This ocean-drenched Maine town, with its collection of arcades, amusement rides, and snow-cone shops, carries a bit of Coney Island vibe, which may not be for everyone. But for folks who want to saunter over to a seven-mile stretch of beach from their budget-conscious lodging, it’s hard to top. Don’t miss:A pepperoni-studded slice at Roma Pizza.
Who’d have thought that Little Comp-ton, best known for its historic village common and centuries-old cemetery, would have a gem of a beach just down the road? Backed by a marsh and salt pond, crescent-shaped Goosewing Beach is managed by The Nature Conservancy as a shorebird preserve and is just as popular with walkers as sunbathers. (Parking is nearby at South Shore Beach.) Don’t miss:Quahog chowder, jonnycakes, and lobster rolls at The Commons Lunch after your day of breathing in the salty air.
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.
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