I love the beach. I love traveling to the Caribbean and the Southern United States for vacation. However, in the summer, my home state of Massachusetts is a fantastic destination for beach vacations. There are so many beautiful Massachusetts beach towns, featuring wonderful beaches, delicious restaurants, and fun shops for families – here are some of the best places to visit in the summer months.
Disclosure: I’ve visited some of these top beaches in Massachusetts, destinations, and hotels at no cost for purposes of review. However, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, and a click-through/purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
Massachusetts Beach Towns To Visit on Vacation
The island of Martha’s Vineyard actually features several Massachusetts beach towns, so it’s a fun place to visit to experience multiple beautiful towns. Keep in mind that it’s an actual island, and you’ll need to take a ferry or a plane to get there from the Massachusetts mainland. Depending on your plans, you’ll probably want a car with you so that you can explore the different parts of the island.
This seven-mile island features six different towns. Three of them (Aquinnah, West Tisbury, and Chilmark) are slower-paced and fairly rural, while the other three (Edgartown, Tisbury, and Oak Bluffs) are more popular vacation towns.
Edgartown also includes the small island of Chappaquiddick. We love staying right in Edgartown because you can park your car and then walk around to the various restaurants and shops.
Oak Bluffs is most famous for the gingerbread cottages that line its streets. There are also fun shops and restaurants in this beautiful town. Tisbury is known for the village of Vineyard Haven, which offers theaters, restaurants, and more.
There are lots of beaches on the island. Some of them have parking that does fill up, so you may consider taking public transportation if you are going to the beach during the busy season.
I’d definitely recommend staying at least overnight on Martha’s Vineyard to fully explore. You’ll find a selection of vacation rental homes, and popular hotels include:
Located on the tip of Cape Cod, Provincetown is an eclectic, lively town with lots to offer. This popular destination is one of the most beautiful coastal towns on Cape Cod.
In addition to beaches, you’ll also find shops, restaurants, and museums, including the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum. Some of the best beaches in Massachusetts can be found in Provincetown.
When staying in Provincetown, you’ll have the option to visit multiple beaches. The most popular of these are two beaches that are part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. These include Race Point Beach as well as Herring Cove Beach.
There are a number of vacation home rentals as well as motels and hotels in Provincetown. You can also stay elsewhere on the Cape and travel to Provincetown for the day. There is also a seasonal ferry service to Provincetown from Boston and Plymouth, MA.
During our stay in Provincetown, we enjoyed staying at the Harbor Hotel Provincetown. This recently-updated motel features a fire pit, pool, and location across the street from a small beach.
Falmouth MA is just one of the many Massachusetts beach towns located on Cape Cod. It offers one of my favorite beautiful MA beaches – Old Silver Beach in addition to other beaches, like Wood Neck Beach, Falmouth Heights Beach, and Chapoquoit Beach. There are also some small islands, like Washburn Island.
Falmouth also offers restaurants, shops, and museums, including the Woods Hole Science Aquarium. Main Street in Falmouth is a fun place to walk around and offers restaurants and quaint shops.
We love the Sea Crest Beach Hotel in Falmouth. Located right on Old Silver Beach, this hotel has two pools (an indoor and outdoor), a pool bar, and beach service. It’s a casual hotel and is so much fun.
Another great spot for spectacular beaches is Yarmouth, which includes South Yarmouth, Yarmouth Port, and West Yarmouth. There are lots of beaches in Yarmouth – our favorites are Smuggler’s Beach and Seagull Beach along Nantucket Sound, as well as Gray’s Beach on the north side offering a boardwalk and calmer waters.
Along with the beaches, Yarmouth also offers lots of family-friendly activities on the Cape, including miniature golf, the Whydah Pirate Museum, and the Cape Cod Inflatable Park. You’ll also find delicious restaurants in Yarmouth, as well as homemade ice cream.
Located off the coast of Cape Cod, and adjacent to Martha’s Vineyard, the smaller island of Nantucket is both an island and a town. Like Martha’s Vineyard, you’ll either need to take a plane or a ferry to access it.
As a small island, parking can be a bit difficult in Nantucket. As a result, I’d recommend leaving your car on the mainland and just staying in town.
Then, you can walk around the island rather than worry about your car. Biking is also popular, and there are plenty of places where you can rent a bike.
There are several different hotels to choose from on Nantucket. We’ve stayed at the White Elephant, which is right in town and has lots of different room choices.
Other hotels include the following:
Westport is a quieter Massachusetts beach town that isn’t quite as popular with the tourists. It’s located right on the Rhode Island line and is home to Horseneck Beach.
There aren’t as many hotels in the area, but it’s a good place to visit for a Massachusetts day trip. You’ll find that Westport is much less crowded than Cape Ann or Cape Cod. Adults visiting the area may also want to stop at Westport Vineyards, as well as the waterfront restaurants in the area.
The Boston Harbor Islands are a bit of a hidden gem in Boston. This collection of islands is right in the harbor and is an easy ferry ride from Boston. It’s a state park, and you’ll want to do some research before deciding which one(s) to visit for the day.
This collection of islands is strictly for day visits only (except in some cases, camping may be allowed). On the islands, you’ll find hiking trails, forts to explore, beaches, children’s nature programming, and scenic views of the city.
To get to the islands, you can board a passenger ferry from Long Wharf in Boston. Private recreational boats may also be allowed to dock at the islands – check their website for more details.
Duxbury MA is located on Cape Cod Bay but isn’t a Cape Cod town. It’s home to Duxbury Beach, a gorgeous beach that isn’t too far of a ride from Boston.
There aren’t many hotels right in Duxbury, but it’s pretty close to Plymouth (home to Plimoth Plantation – now known as Plimoth Patuxet) and Kingston. Popular hotels include the following:
Chatham is another gorgeous Cape Cod town. Located on the “elbow” of the Cape, Chatham is a popular summer vacation destination for families. It’s one of the best towns in Massachusetts.
One of the most popular attractions in Chatham is the Chatham Lighthouse (pictured above). There are also beaches, as well as shops and restaurants.
If you are considering a vacation in Chatham, there are several different lodging options. Vacation homes can be an option, although many need to be rented by the week. There are also some hotels including the popular Chatham Bars Inn.
Gloucester Massachusetts is famous for its fishing, but it also boasts several popular, beautiful beaches. It’s located on Cape Ann, north of Boston. If you are visiting the Boston area, or are from the area, the Gloucester beaches can be a great day trip option.
Two of the popular beaches are Wingaerseek and Good Harbor. Both can get very busy on the hot summer weekends, so arrive early. At Good Harbor Beach, during low tide, it’s a short walk to Salt Island where you can explore.
In town, you’ll also find some great seafood restaurants and can enjoy a delicious lobster roll on one of the many outdoor patios. You can also drive to nearby Rockport, where you can visit the shops and restaurants at Bearskin Neck and check out the iconic fishing shack, Motif no. 1.