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Methodology: New England’s Best Beach Towns 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012


To rank the Best Beach Towns in New England, GoLocal compiled environmental data from online sources and spoke to hundreds of locals to quantify everything from inns to ice cream. Photo: Ocean House, Watch Hill.

To rank New England’s Best Beach Towns, GoLocal began with a list of every coastal town in New England--from the westernmost point on Connecticut's shoreline all the way up to the tiny outposts of Down East Maine--and then eliminated the larger towns and cities, cutting out anything with a year-round population of over 50,000.

From there, researchers scrutinized local, regional and national travel sites for beach reviews, and cross-referenced the best beaches with the towns where they were located. This yielded 33 finalists, from tiny Ogonquit, Maine (population 892) to Milford, Connecticut (population 49,619).

Researchers then collected data in five general areas: Environment, Walkability, Food & Drink, Lodging, and Beach Amenities. Each area was quantified with the following data (for the sources for each criteria, see note, below):

Number of sunny days
Average percentage of local beach water samples with bacteria exceeding state standards
Number of unhealthy air quality days

Walkscore.com’s Walkability Index

Food & Drink
Number of restaurants
Number of bars
Number of ice cream parlors

Number of hotel & motel rooms
Number of inn & B&B rooms

Beach Amenities
A survey of 23 amenities that are part of beach culture: mini-golf, go-carts, batting cages, kite surfing, whale watching, paddle boarding, surf lessons, skydiving, parasailing, concerts, boardwalk, aquarium, volleyball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, surf shop, charter fishing, jet ski rentals, kayak rentals, boogie board rentals, umbrella/beach chair rentals, bike rentals, and nature trails.


GoLocal's researchers culled national databases and spoke to hundreds of tourism professionals, chamber of commerce members, real estate agents, parks and recreation officials, as well as other locals to tabulate the many numbers that figured into the analysis.

From these data points, GoLocal calculated statistical analyses that compared each of these towns to each other, providing regional averages against which each town was subsequently assessed. A proprietary weighting formula was then applied to yield the final rankings.

For the full rankings list, go here. For profiles of the Top 10 New England's Best Beach Towns 2012, go here.

The following online sources/data bases were used for following criteria: Sunny Days/NRDC, Air Quality Index/EPA, Water Quality/NRDC, Walkability/Walkscore.com; other data was obtained from professional resources in local government, tourism, business, and real estate.

For more coverage of New England's Best Beach Towns 2012, don't miss GoLocalTV, fresh every day at 4pm and on demand 24/7, here.


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