Best Beaches in the Northeastern U.S.

Many beach lovers tend to focus their vacation planning on the Southern U.S. and tropical international destinations. However, as these examples show, the Northeastern U.S. also has plenty of amazing options for a beach getaway.

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard of Cape Cod — and for good reason! It’s the perfect setting for a honeymoon, anniversary celebration, or romantic getaway. You can find plenty of cozy and luxurious accommodations, as well as several beaches to choose from. Many boast spectacular sunsets, historic lighthouses, waterfront restaurants, and more.

For better rates and fewer crowds, plan your trip during the shoulder months of May, June, September, and October. Of course, for prime beach-going weather, July and August are still best. Be sure to check ahead of time that the beaches you want to visit will be open during your stay; some are seasonal.

Wildwood, New Jersey

If you need a beach destination the entire family will enjoy, head to Wildwood, New Jersey. This resort city boasts a bustling boardwalk filled with everything from shops and eateries to thrill rides and waterparks. While you’re in town, be sure to take a ride on the iconic Sightseer tram car and take a trip down memory lane at the Doo Wop Experience museum, filled with artifacts from the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Wildwood is most crowded during July and August, which is peak tourist season. If you go after Labor Day, you can still take advantage of the warm weather — but with fewer crowds to contend with. If you’re traveling on a budget, browse Wildwood hotels on HotelPlanner to find the best deals.

Fire Island, New York

Those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life might enjoy an escape to Fire Island. This island in New York comprises 17 car-free communities nestled between two parks, putting you close to nature. Since you’ll have to bike around the island, many rentals include a bike or two for guests to use. The island is home to a 19th-century lighthouse, and on the off-chance that you find yourself craving the city, Times Square is only 90 minutes away.

Most ferries to Fire Island run a few times per day from May through October, with more frequent trips during the peak months of July and August. Some do run year-round, though, so an off-season visit is still possible. The water might be chillier, but if you don’t plan on swimming anyway, that’s not so bad.

Rye Beach, New Hampshire

If your surfboard is what draws you to the ocean, Rye Beach is the place for you. New Hampshire doesn’t have a lot of coastline, but Jenness State Beach makes up for that with some of the best surfing in New England. The owner of Summer Sessions Surf Shop notes that the beach offers “amazing point breaks and beach breaks.”

Summer is a great time for beginners to hone their skills, but the biggest waves comes during hurricane season in the fall.

Don’t plan your next beach vacation without giving some thought to New England’s coastal offerings. Whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway or a family-friendly adventure, you can find a northeastern beach that fits the bill.