The 25 Best Beach Towns in New England from Yankee Magazine
At night, I wander over to the Ogunquit Playhouse, one of New England’s historic summer-stock theaters, where Helen Hayes, Bette Davis, and Anthony Quinn all once graced the stage. Now this spacious building is a blessed retreat for talented Broadway actors who make the shrewd move of leaving Manhattan in the sweltering summer.
There are only two reasons I’d set foot in my car in Ogunquit. The first was to enjoy a meal at Arrows (now closed), the James Beard Foundation Award–winning restaurant two miles from the town center. As you overlook the establishment’s expansive vegetable and flower gardens, it’s easy to understand how Arrows became one of the first restaurants of the farm-to-fork movement more than two decades ago.
And the second reason? When it rains, I’m not at a loss. I can head 45 minutes north to Portland, to visit the latest exhibition at the Portland Museum of Art and to enjoy my requisite Belgian fries with truffle ketchup at Duckfat. That’s a rarity, however. Most of the time, you’ll find me riding the tide, laughing, as I watch the clouds roll by and let the sea wash over me.
See Yankee‘s recommendations for the best places to go, eat, and stay in Ogunquit, Maine.
Frankly, it was tough choosing between P-town and Ogunquit for top spot. At the tip of Cape Cod, P-town has it all: Cape Cod National Seashore beaches where, if you’re willing to walk, you can always find a strip to yourself; stunning sunsets; a vibrant gallery and restaurant scene; popular whale-watching cruises; and the most eclectic (and at times electric) people watching of all. (When rain threatens to put a definite damper on your outdoor activities, check out P-town’s shops, too.) Devotees are passionate about Provincetown; an inspired place to visit off-season, its narrow streets can barely hold the cars in midsummer. Don’t miss: Province Lands Bike Trail, a paved up-and-down route through beech forest and atop the dunes for spectacular ocean views.
See Yankee‘s recommendations for the best places to go, eat, and stay in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
This is an incomparable beach town. The restaurants are surprisingly sophisticated for a beach destination, the mix of shops intriguing, and bike paths branch off in every direction to a variety of beaches. Just remember that it takes some organization to get here (but it’s worth it). The ferry trip is lovely, and you have options—high-speed or not, six ferries a day—but you can’t just show up at the Hyannis terminal and hop on. As for lodging, some of the most spectacular island inns in America call Nantucket home, but they come with prices to match, so plan ahead. Don’t miss: The impressive collection of scrimshaw at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, housed in a former spermaceti candle factory, recalling the gritty days when Nantucket whalers roamed the world.
See Yankee‘s recommendations for the best places to go, eat, and stay in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Home to historic mansions, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and Touro Synagogue (oldest existing synagogue in America), Newport has more than enough diversions for those who want to step away from the shoreline. Add strolling atop the rugged shoreline along the Cliff Walk and sailing on
Narragansett Bay, and you’ve got a world-class summer getaway. One quirk: The area’s best beach, Second Beach on Sachuest Bay, is actually in neighboring Middletown. Don’t miss: Alloy Gallery, now on Bellevue Avenue, owned by a Rhode Island School of Design–trained jewelry artist who displays contemporary wares created by herself and her peers.