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4 New England Beaches Perfect for a Day Trip

Jun 14, 2012 09:35AM ● By Erin Frisch

New England Beaches

Summer is upon us, and one of the best parts of the season is heading to the beach to catch some rays, build sand castles, and play in the waves. New England has some of the nicest, most renowned beaches in the East, and many are perfect for a day trip with friends or family. Each one offers something different, so make plans to bask in the sunshine at all four this summer!

Crane Beach, Massachusetts

This beach, located at the northern edge of the Massachusetts coastline, boasts more than 1,200 acres of waterfront, dunes, and maritime forest. With 7 miles of beachfront and 5.5 miles of walking trails, you’ll be sure to find a quiet spot to sunbathe and plenty of trails for walking or moderate hiking. Crane Beach is also a wildlife refuge that rewards hikers with sightings of rare species. It is an especially important nesting site for the rare piping plover, a threatened bird species that was hunted nearly to extinction in the 19th century for its eggs and feathers. Crane Beach offers clean, inviting water (though it can be chilly) and mesmerizing views. The surf is not rough, and lifeguards are on duty in the main areas. Be prepared for greenhead flies from mid-July through the first week in August, though a dose of insect repellent should keep them from biting. Amenities include bathhouses with toilets and changing areas, outside showers, bike racks, water fountains, an information kiosk, and the Crane Beach Store, which offers refreshments and merchandise. Sorry, Rover, no dogs are allowed on the beach during the summer season. There is a $22 entrance fee for cars driven by non-members.

Crane Beach, Argilla Road, Ipswich, MA
(978) 356-4354

Short Sands Beach, Maine

Short Sands is a quarter-mile of beach tucked between rocky cliffs in the village of York Beach. It offers great views of the rocky coast, old sea captains’ homes, and the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. This stretch of beach is perfect for spreading out your blanket and relaxing in the summer sun. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer for anyone who wants to take a dip in the bracing water. There is a basketball court, playground, and arcade for the kids, plenty of shops (check out Goldenrod’s for saltwater taffy) and restaurants, and a promenade walkway with benches and a gazebo that hosts summer concerts. Metered parking is available in a municipal lot next to the beach, and outside showers and restrooms are available as well. Nearby, visit York’s Wild Kingdom Zoo and Amusement Park, offering exotic animal displays, a petting zoo, family rides, miniature golf, batting cages, and picnic grounds. Be sure to stop by Cape Neddick’s lighthouse, “Nubble” Light, which has watched over the entrance to York Harbor since 1879.

Short Sands Beach, US Route 1A, York Beach, ME
(207) 363-1040

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire

This state park in New Hampshire takes full advantage of the Granite State’s short ocean coast. Hampton Beach State Park offers swimming (beaches are staffed with lifeguards), surfing, and fishing, and also has campsites for both traditional camping and RV camping. The water has recently been ranked among the nation’s cleanest! If you feel like a stroll, the boardwalk takes you along the beach and through Hampton Center, which provides what most people think of when they head to the shore: arcades, T-shirt shops, fried dough stands, pizza, full-service restaurants, candy shops, gift shops, mini golf, and lounges that provide nightly entertainment. Enjoy the weekly Wednesday night fireworks display or one of the many free summer concerts. In June, visit the Masters of Sand Sculpting display, or attend the famous Seafood Festival in September to close out the season.

Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach, NH
(603) 926-8717

Ogunquit Beach, Maine

While most beaches in Maine are rocky, Ogunquit boasts 3.5 scenic miles of soft, sandy beach and grassy dunes. It’s a great spot to enjoy swimming and bodysurfing, or just relax in your beach chair under an umbrella. A walk along the beach offers amazing open ocean views. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer season, and the beach is divided into three sections. All three provide large lots where you can park for a fee, as well as restrooms. The mid-section, Footbridge Beach, is accessible by a footbridge across the Ogunquit River. It also has a boat ramp for launching small craft. The south end offers outside showers in addition to restrooms and picnic tables. Along the stretch, there are gift shops, restaurants, and a snack bar for your convenience. The nearby village of Ogunquit has all that and more. While you’re there, check out the scenic cliff walk along the ocean from Perkins Cove to Shore Road; you’ll pass the Marginal Way Lighthouse.

Beach Street, Ogunquit, ME
(207) 646-2939

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