In search of coastal adventure? The Northeastern coastline’s cities and small towns allow groups to captain their own nautical journey. For instance, maritime museums provide context to the sailing history of distant travelers, whalers, and fishermen, while larger-than-life ship cruises and yacht charters promise groups a taste of the bliss and thrill of an Atlantic sail. Seafood restaurants with oysters on the half shell and lobster rolls fill bellies after a long day on the water. Like a lighthouse, New England coastal adventure tours guide groups through some of the best nautical experiences in the Northeast.
Groups can immerse themselves in maritime history along New England’s coast. Tours of Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts, illuminate key pieces and places in early American history, including Plymouth Rock. Cruise in the Mayflower II, a full-scale reproduction of the ship that made landfall in 1620, or the Pilgrim Belle, an authentic paddle-wheel boat, where historian-led talks dive into stories of explorers and events that shaped the country and coastal New England.
Meanwhile, the Plymouth to Provincetown Fast Ferry shuttles visitors and locals to the tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown. The quirky and historic town blends modern-day entertainment and nightlife with cultural roots that include Indigenous communities that have lived in Cape Cod for over 12,000 years, colonists who first landed in Provincetown in the 1600s, and fisherman and whalers who catalyzed the industry throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Explore over 40 miles of sandy beaches, wild cranberry bogs, and stunning lighthouses on the Cape Cod National Seashore, and maybe even catch a glimpse humpback whales and aerobatic dolphins with boat tours from Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch, SeaSalt Charters, and Beth Ann Charters.
In Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, groups can take in over 200 years of Maryland’s naval history with Historic Ships in Baltimore. The experience allows groups to picture what life was like aboard military ships from the 19th century. With one of the most impressive collections of military vessels in the world, Historic Ships in Baltimore offers tours that tell tales of life aboard iconic ships, including the wooden Civil War-era USS Constellation and the World War II-era USS Torsk submarine.
The village of Mystic also preserves stories and artifacts from New England’s rich maritime history. The Mystic Seaport Museum, the largest maritime museum in the United States, provides the opportunity for an up-close look at America’s seafaring past. On a coastal adventure tour, groups can view over 500 historic sailing and whaling ships, and four National Historic Landmark vessels, plus explore the re-created 19th-century Seaport Village with 1800s fishing shanties, trade shops, and storefronts.
“When guests first arrive and walk through our courtyard, they’re greeted with a humongous anchor and a beautiful view of the Mystic River behind them, surrounded by captains’ houses that were part of our historic sea culture and our little town of Mystic,” says Rebecca Shea, group sales, corporate events, and reservations manager at Mystic Seaport Museum. “Exploring the grounds, [visitors] hear the pattering of shipwrights working on our caulking hammers or the mills running in our historic preservation shipyard where we work on maintaining our own historic wooden vessels, relics from other museums, and large historic timber vessels of private owners throughout the region.”
The rocky coastline of Newport, Rhode Island—the “Sailing Capital of the World”—encompasses the quintessential New England coastal experience. From the sandy coves at Easton Bay and Bailey Beach to the can’t-miss views of rocky shores along the Newport Cliff Walk, Newport welcomes groups with coastal adventure.
Charter a public or private sail on an America’s Cup 12-Meter yacht with America’s Cup Charters. These classic sailing yachts show off the craftsmanship and the coastal scenery as groups sail in Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. “When you travel over the Pell Bridge to Newport, you take in a beautiful view of all sorts of sailboats drifting in the Newport Harbor,” says Francesca Donlan, communications director at Discover Newport. “And while there are many different landscapes here, New England is defined by the beauty of its rocky coasts. It’s just lovely.” After a charter, groups will be awed by the Newport Mansions—the summer homes to some of the wealthiest families in America, including the Vanderbilts and the Astors. A walk on the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk showcases the architectural excellence and prestige of the Gilded Age across nine historical mansions and properties. (However, the true showstopper of these Gilded Age mansions might just be the ocean view. We’ll let you and your group be the judge.)
Written by Erica Zazo
Main Image: Bowens Bannisters Harbor; Credit: Discover Newport