New England has much more to offer than a talented football team and the flagship L.L. Bean store. Along the coast, you can take in beautiful views of the water while discovering what different cities have to offer. From delicious dishes like fresh oysters and lobster rolls to psychic readings and historical lighthouses, here’s our guide to the best New England coastal towns you should plan on seeing.
A trip to this Maine coastal town, or New England in general, isn’t complete without eating your weight in fresh seafood. The Shop at Island Creek Oysters is the perfect place to try some freshly shucked oysters on the half shell with fresh lemon and specialty snacks like clam dip and smoked trout rillette with garlic confit and mustard seeds.
Afterward, venture to downtown Portland’s Old Port District to explore the local shops and pick up something new. After some retail therapy, discover the famous lighthouses within reach of Portland like the Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse and the Portland Head Light.
When you’re ready to retire, rest your head at the Portland Regency Hotel & Spa. Another wonderful option just outside the city in Brunswick is The Daniel. Full of history and culture, the hotel dates back to the early 1800s and provides both modern luxury and touches of vintage character.
Check out more of our favorite things to do in Portland, Maine.
Best known for the Salem witch trials in the 1600s – which you can explore at the Salem Witch Museum – the city definitely celebrates its history, especially in the fall. Dive deep into the local traditions by getting a tarot card reading. If you’re a fan of the movie “Hocus Pocus,” you can take a tour or visit the sites throughout the city that appeared in the movie.
Stop for a quick bite to eat and a take-away coffee at Gulu-Gulu Cafe before exploring the local boutiques. After enjoying surf and turf or a delicious lobster roll at Sea Level Oyster Bar, end your explorations with a stay at the historic Hawthorne Hotel.
Tasty foods aren’t hard to come by in Boston. You’ll find flavored cannoli and lobster roll pastries the size of your head at Mike’s Pastry, dayboat-fresh seafood at the storied Union Oyster House, and luxurious brunch at Bostonia Public House. Go over the top with the bloody mary garnish bar that features items like ribs, shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops, stuffed olives, doughnuts, pepperoni sticks and more. The challenge is walking it all back to the table!
If you’re a sports fan, a tour of Fenway is a must during your visit. Walk around Quincy Market and the surrounding areas to check out shops and street performers. Grab a beer at Harpoon Brewery and head over to the New England Aquarium for the afternoon.
For your overnight stay, check into the AAA Four Diamond Rated Liberty Hotel in the old Charles Street Jail building. The hotel pays tribute to its heritage with charismatic decor and Clink, its aptly named restaurant.
Cape Cod, Mass.
There’s a reason that Cape Cod is one of the most popular Massachusetts coastal towns.
Surrounded by stunning beaches like Nauset Beach, Cape Cod National Seashore and more, whale watching at Hyannis Whale Watcher Cruises or Dolphin Whale Watch should be at the top of your list when visiting the Cape. Not only can you see these gorgeous creatures, but chances are you’ll spot other wildlife like dolphins and sharks, too.
Be sure to stop at Spanky’s Clam Shack and Seaside Saloon in Hyannis and ask for the lobster Caesar salad, loaded with fresh lobster meat. Adventurous eaters should try the Brazilian Grill, which serves up savory meat and seafood dishes, as well as unusual items like chicken hearts.
If unexpected weather hits, explore the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum or Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis.
Wrap up your stay with an overnight at the Candleberry Inn in Brewster and a gourmet breakfast in the morning.
Plan the ultimate road trip to Cape Cod.
Provincetown, where the Mayflower first landed before setting sail to Plymouth, is both vibrant and eclectic. The perfect end to your coastal road trip! Start with some amazing clam chowder and lobster at Bayside Betsy’s Restaurant followed by a sweet treat at the Purple Feather Cafe & Treatery.
After that, explore the many shops along Commercial Street and in the Cape Cod open shopping center. Then, journey to the Race Point Lighthouse to take photos before skimming through the Provincetown Bookshop that dates back to the 1930s.
End your stay in P-Town with an overnight at the highly rated Land’s End Inn.
Let a AAA travel counselor help you to plan your next trip.
What is your favorite New England coastal town? Share it with us in the comments.