New England: 5 US Hidden Gems for Summer Holidays

The view of the lighthouse stands in the distance with the sunset behind it in New England

Updated On: February 01, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Summer has arrived! With it comes the warm air, sunshine, sand between your toes, a cold beverage in your right hand, snacks in your left. Sun tans, shades, and evenings spent by the outdoor fire. That’s the kind of summer you can find on the East Coast of the U.S.

The U.S is a pretty big place, and the East Coast? Well, it also has a lot of ground to cover, so we decided to narrow it down for you… to the New England area. The original home to settlers in the mid 1700s, the New England area is home to quaint colonial beach towns.

What are the hidden gems in New England?

With the foundational history of the U.S. and the sea waters of the Atlantic, The New England area has great things to do, perfect views, and great, fresh seafood. These 5 New England towns are our favourite places to spend a summer vacation. They will surely provide the perfect summer holiday. 

Kennebunkport, Maine

The Bush Estate creeps into frame at Kennebunkport in New England
Image Credit: Chris Jones/Unsplash

Kennebunkport Maine is not only picturesque and filled with small shops and great restaurants but it is also the location of a former president’s vacation home. Kennebunkport is a small beach town, with large New England style homes, lighthouses, and fresh Maine lobster. Much like most of the towns on this list, Kennebunkport is great for a day, weekend, or even a full week. There are hikes to lighthouses, drives where you can sneak a peek into former U.S. president Bush’s holiday home, and great souvenir shops decked out with the best nautical gear and gimmicks. 

The great part about Kennebunkport is the different ways to see the town. You can rent bikes to explore the town while getting a bit of exercise in. There are many shops and restaurants to stop in as well as little beaches and coastline to walk along. 

The lighthouse in Kennebunkport is not to be missed. There is a small trail slightly hidden on a back road that would allow you to walk into the lighthouse, but if you can’t find a local to ask then we suggest getting on a boat tour to catch the magnificent lighthouse. Goat Island Lighthouse as it is more commonly referred to, is a great attraction and seeing everything from the water is just better.

The other important  part of Kennebunkport is the food. Most of the food in New England is seafood based, so if that isn’t your thing maybe this vacation isn’t for you. However, if you love any salt water catches, you’ll love the restaurants in Kennebunkport. The Boathouse restaurant is open year round and offers fresh locally caught seafood. Not only is the food fresh but the gorgeous restaurant has floor to ceiling windows that overlook the harbor. Kennebunkport has all the charm of most New England coastal towns. Definitely put it on your list. 

Cape Cod, Massachusetts 

The sun sets over the beach on the island of Cape Cod in New England
Image Credit: Benjamin Suter/Unsplash

One of the most known summer destinations and a yearly vacation destination for most East Coast based families, Cape Cod is the perfect place for a family vacation. The little summer getaway is packed with activities, amazing beaches, great food, and great people. The island of Cape Cod has a bit of everything for everyone whether you’re more a fan of the arts, or opt for a bit of adventure, Cape Cod caters to everyone’s needs. 

Enjoy the arts and the colourful town of Provincetown. One of the most enjoyable towns on the island, Provincetown was an original colony town, today it is one of the LGBTQ+ capitals of the world. With a massive Pride festival every year, this town is filled with acceptance and artistic expression. There are dozens of museums and galleries to stroll into. Beyond the town’s colourful and artistic nature, there is again, great seafood. Stop into The Lobster Pot for a delicious lobster roll with butter or mayo. The lobster is freshly caught and the Lobster Pot is one of the best known spots in all of Cape Cod. 

There’s more to this beachy island than Provincetown though. If you really want to see more of Cape Cod, consider taking a boat tour, whether a small more privatized boat or a big cruise, these are great ways to see more of Cape Cod while avoiding the really dense spots. You can also buy tickets for whale, dolphin, lobster and seal watching. Perhaps one of the best things to do on Cape Cod is fish. Cape Cod Family Charters is great for helping you catch that big fish you’ve been dreaming of, or they’re even great to just spend a day at sea. 

Cape Cod is filled with sunscreen (Maybe a sunburn), beaches, salt water, cold beverages, and tasty food. It is a truly great place to get away. 

Rockport, Massachusetts

The docks of Rockport in New England
Image Credit: Todd Kent/Unsplash

Located just north of Boston, Rockport is a great place to escape for a romantic summer getaway. With luscious beaches, walkable paths through the glades of the land, and spots to eat and drink, this little town has everything you’d need for a summer vacation. 

Rockport is home to some of the best B&B’s and Inn’s on the east coast. With quaint seaside rooms, the beach so close you can almost smell it and a hot breakfast prepared every morning, you can’t go wrong staying in one of the many B&B’s the town has to offer. Located right on the beach and equipped with their own beach chairs for your stay, the Seafarer Inn is the perfect mix of luxury and a small town beachy vacation. Moments from the grand porch overlooking the ocean is Straitsmouth Cove which is perfect for those who love tide pools and splashing around in the shallow water. This Inn is the perfect place to base yourselves for your weekend in Rockport. 

Rockport is home to more than just great seafood, they also have great coffee shops! Skip the breakfast at the inn and head over to Brothers Brew Coffee Shop. This micro-roasting coffee shop has their own signature blend of coffee and a delicious breakfast menu. It is also on Main Street Rockport and right next to the beach. It’s the best place to fuel up before a day at the beach. For dinner try one of Rockport’s hidden gems, the Roy Moore Lobster Pot. Serving lobster the rough way, boiled and ready to be cracked and eaten. It is the best of the best of New England traditions. With a bit (A LOT) of butter and a bib, the Roy Moore Lobster Pot brings the traditions of the New England coast to life. 

Mystic, Connecticut

An overview of the inlet of Mystic in New England
Image Credit: Stephen Saks/Getty Images

Yep, you guessed it, Mystic, Connecticut is another one of the picturesque, sleepy, and sea-breezy towns in New England. They offer tiny shops with gifts for him or her. They offer small paddle boat rentals, and a nautical knot-tying class. Beyond activities, Mystic is home to some great outdoor adventures. This includes hiking, scavenger hunts at Avalonia Land Conservancy or even enjoying Williams Beach Park. There is plenty to do on a nice day in Mystic, Connecticut. 

Mystic is also home to some really fantastic restaurants, local craft breweries and wineries. A popular favorite among the locals is the Italian restaurant Bravo Bravo. The restaurant serves homemade pasta and fresh seafood which makes their food absolutely delectable. Another great local spot is the Bank & Bridge Brewing. Located in a former bank, this eclectic brewery not only creates their own brews but has a tasty bar menu as well. If a bit of sun and the outdoors tickles your fancy, or if you’re a major foodie, Mystic is the place for you.

Stonington Borough, Connecticut

An Aerial view of the bay and town of Stonington Borough in New England
Image Credit:

Stonington Borough might be off the beaten path of most New England towns, but it is still a gem all the same. It is home to some wonderful wineries, massive farms, museums, and again… as like with any New England town… tremendous seafood. 

Start your time in Stonington Borough by visiting one of the many farms and enjoy a locally sourced meal. You can also head over to the award winning vineyard: Saltwater Farm. With over 15 types of grapes, there are endless varieties of wines to taste. Beyond vineyards there are some great spots for breakfast. Indulge Coffee & Sandwich is a great place to grab a morning coffee and breakfast sandwich to start your day. Indulge in some sweet treats and perfectly made lattes. 

No matter what you choose to do or where to eat, Stonington Borough has some of the best places to lay your head. Try the Inn at Stonington and stay in one of their beautifully decorated 18 rooms. The inn is located just on the water with most rooms giving you a gorgeous view. They are also open year round and offer a variety of rooms. 

New England is historical, quaint, idyllic and so much more. Whether you prefer to spend your time on the water, on the beach, or meandering through the streets there is so much to do, see, and eat! There is no shortage of a good time in New England in summer. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *