Good ocean spots: ME/NH/MA?

I have a friend here in Burlington from the midwest who has never been to the ocean and has expressed interest in seeing it before she heads back home next month. I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions for easy locations where we could go see the sea (and maybe dip our toes in it) on a day trip. I’m thinking a four hour drive one way is the maximum from Burlington VT (as a reference, Boston is about 3.5 hours from here; the Cape is a little far for this trip).

I’d also be excited if it was a place that didn’t charge for parking, or at least had very low/reasonable rates.

The plan is to find somewhere to go on Sunday, August 2nd. Help me, O Dopers!

Looks like a pretty straight shot to Hampton Beach, NH. Some nice sandy areas, some nice rocky spots too. As I recall, there is quite a bit of public parking.

Yeah, the Hampton area is the only place around here I’ve been to, and it was nice. The sandy beaches were pretty crowded, but there were some pebbly beaches that were empty.

Hampton Beach is not a nice beach; it’s rocky, ugly, and lined with small businesses. There really aren’t any nice beaches in NH, but given we’ve less than 20 miles of coastline, it’s not surprising.

Unfortunately, the beaches I like are 1.5 hours from me, so I doubt they’re within 4 of the OP.

Hampton Beach is a bit too commercial if you want solely ocean experience (but provides a nice ‘boardwalk’ experience if you want that), but if you travel north a bit, Rye Beach, while having some businesses, has plenty of quiet and not so busy beaches. It’s also in NH and just a bit north of Hampton Beach.

Alternately, Mapquest has the drive at just over 5 hours, although it doesn’t have you taking 91 East which looks like it would be faster, but Boothbay Harbor, Maine is one of my favorite spots in the world. It has a few businesses, but it has a traditional Maine coastal village feel, you can take a whale/puffin watching cruise, and if you are interested, they do a daily cruise to a small private island where they have nightly clambakes.

Free parking? HA!

Good Harbor and Wingaersheek in Goucester, MA are both excellent. The latter is one of the best I’ve ever seen. And the water is actually not ice water.

If you want really warm water you need to get to the southern part of the Cape, but that’s a hike.

I’d recommend Maine. My favorite beach is Reed State Park in Georgetown(the Lagoon to warm up in is the best) it clocks in at 5 hours for you however. So one of the more southern beaches would be in your range. York, Ogunquit, Wells etc. All have nice beaches.

To refine your search you should probably add in another activity you would like to do. Shopping, food, whale watch, submarine tour, play, fishing, hiking. Coastal New England certainly has some unique attractions to meet a lot of peoples interests.

Anywhere between Rye Beach and York, ME is good beach territory. Plenty of seafood shacks, nice scenery along the drive, and of course the Goldenrod Candy Company in York, which makes the best taffy anywhere.

If you’re there for more than two days (good luck finding accommodation this time of year, though) see if you can get on one of the cruises to the Isles of Shoals.

Agree that you should try Short Sands Beach in York, Maine. Relatively cheap parking and a great walk-able town with some great little shops and restaurants. Also Yorks Wild Kingdom, if you like that sort of stuff. I believe they also have fireworks every Friday or Saturday night.

The southern Maine coast has lots of nice beaches (Oguinquit, York ,Wells, Old Orchard) but they are VERY crowded this time of year, and I don’t think you’d get free parking near any of them…also, traffic on Route 1 makes that little homicidal instinct in all of us raise ever so slightly.

But on the other hand. Flo’s hotdogs are the fucking bomb.

Boothbay Harbor is really nice, my parents tell me (they’ve been there on overnight/weekend trips three times since September,) but it’s also on the “rocky coast” of Maine, so nit really a “real beach” experience, and it’s probably too far of a drive for you as well.

And it should be noted that your toes are probably all you’re going to want to dip. I don’t know if you’ve ever actually swam in the north Atlantic, but the phrase “ball shrinkingly cold” comes to mind.

And another thing: when are you an I going to get together for a freakin beer!?

Crane beach?

I prefer Long Sands Beach, it’s nice living no less than a five minute drive away from them, then again, I’ve lived in this area all my life, so I personally don’t see what the big deal about the beaches are, to me, they’ve always been there, and always will be, I guess I take them for granted…

QFT, I usually stop by their stand at Kittery Trading post every couple of weeks and pick up a couple Flo’s Dogs (they also sell Flo’s relish in KTP…)

Ironically, the best time to “enjoy” a dip in the ocean up here is around October or November, as the water has had all that time to absorb some Summer heat (which seems pretty absent this season so far), it’s been unseasonably, but comfortably cool this season, I prefer cold weather, so I’m not complaining…