When people put together a list of the best beaches in Massachusetts, they usually start and end simply with a list of the best beaches on Cape Cod. By ignoring the unique collection of beaches on Boston’s North Shore, beach lovers miss out on some of the very best beaches in the commonwealth. Not only are there beaches of every variety waiting just north of Boston but some of the best beaches in the state add to their appeal simply because reaching them does not involve going over the Cape Cod Canal. Choicest of the bathing venues north of Boston many people would consider the following locations to be among the very best beaches on the North Shore.
1. Crane’s Beach – If any North Shore beach has acquired a reputation approximating that of the some of the best beaches on Cape Cod, it is certainly Crane’s Beach located in Ipswich. Requiring only a 30 mile drive north from Boston, Crane’s Beach opens during the season at 8 a.m. and closes at sunset. Stretching for some four miles, Cranes Beach is an excellent sport for swimming, long walks on the beach and lounging on clean, white sands.
For the convenience and enjoyment of its more than 250,000 annual visitors, Crane’s Beach provides a sizable snack bar with adjacent picnic tables. Also available is a clean bath house with outdoor cold water showers to help swimmers of all ages remove residual salt and sand, remnants of the day’s recreation.
The widespread popularity of Crane’s Beach among local residents does create two obstacles for more distant visitors. The parking lot though seemingly adequate does fill up quickly especially on weekends which means cars must sometimes be turned away. The demand for use of this splendid bathing facility has also pushed the cost for daily parking to $10 per car during the week and a rather hefty $20 for weekend parking.
Still, the frequently packed condition of the Crane’s beach parking lot gives testimony to the pleasure visitors, especially families have found here. While the water is characteristically cool throughout the summer, children find plenty of enjoyment playing in the friendly tidal pools and walking among the dunes on the more than 5 miles of designated walking trails.
When you leave Crane’s beach you may want to drive slowly so as not to miss Woodman’s, an eatery claiming to be the birth place of fried clams. Put it all together and you may find yourself quite willing to put Crane’s beach on your own list of best beaches.
2.Parker River National Wildlife Refuge What makes Parker River National Wildlife Refuge one of the Best Beaches on the North Shore is its diverse and unique makeup. Not your ordinary beach, Parker River was established on Plum Island in 1942 as a beach where the needs of wildlife would take precedence over the desires of human visitors. Since that time, Parker River has provided year round sanctuary for some 270 species of birds as they feed, nest and execute their individual migratory patterns.
While the needs of wildlife may come first here, Parker River Refuge is also a refuge of sorts for human beings. Those in search of the perfect walking beach may have found it here along six miles of this natural barrier beach. Those approaching the water should do so with care and an awareness of the dangers associated with powerful surf and strong undertow.
Families will find Parker River on Plum Island to be a perfect place to spread out a picnic that can be savored in an environment that encompasses dunes, fresh and tidal marshes, bogs and a magnificent collection of shore birds. Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is not easily accessible but perhaps it is exactly its special isolation and natural state that make it one of the best beaches on the North Shore for birds and humans alike.
3. Salisbury Beach has historically been one of the best beaches on the North Shore of Massachusetts not just because of what it is but because of what it is near. Certainly one of the most popular and best known beaches north of Boston, Salisbury claims approximately 3.8 miles of coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and presents wonderful opportunities for water activities of every kind. For safety sake, visitors would do well to recognize that Salisbury Beach frequently experiences powerful surf and challenging undertow.
Over the course of many years, Salisbury Beach has grown and developed into more than just a place for water activities and long walks on the Beach. Many vacationers put Salisbury on their list of best beaches because Salisbury Beach offers so much more. In fact Salisbury Beach State Reservation provides access to the beach, a 484 site campground, day use parking area, playground and 3 on beach comfort stations. Especially attractive for fun seeking families are the nearby amusement park and video arcade. For many, Salisbury beach is clearly one of the best beaches north of Boston because it offers both a great place to spend a day or a very complete vacation package for those who wish to stay longer.
4. Wingaersheck Beach, Gloucester For some beach lovers sometimes smaller is better or at least more compelling. Not everyone likes a huge expanse of open beach, with miles of nature trails, pounding surf or nearby amusements and eating spots. Some people like to pack up a sack lunch and a thermos and head for a beach that is small in scale and design. For such people Wingaersheck Beach may well be on the top of their list of best beaches on the North Shore. Most enjoyable for its lack of size, Wingaersheck attracts families with small children or senior citizens who are seeking a true ocean experience with gentle tides and negligible undertow., Wingaersheck also throws in a scenic setting at the mouth of the Annisquam River, with a view of an old New England lighthouse and even a few harmless rocks for kids to play on.
For those days when your beach wagon includes young children, seniors or people who just want a simple, old fashioned day at the beach, Wingaersheck may be just the place. If Wingaersheck makes it to the top of your list of best beaches then be sure to start out early cause this beach is small and has a fast filling parking lot.
The number of beaches on Cape Cod easily surpasses the number available on Boston’s North Shore. Still for sheer beauty, extraordinary diversity and unparalleled simplicity there should be room on everyone’s list of best beaches for one or more of these best beaches from the North Shore.