When you think of the best beaches to visit, the craggy seaside cliffs and oyster-laden bays of New England probably aren’t among the first places that come to mind. But, once you experience New England’s 6,000 miles of historic coast, you’ll want to come back every year. Not only are the beaches of New England home to some of the world’s greatest seafood like fried clam bellies and buttery lobster rolls, but they’re also teeming with rich cocktail culture, a bounty of local craft spirits, and some of the most beautiful oceanfront resorts and bars in the country. So if your perfect summer vacation is spent at the beach sitting at a gorgeous seaside bar with a plate of oysters and cocktails, hit up one (or all) of these six New England beach bars.
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Built in the late 1700s, the historic Whale’s Tooth Pub was originally used as a customs house to collect duties from incoming sailing ships. With two large decks for outdoor seating and prime ocean views, this casual hang has a bevy of local beers and wines, as well as a cocktail menu with a slew of Margarita variations. The owners of the restaurant also have a lovely beach side inn, so you can fill up on drinks and a fresh-steamed lobster dinner (which Maine is famous for), all within stumbling distance of your bed.
This beachfront Maine hotel has everything you could want on your summer beach vacation. There are modern, moderately priced rooms with scenic, oceanfront views. Their restaurant features exotic dishes like watermelon sashimi, a PB&J with sunflower butter, maple smoked chips and jam, and classic New England staples like lobster rolls and fried haddock. You can stare off into the sea while you sip on craft cocktails like their Honey Comb, which features gin, Maine honey, lemon, and vanilla bean. Not to mention, there’s also a beach club that offers beach cruisers and surfboard rentals, and hosts beach yoga classes, in case beautiful views, seafood and cocktails weren’t enough to sell you.
Located in the gorgeous, sleekly modern Hotel Vermont in downtown Burlington, Juniper Bar isn’t on the beach per se, but it does have lovely views of the majestic Lake Champlain and Juniper Island. With a focus on seasonal ingredients and local craft spirits and brews, Juniper Bar’s cocktails are some of the best in the state of Vermont. Try their Farmers Tan, a take on the Dirty Martini made with the juice of a house-made, pickled fiddlehead fern.
This restaurant and bar has been a Cape Cod favorite for over 40 years. Built in 1897, the Beachcomber building was the first federally funded and serviced Lifesaving Station in the United States used by the U.S. Life Saving Service (now known as the U.S. Coast Guard). Converted to an inn and restaurant in 1978, the Beachcomber has panoramic ocean views and direct access to the beach (but maybe don’t try to swim right after you’ve eaten a few dozen oysters and guzzled a round of drinks). Relax outside on their beachfront patio with a Daiquiri in hand, and listen to the soft sounds of the waves curl onto the beach.
As quintessentially New England as Seersucker blazers, Sperry Top-siders and ascots, Galley Beach is the premiere Massachusetts beach bar. You can choose to sit inside the restaurant, which has a beautiful beach view on every side, or at their beach bar with outdoor seating right on the sand. Featuring craft cocktails, modern takes on local seafood recipes, and a raw bar, Galley Beach is the best spot to spend a New England summer evening.
Converted from a formerly functioning Coast Guard House in the 1940s, the aptly named Coast Guard House offers stunning views of Narragansett Bay and great cocktails with which to enjoy the sights. Turning out a menu that features cocktails with local, New England spirits, a luxe raw bar (order a round of Littleneck clams for the table), and modern takes on New England seafood staples, the Coast Guard House is a must-visit Rhode Island restaurant. Enjoy yourself some seafood, and try their Punch Romaine, a lost ur-tiki drink with Privateer Rum from Ipswich, Massachusetts, for a truly New England treat.