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Thread: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

  1. #1
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    New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    I find the travel sites overwhelming, so thought I might ask on here to see if anyone has some recommendations. Husband and I are looking for a fun, two-night New England get-away close to the beach, somewhere in Massachusetts, Maine, or Rhode Island. (Preferably no more than 2 hours away from Boston, since that is where we're flying into/out of.) Bonus points for being relatively close to Newburyport, since that is where we are visiting family. Travel time would be in July. We have been considering Kennebunkport and Rockport in Maine, as well as Cohasset in Massachusetts, but I am sure there are tons of neat beach communities-- so fill me in! We like food and wine, so fun/quaint restaurants (i.e. some sort of cohesive business center in the town) is crucial.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions/recommendations!


  2. #2
    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Right off Newburyport is Plum Island: 6 miles long, 1 mile wide, bird sanctuary, multiple points of access to ocean via dunes, don't disturb the wildlife, swim where and when you want. Ca. $5 entry fee. Relatives will know all about it. Bit further south, Crane Beach and Reservation, $$, more shells, swim where and when. Driving south through Essex County you'll encounter all sorts of wonderful ocean-based places: Cape Ann, Gloucester, Rockport, Marblehead, then might look at harbor islands in Boston Harbor (Legal Seafood), jump further south to Hingham, then Cape Cod and all its wonders.

    But you seem to be describing Nantucket more than anything... ($$$$).

    Driving north from Newburyport you'll quickly cross the little bit of NH with seafront (Old Orchard Beach) and hit ME. Kennebunkport, Cape Elizabeth, Portland (Casco Bay), Bristol, Five Islands, Cook's Restaurant for seafood on a neighboring peninsula, then on to Acadia and Bar Harbor, further Down East to Macchias (Bold Coast trail for hiking and puffin and whale watching), and so on to Eastport, then, if you've brought your passport, hop over to Rockefeller estate in Canada.

    I know nothing about fine dining and wine lists. Might hit Legal Seafood in Boston to say you've done it.

    For 2 nights away in one spot, I might pick Acadia. (It's rather more than 2 hours from Newburyport.) Maybe do a boat trip around harbor islands or helicopter ride or day hiking. Soames Sound?

    Or maybe Camden, ME.

    Basically, I would be open to what a new place has to offer, and there is a lot right around Newburyport. Not sure "neat beach communities" as such exist outside the Cape and the Islands.
    Last edited by ViveBene; June 1st, 2011 at 03:07 PM.

  3. #3
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Thank you so much for your suggestions! This really helps. I think the places you describe north of Newburyport, especially in southern Maine, would be great. I will check them out. Again, thank you!

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    Very Active Member EJB190's Avatar
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    East Beach, Charlestown RI. Absolutely great beach. There is only a really small public parking lot so you don't get a zillion tourists like the bigger Rhode Island beaches (Narraganset, Misquamicut, etc). It's also a nice quiet neighborhood. Close to scenic Watch Hill (shopping, restaurants) and about 40 minutes away from Newport. Also close to Point Judith where you can pick up the Block Island Ferry.

    There are good number of rental properties in the area. My grandfather actually developed a lot of the neighborhood and we own a couple houses down there. Rentals go fast (we have 2 rental properties and they're already booked for the summer).

    Cape Cod (MA) is also really nice. I have a bunch of friends with houses up there. Brewster is probably my favorite town. The problem is there are so many people up there in the summer and the traffic is atrocious.

    This is my personal opinion on Maine beaches- rocky beaches and cold water. It is probably a cheaper option though and Maine is really scenic. I'm sure there are exceptions though.

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    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Yep - rocky beaches and cold water is what Maine is all about.

    Plus a few lighthouses and crashed fisheries.

    I've never been to Camden, but it's my impression one could enjoy a 2-nighter there. Ocean in front, mountains in back, some sort of town atmosphere.
    North Shore of Mass. has many, many attractions. Swimming at Plum Island and Crane Beach http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to...the-crane.html ,
    the Clam Box in Ipswich, http://www.ipswichma.com/clambox/index.htm (mostly fried food), some historic spots, like Saugus Iron Works and, a bit farther west, Alcotts' Fruitlands.

    Southern New England is also wonderful, and warmer ocean water to swim in.

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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Quote Originally Posted by EJB190 View Post
    East Beach, Charlestown RI. Absolutely great beach. There is only a really small public parking lot so you don't get a zillion tourists like the bigger Rhode Island beaches (Narraganset, Misquamicut, etc). It's also a nice quiet neighborhood. Close to scenic Watch Hill (shopping, restaurants) and about 40 minutes away from Newport. Also close to Point Judith where you can pick up the Block Island Ferry.

    There are good number of rental properties in the area. My grandfather actually developed a lot of the neighborhood and we own a couple houses down there. Rentals go fast (we have 2 rental properties and they're already booked for the summer).

    Cape Cod (MA) is also really nice. I have a bunch of friends with houses up there. Brewster is probably my favorite town. The problem is there are so many people up there in the summer and the traffic is atrocious.

    This is my personal opinion on Maine beaches- rocky beaches and cold water. It is probably a cheaper option though and Maine is really scenic. I'm sure there are exceptions though.
    EJB190, thanks for this helpful information. One thing I didn't notice mentioned here are the dining options available in the area. Anytime we travel, we like to hear recommendations of others who have been to the area regarding some of the best places to eat. If you or anyone else has suggestions, please let me know here or via PM. Thanks again.

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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    I grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts between Boston and Newburyport and know the beaches and area well. My favorite is Crane Beach in Ipswich, probably 20 min. from Newburyport; 3+ miles long, with dunes and nature trails, and its wonderfully peaceful and remote once wlak 15 min. or so east away from the crowds. There, is however, a very big problem during July, and I'm not referring to the traffic approaching the beach: Green Head Flies (aka horseflies). They generally emerge during the first week in July and survive through the first week in August, and they love human blood. Their "sting" (actually a bite, done with a saw-like pincer) is beyond annoying, often painful, and can otherwise ruin a beach day. The Trustees of Reservations (the group that operates Crane's) even posts signs at the parking lot gate during Green Head season that there will be no refunds on account of the Green Heads. This is a problem not only for Crane's, but also for any Massachusetts beaches (and perhaps elsewhere) that abut marshland, which is where the Green Heads breed and live until the first flood tide in August when they get wiped out for another year. I'm not that familiar with Plum Island, but I suspect the problem may exist there as well (it is relatively close by), but the problem is acute at Crane's because of the extensive adjacent marsh.

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    Active Member tigerchik's Avatar
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    I am from Maine. Camden is a nice, classic Maine coastal town. Ocean and there is a lake for some OW swimming (google Maine Sport Tri and you'll see the swim course is on a lake). My family rents a cottage on Higgins Beach in Saco ME (near Portland) for a week each summer. That is a nice private beach; no public bathrooms means it is almost all cottage people. 2 cool shipwrecks unearthed there. You could also check out Old Orchard (has a carnival atmosphere) or, in New Hampshire, Hampton Beach (same note about carnivals). But Higgins Beach is your best bet.

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    Very Active Member gigi's Avatar
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    As a former Cape Cod resident (Brewster), I'm shocked no one has mentioned the Cape. From Boston you can take a ferry to Provincetown where there are more restaurants than you could possibly imagine (fine dining, casual & local fast-food but no chains), the Cape Cod National Seashore, art galleries, bike rentals, shopping, boating, every possible thing. You don't even need a car if you don't mind biking around town and out to the beach, but you can rent a car if you really want to explore other parts of the Cape.

    There's some crazy crazy night-life downtown, but if that's not your thing, you can be very happy in a hotel of B&B off the main drag.


    Haha - I hope the original poster found a place to go!
    Last edited by gigi; February 11th, 2013 at 10:20 AM. Reason: just realized the original post is YEARS old!

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    Very Active Member ViveBene's Avatar
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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Hi Gigi! Yep, an old thread, and OP was staying in Newburyport, so I x'ed the Cape out of my thoughts. I'd just spend 2 days on Plum Island and be happy.

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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Plum Island! Best $5 you'll spend while you're on vacation. I have fond childhood memories here. My dad still goes as often as possible because he's taken up bird watching in his older age, which means we get to have a lot more fun with him actually wanting to go out...

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    Re: New England Beach Vacation Recommendations?

    Ok, I see this is a rather old thread, but what the heck...

    I personally love Martha's Vineyard...I have been there many times and it never disappoints. Stay in Oak Bluffs or Edgartown.

    Block Island is much smaller, and there is less to do, but it is also very nice.

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