10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Were postcards invented with New England in mind? Given how gorgeous these coastal towns are, it’s a good bet.

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We picked the 10 prettiest coastal towns in New England, from Down East harbors to Victorian island resorts.


10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Cape Porpoise Pier and Harbor in Kennebunkport, Maine. | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Brenda Darroch

Kennebunkport, Maine
The Kennebunk River adds even more waterline charm to the small shops, elegant ship captains’ homes, and fishing ports of this vibrant Southern Maine town of 3,474.
Unique view: The quintessential fishing village of Cape Porpoise.
See more: From the river and harbor on Rugosa Lobster Tours.

Read more about Kennebunkport and Cape Porpoise!


10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Bar Harbor, Maine | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Courtesy of Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce

Bar Harbor, Maine

Perched on Mount Desert Island at the gateway to Acadia National Park, this historic resort town still resonates with the Victorian splendor of bygone days, not to mention the backdrop of Cadillac Mountain.
Unique view: From Bar Island, which you can walk to at low tide (plan ahead).
See more: Lighthouse and National Park Tour via catamaran.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

New Castle, New Hampshire | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Courtesy of Portsmouth Kayak Adventures

New Castle, New Hampshire
This town of 968 residents at the mouth of the Piscataqua River is made up entirely of islands. The Victorian charm of the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel makes the setting even lovelier.
Unique view: Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse.
See more: From the water with Portsmouth Kayak Adventures’ tour of Little Harbor.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Camden, Maine | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Flickr/Jeff Rosen

Camden, Maine
The self-dubbed “Jewel of the Coast” is a well-deserved moniker, and this Mid-Coast harbor town of 4,823 on Penobscot Bay is tucked where mountains reach down to the sea.
Unique view: Three windjammers making this narrow harbor their home.
See more: From the water, on the Schooner Surprise.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Newport, Rhode Island | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Onne van der Wal

Newport, Rhode Island
Spectacular at every turn, from broad, sandy beaches to deep harbors bristling with schooners, racing yachts, and pleasure craft; from cozy Colonial taverns to opulent Gilded Age mansions.
Unique view: The twinkling span of the Pell Bridge just after twilight.
See more: From a historical point of view, with Newport History Tours.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

New Shoreham, Rhode Island | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Courtesy of Block Island Tourism Council

New Shoreham, Rhode Island
All of verdant, windswept Block Island, just 13 miles off Rhode Island’s southern coast, is technically New Shoreham, but it’s the Victorian harbor-front that makes landing here forever captivating.
Unique view: Granite-blocked Southeast Lighthouse, perched at on one of the island’s iconic bluffs.
See more: From the water on trimaran Ruling Passion.

Rockport, MA | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Rockport, Massachusetts | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Carol Warner

Rockport, Massachusetts
Painters turned this fishing village into an art colony for a reason—it’s an inspiration. Perched at the tip of Cape Ann, there are rugged shorelines, hidden coves, and a bustling, historic village.
Unique view: Motif No. 1, the most painted building in the world.
See more: By jeep, in personalized tours from Sweet Shots Secret Spots.

Learn more about Rockport, Massachusetts!

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Stonington Borough, Connecticut | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Courtesy of Ingrid Feddersen

Stonington Borough, Connecticut
This delightful village of fewer than 1,000 residents boasts a wealth of 18th-19th-century buildings on its own narrow peninsula that juts into Fisher’s Island Sound and Little Narragansett Bay, with views in all directions.
Unique view: From “The Point,” a view of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York.
See more: On foot, with a self-guided walking tour available at the Old Lighthouse Museum.

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Alyson Horrocks

Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts
The brightly colored gingerbread Victorian cottages make this laid-back enclave on Martha’s Vineyard a true New England confection. And on one night each summer, the cottages lights up with Chinese lanterns, making it likely the loveliest place on earth.
Unique view: The nation’s oldest platform carousel.
See more: Of the historic cottages on the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association Tours.

Learn more about the Gingerbread Cottages at Oak Bluffs Campground!

10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

Provincetown, Massachusetts | 10 Prettiest Coastal Towns in New England

i.c.e. photography Juan Pisani

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Set at the outermost tip of Cape Cod, surrounded by water on three sides and backed by vast sand dunes on the fourth, Provincetown is a colorful gem that’s drawn artists and writers for generations.
Unique view: A bird’s eye, from the top of the Pilgrim Monument.
See more: By jeep, of Provincetown’s famous sand dunes, with Art’s Dune Tours.

See more photos of Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the off season!

What are your picks for the prettiest coastal towns in New England?

  • jonibee

    Each has its own beauty…Essex Ma ..along the Essex River, Gloucester waterfront..architectural buildings, quaintness of the area, historical places, parks and beaches, lakes, ponds along with waking trails..

  • Camden is a very special place in my mind and memory bank. It is the place that my wife and I were married some 40 odd years ago aboard the SCHOONER ADVENTURE . It was early September on a gorgeous Fall day and we were moored at the dock with a couple of hundred people in attendance. The local newspaper had gotten wind of an unusual event was scheduled for that Sunday afternoon thus a crowd gathered to see what was going on !!
    The captain of the Adventure, Jim Sharp, conducted the ceremony on the stern of the ship ,with the approval of several seagulls flying about squawking their approval of the activities. In all, we ended up with three wedding cakes. One we ordered from a local bakery in Camden, one was baked by the ship’s cook an the third was brought by the bridesmaid. The crew and passengers would not let us do any work all week, and of course there were plenty of honeymoon jokes spread around all week !
    While I was born and raised in New England, but no longer live their, no place on earth tugs at my heart more than Camden, Maine.

  • I agree with so many of everyone’s comments- It’s hard to compare coastal towns which include not only the beautiful views when looking out to sea and then how does the immediate village & community look when facing the towns.
    The list could easily have been 25 locations to incorporate all the beautiful towns omitted. I am glad Camden, ME was on it because I feel the view from the hill of the Harbor with the tall sailing ships and the immediate shore-front buildings as you are looking out to sea is the best in New England. Places like Boothbay Harbor, Rockport, Vinyl Haven and Wolfeboro (on the Lake) have quaint village homes, shops, marinas, etc. Looking forward to your #11 – #25 list very soon :)

  • Truly surprised that Nantucket was not on the list….MV is quite nice but Nantucket is a bit more special.

  • Okay, so technically Wolfboro, NH is not a coastal town. But it’s on the water and a very cute place! Change the parameters just a bit and it woulda, coulda, shoulda made the list. Hands down!

  • Just returned from my second trip this summer to Boothbay Harbor where I go twice every summer. How could you overlook it???

  • Michael

    You did a fine job of “rounding up the usual suspects.”

    For future reference I invite you to my Borough of Woodmont, CT. Woodmont is a part of the City of Milford.

    It’s a small community, once just a summer place that has been a year round residence since the late 1950’s. Beautiful sandy public beaches, unique homes and it’s beautiful year round.

    The Borough Givernment maintains the public areas with assistance from the City of Milford with respect to daily beach maintainance.

    The shoreline is picturesque and has a sidewalk that makes it possible for walkers (and runners) to enjoy the seashore beauty all year round.

  • I, too, am surprised that Nantucket did not make the list. A timeless place with so much ambiance and class.

  • The view of the lighthouse in Block Island is the South Light. Wonderful to see all those harbors most of them I have visited in my boat.

  • Ogunquit is wonderful…and don’t forget did get rated best beach in New England : ))

  • Lwoodhouse

    I agree! little Compton is absolutely gorgeous and, best of all, pretty much undisturbed!!n

  • I too can not believe Nantucket did not make the cut, I think Martha’s Vineyard is beautiful, but think there are a few other towns on MV that are prettier than oaks bluff.
    One GORGEOUS spot that did not make the list is Cohasset, Ma. Google Jerusalem rd.

  • What about Wiscasset Maine which claims to be the prettiest town?

  • Richard

    All magnificent. What’s not to like in any part of New England

  • Please, let me forward you my Beautiful photos of EASTHAM , MA. Thank you. Jean

  • casdjc@yahoo.com

    I’m also surprised that Nantucket didn’t make the list, but as a Rhode Islander I’m happy to see we have 2 spots there. As the smallest state Rhode Island is frequently overlooked with the exception of Newport and Providence. I would also like to add one more town to that list – Little Compton, Rhode Island. It ranks right up there with the prettiest places in New England!

  • Lynette

    I think you should include Nantucket, Marblehead and Wellfleet.

  • If you are adverse to glitz and crowds go further Downeast from the maddening crowds. Eastport Me

  • Take everything great about coastal New England, distill it down to the purest essence and spread it across 4 square miles of land…Ogunquit, Maine.

  • plumisland

    I agree with an earlier comment that Newburyport should have been listed. That however would lead to more people discovering this gem of a city. Never mind.

  • It was washed away years ago, but rebuilt. I still visit Rockport every year, even since moving out of state 14 years ago.

  • there’s sooooooo many nice towns in New England, it’s hard to choose which is the “prettiest”. my vote would go to either Concord, Mass or Essex Village, Conneticut. two towns worth visiting any season of the year

  • These are great towns, some other ones would be Watch Hill, Cape Cod, Nantucket. I also find York, Maine an awesome place.

  • Morris Cove the east shore of New Haven harbor will always be the “prettiest” to me. I have fond memories of growing up on the Connecticut shoreline. ❤️

  • Got married in Mystic Seaport, honeymooned on Block Island. Love the coast, when I can get there from Colorado.

  • Watch Hill was beautiful stayed there for several summers. Many great memory’s it’s like Mayberry quiet nice views

  • I agree. I would have been disappointed if Rockport didn’t make it. It is a 20 minute drive for me, and my mini – day-cation destination.

  • P.Coonley/Serendipity

    Awesome list for exploring the coastal gems in New England. Rockport, Massachusetts a mere one hour from Boston is a gem in all seasons.

  • Where is the beautiful town of Mattapoisett, Massachusetts on this list? It should be.

  • can’t believe bar harbor made it. it’s to commercially built up. booth bay harbor is way better than bar harbor and should have been on the list.

  • I have been to all of them and Nantucket is be far the most beautiful, Watch Hill, Shelter Harbour, and Jamestown are very beautiful as well.

  • Roberta, if it makes you feel better, east of the drawbridge is technically Stonington 😉 btw, Clyde’s opened today in Old Mystic. if you are local, the donuts and hard cider are waiting. (not sure when the sweet cider starts to flow)

  • Thanks for including our hometown of Stonington, CT. This is the place to be. Between all the bustle of the Rhode Island beaches, the landmarks in Mystic and the fantastic shops and restaurants here in Stonington, there is something for everyone. I love it here and rarely feel a need to ‘escape’ on vacation, we are already in the New England paradise.

  • I am so excited that Camden made the list! We fell IN LOVE with this perfect New England town! We can’t wait to go back! It truly is where I want to retire to someday!


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