When you hear New England, oftentimes you think of the big destinations: Boston, Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard. One of my favorite parts of the east coast, however, is the sweet, quaint and unique little beach towns that make up this region, lining the shore.
New England’s beach towns are what I believe makes the east coast so unique. I find them so charming, and not while they rely on tourism, they aren’t overly-touristy. They keep their small town charm and are home to so many local shops, restaurants and beautiful beaches. And while often overlooked by the bigger cities and popular east coast destinations, I feel like these beach towns can be a perfect backdrop for summer vacations.
In my time living on the east coast, we loved taking weekend trips to charming beach towns throughout Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Here are some of my favorites – but don’t forget to check out our full guide for more.
For the Quirky Adventure Seeker: Rockport, MA
Not every small town can say they have an iconic old fishing shack turned into a hugely popular photo spot, and a house made entirely out of paper, can they? Rockport is a small town right on the edge of Massachusetts where you can see some really interesting sights and an amazing view of the ocean against a rocky shore.
For the Charming City Lover: Newburyport, MA
Newburyport is one of those cities that you fall in love with the moment you step on the cobblestone streets. There is so much shopping and exploring to do in this town, it’s hard not to add it to your agenda when you venture out to the east coast.
And if you’re close to Newburyport, you must spend a day at Crane Beach, one of Massachusetts’ most beautiful beaches. The soft sand is reminiscent of Cape Cod or a sandy Florida beach – and its nearby Crane Estate is gorgeous, too.
For the History Buff: Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth is a historic city on the coast in New Hampshire. There are many parks, museums and historic buildings to explore, dating back to the 17th century – not to mention amazing gourmet restaurants and phenomenal seafood. It really has everything the history lover on your trip needs to learn and be inspired by the history of this area.
For the Beach Bum: Kennebunkport, ME
New England’s beaches are incredible with a mix of sandy and rocky coasts. You really can’t go wrong with stopping at any of them, but my favorite beaches just happen to reside on the coast in Maine.
When I visited Kennebunkport, I could have stayed at their beaches all day. While these beaches aren’t for the faint of heart (I mean, the water is cold!), they are absolutely beautiful. Gooch’s Beach is a great place to start, and the town of Kennebunkport offers opportunities for surfing rentals and lessons, too.
Again, I have more recommendations for hidden gems and towns in our Beach Towns of New England Guide. Check it out as you are planning your next New England adventure, and don’t forget to count out these sweet beach towns in your agenda.