Our Favorite Beaches to Visit in the Fall near Boston
From day trips to weekend getaways, our biweekly Traveler newsletter shows you the best of New England and beyond.
Yes, peak season for beaches around Boston has come and gone. For all but the most foolhardy and weather-immune, there will be no more sunning in swimsuits for many long months.
But there are many, often under-appreciated, benefits to making the trip to the region’s beaches and all that surround them. For one, beaches tend to allow dogs after Labor Day. So any walks on the sand this time of year are bound to involve close encounters with furry, sandy, friends—a perk we are denied for much of the summer. As all who appreciate such things surely know, New England sunsets are much more brilliant in the fall than they ever are in the warmer months. Plus, at this time of year, you’ll never have to worry about competing for a parking spot, or paying steep fees just to leave a car close to the surf. Bargain hunters who don’t want to pay summer rates can find great deals on autumn getaways.
And while a lot of the beachy bustle that you can find along the water’s edge has dried up for the season, there are plenty of seafood shacks and food stands that keep the party going deep into the colder months, or even year-round.
So break out those windbreakers, suit up in some extra layers, and enjoy the shoulder season. Here are some of our favorites this time of year.
Updated October 2023.
Great news for anyone who makes summertime pilgrimages to Sully’s every year: the Castle Island staple is staying open later than ever these days. Typically it closes its doors shortly after Thanksgiving, but recent years have seen it keep the lights on all the way until New Year’s Eve. Old-school and shockingly cheap eats aside, Castle Island is still very much worth the trip when the temperature drops. The looping path around the Harbor, one of the most refreshing walks in Boston if we say so ourselves, might be a bit more windswept with autumn air, but who doesn’t love that? Look out for the DAV 5K at Fort Independence on November 11.
2080 William J Day Blvd., South Boston, MA 02127
Constitution Beach, East Boston
Too few people make use of Blue Line-accessible Constitution Beach, in our opinion. But it’s never too late to learn, even in the fall. Consider hopping off at Maverick Station and jumping on a Blue Bike, then pedaling in the crisp autumn air along the rail trail that leads you straight to the sand, where you can take some time soaking in the up-close-and-personal view of Logan Airport for which the beach is known. An added bonus is that East Boston’s famed Royals Roast Beef is just a short jaunt over a footbridge away.
0 Barnes Ave., Boston, MA 02128
Walden Pond, Concord
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Hike around New England to your heart’s content (we’ve got plenty of help for you in that department if you’re looking for it), but Walden Pond offers the chance to enjoy the fall foliage while traipsing across sand—at a time of year when it’s not crawling with sunburnt families. Let this be a reminder that even if it’s a little chillier than it was a few months ago, bringing a beach chair down to the water’s edge, cracking open a good book, and packing a thermos of hot coffee is not illegal.
915 Walden St., Concord, MA 01742
Race Point Beach, Provincetown
P-town may be most closely associated with its vibrant summer scene, where it’s home to the biggest, gayest parties in Massachusetts all season long. But the celebrations do not by any means stop when the autumnal equinox hits. The social calendar in Provincetown is still packed: Halloween Weekend is a major draw, as is the concurrently running Spooky Bear Weekend. Later, look for the community’s inaugural Food & Wine Festival, which runs November 4-7. As always, a little further away from the bustle, sunsets at Race Point Beach await. If a beach bonfire is your speed, be sure to get one of the much-coveted fire permits three days in advance (and be warned, they go fast!).
Race Point Road, Provincetown, MA 02657
York Beach, York, Maine
Beaches in the fall are really more about walking or running than sitting. And there are few better beaches for this than Long Sands in York, Maine, where the sand is about as flat and densely packed as they come. The 1.3 mile-long stretch of coastline is absolutely crawling with joggers, couples walking arm-in-arm next to the (freezing cold) waves, and, crucially, adorable dogs. And as is certainly not the case in the summer, parking this time of year is plentiful.
Long Beach Ave, York, ME 03909
Lucy Vincent Beach, Martha’s Vineyard
Venture over to the Vineyard with the masses aboard the ferry if you must, but we’ve long believed October may just be the best time to pay the island a visit: The nights take on an invigorating chill from the ocean breeze, and the landscape is gradually made all the more picturesque as the leaves change. Plus, as the crowds thin out, it’s a lot easier to get around, get a table, or get a deal on a rental. Private beaches, like Lucy Vincent in Chilmark and Lambert’s Cove in West Tisbury, are open to the public come fall. What’s not to like?
Lucy Vincent Beach Road, Chilmark, MA 02535