1. Cape Ann

prac_info Routes I-95 & 127 • Visitor information: 33 Commercial St, Gloucester; 1 978 283 1601

Thirty miles (48 km) north of Boston, the granite brow of Cape Ann juts defiantly into the Atlantic – a rugged landscape of precipitous cliffs and deeply cleft harbors. In Gloucester, a waterfront statue and plaque memor ialize the 10,000 local fishermen who have perished at sea since 1623, and the Cape Ann Museum displays maritime paintings. The picturesque harborfront of Rockport is an artists’ enclave and is lined with galleries.


Sunset at Gloucester, Cape Ann

2. Upper Cape Cod

prac_info Routes 3, 6, & 28

The Upper Cape is tranquil and low-key. Visitors can watch the boats glide through Cape Cod Canal or take the Shining Sea bikeway from Falmouth village to Woods Hole. If it’s beaches you are after, Sandwich’s Sandy Neck has dunes and excellent bird-watching, but Falmouth’s Surf Drive is best for swimmers and Old Silver Beach is great for sunset views.

3. Mid Cape Cod

prac_info Routes 3, 6, & 28

The Mid Cape tends to be congested, especially in the town of Hyannis. But the north shore can be peaceful, with amazing wildlife and stunning views, especially from Gray’s Beach in Yarmouth. Warmer water and sandy strands line the south side of Mid Cape, with especially good swimming in Harwich and Dennisport. There’s also excellent canoeing and kayaking on the Bass River.

4. Outer Cape Cod

prac_info Routes 3 & 6 •

Here you’ll find some of the area’s best beaches. The 40-mile (64-km) National Seashore offers great surfing at Coast Guard and Nauset Light, and the beaches of Marconi, Head of the Meadow, and Race Point all have dramatic dunes and great ocean swimming. The artist colonies of Wellfleet and Truro are worth a visit as is Provincetown, a fishing village turned gay resort.

5. Nantucket Island

prac_info Routes 3 & 6 to Hyannis • Ferry to Nantucket: 1 508 477 1700 • Visitor information: Zero Main St, Nantucket; 1 508 228 3643;

The Whaling Museum in Nantucket tells the tale of the Quaker whalers who made the island prosperous in the 19th century. It now boasts trophy beach houses and million-dollar yachts. Visitors can enjoy activities such as kayaking, casting for striped bass from Surfside Beach, or cycling to the village of Sconset with its rose-covered clifftop cottages.


Nantucket Island

6. Martha’s Vineyard

prac_info Routes 3 & 28 to Woods Hole • Ferry to Vineyard Haven: 1 508 477 8600 • Visitor information: 24 Beach St, Vineyard Haven; 1 508 693 0085;

From Vineyard Haven it’s a short drive to Oak Bluffs, with its ginger-bread cottages and historic carousel. Venture south to Edgartown and the 19th-century homes of rich whaling captains. Nearby, the 3-mile (5-km) Katama Beach is a magnet for sun worshipers. On the southwest of the island, Menemsha is a pictur esque fishing village and Aquinnah’s Gay Head Cliffs offer dramatic hiking.


Gay Head Cliffs, Martha’s Vineyard

7. Ipswich

prac_info Routes 95, 128, & 133, or 1A • Visitor information: 36 South Main St; 1 978 356 8540;

Crane Beach in Ipswich is one of New England’s most scenic, with over 4 miles (6.5 km) of white sand, warm water, and outstanding bird-watching. Also on the Crane Estate, you can visit Castle Hill mansion and its lovely Italianate gardens.

8. Newburyport

prac_info Routes I-95 & 1 • Visitor information: 38R Merrimac St; 1 978 462 6680

In the 19th century, Newburyport was a prosperous seaport. The grand three-story mansions along the High Street present a virtual case study in Federal architecture, while boutiques and antiques shops line downtown Merrimac, Water, and State streets. The Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on the adjacent Plum Island is one of the US’s top bird-watching sanctuaries, with sandpipers, egrets, and piping plovers among its many residents and visitors.

9. Revere Beach

prac_info Routes 1 & 1A • “T” station: Revere Beach/Wonderland

Established in 1896, Revere Beach was the first public beach in the US. Thanks to a centennial restoration, it’s also one of the best, with nearly 3 miles (4.5 km) of clean white sand and clear blue water.

10. Hampton & Rye Beaches

prac_info Routes I-95, NH 101, & 1A • Visitor information: 160 Ocean Blvd, Hampton Bea ch; 1 603 926 8717;

The New Hampshire coast just south of Portsmouth has extensive sandy beaches. Wallis Sands State Park is ideal for swimming but the best of the rocky overlooks is Rye’s Ragged Neck Point picnic area. The social scene is at Hampton Beach. Odiorne Point State Park in Rye has picnic areas and walking trails.

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