The Best Beaches in New England That You’ll Want to Visit

A flat stretch of Ogunquit Beach with people walking in the distance.

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The must-see beach in every New England state.

Anyone familiar with the northeast knows how wonderful the New England coastline is. With five of the six New England states bordering the coast, there are beautiful beaches in Maine (the most eastern part of New England) and moving south into New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and into Connecticut (on the western side of New England). Even Vermont, the only New England state that’s not on the coast, has lake beaches that are worthy of a visit, especially if you’re interested in water activities and boating.

New England is home to some of the best — and most beautiful — beaches in the country. With dozens of these beautiful beaches across the northeast, you’re probably wondering which are considered the best beaches in New England? More specifically, which is the best beach in each state? The answer isn’t an easy one, as there are so many amazing beaches in New England, and with many considerations into what makes a beach the “best,” the answer is subjective.

Here we break out our recommendation for the best beach in every state in New England and fill you in on what’s great about each beach, and the potential drawbacks to consider. We’ll also give you all of the quick beach information you’re looking for including beach size, amenities, lifeguards, parking, and distance to major cities.

No matter what you’re looking for in a beach day or how far you’re willing to travel, this list of the best New England beaches has something for everyone, no matter what your dream beach day looks like.

This article is about the best beaches in New England that you should consider visiting on your next New England summer adventure.


Ogunquit Beach with people walking in the distance.

Photo © Stars and Anchor

The Best Beach in Maine

Ogunquit Beach in Ogunquit, ME

Why it’s the best beach in Maine: Maine is known for its rocky coastline, but at Ogunquit beach you’ll find a beautiful wide stretch of soft white sand. This long continuous beach is separated into three sections: Main Beach, Footbridge Beach, and North Beach. It’s a great beach for families, as the beach is flat without a big drop off in the water. It’s also a great beach to catch the sunrise, with the sun coming up right over the water. In the Abenaki language, Ogunquit means “beautiful place by the sea.” 

Potential drawbacks about Ogunquit Beach: The water is cold, even in the summer, with the warmest temperatures around the beginning of August. The high and low tides are extreme, which is part of the charm, but you’ll need to pay attention when high tide is coming up and move accordingly. Parking lots can fill up early on busy weekends.

Beach size: 3 miles long
Amenities:
Public restrooms; beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent
Parking: Yes, there are paid parking lots.
Lifeguards available: Yes, there are lifeguard stations at certain areas of the beach in the summer months.
Closest major cities: Portland, ME, 37 miles; Boston, MA, 78 miles.
Are dogs allowed at Ogunquit Beach? Dogs are allowed at Ogunquit Beach during certain times of year, usually September through March. Check the local tourism website for exact dates this year.

Runners-up for the best beach in Maine: Old Orchard Beach in Old Orchard Beach, ME; Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport, ME.


A crowded beach and a seagull.

Photo © Stars and Anchor

The Best Beach in New Hampshire

Hampton Beach in Hampton, NH

Why it’s the best beach in New Hampshire: It might come as a surprise, but New Hampshire actually has 18 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, varying from sandy beaches to rocky stretches. Hampton Beach State Park is the largest beach on New Hampshire’s seacoast, and is a great location for families, couples, and anyone looking for boardwalk-style entertainment mixed in with their beach day. Ocean Blvd (NH-1A), which runs the length of the beach, is filled with grab-and-go food stands, sit-down restaurants, a band shell with nightly performances, beach shops, arcades, and motels.

Potential drawbacks about Hampton Beach: The beach can get extremely crowded. Parking can be challenging, as there isn’t a large beachfront parking area, so you’ll likely need to park in a paid lot a few blocks from the beach and walk over.

Beach size: 1.5 miles long
Amenities:
Public restrooms, playground, visitor’s center, nearby food and shopping
Parking:
Public parking lots, private parking lots, and metered street parking available, all for a fee.
Lifeguards available: Yes, there are lifeguards on duty in the summer months in certain areas of the beach.
Closest major cities: Manchester, NH, 38 miles; Boston, MA, 50 miles; Portland, ME, 66 miles.
Are dogs allowed at Hampton Beach? Dogs are allowed at Hampton Beach during certain times of year, usually October through April. Check the local tourism website for exact dates this year.

Runners-up for the best beach in New Hampshire: Jenness State Beach in Rye, NH; Wallis Sands State Beach in Rye, NH.


Related: 16 Essential Beach Toys to Keep Your Kids Entertained All Day


Waves crashing on the shore at Coast Guard Beach.

The Best Beach in Massachusetts

Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, Cape Cod, MA

Why it’s the best beach in Massachusetts: This sandy stretch of coastline stretches north for over 20 miles and is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Coast Guard Beach is known for its clean, soft sand, scenic views, and sightings of seals and shore birds. It’s a popular location for swimming and boogie boarding, as it generally has larger waves than other Cape Cod beaches due to being located on the ocean.

Potential drawbacks about Coast Guard Beach: There are no concessions at Coast Guard beach so you’ll have to bring all food and beverages with you. Also, this area is known to have great white sharks hunting in the shallow water.

Beach size: 20 miles long
Amenities:
Public restrooms
Parking lot:
The closest parking lot is reserved for residents, but there’s a shuttle available to bring you from a farther parking lot.
Lifeguards available: Yes, in designated areas of the beach.
Closest major city: Boston, MA, 95 miles; Providence, RI, 100 miles; Worcester, MA, 130 miles.
Are dogs allowed on Coast Guard Beach? Yes, dogs on leash are allowed from mid-October through March.

Runners-up for the best beach in Massachusetts: Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA; Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, MA.


A wave crashing on the shore of Misquamicut State Beach.

The Best Beach in Rhode Island

Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, RI

Why it’s the best beach in Rhode Island: With the nickname “The Ocean State,” the smallest state in the U.S. has no shortage of great beaches, Misquamicut State Beach included. With its nice sand, gradual drop-off and modest surf, this beach is one of the most popular in the state for a reason. Some beach motels are in walking distance, as is a historic carousel.

Potential drawbacks about Misquamicut State Beach: The beach can get crowded during peak times.

Beach size: 0.5 miles long
Amenities:
Public restrooms, playground, concessions, electric vehicle charging
Parking lot:
Yes, a paid parking lot is available.
Lifeguards available: Yes, there are lifeguards on duty in the summer months in certain areas of the beach.
Closest major cities: Providence, RI, 47 miles; New Haven, CT, 66 miles; Boston, MA, 97 miles.
Are dogs allowed on Misquamicut State Beach? Dogs on a leash are usually allowed from October through March. Check the local tourism website for exact dates this year.

Runners-up for the best beach in Rhode Island: Narragansett Town Beach in Narragansett, RI; Easton’s Beach/First Beach in Newport, RI.


Related: 15 Cute Coastal, Nautical, and Beach Gifts for Women Under $15


A stretch of Hammonasset Beach State Park with larger rocks and a rock jetty in the distance.

“Meigs Point” at Hammonasset Beach State Park, photo by: Rowan Jacobs via flickr using CC license / not modified.

The Best Beach in Connecticut

Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT

Why it’s the best beach in Connecticut: Hammonasset Beach State Park is Connecticut’s largest shoreline park. In addition to the typical activities you’d expect to find at the beach, Hammonasset Beach includes a nature center and interpretive programs, bicycle rentals, scuba diving, walking paths, and mountain bike trails.

Potential drawbacks about Hammonasset Beach State Park: There aren’t big waves at Connecticut beaches like you’ll find at other New England beaches that are located on the Atlantic Ocean. This is due to Hammonasset Beach being located on the Long Island Sound across from Long Island in New York.

Beach size: 2 miles
Amenities:
Public bathrooms, concessions, boardwalk, camping, walking trails, picnic tables, nature center, bike rentals
Parking lot:
Yes, with a fee for non-residents
Lifeguards available: Yes, during the summer season
Closest major city: New Haven, CT, 22 miles; Hartford, CT, 40 miles; Springfield, MA, 66 miles.
Are dogs allowed at Hammonasset Beach State Park? On the beach, dogs are usually allowed from October through March. Year-round leashed dogs are allowed at the picnic area.

Runners-up for the best beach in Connecticut: Ocean Beach Park in New London, CT; Sherwood Island State Park, Westport, CT.


Lake Champlain at sunset with mountains silhouetted in the distance.

The Best Beach in Vermont

Sand Bar State Park Beach in Milton, VT

The state of Vermont isn’t located on the coast as the other five states in New England are, but they do have beaches! Vermont is bordered along the northern part of the state by Lake Champlain, an approximately 490 square mile lake that has numerous beaches along its shores.

Why it’s the best beach in Vermont: This sandy beach on Lake Champlain gets its name from the large sandbar that lies between the mainland and South Hero Island. The beach at Sand Bar State Park is a perfect location for many activities for both kids and adults. It’s a great place for children to swim, as the lake stays shallow for a good distance from the shore. There are boat rentals, kayak rentals, and stand-up paddle board rentals available for those who are more adventurous. There are also many shaded areas offered from trees along the beach.

Potential drawbacks about the beach at Sand Bar State Park: Day use fees apply, meaning you’ll pay per person to enter. Can get busy on summer weekends and holidays.

Beach size: 0.37 miles long
Amenities:
Public restrooms, playground, boat rentals, water sports equipment rentals, picnic area
Parking lot:
On-site parking available
Lifeguards available: No
Closest major cities: Burlington, VT, 16 miles; Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 89 miles; Albany, NY, 164 miles.
Are dogs allowed at Sand Bar State Park? Pets are not permitted.

Runners-up for the best beach in Vermont: North Beach Park in Burlington, VT; Boulder Beach State Park in Groton, VT.


This article was about the best beaches in New England, which includes the best beach in Maine, the best beach in New Hampshire, the best beach in Massachusetts, the best beach in Rhode Island, the best beach in Connecticut, and the best beach in Vermont.

Now that you’ve read about the best beaches in New England, it’s time to start planning some summer beach trips! Whether you’re planning a day trip to a New England beach, a weekend trip, or a longer road trip to the coast, you won’t be disappointed with this selection of the best beaches in New England. And with so many beautiful beaches in the northeast, you can’t really go wrong.

How do you decide which New England beaches to go to? We recommend considering what your ideal beach day looks like, and finding a beach that aligns with those activities. So if your teens are looking to get in some good boogie boarding, beaches in Connecticut won’t be ideal due to their smaller waves; whereas if you have young children and are looking for gentler waves, Connecticut beaches could be perfect for you and your family. And don’t forget to bring along some fabulous beach toys!

Have you been to any of these New England beaches? Or are any of these beaches on your travel wish list? Let us know in the comments.

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