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Best New England Beaches: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island Beaches That You Won't Want to Leave

Short Sands Beach, York Beach Maine

Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine

by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 11/30/16

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  It's hard not to have your head in the sand when choosing the best ocean beaches in New England.

Choose a great beach and someone will come back with an even better one. Even lifetime residents can miss out on some of New England's most spectacular ocean beaches. The coastline is so expansive and has so many undiscovered nooks and crannies that even the most well traveled New Englanders will find undiscovered gems -- or rediscover an area that looked OK then, but great now. It's all subjective, of course, but ultimately you can't go wrong with any environmentally sound sandy New England beach with ocean views. With that said, we still have our favorites that stick out in our minds for your New England summer vacation:

Short Sands Beach, York Beach, Maine -- Short Sands Beach is a significant part of the ultimate summer vacation family fun of York Beach. Short Sand Beach is rather short in length, but endless on the fun meter. This sandy stretch of ocean beach offers great views of rocky Maine coast, big, old sea captain's homes and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. There is a playground for the kids, an arcade, bowling alley and a gazebo with summer concerts, all just off the beach. A few steps away are shops, restaurants (including Goldenrod's which specializes in making salt water taffy) and the amazing York Wild Kingdom Zoo and Amusement Park offering exotic animal displays and a petting zoo within a large zoo, family rides, paddle boats, an 18 hole miniature golf course, batting cages, picnic grounds, plenty of soft serve ice cream and a Haunted House.

Roger Wheeler State Beach, Narragansett, RI - We love Roger Wheeler State Beach for its scenic, relaxing Atlantic Ocean views, family-oriented atmosphere, great stretch of sandy beach, relatively warm New Englander ocean water and nice amenities like a pavilion with coin operated hot showers, concession stand, playground and picnic tables. There is a lifeguard on duty (weather permitting). Although Roger Wheeler Beach gets crowded during the peak summer months, there's always a space for someone. It's every bit as good as beach as the Cape Cod beaches, but is a better kept secret making it seem like a special discovery. Roger Wheeler State Beach is right around the corner from Galilee, a live fishing village with lots of New England atmosphere with ships, boats, nice shops and some of the best New England seafood (George's is a great oversized seafood shack/restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining). Roger Wheeler State Beach, 100 Sand Hill Cove Road, Narragansett, Rhode Island. Tel. (401) 789-3563

Hammonasset Beach State Park, Madison, CT - This is Connecticut's largest and best ocean beach. With two miles of sandy beach and 919 acres of an environmental paradise, Hammonasset -- on Long Island sound -- is a great place for families to make friends, build a sand castle, walk or stroll on the extensive boardwalk and swim in the not-too-cold waters. Hammonasset State Park has lifeguards, a concession stand, changing rooms, picnic areas, walking trails through beautiful, clean coastal land, biking, rollerblading, saltwater fishing, a nature center and 558 campsite areas. Nearby Madison Center, as well as Old Saybrook and Guilford are wonderful New England towns to discover during your New England summer vacation with lots of historical preservation and nice local shops and seafood restaurants. Hammonasset Beach State Park,1288 Boston Post Rd., P.O. Box 271, Madison, CT, Tel. (203) 245-2785

Nauset Beach, Orleans, Cape Cod - There's enough room for everyone at the 10-mile long Nauset Beach. One of the Atlantic's Coast's great stretches of beach, Nauset Beach is part of the government-operated Cape Cod National Seashore Park. The panoramic ocean views are spectacular and the sand is soft, making it the quintessential Cape Cod beach experience. The under toe can be a bit strong, the shoreline rocky in spots and the water many times a bit cold, but the unspoiled, stunning surroundings and gentle Cape Cod summer breezes make Nauset Beach a must-visit New England beach. It is also near some of New England's most revered clam shacks like Woodman's and the Clam Box. Nauset Beach is located about three miles east of Route 6 on marked roads.

Crane Beach, Ipswich, MA - More than 1,200 acres of beachfront, dunes, and maritime forest make for one of the best New England ocean beach experiences. Respect for conservation and wildlife are equally as recreation here, as the Trustees of Reservations has effectively managed protecting the rare piping plover bird, as well as an important habitat for for numerous rare plants, invertebrates, mammals, birds, shellfish, and finfish and fragile dunes. The 5.5 miles of beach (and walking trails) are great for walks, finding a quiet place to sunbathe and viewing spectacular sunsets. Crane Beach might seem isolated in spots, but the main area offers lifeguards, bathhouses and a refreshment stand. The water is somewhat chilly and the Greenhead Flies can be problematic from mid-July through the first week in August, but arriving mid-day on less humid days and with a topical insect repellent will offset any discomfort. Crane Beach, Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA. Tel. (978) 356-4354

Nauset Beach, Cape Cod
Dusk at Nauset Beach, Orleans (Cape Cod), Credit: William DeSousa-Mauk

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