Our Favorite Beaches: Northeast Coast

Our Favorite Beaches: Northeast Coast

Check out part 3 of our 4-part series talking about our favorite beaches as we focus on the Northeast Coast.

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Check out all 4 parts of our series on our favorite beaches: Part 1: Pacific Northwest, Part 2: California, Part 3: Northeast Coast, Part 4: Southeast Coast.

When you think of the northeast coast, you might immediately picture the bustling metropolitan areas of New York City or Boston. But the Northeast coast is also famous for its gorgeous beaches.

In this post, we will share several of our favorite beaches in this part of the US with you. But first, here are a few reasons why a visit to a Northeast coast beach should be on your bucket list.

Why Visit Northeast Coast Beaches?

  • Seclusion. There are actually some un-crowded beaches in the Northeast if you know where to look for them. Indeed, some beaches are also protected parts of the coast. While that on its own may not limit crowds, it does at least restrict development, ensuring you are immersed in nature’s beauty.
  • … Or crowds. If you do want crowds, there are plenty of options there too! The northeast coast is home to lovely urban beaches with shops, dining and entertainment along their promenades.
  • History. Few parts of the US are as steeped in history as the northeast Coast. You will find lighthouses and resorts, maritime and whaling museums, and so much more to enrich your historical knowledge along the Northeast coast.

1. Cape Cod National Seashore – Massachusetts

The Cape Cod National Seashore is among the most famous stretches of coastline in the US. Speaking about the area, Henry David Thoreau once said, "A man may stand there and put all America behind him." Because this part of the coast is protected, you can have the same experience Thoreau once did as you explore these sandy shores.

Why You’ll Love It

There is a lot to do at Cape Cod! You can stroll along the beach or work on your tan, drive on the beach with an appropriate permit, or go hiking, cycling, fishing or paddling.

Along with the area’s natural splendor, your can enjoy exploring its beautiful lighthouses.

One thing to keep in mind is that you may not camp overnight on the Cape Cod National Seashore itself. But there are some campgrounds at nearby Wellfleet Hollow Campground and Nickerson State Park. You will need reservations to stay at either. The earlier you can book, the better.

2. Sand Beach, Maine

If you are looking for peaceful spot that feels cozy and sheltered, you could pay a visit to Sand Beach on the Maine coast near Bar Harbor.

Why You’ll Love It

Enclosed by coniferous trees and low hills, this beach offers a relaxing atmosphere and unique scenery that sets it apart from anywhere else.

Moreover, you will be right at Acadia National Park, which the National Park Service refers to as the "crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast." You will have an incredible time exploring its 158 miles of hiking trails and seeing areas like Mount Desert Island, Isle au Haut, and Schoodic Peninsula. At each of these locations, you will find many exciting highlights.

There are four campgrounds in the park; NPS recommends that you place your reservation well in advance as they fill up fast. Incidentally, all of the campgrounds are also right along the water.

3. Cape May Beach – New Jersey

While we have focused thus far on more wilderness-oriented beaches, perhaps you are looking for a more urban experience. If so, consider heading to Cape May Beach in New Jersey.

Why You’ll Love It

Looking to visit a beach where you will feel you have been whisked away to another time? Cape May is a charming historic resort town characterized by some of the best-preserved Victorian houses in the US. Indeed, the "Cape May Historic District" actually encompasses the whole city, and the city itself is a National Historic Landmark. The city refers to itself as "America’s original seaside resort."

Cape May Beach does allow you to set up a tent (unlike quite a few other popular urban beaches on the Northeast coast). You are also invited to swim.

Cape May Lighthouse

After a day at the beach, you will find shopping and dining aplenty nearby. You also can go on a cruise, charter a boat, head out on a fishing excursion, walk the famous promenade, and book a stay in a historical Victorian B&B.

Tips for Visiting Northeast Coast Beaches

Before you head to a Northeast coast beach, we recommend the following:

  • Do check the rules before you go. Some more crowded beaches on the Northeast coast prohibit bringing a tent (i.e. Coney Island beach). Some beaches have strict rules as a result of covid-19 as well.
  • Check the weather. One day at a Northeast coast beach may be hot and sunny, another cool and rainy. Temperatures may also vary between day and night. So, make sure you are packing clothing that is appropriate for the season, and that you know what to expect. Dressing in layers may be helpful in some seasons.
  • Bring a beach canopy tent. If the beach you are visiting permits it, consider packing a pop-up canopy tent. It will provide you with some welcome shade on bright, sunny days, along with shelter from the wind. With that added comfort, you will be able to spend a longer time at the beach and enjoy your visit more fully.
  • Do not make assumptions about camping/lodgings. Because this is a crowded part of the country, you are less likely to find campsites on or near the beaches here than you are at beaches in some other parts of the US. Look up where the closest east coast state parks are, or make plans to stay in a resort or other lodging. If you do plan to camp, make a reservation. You are not likely to find first-come, first-served camping on the Northeast coast.

Experience the Diverse Delights of Northeast Coast Beaches

Whether you want to stay in a historic resort and immerse yourself in crowds of beachgoers or you would rather explore a national park and relax on a secluded shore, the Northeast coast is home to beaches that will capture your imagination. Pack your canopy tent, slather on some sunscreen, and have fun!

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