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8 Dreamy Coastal Destinations in the Northeast

Take a road trip to one of these beachy locales for the perfect summer getaway.

coastal destinations

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse at sunset in Acadia National Park.

Summer is the perfect time for a road trip, and nothing beats a trip to the beach. The Northeast has miles of coastline to explore, from the rocky shores of Maine to sandy Massachusetts beaches to bustling Connecticut villages.

It’s not just about setting out a beach blanket and soaking in the sun. There are also hiking trails, bike routes, historic sites, and plenty of shops and restaurants to experience. Here are the top coastal destinations in the Northeast to visit this summer.

Bar Harbor, ME

This family-friendly destination has something for everyone. There’s the beautiful Maine coast for the water lovers, where you can enjoy the view, go for a swim, or rent a kayak and create your own personal adventure. You can also head into Acadia National Park where early risers can catch the sun coming up along the rocky shoreline and spend the day exploring the many hiking trails found throughout the park.

After a busy day, take some time to wander downtown and see the shops, from art galleries to specialty food and clothing stores. Finish your day by choosing from an array of restaurants where you can order a lobster roll or even a whole lobster and learn how to shell one like you’re a true Mainer.

Seacoast New Hampshire

New Hampshire has the shortest coastline of any state at only 18 miles, but there’s plenty to see and do along that short distance. There’s Wallis Sands State Park where families with little ones can play in the sand or grab a bite to eat in the snack shack.

If you’re looking for a more bustling adventure, then head to Hampton Beach and wander the boardwalk. And don’t miss 135-acre Odiorne Point State Park. It might be small, but there’s no shortage of fun to be had on the New Hampshire seacoast.

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Provincetown, Mass.

You’ll find Provincetown way out on the tip of Cape Cod, making the meandering drive that leads to this destination half the fun. Stop along the way at one of the many beaches to dip your toes in the water or grab a little something to nibble on for the rest of your trip.

This bustling town has something for everyone, including an active nightlife that you won’t find in most seaside towns. Miles of picturesque beaches, galleries featuring local talent, and restaurants where you can lounge away the day enjoying fresh seafood make Provincetown a great coastal destination.

nantucket vs martha's vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

Any list of top coastal destinations in the Northeast would be incomplete without including Martha’s Vineyard. A trip to this island located south of Cape Cod starts with a ferry ride, and yes, you can bring your car along for the trip. Once there, get ready for winding country roads and incredible views around every corner.

The streets are full of unique shops featuring art, clothes, and all manner of souvenirs. Rent a bike to fully enjoy the island and take time to catch a show at Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse. This is the place to see and be seen, so keep your eyes open for celebrities from your favorite actors to politicians.

Mystic, Conn.

A visit to Mystic offers a chance to explore the coast and experience a bit of our nation’s history. The Mystic Seaport Museum (get $3 off admission) takes you back in time where you can climb aboard a wooden whaleship, meet blacksmiths and coopers, and learn about the country’s rich maritime history.

There’s also the Mystic Aquarium (where AAA members can save on tickets) with the only beluga whales in New England – a sight the kids will not want to miss. Explore the shops at Olde Mistick Village and wind down after a busy day with an evening cruise on the ocean or dinner at a seaside restaurant.

Narragansett, RI

You can’t beat the views on the soft sandy beach in Narragansett. And while you may think of surfing as a west coast thing, there’s a section of the beach specifically reserved for surfers, so don’t forget your board.

If you’re a lobster fan, plan to check out the village of Galilee. It’s home to the largest fishing fleet in Rhode Island with both commercial fishermen and deep-sea fishing cruises. It boasts a wide range of seafood restaurants, or you can purchase lobster and fish right from the fisherman at the docks. It doesn’t get any fresher.

Newport, RI

Those looking for an oceanside getaway with a dose of opulence and old-world charm should have Newport on their lists. It has the seaside charm of shops, restaurants, and beaches along with the over-the-top grandeur of the Newport Mansions.

These 11 historic properties show off the finest in American architecture from the Colonial Era to the Gilded Age and are open for touring. There are also special programs focusing on servant life, daily operations of these grand estates, and even food and wine tours. Once you finish exploring the homes, spend some time to walk the expansive grounds and take in spectacular ocean views.

Montauk, NY

A popular getaway spot for New York City residents, Montauk is located at the easternmost tip of Long Island and offers beautiful views of the ocean and miles of sandy beaches. Plan to visit Montauk Point Lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in New York. It’s well worth the climb to the top for the incredible 360-degree view of Block Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

After a day of exploring the beaches of Montauk, enjoy the evening at one of the many seafood restaurants in the area. Expect excellent cuisine prepared by local chefs in a casual yet upscale setting, perfect for relaxing.

There is no shortage of amazing Northeast coastal destinations to visit this summer. Whether you’re looking for a day at the beach or museum with the kids, an afternoon wandering through boutiques full of local creations, or the ultimate seafood dinner to finish the day, it’s all waiting for you on the Northeast coast.

Need a ride? Learn about exclusive Hertz discounts for AAA members.

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