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New England’s Best Beach Towns 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012


What is New England's Best Beach Town?

In GoLocal's first-ever analysis and ranking of New England's Best Beach Towns, restaurants, bars, and ice cream shops played a central role. Photo: Lee Coursey/flickr

From the Connecticut shoreline to Down East Maine, from Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to Block Island, from Cape Ann to Cape Cod, where are the very best spots to play hookey on a summer weekday, spend a sun-drenched weekend, or just drop it all and move to paradise?

Today, GoLocal unveils its first comprehensive head-to-head comparison and ranking of New England's beach towns. This brand-new analysis utilized thousands of data points to assess and compare towns in every state (with a coastline) in the region.

Inspired by similar ratings of America's cities and towns from media outlets such as US News & World Report, Forbes, Business Week, Coastal Living, and Yankee, GoLocal's evaluation took a brand new approach.
The methodology began with every coastal town in the region, and then eliminated anything with a year-round population over 50,000. From there, we scrutinized 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).

This list of 33 contenders was then assessed in 5 general areas: Environment, Walkability, Food & Drink, Lodging, and Beach Amenities. With metrics ranging from air and water quality, percent of sunny days, numbers of restaurants, bars, and ice cream parlors, hotel and B&B rooms, walkability ranking and a survey of 23 beach amenities, from parasailing to 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. Finally, the GoLocal proprietary formula weighted each metric to yield the final ranking: what made each of these beach towns great places to play as well as stay (for details on the methodology, go here).

The Towns

GoLocal's 33 finalists were from the 5 New England states with coastline:

Connecticut:  East Lyme, Madison, Milford, Westport

Maine: Bar Harbor, Georgetown, Kennebunk/Kennebunkport (the Kennebunks), Lubec, Ogunquit, Old Orchard Beach, Scarborough, Wells, York

Massachusetts: Chatham, Eastham, Edgartown, Gloucester, Hyannis, Ipswich, Manchester-By-The-Sea, Nantucket, Provincetown, Oak Bluffs, Salisbury, Sandwich, Wellfleet, Westport, Yarmouth

New Hampshire: Hampton

Rhode Island: Little Compton, Narragansett, New Shoreham, Westerly/Watch HIll

Vermont: (no ocean coastline)

What emerged after hundreds of hours of research and analysis was both a quantifiable as well as a fun view of New England’s best beach towns. What spots hold the magic combination of beautiful environment, restaurants, bars, lodging, walkability and ample amenities that combine to make them New England's best? Read on.

For the full ranking list from #1 to #33, go here.

For profiles of the Top 10 New England’s Best Beach Towns, go here.

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.

With research contributions from Meia Geddes, Scott O'Leary, Ian Poris Slater, and Jake Costello.


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