Boutique-lined street in Nantucket. Image credit Mystic Stock Photography via Shutterstock

7 Best Towns in New England to Visit in 2024

As the year begins, we bet you're eager to plan your next getaway, or at least decide which region to explore next. Look no further! Discover a New England state near you, and hit up some of the best towns to visit in 2024!

Consider two distinct Manchesters: one by the sea and another in the mountains, set amid pastoral landscapes. From the enchanting Narragansett to the delightful Newburyport and Plum Island, continue reading to uncover more gems that will inspire you throughout 2024, all brimming with New England charm!

Manchester, Vermont

View of the historic and colorful Manchester Village in Manchester, Vermont with tulips in bloom
View of the historic and colorful Manchester Village in Manchester, Vermont with tulips in bloom

In 2024, historic Manchester welcomes everyone to the scenic foothills of Mt. Equinox. With unbeatable lodging, exciting activities, and a downtown area offering stunning mountain views, it's set to be a highlight of your year! Manchester blends New England charm and unique style, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in arts, culture, and dining. The town sets the standard for an exceptional getaway with its real marble sidewalks and breathtaking views of the Green Mountains. The vibrant autumn colors are especially astounding, creating lasting memories and countering the typical fall blues with festive seasonal events set against the backdrop of Vermont's exquisite fall foliage.

A summer visit to Manchester isn't complete without tackling a challenging golf course or trying legendary fly fishing, with tips from the American Museum of Fly Fishing. In winter, the town transforms into a cozy mountain retreat, offering everything from quaint bed and breakfasts to candlelit dining and festive celebrations. Don't miss the epic skiing opportunities for all levels at nearby Stratton Mountain Resort or Bromley Mountain. Whenever you visit, Manchester, this Vermont gem, will make you feel right at home. Be sure to visit Hildene, Abraham Lincoln’s family home, hike to the spectacular Lye Brook Falls, and stop by North Meadow Farm for a delightful lesson on nurturing cattle breeds in pastoral landscapes.

Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts

Seaside homes in Manchester-by-the-Sea.
Seaside homes in Manchester-by-the-Sea.

The charming town of Manchester-by-the-Sea is nestled along Cape Ann on the north shore of the state, adjacent to Gloucester. With its evocative name, it hints at seaside pleasures waiting to be discovered, like the ancient, rocky Coolidge Reservation on the eastern edge. Ascend Powder House Hill at the town's heart for the best view of the alluringly colorful downtown, with its beautiful Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library steeple, and beyond to the waters! The town evokes memories of a quintessential childhood vacation, from charming shops and eateries to beautiful parks like the waterfront Masconomo Park, which hugs Days Creek.

The beaches are always within reach, ready to satisfy your longing for gorgeous sands. The most popular is Singing Beach, world-famous for the musical sound it makes when you scuff your feet just right, a unique feature not found on other beaches. Experience walking, lounging, and digging your toes into the soft warmth of this unique sand! Coolidge Reservation offers a refreshing hike with shady spots overlooking coastal landscapes, while Cala's is a popular hangout bar with a full bar and a build-your-own pizza option!

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Traditional New England buildings and stores on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts
Traditional New England buildings and stores on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, via EQRoy /

Nantucket, one of the lesser-visited destinations in New England, stands out as one of the most pristine sights in the region. This remote island, situated 30 miles south of Cape Cod, offers an isolated feel with evocative beaches, such as the hauntingly beautiful Madaket Beach with its impressive staircase descending to the shoreline. Step’s Beach, close to the town, features calm waters and is near Madaket Marina, perfect for sunset views. Nobadeer Beach, just south, is one of the most picturesque, while the more remote Quidnet Beach is a haven for surfers. The island's vast wilderness complements a bustling downtown filled with art galleries and world-class restaurants.

The unique island ambiance enhances every experience, from an evening at Nantucket’s Dreamland Film and Performing Arts Center, which also offers art sessions during the day, to a free tasting of quality beers at Cisco Brewers, which also includes wine and spirits. Don't miss the opportunity to visit the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum for a special gift basket. From the Bluff Walk in ‘Sconset to the north to the island's four lighthouses, you can explore the sights and enjoy a scenic drive to Great Point. With its expansive beaches, historic houses, and inspiring shops along cobblestone streets, Nantucket is an enchantingly timeless destination in the northeast.

Narragansett, Rhode Island

Beaches at Narragansett, Rhode Island.
Beaches at Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Once a popular vacation destination for Long Islanders, Narragansett today comes alive during the summer with its exquisite beaches. The warm waters and friendly island vibes attract local day-trippers, beachgoers, and weekend adventurers to their beloved 'Gansett, while few newcomers are aware of its deep and storied history. Steeped in nostalgia, Narragansett reminisces about its vibrant past with extraordinary architecture, notably the Towers. This iconic structure, a former gateway to the Narragansett Pier Casino built in 1886, dominates Ocean Road and is a standout attraction for architects, photographers, and those who enjoy imagining historical events. The wooden casino, initially burned down in 1900 and rebuilt in 1905, has withstood many storms and symbolizes the opulent summer lifestyle of the past.

In the 19th century, Narragansett was a favorite spot for the wealthy, known for its beautiful beaches, gambling, and parties that lasted into the early morning. Today, the family-friendly town is all about relaxed beachside fun, boating, and summertime events, offering varied accommodations set against picturesque scenery. The castle-like Towers overlook the broad Town Beach, part of Narragansett Pier, and the Pier Marketplace, known for its gift shops and seafood eateries. Start your day at The Bike Stop Cafe, then explore the beaches, try bluff climbing, and walk the 2.1-mile Black Point Trail before dining at T’s Restaurant or Meldgie’s Diner in Pt. Judith, depending on your preference.

Newburyport and Plum Island, Massachusetts

Historic buildings at State Street in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts
Historic buildings at State Street in downtown Newburyport, Massachusetts, via Wangkun Jia /

At the gateway to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, Newburyport is an atmospheric town and one of the most underrated destinations in Massachusetts. Located just 35 miles north of Boston, visitors can easily enjoy its unique blend of maritime heritage and culture, which includes island vibes. The bustling main street extends to nearby Plum Island, where hardworking local small businesses attract tourists and maintain a high quality of life for locals. Known for national attractions, beautiful beaches, award-winning dining, and shopping, the boating community proudly markets itself as "Newburyport, It's a Lifestyle!"

Complementing its reputation as one of the most beautiful places to live, nearby Plum Island offers a super-beachy, casual coastal getaway with pristine beaches, nature trails, and restaurants. Visitors can explore the area on foot after a short 20-minute drive or a scenic bike ride from the charming city of Newburyport. For cozy accommodations, consider the Rose Compass Inn 9. From Plum Island Beach to Newbury Beach, the Parker River Wildlife Refuge is a beachfront park featuring scenic boardwalk trails for bird and wildlife watching. Just minutes away from Salisbury, you can turn your getaway into a multi-destination visit with a trip to the beautiful Salisbury Beach!

Ogunquit, Maine

Historic buildings and shops in Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine
Historic buildings and shops in Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, Maine, via Wangkun Jia /

Home to Wonder Mountain Fun Park just north of downtown and characterized by colorful clapboard houses, Ogunquit is a delightful little town to explore in southern Maine. Overlooking the Atlantic, the magnificent, island-like, 3-mile-long Ogunquit Beach is one of the state's finest, featuring a soft, sandy shoreline with ample space for beachcombing and enjoying diverse views each day of your getaway. Parallel to the stunning coastline is the pedestrian path, Marginal Way, dotted with additional beaches, such as the secluded Footbridge Beach, located just a mile away and offering equally splendid views for those seeking solitude.

Visitors can enjoy a bike ride along the scenic cliffs, discovering more hidden beaches and gaining instant access to Ogunquit’s walkable downtown via the boardwalk. The quaint Perkins Cove, situated right downtown, features numerous cafes and art galleries to explore during a leisurely stroll. For accommodation, consider options like Anchorage By The Sea Waterfront Resort or the more casual Terrace By The Sea. Dining at Angelina's, a top-rated local Italian restaurant (not to be confused with the famous Parisian cafe), is a must, and the charming local shops offer a plethora of gift ideas beyond the beach.

Wells, Maine

Wells, Maine, little east cost village of United States
Wells, Maine, little east cost village of United States, via Linda Raymond /

Located just north of Ogunquit, Wells is one of the most picturesque towns in Maine, with majestic silver-toned villas along the waterfront. Unique beaches such as Moody Beach, Drakes Island Beach, and Crescent Beach offer beautiful views, while the 7-mile Wells Beach is the largest and most popular for spreading out, strolling, and enjoying fewer crowds. This cozy town in southern Maine invites visitors to enjoy its natural beaches under pleasant year-round temperatures. Wells Harbor Park features gazebos and strategically placed chairs for relaxing and taking in the views, and it's also a venue for free concerts.

Be sure to explore the nearby nature trails through the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and the Wells Reserve at Laudholm. Downtown Wells is a paradise for antiquers and shoppers, offering a wide array of gifts, collectibles, and unique finds for your home. For those who love beaches and antiques, Wells is an unbeatable getaway in New England, and its convenient location between Kennebunkport and Ogunquit makes it an ideal part of a multi-destination visit. Accommodation options range from the top-rated Atlantic Oceanfront Hotel to the budget-friendly Misty Harbor Resort, along with various oceanfront rentals catering to all preferences.

From the mountains of Vermont to the endless beaches in Maine and Massachusetts, the New England lifestyle exudes a fairytale-like charm, complete with the singing sands of Manchester-by-the-Sea. For an unforgettable chapter in 2024, consider the isolated beauty of Nantucket Island, the historical allure of Narragansett, or the cobblestoned streets of Nantucket. The silver villas of Wells and the castle-like Towers in Narragansett add to the region's fairytale appeal, embodying the essence of New England charm and offering a much-needed escape from everyday life.

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