Bird Watching

Charming New England coastal towns to see this summer



Whether it’s the white spiers of churches towering above the treetops of New England, the wide windswept beaches of the mid-Atlantic, or the quiet charm of the South Coast, there is plenty of summer left and plenty of time to explore lesser-known coastal enclaves that should be on your summer travel itinerary.

Watch Hill, Rhode Island

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Not far from Newport, its notable neighbor to the north, Watch Hill has a decidedly quieter vibe with a small “downtown” – one strip – dotted with a handful of shops, casual restaurants, and ice cream parlors. Toddlers will delight in a visit to the Flying Horse Carousel, the oldest continuously operating merry-go-round in the country.

Around town, tall hedges surround perfectly manicured estates, providing privacy particularly appreciated by famous residents like pop star Taylor Swift, who chose a $ 17.75 million mansion built in the 1930s on the verge of highest in the village for its summer playground.

Talk of Watch Hill is incomplete without highlighting the Ocean House, a meticulously and luxuriously reconstructed Relais & Châteaux property perched on the cliffs overlooking the cerulean waves of the Atlantic. Opulent vehicles are the order of the day, so only the most exceptional turn heads, like the 2021 Aston Martin DBX, the luxury automaker’s first SUV with a purring biturbo V8 engine. The panoramic sunroof, buttery soft leather and unmatched styling aid, and selfies with this gem of a vehicle are commonplace.

To escape the busiest nooks and crannies of Watch Hill, head to Napatree Point, a long sandy spit jutting out into the sea, marking the southernmost point of mainland Rhode Island and the perfect spot for ‘ gram.

Look at Hill Cove, West, Rhode Island. (photo via GrandviewGraphics / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Chebeague Island, Maine

Just 10 nautical miles from the port city of Portland – arguably New England’s culinary hotbed – Chebeague is the largest of Casco Bay’s famous islands. It enjoys a typical Maine landscape, with a rocky shoreline, lush green tree canopies, and water temperatures with a bit of bite.

Chebeague (pronounced “shuh big”) provided a fertile fishing ground for the Native Americans who settled on this island, which today is home to generations of residents all year round and summer. Some of these families date back to the economic heyday of the island’s colonial era, when Chebeague became known for its “stone sloopers”, men who carried ballast and stone from local quarries to stabilize sailboats. from the 19th century.

The best way to explore this postcard-perfect island is by bike (The Bikeman offers free bike loans) so you can take your time, take countless photos, and ride to a clam shack to mark. a lobster roll in butter.

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Old Greenwich, Connecticut

While Greenwich is one of the best-known places in all of Connecticut, particularly as one of the wealthiest enclaves in the country, it’s Old Greenwich, a lesser-known part of the city, that radiates this classic charm. of the New England seaside town that you won’t soon forget.

Tucked away in the southeastern corner of the state overlooking the serenity of Long Island Sound, Old Greenwich is dotted with century-old Victorian homes where under 9,000 residents often sip their morning coffee on wraparound porches – albeit a mansion Modern palatial or two is not particularly uncommon.

While the coastal community sits on a small strip of land jutting out into the sound, the cool breezes gliding over the brackish water are a welcome escape from the summer heat further inland. Head downtown for relaxing shopping, delicious cafes, bistros, and even critically acclaimed restaurants. In true Rockwellian spirit, the annual Memorial Day Parade takes you through the city, and the 4th of July fireworks are a must-see.

Hero of the South, Vermont

The captivating Champlain Islands of Vermont are a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts and idyllic to soak up the spoils of summer. Hiking, biking, boating, fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and camping are plentiful in this archipelago that is close to the Canadian border.

At just over 30 square miles, South Hero Island, also known as Grand Isle, is the largest island in Lake Champlain. It’s connected to another island, North Hero, by Vermont’s only drawbridge and is home to Grand Isle State Park, which at 226 acres is the state’s most popular campground.

This time of year is also one of the most alluring, with bands of wild flowers in bloom and the essence of local flavor coming to life on the palate in the local vineyards and farms. A popular music series at Snow Farm Vineyard is a staple of the season, with people flocking from all over to listen to music, toss their shoes and dance near the vines. In the fall, the harvest season is in full swing and apples are plentiful. Go on an apple-picking adventure at Hackett Orchard, home to nearly 50 varieties, and afterwards, bite your teeth into hot apple cider donuts and hot apple cider.

Newburyport, Massachusetts

With over 1,500 miles of coastline, The Bay State is home to countless idyllic summer respites along the seashore. While Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard continually make headlines – and boast the seasonal crowds for the show – Newburyport’s historic seaport beautifully combines the charm of a small town with the activity of a thriving destination.

Evidence of its past as a colonial-era shipping center, and later as a shipbuilding mecca, is evident in the city’s many historic buildings and homes, each with unique architecture that makes turn heads. The Custom House Marine Museum on the waterfront is housed in an 1835 Greek Revival building overlooking the scenic Merrimack River and is home to an array of maritime treasures and artifacts.

Newburyport town center, which is a pleasant walk with something to see around every corner, is dotted with shops, bookstores, restaurants and plenty of activities for families. But to unplug and really enjoy the loot of this corner of the world, head outside of downtown to Plum Island, a barrier island just off the coast that’s 11 miles of unspoiled coastal terrain. Named for the picturesque shrubs of beach plum trees that grow in the dunes, Plum Island has enough area for jumping in the crashing waves, exploring small, quiet beaches, kayaking, fishing, boating or even bird watching at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Newburyport Harbor, Massachusetts
Port of Newburyport (Photo via Botteville / Wikimedia Commons)

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Granite State is home to only 13 miles of coastline – the shortest of any US coast – but this small expanse is worth looking for. The city of Portsmouth is the anchor point for what is most often referred to as the Coast Region and is located near the mouth of the Piscataqua River which serves as the border to New Hampshire Maine.

For one of the most typical New England views, head to the historic Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse, which has served as a navigation beacon since 1877 – and still does. It’s worth climbing the 44 steps and the seven-rung ladder to the Lantern Hall to get some of the best panoramic coastal views you’ll see anywhere.

A vital shipbuilding port that dates back to before the American Revolution, Portsmouth’s picturesque cobbled street offers a glimpse into the city’s past while Market Square has been the charming shopping center since the 17th century.

Hampton Beach has been a longtime family favorite, but can draw crowds with its lively boardwalk, ice cream parlors, and many souvenir shops. If you’d rather avoid the crowds and seek more serene shores, head to Great Island Common, just 10 minutes from the city. It’s perfect for picnics by the water, a refreshing swim, and over 30 acres of green space to stroll around.