Beaches in the Northeast USA

Top 21 Beaches in the Northeast USA

Top 21 Beaches in the Northeast USA

Beaches in the Northeast USA – Everyone has a different mental picture of the perfect Beach, so no two people will agree on a ranking order on beaches that stretch from the rocky coast of Maine to the golden sands along the New Jersey coast.

For some, the ideal Beach is a small remote cove or isolated behind miles of undeveloped dunes.

Others crave the excitement of an old-fashioned beach resort with busy boardwalks, soft ice cream, and carousels—some like combining beach time with fun beach parks and other tourist attractions.

Beachgoers also differ in their preferred water temperature, from Maine surf to the warmer waters of Cape May.

Ranking beaches is a tricky business, so instead, we organized them geographically, from Maine to New Jersey.

We’ve tried to collate the list to include something for all tastes, though, of course, none of these are the secluded little coves that are a mystery to all but a few. You have to find it for yourself – and keep it a secret.

But these beaches have plenty of room for everyone, and it can seem like everyone is there on hot summer days.

These are all popular places to visit, so expect parking to be difficult unless you arrive early in the morning, and don’t expect to be left alone. Remember, there’s a reason these beaches are so famous: they’re the best.

Plan your next family vacation using this handy list to find the best beaches in the Northeast.

  1. Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Old Orchard Beach’s throwback atmosphere is what its devotees love as they soar above the Beach on a heart-stopping Ferris wheel ride at Palace Playland, New England’s last full-scale amusement park.

The old-fashioned wooden pier stretches out to sea with all the requisite soft ice cream, saltwater taffy, and fried dough.

It has one of the best beaches in Maine – seven miles of golden sand open and accessible to the public. Arrive by train and go to one of the hotels on the Beach.

  1. Kennebunk Beach, Maine

If you want to wiggle your toes in southern Maine’s famously soft sands, made by grinding native granite into a fine silver-colored powder, take off your shoes at Kennebunk.

Receive a parking sticker at the Town Hall or take a convenient trolley from your hotel or one of the B&Bs that fill the city’s former Captains’ Mansion.

Gooch’s Beach begins at the Kennebunk River and leads to Mother’s Beach, a short section protected by low rocky areas that are safe for children to play in.

To the west of the city’s beaches, close to the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, is the idyllic dune-backed Parsons Beach. Parking is limited on the Beach, but you can park near the main road and walk inside.

  • Misquamicut State Beach, Rhode Island

Despite its small size, Rhode Island has a long coastline of 384 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay.

Its beaches are legendary – nothing more than Misquamicut in Westerly. Its gradual slopes and gentle waves in the water make it a trendy beach for families.

In addition to its expansive Beach of soft sand, Misquamicut State Beach has shaded picnic areas and other things to do, which often include evening concerts and fireworks.

Near Watch Hill is a well-kept and old summer resort town with a historic carousel that’s a hit with kids. This is one of the best resorts in Rhode Island.

  • Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

New Hampshire makes the most of its 13 miles of shoreline with five public beaches, three of which are state parks.

The largest is Hampton Beach, a long stretch of white sand consistently rated as one of the cleanest beaches in the United States.

The town behind the Beach is a brazenly pure honky-tonk beach resort with a boardwalk, fried dough, saucy T-shirts, candy shops, and a penny arcade.

At its center is the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom, built in 1899 as a community entertainment center, now a live music and comedy venue that hosts namesake artists and bands.

Consistent with its lively atmosphere, Hampton Beach often hosts festivals: Sand Sculpture in June, Children’s Festival in August, weekly fireworks displays, and nightly live music at the Sea Shell Stage. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Race Point Beach, Massachusetts

Part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Provincetown’s Race Point Beach sits at the outermost tip of Cape Cod, an extended arm of Massachusetts that curves between Cape Cod Bay and the open Atlantic.

Backed by miles of protected dunes and the Cape’s seafront, Race Point has heavy surf and an undertone.

This makes it unsafe for serious swimming, but shallow waters are fine for playing in the surf. And for sunbathers who prefer a little space, it’s spectacular enough that it’s often listed as one of the top beaches in the states. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  • Coney Island Beach, New York

Arguably the most iconic old-fashioned beachfront of all, Coney Island in Brooklyn is everything you could imagine: neon lights, noise, arcade, tackle souvenirs, crowds, boardwalk, the famous Cyclone roller coaster, and the original Nathan’s Coney Hotdog from Island Restaurant.

Two amusement parks provide three miles of sandy Beach and diversions from rolling waves.

Finding a few feet of sand on a hot summer weekend can be challenging, but you’ll always find plenty of things to do here. It is a view as well as a beach. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Wells and Ogunquit Beach, Maine

A long barrier beach separates the Saltmarsh of Wales National Estuarine Research Reserve from the Atlantic Ocean, which extends from the town of Wales to Ogunquit in the south.

Drake Island, Wells, Crescent, Moody, Footbridge, and Ogunquit beaches meet with lots of soft sand and their following of families who return year after year.

Lodging and tourist facilities are spread along Route 1, which runs parallel to the coast. Like many, Ogunquit is a tonier base with high-end resorts, fine dining and shopping, and a beach with a particularly gentle slope into the water – great for families.

Don’t miss the border walk from Ogunquit to Perkins Cove for beautiful ocean views and several small beaches surrounded by cliffs. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Wears Beach, New Hampshire

Wears Beach is located near Laconia in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and is a favorite freshwater swimming spot for visitors.

It occupies a stretch of sand on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee (referred to locally as the “Large Lake”) within the Endicott Rock State Historic Site.

Although the Beach doesn’t offer many amenities, it sits at the end of the Weirs Boardwalk, with plenty of restaurants, shops, and diversions, including a classic arcade.

It is also home to the docks for the M/S Mount Washington and US mailboat M/V Sophie C, which offer tour rides and event cruises.

In the evening, visitors can enjoy movies on one of three screens at the Weirs Beach Drive-In Theater.

If the weather isn’t cooperating, the FunSpot is across the street for plenty of indoor entertainment, including bowling and the world. The most extensive collection of arcade video games. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Head to Meadow and Ballston Beach, Massachusetts

In both Truro, on Cape Cod’s outer edge, Meadow Head, and Ballston Beach are idyllic stretches of sand facing the Atlantic, backed by dunes and dunes that rise to 100 feet high.

Accessed over dunes on paths lined with dune grass, Head of the Meadow has two areas: one at the city beach and the other inside the Cape Cod National Seashore. The latter has a lifeguard.

Surfing is permitted at the head of the meadow, outside the designated swimming area. Both beaches are accessible from Route 6. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Narragansett Bay Beach, Rhode Island

There’s no need to make the tough choice between the beaches that line the coast from the resort town of Narragansett to Point Judith.

The twenty-acre Narragansett Town Beach extends a full mile starting at the city’s edge and is a favorite for surfers who have their designated area.

There’s plenty of water for swimmers here and the long golden beaches to the south: Matunak Beach State Park, East Matunak State Beach, Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, Scarborough State Beach, and Narragansett Town Beach.

They all have varying amenities and parking (if you’re planning to spend a few days sampling them all, you can buy a good parking pass at all state parks).

  1. Wingersheek Beach, Massachusetts

Stretching along the tidal Ennisquam River and Ipswich Bay north of Boston, Wingersheek Beach has crystal clear water and a gradual slope that stretches the Beach to more than half a mile wide at low tide.

The shallow waters make this Gloucester beach a favorite place to visit for families, significantly when the receding tide exposes the towering rock formations to climb and to find tidal pools filled with snails and other small sea creatures.

In the summer, you’ll find changing facilities and food vendors on the Beach. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Easton Beach/First Beach, Rhode Island

Easton Beach, also known as First Beach, offers plenty of activities for kids, along with swimming in the ocean. Younger kids will love the vintage carousel and playground, while teens can use the skateboard park and enjoy live music.

Beach amenities include showers, changing areas, leisure facilities, and picnic tables and grills for public use.

Visitors can rent umbrellas, chairs, and water sports equipment on-site, and a snack bar also sells staples such as towels and sunscreen.

For an afternoon break, visit the Rotunda to see the Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium.

Focused on conservation education, the center has touch tanks and aquariums that are home to more than 40 species of marine life and offers various educational programs and activities. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Singing Beach, Massachusetts

Close to Boston but feeling light years away in the beautiful and historic downtown Manchester-by-the-Sea, is a beach with two unique features: singing sand and a charming bathhouse built in the 1920s. The setting is gorgeous, with a long rocky headland bookmarking one end of the Beach.

The “singing” you’ll hear when you walk on sand is caused by a combination of round, uniformly sized sand grains containing silica and a humid environment. Friction and compression cause less humming as you move. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Ocean Beach Park, Connecticut

Ocean Beach Park in New London is an excellent option for families, offering swimming on a half-mile beach and in an Olympic-sized pool.

There is also a spray park for the little ones and triple water slides for all ages for an additional fee.

Beach amenities include a changing area with available lockers, a picnic area, a playground, and nature trails.

There is also an 18-hole mini-golf course on site and a collection of oceanside carnival rides, ranging from kiddie rides to thrill rides for teens and adults. The park also has a coin-operated arcade that offers all the classic games, including pinball.

Visitors can also enjoy live entertainment on the Boardwalk Stage and special events during the summer months, including dances and car shows.

The day-use fee is per vehicle (up to five people), and the walking rate is lower for individuals who will not be parking here.

There are also several food vendors, including a sit-down restaurant, a snack shack, and an ice cream parlor. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Brighton Beach, New York

One of the most popular beaches near New York City, Brighton Beach, is east of Coney Island in Brooklyn’s Brighton neighborhood. Because it is farther away from the city, it has fewer crowds and commercial entertainment.

Instead of arcades and rides, you’ll find the exotic flavors of “Little Odessa” – a neighborhood of immigrants from Russia and Eastern Europe.

You may not find Coney Island hotdogs but look for Georgian flat breads filled with pierogi and cheese. The nearby New York Aquarium is one of the oldest in the United States. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Stone Harbor Beach, New Jersey

New Jersey makes the most of its 127 miles of coastline, with some of the best beach towns in the Northeast.

The easy stretch of Stone Harbor Beach, on an island bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway to the west and the Atlantic to the east, appeals to families and couples looking for a quiet getaway.

Recreation here means strolling the pristine mound-turned Beach, stopping at a café, and browsing the boutiques that line the stone-paved streets.

Stop at the Wetlands Institute to learn about the coastal ecosystem, meet some animals, or get up close to the water on a boat or fishing trip. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Hammonsett State Park, Connecticut

The largest Beach in Connecticut, Hammonsett State Park Beach, faces a two-mile-long shoreline.

The waves in the sound are calmer than those facing the open ocean, making this Beach a popular spot for families with young children. Another attraction is the boardwalk that runs along the Beach.

The Meigs Point Nature Center offers children’s walks, exhibits, and programs. Tourists who want to stay here can camp in one of the 500 nearby campsites or find several beachfront hotels and resorts nearby. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Sandy Hook, New Jersey

At the northern end of the Jersey Shore, with views of the New York City skyline, Sandy Hook State Park is on a long, low spit of land, an island connected to the mainland by a bridge.

In addition to miles of beautiful sand beaches, Sandy Hook State Park has seven miles of bike paths, camping sites, and water sports equipment. You can see the abundant birdlife or join a park ranger on a canoe tour.

With its protected wooded areas and beautiful ocean beaches, Sandy Hook is one of the favorite weekend getaways in New Jersey.

There are no hotels on Sandy Hook, but you will find places to stay on the mainland in the Atlantic Highlands, which is connected to New York City by a 35-minute ferry ride. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Jones Beach, New York

The most-visited Beach on the east coast, Jones Beach, is 6.5 miles from Jones Island Beach, just off the south coast of Long Island.

Known for its gentle waves and vast expanses of soft sand, the Beach is easily accessible from the city on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).

Once here, you can run, jog, roller blade, or stroll and nosh along the two-mile boardwalk and play shuffleboard or ball on the Beach. You can also play golf and attend a summer evening show at the Northwell Health Theater. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Wildwood, New Jersey

After the calm atmosphere of Stone Harbor and the peaceful natural environment of Sandy Hook, it’s hard to believe that Wildwood is part of the same 127-mile coastline. Wildwood is your go-to if you long for neon and noise, memorable souvenirs, and cotton candy.

The boardwalk’s thirty-six blocks are filled with games, rides, frozen custard, beach dresses, and fast food. The mood and décor are strictly retro, with an unmistakable mid-century vibe. Don’t let all this deter you from the beautiful sandy Beach of Wildwood. (Beaches in the Northeast USA)

  1. Cape May Beach, New Jersey

Known for its Victorian gingerbread beach cottages and the taffy shades of saltwater, Cape May is like stepping into yet another era, a smarted-up version of the city’s historical past as a proper Victorian summer colony.

Lined primarily along the Beach are immaculate Victorian “cottages” that boast towers, gingerbread trim, and inviting front porches. You can retire to your rocking chair at tea time, as many homes are now elegant B&Bs.

The history is natural, as Cape May claims to be the oldest seaside resort in America.

Congress Hall, a grand hotel built in 1816, is one of the oldest hotels in the country, and Cape May was already a thriving resort for decades when it opened.

The reason is apparent: the Beach is a sumptuously placed, gleaming expanse of soft white sand.

We hope you like our article about Top 21 Beaches in the Northeast USA.

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