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10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England
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Were postcards invented with New England in mind? Given how gorgeous these coastal towns are, it’s a good bet. We picked the 10 prettiest coastal towns in New England, from Down East harbors to Victorian island resorts.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England
Photo/Art by Brenda Darroch
Cape Porpoise Pier and Harbor in Kennebunkport, Maine. | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Kennebunkport, Maine
The Kennebunk River adds even more waterline charm to the small shops, elegant ship captains’ homes, and fishing ports of this vibrant Southern Maine town of 3,474.
Unique view: The quintessential fishing village of Cape Porpoise.
See more: From the river and harbor on Rugosa Lobster Tours.

Read more about Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise!


10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England Bar Harbor, Maine | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Bar Harbor, Maine

Perched on Mount Desert Island at the gateway to Acadia National Park, this historic resort town still resonates with the Victorian splendor of bygone days, not to mention the backdrop of Cadillac Mountain.
Unique view: From Bar Island, which you can walk to at low tide (plan ahead).
See more: Lighthouse and National Park Tour via catamaran.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England New Castle, New Hampshire | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

New Castle, New Hampshire
This town of 968 residents at the mouth of the Piscataqua River is made up entirely of islands. The Victorian charm of the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel makes the setting even lovelier.
Unique view: Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.
See more: From the water with Portsmouth Kayak Adventures’ tour of Little Harbor.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England
Photo/Art by Flickr/Jeff Rosen
Camden, Maine | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Camden, Maine
The self-dubbed “Jewel of the Coast” is a well-deserved moniker, and this Mid-Coast harbor town of 4,823 on Penobscot Bay is tucked where mountains reach down to the sea.
Unique view: Three windjammers making this narrow harbor their home.
See more: From the water, on the Schooner Surprise.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England
Photo/Art by Onne van der Wal
Newport, Rhode Island | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Newport, Rhode Island
Spectacular at every turn, from broad, sandy beaches to deep harbors bristling with schooners, racing yachts, and pleasure craft; from cozy Colonial taverns to opulent Gilded Age mansions.
Unique view: The twinkling span of the Pell Bridge just after twilight.
See more: From a historical point of view, with Newport History Tours.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England New Shoreham, Rhode Island | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

New Shoreham, Rhode Island
All of verdant, windswept Block Island, just 13 miles off Rhode Island’s southern coast, is technically New Shoreham, but it’s the Victorian harbor-front that makes landing here forever captivating.
Unique view: Granite-blocked Southeast Lighthouse, perched at on one of the island’s iconic bluffs.
See more: From the water on trimaran Ruling Passion.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England Rockport, Massachusetts | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Rockport, Massachusetts
Painters turned this fishing village into an art colony for a reason—it’s an inspiration. Perched at the tip of Cape Ann, there are rugged shorelines, hidden coves, and a bustling, historic village.
Unique view: Motif No. 1, the most painted building in the world.
See more: By jeep, in personalized tours from Sweet Shots Secret Spots.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England Stonington Borough, Connecticut | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Stonington Borough, Connecticut
This delightful village of fewer than 1,000 residents boasts a wealth of 18th-19th-century buildings on its own narrow peninsula that juts into Fisher’s Island Sound and Little Narragansett Bay, with views in all directions.
Unique view: From “The Point,” a view of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.
See more: On foot, with a self-guided walking tour available at the Old Lighthouse Museum.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England
Photo/Art by Alyson Horrocks
Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
The brightly colored gingerbread Victorian cottages make this laid-back enclave on Martha’s Vineyard a true New England confection. And on one night each summer, the cottages lights up with Chinese lanterns, making it likely the loveliest place on earth.
Unique view: The nation’s oldest platform carousel.
See more: Of the historic cottages on the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association Tours.

Learn more about the Gingerbread Cottages at Oak Bluffs Campground!

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England Provincetown, Massachusetts | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Set at the outermost tip of Cape Cod, surrounded by water on three sides and backed by vast sand dunes on the fourth, Provincetown is a colorful gem that’s drawn artists and writers for generations.
Unique view: A bird’s eye, from the top of the Pilgrim Monument.
See more: By jeep, of Provincetown’s famous sand dunes, with Art’s Dune Tours.

See more photos of Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the off season!



What are your picks for the prettiest coastal towns in New England?

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Tracey Minkin


Tracey Minkin


Tracey Minkin is the Travel Editor at Coastal Living Magazine. Her work has appeared in magazines and online, including Travel + Leisure, Coastal Living, Outside, and Men's Journal. Connect with Tracey Minkin on Instagram.
Updated Monday, July 27th, 2015

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49 Responses to 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

  1. Paul August 28, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    No Nantucket? You’re kidding.

  2. Susan Pierog August 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm #

    I am so excited that Camden made the list! We fell IN LOVE with this perfect New England town! We can’t wait to go back! It truly is where I want to retire to someday!

  3. Roberta Hilligoss August 29, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    No Mystic, CT???? It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

    • Matt Beaudoin August 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Roberta, if it makes you feel better, east of the drawbridge is technically Stonington 😉 btw, Clyde’s opened today in Old Mystic. if you are local, the donuts and hard cider are waiting. (not sure when the sweet cider starts to flow)

  4. Matt Beaudoin August 30, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Thanks for including our hometown of Stonington, CT. This is the place to be. Between all the bustle of the Rhode Island beaches, the landmarks in Mystic and the fantastic shops and restaurants here in Stonington, there is something for everyone. I love it here and rarely feel a need to ‘escape’ on vacation, we are already in the New England paradise.

  5. Mai Norton August 30, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

    I have been to all of them and Nantucket is be far the most beautiful, Watch Hill, Shelter Harbour, and Jamestown are very beautiful as well.

  6. roland kennedy August 31, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    can’t believe bar harbor made it. it’s to commercially built up. booth bay harbor is way better than bar harbor and should have been on the list.

  7. Teresa Dall September 1, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    Where is the beautiful town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts on this list? It should be.

  8. P.Coonley/Serendipity Traveler September 1, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Awesome list for exploring the coastal gems in New England. Rockport, Massachusetts a mere one hour from Boston is a gem in all seasons.

    • joan rossi September 2, 2014 at 9:20 am #

      I agree. I would have been disappointed if Rockport didn’t make it. It is a 20 minute drive for me, and my mini – day-cation destination.

  9. shawn September 4, 2014 at 5:34 am #

    it ‘s so wonderful and beautiful beach-coast.i wish to visit it one day .

  10. gkar222 September 5, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    You missed Mystic Seaport. Much prettier than Kennebunkport.

  11. Nancy Hayes September 7, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Watch Hill was beautiful stayed there for several summers. Many great memory’s it’s like Mayberry quiet nice views

  12. Jayne Duey September 16, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    Got married in Mystic Seaport, honeymooned on Block Island. Love the coast, when I can get there from Colorado.

  13. Judy Morley September 16, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    New England is a beautiful place!

  14. njd1117 September 16, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    Newburyport, MA should be on the list.

  15. Diana Potter September 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    As I recall, Motif #1, Rockport, MA, was swept away in a storm a few years ago.

    • Sue Fenick November 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      It was washed away years ago, but rebuilt. I still visit Rockport every year, even since moving out of state 14 years ago.

  16. Leonora September 16, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Morris Cove the east shore of New Haven harbor will always be the “prettiest” to me. I have fond memories of growing up on the Connecticut shoreline. ❤️

  17. Joann September 19, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    How about Cape Cod…so many beautiful towns on CC

  18. Ano November 11, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    These are great towns, some other ones would be Watch Hill, Cape Cod, Nantucket. I also find York, Maine an awesome place.

  19. Bob November 11, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    there’s sooooooo many nice towns in New England, it’s hard to choose which is the “prettiest”. my vote would go to either Concord, Mass or Essex Village, Conneticut. two towns worth visiting any season of the year

  20. Cindi November 11, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

    Please check out Scituate,Ma. It is a wonderful place.

  21. Patty November 12, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    NO MYSTIC really Stonington?

  22. plumisland November 12, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    I agree with an earlier comment that Newburyport should have been listed. That however would lead to more people discovering this gem of a city. Never mind.

  23. tony cooper November 12, 2014 at 10:59 am #

    Wickford Rhode Island should be included.

  24. Brad Gurshin November 13, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

    I can’t believe that Marblehead Ma., is not on there.!!!

  25. Eric Taubert February 15, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Take everything great about coastal New England, distill it down to the purest essence and spread it across 4 square miles of land…Ogunquit, Maine.

    • Marta Michaud November 2, 2015 at 11:29 pm #

      Ogunquit is wonderful…and don’t forget did get rated best beach in New England : ))

  26. clint tuttle February 27, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    If you are adverse to glitz and crowds go further Downeast from the maddening crowds. Eastport Me

  27. Lynette June 12, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    I think you should include Nantucket, Marblehead and Wellfleet.

  28. Valerie June 12, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    Burlington, Vermont on the West Coast of New England

  29. June 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    I’m also surprised that Nantucket didn’t make the list, but as a Rhode Islander I’m happy to see we have 2 spots there. As the smallest state Rhode Island is frequently overlooked with the exception of Newport and Providence. I would also like to add one more town to that list – Little Compton, Rhode Island. It ranks right up there with the prettiest places in New England!

    • sharon August 1, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

      Always our choice to return every October.

    • Lwoodhouse October 12, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

      I agree! little Compton is absolutely gorgeous and, best of all, pretty much undisturbed!!n

  30. france grynkraut June 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm #


  31. Jean Eaton June 12, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    Please, let me forward you my Beautiful photos of EASTHAM , MA. Thank you. Jean

  32. Elizabeth Ruddell June 12, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    You forgot Nantucket! It’s okay, I’ll forgive you!

  33. Richard June 13, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

    All magnificent. What’s not to like in any part of New England

    • Fritz jameson March 10, 2016 at 7:16 pm #

      I’m with you Richard!

  34. Carol Ann July 28, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    What about Wiscasset Maine which claims to be the prettiest town?

  35. Karen August 4, 2015 at 10:46 am #

    I too can not believe Nantucket did not make the cut, I think Martha’s Vineyard is beautiful, but think there are a few other towns on MV that are prettier than oaks bluff.
    One GORGEOUS spot that did not make the list is Cohasset, Ma. Google Jerusalem rd.

  36. Shawn November 9, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Missing Plymouth and Onset, MA as another couple of good ones…

  37. Dorothy duPont November 9, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    The view of the lighthouse in Block Island is the South Light. Wonderful to see all those harbors most of them I have visited in my boat.

    • Brenda Darroch November 9, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

      It is indeed, Dorothy.

  38. Al Kilts November 19, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    I, too, am surprised that Nantucket did not make the list. A timeless place with so much ambiance and class.

  39. John lillie January 28, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    Gloucester Massachusetts.

  40. Debby March 15, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    New Hampshire coast is beautiful, small and beautiful!!!

  41. Michael April 6, 2016 at 7:55 pm #

    You did a fine job of “rounding up the usual suspects.”

    For future reference I invite you to my Borough of Woodmont, CT. Woodmont is a part of the City of Milford.

    It’s a small community, once just a summer place that has been a year round residence since the late 1950’s. Beautiful sandy public beaches, unique homes and it’s beautiful year round.

    The Borough Givernment maintains the public areas with assistance from the City of Milford with respect to daily beach maintainance.

    The shoreline is picturesque and has a sidewalk that makes it possible for walkers (and runners) to enjoy the seashore beauty all year round.

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