Beach Vacations

New England’s Top 9 Coastal Resorts for Families

Last updated 11th March 2024

In the summer, New England is as welcoming as a slice of home-baked blueberry pie. Postcard-pretty harbors brimming with lobster boats, lighthouses, July 4th parades and the majestic waves of the Atlantic Ocean entice families like bees to honey. A range of coastal New England hotels welcome families, from luxurious beachfront resorts to simple accommodations that feel as homey as your aunt’s spare room. Here are our favorites.

1/9 Winnetu Oceanside Resort
Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts

Catch the ferry to Edgartown and you’re transported to a timeless seaport village. The Winnetu Oceanside Resort is located at South Beach. Rooms and private cottages have kitchenettes and separate living areas. Some have unobstructed ocean views.

The children’s program for ages 3-12 includes field trips to a local farm and rides in the resort’s vintage fire truck. In addition, there’s a parent-child program for toddlers.

For a New England culinary experience, don’t miss the resort’s signature clambake on Wednesday evenings. The traditional feast includes local lobster, velvety clam chowder, just-picked sweet corn and fresh berry cobbler.

2/9 Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina
Bar Harbor, Maine

If you’re looking to explore the stunning beauty of Acadia National Park, there’s no better home base than this resort located in the charming town of Bar Harbor. Oceanfront suites offer morning views of boats bobbing in the bay and forested islands dotting the ocean waves. Choose from one-or two-bedroom suites for a relaxing stay with plenty of privacy for kids and parents. Guests also have access to the Bar Harbor Club where kids can enjoy the game room, tennis courts and the outdoor pool.

The location makes it easy to explore the shops along Main Street for a slice of blueberry pie or a t-shirt from Cool as a Moose. Or saunter down ot the pier for an unforgettable whale watching tour. A quick 10-minute drive or ride on Oli’s Trolley will have you soaking in the great outdoors at Acadia.

Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina

3/9 Newport, Rhode Island

Newport has been a summer playground for generations. The America’s Cup legacy, International Tennis Hall of Fame, world-class music festivals, Gilded Age mansions and scenic 3.5-mile Cliff Walk are a few of its many calling cards.

Gurney’s Newport opened in January 2017, quickly becoming a family favorite. It is situated on Goat Island, connected to downtown Newport by causeway or a short water taxi ride, so getting there is part of the fun.

Comfortable rooms — some with water views — are decorated with maritime accents that suit this town’s nautical spirit. The outdoor saltwater pool is a beauty and the large indoor pool is just right for rainy days.

Visitors ages 3-12 may participate in the kid’s club, which offers activities like cooking classes, yoga and visits with the property’s playful goats.

Higgins Beach Inn

4/9 Scarborough, Maine

Higgins Beach is the kind of yesteryear community where everybody knows your name. Kids ride their bikes and surfers catch waves until dusk. The air is salty and the tides are a constant topic of conversation.

The cozy Higgins Beach Inn is just steps from its namesake beach. The minimalist guestrooms are the essence of beach chic with everything you need and nothing you don’t. The property is all about laid-back family time. While there’s no structured program, the friendly staff keeps kids smiling with warm cookies and genuine hospitality.

5/9 Ocean House
Watch Hill, Rhode Island

The village of Watch Hill paints an all-American picture. Take a spin on the country’s oldest flying-horse carousel, gaze at the historic lighthouse and lick an ice cream cone from St. Clair Annex.

Ocean House is a luxurious resort with an unbeatable seaside location. It caters to families who like their beach with a side order of sophistication. Blue-chip amenities include the opportunity to borrow one of the hotel’s fleet of Mercedes-Benz cars. The hotel’s exquisite art collection includes original illustrations from Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline book series.

The Sand Castles summer program is led by counselors from the YMCA. It combines indoor and outdoor recreation during the day as well as in the evening, so parents may enjoy an adults-only dinner at the elegant onsite restaurant, Coast.

6/9 Inn by the Sea
Cape Elizabeth, Maine

Crescent Beach is a pristine stretch of Maine seacoast. Guests of Inn by the Sea traverse a private boardwalk that winds through a wildlife sanctuary leading right to the water’s edge. It’s beachcombing at its finest.

The resort aims to connect visitors to the local surroundings with experiential offerings. Haul traps on a working lobster boat or visit the nearby Portland Head Light, the oldest lighthouse in the state.

Children can dress-up like insects as a naturalist teaches them about the local eco-system when they join the popular Bug’s Life program. Additional activities include family yoga, gardening, art classes and kite flying. Swim in the heated pool or borrow a bike and pedal away.

Spacious suites with full kitchens and balconies offer plenty of room for the whole crew. If your family includes a four-legged member, you won’t find a more pet-friendly property. Man’s best friend will receive a water bowl, blanket and nightly treats at turndown. Plus, the onsite restaurant even includes a full doggy menu.

7/9 Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
Chatham, Massachusetts

Families flock to Cape Cod’s miles of beautiful beaches year after year. The Wequassett Resort overlooks Pleasant Bay in the lower Cape on Nantucket Sound. The inviting exterior showcases classic Cape Cod-style with its soft grey and white cedar shingles and inviting porches. The resort includes access to a private 18-hole golf course, two swimming pools and numerous tennis courts. Cottages with multiple bedrooms give families plenty of room to spread out.

The Children’s Center offers daily programming for kids ages 4-12 and a toddler program for children 2-4 years of age three times per week. A pirate-themed playground, drive-in movies, sailing and tennis lessons are recreational options.

8/9 Saybrook Point Inn
Old Saybrook, Connecticut

Located midway between New York City and Boston, Old Saybrook enjoys authentic New England flavor. Free concerts on the town green and swimming at Harvey’s Beach, known for its white sand, are popular activities. It’s a stone’s throw from the Essex Steam Train where railway enthusiasts may take a ride.

The Saybrook Point Inn is located on the confluence of the Connecticut River and the Long Island Sound so it’s surrounded by water. Guest rooms and villas feature balconies with views of the Long Island Sound.

There’s no dedicated children’s program but the indoor and outdoor pools provide aquatic fun. Fishing excursions and sunset cruises can be arranged. The property has an onsite marina. For car-free travelers, Amtrak stops in town and the hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the train station.

9/9 Spruce Point Inn
Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Boothbay Harbor is the quintessential Maine vacation town. Family attractions include the Maine State Aquarium, Boothbay Railway Village and the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.  In the evening, play a round of miniature golf before you visit one of the local fudge shops and indulge your sweet tooth.

The Spruce Point Inn is a family-owned resort where guests of all ages gather around the campfire for a nostalgic snack of s’mores.  The waterfront location is stunning, but equally lovely are the miles of pine-scented nature trails. Active options include kayaking, swimming in the oceanfront saltwater pool, cycling and hiking. A variety of room configurations mean there’s something to suit every size family.

Kids ages 5-12 may participate in the Lighthouse Camp in July and August, Thursday-Sunday. The program includes swimming, arts and crafts, nature and science, plus lunch and snacks.

By Allison Tibaldi