With a thriving town center and historic sites galore, including Plimoth Plantation and the Mayflower II, this community has all the makings of a premier beach town, though you’ll do a little driving to get to the beach part. A few miles southeast toward the village of Manomet lie the soft white sands of White Horse Beach; head out there early, as public parking is limited and you might have to grab a spot on a side street. Plymouth Long Beach is closer to town, but a bit rocky. Don’t miss:The great symbol of freedom, Plymouth Rock, now housed in a colonnaded building down by the waterfront.
Few towns transform in summer like hyperactive Hampton Beach. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a day (or an evening) when something special isn’t planned: concerts at Hampton Beach State Park’s beautifully re-designed Seashell Stage complex (part of the park’s newly completed $14.5 million redevelopment), movies on the beach, fireworks, beach-volleyball tournaments, even beach soccer (who knew?). With all that action come a lot of people and traffic along the road that carries them to the sand. Once you find a parking spot, you’ll quickly find a place to plant your towel on this long stretch of beach and sparkling sea. Across the street is everything you always wanted in a beach town when you were 10: soft-serve ice cream, fudge, snow cones, pizza. Don’t miss:The fun annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition, with world-class builders.
The Bay State’s favorite seaside “let’s go meet and hang out” getaway is Hull’s three-mile stretch of Nantasket Beach. Swim to your heart’s delight; then walk across the road to the strip of waterfront restaurants, arcades, historic Paragon Carousel, B&Bs, and beach resorts. At the tip of Route 228, Hull is tucked away on a spit of South Shore land jutting into Massachusetts Bay. Don’t miss:Fried clams and cedar-plank roasted salmon at Jake’s Seafood, in operation since 1949.