Hop on a trolley tour of the Newport Mansions for a very cool way to experience these Gilded Age beauties!

Newport is full of gorgeous luxury hotels and historic gems like Hotel Viking that offer a little taste of that coastal elegance that the classic coast is known for.

newport rhode island is one of the best day trips from new england - this image shows historic buildings lining a street with cars parked along the road

A man and a woman sharing a kiss and a toast in a hotel bed

My husband and I had the best romantic getaway at Hotel Viking a few years back. I mean, Newport + hotel with a spa = nothing but romance!

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27. Little Compton, RI

Little Compton at a Glance

  • What to See: South Shore Beach
  • Where to Eat: The Barn
  • Where to Stay: Stone House Inn

Do you like your New England beach towns on the quainter side? Check out Little Compton, Rhode Island!

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, this is one of those towns that offers the perfect respite for those looking to escape the crowds.

Many of the beaches in Little Compton are private, but there are some public options! South Shore Beach is a pretty beach that feels a little secluded, but you will find some basic amenities, including lifeguards in season.

For a peaceful place to walk and enjoy coastal Rhode Island sights, head to 75 acre Goosewing Beach Preserve, accessible via South Shore Beach. This protected preserve is stunning, and a walk here is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

Don’t leave town before visiting Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard to pick up a taste of coastal New England. They also host a summer concert series where you can enjoy some vineyard goodies alongside some standouts of the local music scene.

One of the most exciting aspects of a visit to Little Compton is the possibility of a stay at Stone House Inn, an absolutely gorgeous historic property situated on 2.7 acres.

Not only do you get to enjoy the stunning grounds and accommodations, but they also have a private beach and ocean views.

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28. Narragansett, RI

Narragansett at a Glance

  • What to See: Point Judith Lighthouse
  • Where to Eat: Coast Guard House
  • Where to Stay: The Break Hotel

A lighthouse at the beach at sunset

Of course, good ol’ Gansett had to make the list of best beach towns in New England with its popular beaches and picturesque views!

A rocky shoreline as seen from Point Judith Lighthouse in Narragansett, Rhode Island
Isn’t the view from Point Judith Light lovely?

Narragansett has several beautiful beaches that are popular for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, and all offer gorgeous ocean sights.

Narragansett Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the state. It  offers fantastic views of The Towers, the historical icon/preserved remains of the 1886 Narragansett Pier Casino, and Point Judith Lighthouse, one of the loveliest lighthouses in Rhode Island.

It is also considered one of the most beautiful places in the Ocean State.

Head to the Narragansett Pier to shop, and look out for events like Summer Concerts at the Gazebo and live music at the Pier.

The Coast Guard House is located at the Towers and my assistant editor ate here with her family during a recent trip to Narragansett and absolutely gushed about the experience. It’s one of the top restaurants in the state!

There are plenty of options for where to stay and where to eat in Narragansett, but for a romantic getaway vibe with a boutique hotel experience, check out The Break Hotel and their on-site restaurant Chair 5. They have rooftop dining with ocean views, just saying!

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29. Charlestown, RI

Charlestown at a Glance

  • What to See: Blue Shutters Town Beach
  • Where to Eat: The Tavern at General Stanton Inn
  • Where to Stay: General Stanton Inn

Looking for a beautiful beach town in Rhode Island? Charlestown could be just what you’re looking for!

You’ve got beautiful beaches and wildlife refuges, like Blue Shutters Town Beach, with great amenities and lovely views of Block Island Sound. This is a popular beach for families because there are restrooms and lifeguards.

East Beach is also popular, but a little less developed. You’ll find composting toilets and lifeguards in season, but most of all, a gorgeous stretch of sand! This is a three-mile-long barrier beach that separates Ninigret Pond from the ocean, and it is a lovely place for a New England beach day.

Visit the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge and walk the nature trails, then follow it up with a visit to Frosty Drew Observatory and Science Center for stargazing!

As for where to stay in Little Compton, consider booking a room at the General Stanton Inn! This lovely historic inn is also home to one of the best local places to eat, the Tavern.

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30. Block Island, RI

Block Island at a Glance

  • What to See: Mohegan Bluffs
  • Where to Eat: Restaurant 1879
  • Where to Stay: The Atlantic Inn

A beach with a mountain in the background

While technically this New England beach town is called New Shoreham, the most popular way to refer to this gorgeous place is as Block Island.

Of course, there are the beaches of Block Island, which are hard to beat both in Rhode Island and beyond. 

Beyond just beaches, however, Block Island is also home to beautiful attractions like the gorgeous North Light, the granite and iron lighthouse that sits among the grassy dunes on the northern tip of the island. 

The Southeast Light sits at the southern end of the island, dramatically perched atop the spectacular Mohegan Bluffs, one of the most impressive natural sights in the state.

There are so many cool things to do and wonderful places to stay on the island, but if you’re looking for the ultimate in romantic settings, check out The Atlantic Inn, situated on a hilltop overlooking the town.

Plus, their on-site restaurant, Restaurant 1879 offers fine dining with a fantastic view, which is hard to beat, isn’t it?

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31. Westerly, RI

Westerly at a Glance

  • What to See: Watch Hill Lighthouse
  • Where to Eat: Evie’s
  • Where to Stay: Ocean House
The ocean shore along the Rhode Island beach town of Westerly
Westerly is gorgeous, isn’t it?

With beautiful beaches (although some don’t allow public parking and require a little more advance planning to get to) for swimming, lounging, and listening to the waves crash, and a lovely downtown with great places to explore, Westerly is the perfect RI summer spot.

Oh, and it also happens to be home to the village of Watch Hill, where Taylor Swift keeps her summer home! You can see it in the picture above!

There are lots of things to do in Westerly, including visiting the gorgeous Watch Hill Lighthouse, where you can ooh and ahh over both the pretty lighthouse and the spectacular views of the ocean beyond.

The Watch Hill Lighthouse in Westerly Rhode Island on a sunny day surrounded by green grass
Watch Hill Lighthouse, Westerly, Rhode Island

If you’re in the mood to splurge, check out Ocean House in Watch Hill, which is one of the best spa getaways in New England. It’s def the pricy option, but it is phenomenal.

Regardless of where you stay, Westerly offers a beach town experience that won’t soon be forgotten.

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32. Bristol, RI

Bristol at a Glance

  • What to See: Blithewold
  • Where to Eat:
  • Where to Stay: Bristol Harbor Inn
An ocean view of one of the most popular beach towns in Rhode Island, Bristol RI
Not hard to see why this is one of the best beach towns in Rhode Island, right?

If you’re looking for a beach town in Rhode Island that is small in size but big in charm, check out Bristol! This hidden New England gem is home to Bristol Town Beach, just across from Colt State Park.

The beach is pretty pebbly, so bring your water shoes, but there are seasonal lifeguards, concessions, and restrooms in addition to a sports complex with a skate park, tennis courts, etc.

Bristol is also home to attractions like Blithewold, the 33-acre summer estate with gorgeous gardens and exhibits, and Musee Patamecanique, the creative and curious immersive experience that is a once in a lifetime kind of event, so there’s plenty to see and do in Bristol other than just the beach!

Looking for where to stay in Bristol, Rhode Island? Book a room at the Bristol Harbor Inn, the boutique waterfront inn that has a restaurant with gorgeous waterfront views.

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33. Middletown, RI

Middletown at a Glance

  • What to See: Second Beach
  • Where to Eat: Newport Creamery
  • Where to Stay: Sea Breeze Inn

View of a rainbow coming through the clouds down to the beach.

A part of Newport County, Middletown is a cute little RI beach town that doesn’t get nearly enough love in the press! Truth be told, it pretty much bleeds into Newport proper and vice versa.

Home of two of the most popular beaches in Rhode Island, Sachuest Beach (Second Beach) and Third Beach, Middletown has beautiful beaches for when you need a generous dose of Vitamin Sea.

You’ll find more amenities at Second Beach, but both have restrooms and lifeguards and are great for swimming! Expect to pay for parking at both.

Also in Middletown is Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, a favorite local spot for nature trails and bird watching, and Sweet Berry Farm, a local farm known for both its PYO fruits and having one of the best pumpkin patches in the state!

If you have time, don’t forget to swing by Newport Vineyards to see what they’re bottling. Maybe take a bottle or two back with you to The Sea Breeze Inn?

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Final Thoughts: New England Beach Towns

A woman sitting on a boat with a cocktail in a harbor in coastal Maine

Whatever New England beach towns you end up visiting, it will be hard to have anything other than a good time exploring some of these great waterfront spots!

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