Food, Outside, Seasonal
Spring is officially here and although Boston is beautiful during this season, we encourage you to hit the road. Shoulder season is a great time to visit New England coastal hotspots before they get packed and pricey for the summer. Where are you headed first?
by Celina Colby
For the Beach Lover
Distance: 72.2 miles from Downtown
What to Do: A former artist colony, Ogunquit, Maine is a beautiful coastal vacation spot just north of the New Hampshire border. Stroll the idyllic downtown, visit the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, and dig your toes into the sands of Ogunquit Beach. Before the July rush, the beach will be blissfully uncrowded.
Where to Stay: Anchorage by the Sea is a family owned resort located directly on the water and close to downtown.
Where to Eat: Clay Hill Farm is a picture-perfect restaurant surrounded by ten acres of walking trails, garden paths, and over 100 birdhouses. Swing by for a meal, a stroll, and some live music.
Distance: 97.5 miles from Downtown
What to Do: Located in Westerly, Rhode Island, Watch Hill is an exclusive coastal neighborhood surrounded on three sides by water. The hotspot books up quickly during summer months, but this spring you can sneak in for a nostalgic few days sunbathing at the Watch Hill Beach.
Where to Stay: The Blue Whale Inn is a charming property in Misquamicut just a few minutes from Watch Hill.
Where to Eat: Chow down on fried fish right across from the ocean at Windjammer Surf Bar.
Pro Tips: Near the beach you’ll spot Flying Horse Carousel, the oldest operating suspended-horse carousel in the United States. A ride will bring you straight back to the unburdened joys of childhood.
Distance: 40.2 miles from Downtown
What to Do: Just a short ride from Boston by car or the Commuter Rail, Gloucester has a rich nautical history and still maintains an active fishing industry. Here you can eat fresh-off-the-boat lobster and tour the historic streets of the New England coast. Take a boat tour around Gloucester Harbor for a scenic, sun-soaked view of the coast. Then pop over to Hammond Castle Museum, an elaborate castle built in the 1920s by eccentric inventor John Hays Hammond, Jr.
Where to Stay: The Beauport Hotel (pictured) is a chic oceanside accommodation with a private beach and in walking distance to most downtown attractions.
Where to Eat: Get front row seat to the marina action at Mile Marker One, where you can sip craft cocktails and watch boats sail by.
For the Nature Lover
Distance: 276 miles from Downtown
What to Do: Acadia National Park in Maine is one of the most stunning natural wonders in New England, offering 47,000 acres of hiking trails, camping sites, beaches, and breathtaking oceanside views. By visiting off season you can explore the park without the crowds.
Where to Stay: If you’re bold enough, camp in the park, or glamp at the nearby Terramor Outdoor Resort.
Where to Eat: Travel back in time at the electric, retro diner Route 66. Don’t worry, you can still get a fresh-off-the-boat lobster roll.
Distance: 99 miles from Downtown
Info: Nantucket is known as the cobblestoned playground of the wealthy during the summer months, and that’s not inaccurate. Visiting during the shoulder season allows you to sample innovative restaurants without reservations and to tour the island sans traffic.
Where to Stay: The Nantucket Hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of downtown (and the beach!), plus it inspired Elin Hilderbrand’s book “The Hotel Nantucket.”
Where to Eat: Believe it or not you can get spectacular ribs in the middle of seafood country. Head to B-ACK Yard BBQ to try brisket and an Old Bay seasoned lobster roll.
Pro Tips: Don’t bring a car on island. While a vehicle is an asset on the sprawling Martha’s Vineyard, it’s a pain to transport to Nantucket and the downtown is super walkable. Anywhere else on the island that you want to visit (like the Sconset Bluff Walk) is an easy Uber ride.
Distance: 94.7 miles from Downtown
Info: Martha’s Vineyard (ironically home to 0 vineyards) is a classic New England vacation destination. Just ask Obama. Here you can experience soft sand beach days, mountainside hikes, rural farms, and charming neighborhoods lined with hydrangeas and local shops. All on one island!
Where to Stay: The Oak Bluffs Inn is a historic and Black-owned property in the heart of the vibrant Oak Bluffs neighborhood.
Where to Eat: Behind the Bookstore serves up globally inspired eats in a charming outdoor space.
Pro Tips: Edgartown is the iconic downtown featured in “Jaws” and it gets packed in the summer. Visit during shoulder season for the best experience. If you book a rental in West Tisbury you’ll have neighborhood-only access to the calm waters of Lambert’s Cove Beach.
Photo: The Beauport Hotel in Gloucester