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3 Charming New England Towns to Visit This Summer

New England has no shortage of charming towns, especially on the Atlantic coast. While we all love Boston, Portsmouth and Portland, there are also a few hidden gems that have unique things to offer both residents and tourists.

Here are three of our favorite charming New England towns to visit this summer.

Dover, New Hampshire

Dover, New Hampshire has been up and coming for a while now. Ask any local and they’ll say that what you see today is not what Dover used to be. Today, it’s more like a mini Portsmouth. And just like Portsmouth, Dover has an Art Walk and an outdoor concert series that’s family friendly and also the perfect date night for you and your partner.

dover-nhWhat Portsmouth doesn’t have is the Dover Children’s Museum. But don’t be fooled — this museum isn’t just for kids. Every month, the museum puts on a night for the adults that’s catered by the Dover brewery 7th Settlement.

Dover is also a great place for foodies. Grab a drink and an appetizer on the decks at Thompson Tavern while overlooking the dam, or enjoy a casual atmosphere with brick oven pizza from La Festa. For something a little more romantic, check out Chapel + Main. Finally, top off the night with an ice cream cone from Dover Delite or Cowlicks Dairy.

Dover also has a handful of hole-in-the-wall diners, like Fat Dog Kitchen and 2 Home Cooks. If you’re looking for a place to get a quality cup of coffee where you can sit and relax with a good book, check out Adelle’s. Or, if you’re fine with the buzz and want to play a board game or two, Flight is the go-to local hotspot for coffee and tea.

Kittery, Maine

Kittery, Maine is just over the bridge from Portsmouth and is a favorite for locals who enjoy a great bakery. As you drive into town, welcoming you on the left is the newly instated Kate’s Bakery, which offers everything from coffee to scones that you can enjoy while gazing out over the harbor. If you’re a donut fan, Lil’s Cafe in the heart of downtown is where you can find the world’s best crullers. There’s no way you can have just one! While you’re licking your fingers clean, you can also check out the local art that the folks of Lil’s are showcasing.

Speaking of art: BUOY Gallery is the perfect spot for music, art and creative activity. BUOY only features local art and the creative space is often transformed based on the current gallery theme.

A visit to the gallery is the perfect start to any date night, which can then be followed by dinner in town. From fresh seafood to Mexican cuisine at the famous Loco Coco’s, you’ll have plenty of options.

Another unique aspect about Kittery is all the shops. There’s the Kittery Trading Post and the Kittery Outlets, which are guaranteed to take up a full day.

Speaking of day trips, did you know that there’s a high line adventure course right in Kittery? See the town from an aerial view and take a day at Take Flight Adventure park.

rockport-massachusettsRockport, Massachusetts

Rockport is a cute little town set in a coastal nook of Massachusetts, just an hour north of Boston. Rockport’s historic downtown is a magnet for artists from all over because of its stunning harbor view — and it shows through the art scene! As you walk downtown, galleries are practically in every other storefront window.

Rockport has three beaches where you can either set up a chair with a good book or rent kayaks and paddleboards and get out on the water.

Famously located in Rockport is the Shalin Liu performance center, and if you haven’t been there, be prepared to hold your jaw closed so it doesn’t hit the floor. From the outside, it looks like every other theater but when you walk inside to the stage, there are floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to the beach. Imagine a romantic dinner by the sea from one of the many seafood restaurants in town, then listening to the most talented of artists while watching the sun go down behind them. Can you picture it?

Rockport also has historical walking tours, multiple bed and breakfasts, museums and boat tours for whale watching and fishing and a ton of mom-and-pop shops to browse through. This town is truly a place to remember.


Of course, there are many other small, charming, coastal towns in New England. Which ones are your favorite?