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slides: Top 10 Beach Towns: New England’s Best Beach Towns 2012

Thursday, August 09, 2012


It's no easy task naming New England's Best Beach Towns, much less ranking them from #1 to #33. On the other hand, it's easy to see how these 10 beautiful towns landed at the very top of GoLocal's first-ever ranking. Each one combines great beaches, clean air and water, and a walking-friendly layout that allows you to get from all the restaurants, bars and ice cream parlors to the beach--or to your B&B--without blowing out a flip-flop. Here, then, are the Top 10 Beach Towns in New England for 2012. Start planning your next getaway before Labor Day gets here.

For how GoLocal ranked New England's Best Beach Towns, go here.

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#10 New Shoreham, RI

Rhode Islanders know what a gem they have just 13 miles offshore--Block Island, home to New Shoreham, has been named one of the Last Great Places by The Nature Conservancy. The small island's only town got its start as a Victorian steamship destination for pleasure seekers, and much of the 19th century aesthetic makes Old Harbor glow with vintage postcard style. The beaches are pristine, and the small town charms are plentiful, particuarly on July 4th, when an old-fashioned parade captivates the most jaded visitor. (photo: walkinggeek/flickr)

Year-round population: 1,025
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 27
Total number of rooms: 600
Average hotel room rate: $200
Ice cream parlors: 8

Ready to go? www.blockislandinfo.com

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#9 Westerly, RI

A true Victorian enclave on the sweeping Atlantic Ocean, Westerly contains multitudes. At one end, Watch Hill maintains a cloistered quaintness, complete with a historic carousel and one of the region's most luxurious resorts, The Ocean House. At the other, honky-tonk Misquamicut Beach has everything a boardwalk-style beach day demands, from amusements and ice cream to karaoke-filled bars with tropical drinks. (photo: Ocean House)

Year-round population: 22,787
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 42
Total number of rooms: 514
Average hotel room rate: $200
Ice cream parlors: 6

Ready to go? www.southcountyri.com

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#8 Provincetown, MA

Perched at land's end at the sandy terminus of Cape Cod, this magnet for artists, writers, and the LGBT community metamorphoses every year from a quiet winter town into a season-long party from Memorial to Labor Day. With some of the longest, most beautiful beaches anywhere in New England, Provincetown is unforgettable. (photo above: John Phelan/wikipedia, left: bdamon/flickr)

Year-round population: 2,942
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 74
Total number of rooms: 1,000
Average hotel room rate: $100-$500
Ice cream parlors: 10

Ready to go? www.provincetowntourismoffice.org

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#7 Wellfleet, MA

Halfway between the elbow of Cape Cod and its Provincetown fingertips, Wellfleet can brag of much more than just those famous oysters. Flanked by Cape Cod National Seashore to the east and the peaceful, aquamarine Cape Cod Bay to the west, about 70% of this getaway spot is protected land. This quiet splendor is offset by a bustling, charming old-fashioned village and harbor with non-stop fishing and sailing traffic. (photo: chaoscentral/flickr)

Year-round population: 2,750
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 78
Total number of rooms: 155
Average hotel room rate: $125+
Ice cream parlors: 14

Ready to go? www.discoverwellfleet.com

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#6 Gloucester, MA

Coastal afficianados know that while Cape Cod may get all the attention, Massachusetts' Cape Ann is one of the region's most glorious escapes. And Gloucester, known worldwide for being a fishing port, is home to beautiful and quiet beaches as well, making it a five-star beach town in New England. One of the finest aspects of Gloucester is a great variety of amenities, from kayaking and birding to whale watching. (photo: NikiSublime/flickr)

Year-round population: 28,789
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 49
Total number of rooms: 600
Ice cream parlors: 10

Ready to go? www.gloucesterma.com

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#5 Wells, ME

You might make the trek to Southern Maine just for the Maine Diner, a classic roadside eatery on Route 1 in Wells, but you'd be foolish to leave before getting to know this free-wheeling, sunny stretch of coast that's a hugely popular summer destination, and with good reason. Nature lovers will love a break from the big-shore fun at the beach by exploring the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, which has a stretch of coastline as well. (photo: dabdiputs/flickr)

Year-round population: 9,589
Sunny days per year: 101
Walkability Index: 66
Total number of rooms: 2,000
Average hotel room rate: $70-300
Ice cream parlors: 6

Ready to go? www.visitmaine.com

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#4 Old Orchard Beach, ME

Talk about a kid's dream. This 7-mile stretch of sand that anchors Old Orchard Beach is bursting with family-friendly activities and amusement parks, including the veritable beachfront Palace Playland Park. For grown-ups, there's dancing at the end of that beautiful pier and frequent fireworks bursting overhead. Now that's a beach town. (photo: redjar/flickr)

Year-round population: 8,624
Sunny days per year: 101
Walkability Index: 71
Total number of rooms: 1,800+
Ice cream parlors: 8

Ready to go? www.visitmaine.com

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#3 Yarmouth, MA

This mid-Cape town wants you to come and stay, and that friendly embrace (and the most lodging rooms on the entire Cape) put it into the Top 3 Best Beach Towns. Head to the North Side if you love it quiet—where there are lovely B&Bs and inns. Like it livelier? Yarmouth's South side is for you with the hustle and bustle of a summertime resort town—from factory outlet shopping to sea lion shows to the most adventurous mini-golf. Either way, you've got 15 fresh and saltwater beaches at your disposal. (photo: Red Jacket Resorts)

Year-round population: 23,793
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 23
Total number of rooms: 3,600
Average hotel room rate: $65-500
Ice cream parlors: 8

Ready to go? www.yarmouthcapecod.com

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#2 Hyannis, MA

Generations of Kennedy's can't be wrong. Among stiff competition on Cape Cod, Hyannis emerges as the Best Cape Beach Town, and #2 overall. Known as the capital of the Cape, Hyannis (which is actually a village of Barnstable) has everything, from gorgeous beaches to tons of restaurants and amusements, and it's a gateway to the islands as well. It is also the gold medalist for ice cream parlors—a whopping 15. Something is always going on in Hyannis—is a long weekend really enough? (photo: reefTECK/flickr)

Year-round population: 14,546
Sunny days per year: 98
Walkability Index: 25
Total number of rooms: 2,400
Average hotel room rate: $80-200
Ice cream parlors: 15

Ready to go? www.hyannis.com

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#1 Bar Harbor, ME

GoLocal's Best Beach Town for 2012 may surprise some who expected a southern beauty to take top honors. But Bar Harbor, a beloved Down East enclave that originally provided sweltering Victorian millionaires escape from the heat of Manhattan, combines the beautifully pristine beaches of Acadia National Park with a truly walkable village setting (the highest Walkscore Index in the Top 10) with enough lodging, restaurants and bars (and some of those former mansions are converted to hotels). It's the perfect balance, which is what makes a champion. And well worth the trek, no matter where you live. (photo Lee Coursey/flickr)

Year-round population: 5,235
Sunny days per year: 101
Walkability Index: 92
Total number of rooms: 3,500
Average hotel room rate: $99-399
Ice cream parlors: 10

Ready to go? www.visitmaine.com


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