Who says beach towns are only meant for the summer? Fall, in some ways, might be even better: the crowds and hotel rates diminish, seafood is still being served, and contrary to urban folklore, foliage colors do exist by the coast. You do lose outdoor swimming opportunities, given fall is the precursor to those nasty New England winters but, overall, traveling to a new England beach town during autumn will help your budget better stay afloat.
Here are my favorite New England beach towns during the fall:
York Beach, Maine
Walking the quarter mile Short Sands Beach situated between rocky Maine coast and spectacular old sea captain’s homes is, alone, worth the visit to this famous southern Maine destination. But wait, there’s more: beautiful Nubble Lighthouse, the two-mile stretch of sand and surf at Long Sands Beach, the Goldenrod for delicious salt water taffy made on the premises (call for fall hours at The Goldenrod (207-363-2621), and York Wild Kingdom with its excellent mix of amusement rides, arcades and zoo (call for September hours at 207-363-4911).
Where to eat: Harry’s Seafood and Grill, 15 Railroad, Ave. Tel. (207) 361-4411. No frills storefront atmosphere with limited seating and rock bottom prices on lobster, lobster rolls, steamers, fish and chips, and fried seafood plates
Where to stay: The Katahdin Inn, 11 Ocean Ave. Tel. (207) 363-1824. This well-kept 19th century Victorian guest house, perched above Short Sands Beach, can best be described as a bed and beach with incredibly affordable prices for a waterfront establishment.
Getting there: York Beach is located 68 miles north of Boston MA and 47 miles south of Portland, Maine
The overwhelming crowds keep us from visiting Newport in the summer, but off season is personally ideal for us to walk the 3.5 Cliff Walk that hugs the coast from high atop, tour the famous mansions, stroll beautiful expansive Easton’s Beach and enjoy the highly developed but charming historic downtown. There’s also Fort Adams State Park, offering spectacular panoramic perspectives of Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. There’s also the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum for tennis fans. Additionally Ocean Drive offers some of the best views of the New England coast.
Where to eat: Brick Alley Pub and Restaurant, 140 Thames St. Tel. (401) 849-6334. This long-time favorite restaurant has always offered excellent, affordably priced pub-style food in a pleasant, but unpretentious atmosphere. Great place for a brew, burger, seafood dinner or bowl of Newport clam chowder! The Brick Alley Pub also offers budget-friendly complete dinners that include soup, salad and bread cafe, and one side.
Where to stay:
Motel 6, 249 Jt Connell Highway. Sure, it’s not a waterfront hotel but sticking with our budget travel theme here, we feel that Motel 6 is a great value — and you are still near all major Newport travel attractions. I checked to see what two nights would cost for Sept. 20-22, and it came out at $221.98 for a room with a king-sized bed. That’s not a bad deal for staying in Newport!
Getting there: Newport is located 71 miles south of Boston MA and 33 miles south of Providence RI
Plymouth, Mass. Known as the landing point for the Pilgrims in 1620, Plymouth has plenty of Pilgrim culture and a wonderful hometown feeling by the ocean. Main Street is full of interesting, little shops and restaurants. Plymouth Harbor runs parallel with Main St., and features the 11-acre Pilgrim Memorial State Park featuring the famous Plymoth Rock and replica Mayflower 11, as well as beautiful walkways lending beautiful harbor views. Right down the road is Long Beach, a pleasing stretch of ocean beach with sunsets that are often spectacular.
Where to eat: Wood’s Seafood, hands-down! Located at 15 Town Pier at Plymouth Harbor, this plain-looking unpretentious restaurant with outstanding water views offers terrific lobster, lobster rolls, real New England clam chowder, clambakes, fish and chips, broiled seafood plates and friend seafood platters. Order at the counter and be quickly served really fresh seafood! And it’s all authentic seafood, void of all the mislabeling that has been sadly going on recently in the seafood restaurant industry. I talked with owner Jay Kimball a few years ago and he told me, “”If you came in off the street and saw on the menu our swordfish, scallops, bluefish, or salmon and asked staff where it came from, they could point to our fish market where you can see everything clearly labeled. We’re transparent in everything we do.”
Where to stay: Plymouth Bay Inn & Suites, 149 Main Street, Kingston, MA. Just three miles from Plymouth, I found the HotelsCombined Plymouth Bay Inn and Suites page offering a “King Bedroom” with living and dining areas, two televisions, full kitchen sleeper sofa and Internet for just $256.00 (two adults for two nights over Columbus Day Weekend). Of course, rates and availibility change by the moment in the hotel reservation industry, but you get the picture: this is a great price for staying in the Plymouth area. Getting there: Newport is located 71 miles south of Boston MA and 33 miles south of Providence RI
Getting there: Plymouth is located 40 miles south of Boston MA.
Also: Plimoth Plantation at 37 Warren Ave., is a fabulous living outdoor museum recreating the Plymouth lifestyle. While it is not a “budget travel destination,” we strongly recommend you visit this gem of an attraction as part of your Plymouth vacation.