This selection of coastal weekend getaways in New England highlights some of our favorite places to visit, stay, and dine in the region.
The seaside strolls in Yankee Magazine’s Walks Worth Their Salt | New England Ocean Walks are reason enough to visit these beautiful coastal New England destinations, but to complement your walk, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite places to dine, favorite things to do, and favorite places to stay in each location. With these suggestions, there’s no doubt in our minds that you’ll be able to enjoy a perfect weekend at each of these coastal weekend getaways in New England.
12 COASTAL WEEKEND GETAWAYS IN NEW ENGLAND
Block Island, RI
Located just 13 miles off Rhode Island’s coast, Block Island packs a lot into its compact, 10-square-mile footprint — including 17 miles of beaches and two lighthouses. Much of Block Island’s land is designated as protected, meaning that the many beautiful seaside views are nearly untouched. There are plenty of things to do on Block Island that make it perfect for a summertime day trip, and its delightful restaurants and hotels make a longer stay worth your while, too.
Located on Nantucket Sound within the town of Barnstable, Hyannis has earned a reputation as the “heart” of Cape Cod. Its mid-Cape location is ideal for day trips to Provincetown (an hour’s drive away) and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, which are readily accessed by ferry from Hyannis Harbor. But historic, laid-back Hyannis is also a destination in itself — the area beckons with sandy beaches, a hometown-like Main Street, seaside art shanties, museums, restaurants, and ample opportunities to get out on the water. It’s more than enough to keep you busy on a getaway weekend, as we show in our list of favorite places to eat, favorite places to stay, and favorite things to do in Hyannis, MA.
Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Alongside Block Island, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands, Martha’s Vineyard rounds out southern New England’s collection of top-notch offshore destinations, with the Vineyard alone attracting thousands upon thousands of visitors — U.S. presidents included — each year. The Vineyard’s pristine shores, boasting warm sands and cool ocean waters, provide summer visitors with countless places to relax, swim, and take meandering coastal strolls. And the bustling seaside towns that grace the island have their own sort of charm, too, what with their barnacle-encrusted docks and elegant Cape Cod–style architecture. From the red clay cliffs of Aquinnah to the busy streets of Edgartown, here are some of our favorite things to do on Martha’s Vineyard, as well as a few of the island’s most popular places to dine and stay.
Founded in 1654, this waterside village includes parts of the towns of Stonington and Groton, but centers on a historic downtown area nestled along the banks of the Mystic River. There are things to do in Mystic, CT, for everyone — whether you’re a nature lover, maritime history buff, or just someone who enjoys discovering great places to stay and eat within sight of one of New England’s most scenic shorelines.
Throughout New England’s long nautical history, the former whaling community of Nantucket has played an unrivaled role. Today, however, the island is best known for being one of the region’s top destinations for vacationers — its resident population more than quadrupling in the summer months. With deliciously fresh seafood, quaint cobblestone streets, and luxurious seaside hotels, Nantucket is a weekend getaway well worth its (sea)salt.
This coastal town just 35 miles north of Boston is considered a model of preservation, thanks to a 1970s urban renewal project that revitalized the downtown to showcase its lovely waterfront setting and historic architecture. Today, visitors are drawn to Newburyport’s treasure-trove of local independent businesses and restaurants, the cultural attractions of the Firehouse Center for the Arts and the Maudslay Arts Center, and the promise of outdoor adventure in the form of bird- and whale-watching, kayaking, hiking, and more. To get you started on your itinerary, here are some of our favorite places to eat, favorite places to stay, and favorite things to do in Newburyport, MA.
Though Newport is one of New England’s most venerable cities (it was founded in 1639), the “City by the Sea” is hardly stuffy — what with its bustling harbor and lively downtown scene. Still, history has its place here, especially when it comes to Newport’s magnificent 19th-century seaside mansions. There are a ton of things to do in Newport, RI, as well as some of our favorite places to stay and eat… So why not make a weekend of it?
Crowned with some of the finest beachfront in the region, the seaside village of Ogunquit is the epitome of the New England summer resort town and, in our opinion, the best beach town in New England. Yet it offers plenty of reasons to visit all through the year, including memorable events such as Patriots’ Day Weekend in April, a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks celebration, the harvest-themed OgunquitFest in October, and the magical Christmas by the Sea. Regardless of what time of year you decide to go, there will be plenty of great things to do in Ogunquit, Maine.
Combining a working seaport with a diverse arts and cultural scene, and colonial history with cutting-edge restaurants, Portsmouth, NH, packs a lot of things to see and do into its modest coastal footprint. Settled in the early 1600s, Portsmouth retains many architectural grace notes from its long history — multicolored 18th-century clapboard homes, Georgian mansions, the grand white-steepled North Church — which visitors can appreciate up close throughout the walkable downtown. But the city is also close to nature, with lovely Odiorne State Park and Wallis Sands State Beach lying just a few miles to the southeast, in Rye. With Portsmouth’s blend of sophistication and scenery, it’s no wonder that, as one travel writer put it, “When Boston needs a vacation, it loves Portsmouth!”
Perched at the northernmost tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is a place renowned for its bustling nightlife and beautiful, sandy beaches. There are plenty of things to do in Provincetown that make it perfect for a summertime day trip, though this lively destination’s many fine restaurants and hotels make a longer stay worth your while, too. Of course, being one of the prettiest coastal towns in New England doesn’t hurt P-town’s draw either!
Located less than 10 miles from Maine’s largest city, Scarborough is one of those best-of-both-worlds destinations. You can easily access all the food, art, and shopping action in Portland, and yet you’ll also find plenty to do in this classic coastal town of almost 20,000 residents. Home to Maine’s largest salt marsh, pristine white-sand beaches, and dramatic ocean vistas, Scarborough — as you’ll soon discover — has its own distinctive collection of things to do, places to eat, and places to stay.
Though rather unglamorously named for its geographical position on Rhode Island’s southwestern tip, Westerly is a classic New England town with a vibrant personality — especially in summer, when visitors flock to the beachfront communities of Misquamicut and Watch Hill. You can wander Westerly’s historic downtown, with its shops and restaurants, art galleries, and 15-acre Victorian strolling park, and then take a 10-minute drive south to reach the picturesque shoreline and nature escape of Napatree Point. It all makes for a great weekend getaway, especially with this roundup of our favorite places to eat, favorite places to stay, and favorite things to do in Westerly, RI.