What are your favorite coastal towns and local treasures along the northeastern US seaboard?
July 18, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

What are your favorite coastal towns and local treasures along the northeastern US seaboard?

I'm taking a month off to sail from NYC up the northeastern US seaboard. I've never spent time in this region beyond layovers and brief visits to major cities for work.

Not terribly outdoorsy, so I'm mostly looking for small town adventures, historical spots, insider tips, quaintness, hole-in-wall eateries and bars, special experiences. I may spend a few nights ashore along the way, so if you have a favorite B&B or inn, feel free to share.

When able, I'll be renting a bike to increase my land-based range, but for the sake of simplicity, my needs are limited to actual by-the-sea opportunities that can be reached on foot from a marina.

I love research, so simple hints are more than enough. I'm not looking for the community to replace a travel agent.
posted by cior to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
sunsets at menemsha harbor are pretty spectacular.
posted by phil at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2010

Are you sailing around the tip of Cape Cod, or through the canal? If you're going the long way, definitely stop in Provincetown, MA. Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME are classic old New England port towns full of holes-in-the-wall and quaintness. The Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME is a really easy walk but has stunning views. Also, get a lobster roll from basically anywhere in Maine.
posted by oinopaponton at 2:31 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

When near Portsmouth, make sure to swing out to Gosport Harbor & the Isles of Shoals. Have a lime rickey in the big 19th century hotel on Star Island, run by a hundred Pelicans.
posted by bcwinters at 2:57 PM on July 18, 2010

Shortly after we moved to New Jersey, we watched the movie ,Mystic Pizza. On a trip to Rhode Island, we passed an off ramp for Mystic, Conn. and decided to stop there on our way back. They have an aquarium (http://www.mysticaquarium.org/) and whaling seaport facsimile (http://www.mysticseaport.org/), plus a rather Rube Goldberg-ish drawbridge(http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc12771.php). Our favoriite place to was the Drawbridge Inn, which was a local hang-out and had great food and combos most evenings which played 40s and 50s jazz or classic ballads. I don't know if it's the same, now, but I wished I could buy the place to make sure it never changed. We went back to Mystic on every chance we could get for the five or so years we lived on the east coast.
posted by path at 3:02 PM on July 18, 2010

Block Island. This is the first summer in years that I haven't made it out there (yet anyway), maybe you could go and enjoy it for me.
posted by Venadium at 3:29 PM on July 18, 2010

Best answer: Yes, Portland, ME, definitely. The Standard Baking Company is a great place close to the waterfront in the Old Port to grab a pastry and some coffee.

While in the Portland area, you can also explore Casco Bay and the Calendar Islands. One option for a night on land is the Chebeague Island Inn; you can get there by water and the inn has moorings. Have lunch at Calder's Clam Shack on Cheabeague. The Chebeague Island Boat Yard also has fuel, moorings, and other services. The island is easily bikeable. The Inn has bikes, or you can borrow a bike for free from Mac Passano, the "Bike Guy" on Chebeague. (not a bad idea to call him to make sure he will be around 207-846-7829). You can also visit Eagle Island.
posted by gudrun at 3:40 PM on July 18, 2010 [3 favorites]

The National Seashore on Cape Cod is lovely, with miles of quiet beach and lots of dunes. It's pretty close to Provincetown, which is a fun place to stay.

Portsmouth, NH is a fun town with great restaurants and bars.

On the North Shore of MA, there's a place called Kelly's Roast Beef. I think it's in Revere? Not a small town, but a great hole-in-the-wall local favorite. Further up the North Shore there are many, many cute oceanside towns - Newburyport, Gloucester, Ipswich.

The south shore, north of the Cape, has some nice towns too: Cohasset, Hingham, and Plymouth. All the Pilgrim-related stuff in Plymouth is super-hokey, but it's a really nice, New England coastal town. Further south there are some lovely, quiet beaches - I don't want to give away where they are on the internet, but memail me if you're interested in knowing where.
posted by lunasol at 3:42 PM on July 18, 2010

There are multiple Kelly's, but the one in Revere is the only one on the water, I think. Up the coast is Lovecraftian territory if that's your thing. Swampscott and Salem and Gloucester and Danvers.
posted by mkb at 4:00 PM on July 18, 2010

Don't know if you want to head inland around Long Island, but there's a lot of history and some great towns adjacent to Gardiner Bay and Peconic Bay.
posted by kidelo at 4:18 PM on July 18, 2010

Definitely make a stop Camden ME if you're sailing.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:23 PM on July 18, 2010

*stop in
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:23 PM on July 18, 2010

Rockport, MA has not been mentioned yet. Very nice little town just "round the bend" From Gloucester. You would be able to anchor in the harbor just off the beach. Vibrant arts community with rich history. Highly recommended for someone doing a trip like this.
posted by rglasmann at 8:11 PM on July 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is positively nothing else to do in Niantic, Connecticut, but if you are the least bit fond of used book stores and/or bookstore kitties, you need to go to the Book Barn.
posted by clavicle at 8:56 PM on July 18, 2010

I live in Gloucester, MA! They've really been pushing tourism over the traditional fishing economy, and they've put in a nice cruiseport. Main St. is definitely worth a walk down, with a lot of tiny consignment shops, antique shops, etc. Bananas, a costume-jewelry and consignment place, is a hoot. So many vintage threads. Some decent places to eat, my favorite being Alchemy. I'd just avoid the Crow's Nest and House of Mitch. Typical townie bars with a lot of professional drunks and fights.

Oh, and every month they close off Main St to traffic and do a "block party" kind of thing where you can dine outside in the street. I've actually never been, but it looks to be a fun time.

And then go to Rockport!
posted by kpht at 4:52 AM on July 19, 2010

Have a lobster roll at The Harbor Cafe in Stonington Maine. Make sure to sit by the window so you can watch the lobster boats go in and out of the harbor.
posted by booth at 7:31 AM on July 19, 2010

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