New England has always been loved for its beaches. From smooth sand to rocky coasts, high ocean waves or cool fresh-water lakes, this part of the country has a beach for just about everybody. A summer day on a New England beach brings out fishermen, swimmers, sun worshippers, surfers, water-skiers, naturalists, birdwatchers, boaters. Click on region names below for more details. Make your beach getaway perfect by spending a night or two at a beach and ocean resort.
Cape Cod is known around the world for its picturesque beaches. The hook-shaped peninsula embraces Cape Cod Bay, with calmer water and wide tidal flats, while the ocean side beaches have high bluffs, big waves for surfing, and some rough currents. The magnificent Cape Cod National Seashore crosses several towns and encompasses several beaches, two very informative visitor centers, and marshes, freshwater ponds, and lighthouses. The Seashore offer lots of swimming beaches and walking and biking trails. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are reachable only by private boat, public ferry, or air, and visitors find more rustic and remote beaches, panoramic ocean views, and lighthouses. Aquinnah Beach (also known as Moshup Beach or Gay Head Public Beach) on Martha’s Vineyard is known for the majestic Aquinnah Cliffs. The island of Nantucket is home to the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, known for its historic lighthouse, white sand beaches, and world-class fishing. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
The North Shore and Cape Ann includes famous and very beautiful seaside towns like Marblehead, Salem, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, and Gloucester. Further north, Newburyport is a lively town and the gateway to the gorgeous and easily accessible barrier beaches of Plum Island. Also part of the north shore is Salisbury Beach State Reservation, with the dual delights of a long, pristine beach and a small community with beachfront food, arcades ad entertainment. Find beach and ocean resorts.
This region’s beaches are separated into two lobes. Towns of Plymouth, Scituate, and Hull are north of Cape Cod, and on Cape Cod Bay. When you’ve had your fill of swimming and sand castles, consider hopping aboard a whale watch cruise out of Plymouth. West of the Cape Cod land mass and moving toward Rhode Island is Buzzzard’s Bay, and a fine, full-service family beach, Horseneck Beach State Reservation in the town of Westport. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
Central and western Massachusetts, including the Pioneer Valley and Berkshires regions, offer fresh-water swimming, fishing, and boating on a big variety of lakes. Many are centerpieces of state parks or state forests, so vacationers can be assured of services like bathhouses and lifeguarding and boat ramps. The woods and mountains embracing the lakes make a freshwater swim and picnic a beautiful family getaway.
The South Coast is home to Maine's sandy beaches. These long, beautiful beaches are accented by lighthouses, rock outcroppings, and dunes. Each town’s beach has its unique qualities. In Wells there is seven miles of flat, wide sand beach. Ogunquit's is about half as long but second to none for its beauty. The Yorks have Long Sands Beach to enjoy, and exploring the shoreline of the Kennebunks is a delight. For old-time beachside amusements don't miss Old Orchard Beach. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
Beaches dot the entire Maine coast, and Midcoast Maine serves as an elegant microcosm of the state’s charming New England fishing villages with small beaches. This far north, the vast sandy beaches are gone, replaced by the rocky coastline that has helped make Maine famous. The water is often too cold for swimming, although many beaches do make it available, and the abundant sea birds and marine mammals make nature-watching a joy. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
Where Long Island Sound ends and the Atlantic Coast begins in New England, South County rolls out 17 beaches, including several that are wide and sandy beaches with good swimming, high waves, and surfing potential. Those who prefer the entertainment of a busy summer spot will enjoy Misquamicut Beach in Westerly, with its boardwalk attractions, nightlife and numerous hotels. Smaller community beaches and state parks along the shoreline offer smaller crowds, picturesque sand dunes, and great bird-watching. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
Newport is so well known for its other attractions and historic sites, that the beaches there are often overlooked. Visitors will enjoy sand and surf along Narragansett Bay and directly on the Atlantic. Of particular note is Fort Adams State Park, which features a beach alongside a well-used 19th century fort, hosting tours, festivals and live music. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
Long Island Sound offers beach-goers a calm experience: very little waves and undertow for bathers, and big, sandy beaches like you find on the ocean. This part of Connecticut offers visitors the most beaches of any part of the state, including state parks and small community beaches set on little inlets and coves. A particular beauty is Ocean Beach in New London, with plenty of sand, waves, and entertainments like a pool, miniature golf and an arcade. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
People from “away” are sometimes surprised to learn that New Hampshire even has ocean shore, but it does, 13 miles of it. The most popular beach area north of Boston, the New Hampshire seacoast features dramatic ocean waves and cool water. Beaches vary in style: Hampton Beach is the area's commercial boardwalk, while smaller state parks offer less crowded oceanfront, and ample opportunities for bird-watching and observing nature. Many beaches are good for families and they offer lots of classic summer beach fun, including beach food, free outdoor music, and special events. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
The most popular of New England's many glacial lake areas, Lake Winnipesaukee and neighboring Squam Lake and Newfound Lake offer visitors cool, clean lake swimming, relaxing waterfronts in a variety of community beaches and state parks. Some are more commercial, others more remote, all set among quaint New England villages and picturesque rural countryside. Find beach and ocean resorts and waterfront lodgings.
Northern Vermont is the home of Lake Champlain, New England's largest lake, which has a long and dramatic history as a nexus of commerce and warfare from the earliest times. The lake straddles the border between Vermont and New York, and all along its eastern shoreline visitors will find state parks with beaches, camping, and lakefront activities. The Lake Champlain Islands are a string of narrow islands down the middle of the lake, with wonderful shorelines and vistas and beaches all along the way. Find lake resorts and waterfront lodgings.