Summer is dawning and the beach beckons. And, of course, we all have our favorite stretches of sand for a day in the sun or an evening picnic. But after more than a year of sticking close to home, many of us are longing for a little variety this summer—perhaps even a little adventure.
For those craving a little oceanfront novelty, we’ve collected our favorite beach destinations from across the North Shore. So pack that beach bag, slather on the sunscreen, and start your seaside explorations.
Salisbury Beach State Reservation
Though beaches run along roughly four miles of Salisbury shoreline, this stretch at the juncture of the Merrimack River and the Atlantic Ocean lets visitors experience the relaxation of the beach without the bustle of the town.
Something special: The reservation is home to 484 campsites, making it one of the only places in the state you can camp almost directly on the beach.
Amenities: Restrooms and showers are available, and there’s plenty of room for picnicking. A playground offers plenty of off-the-sand fun for the kids.
Parking: Daily parking fee of $14 for Massachusetts residents and $40 for out-of-staters.
Gloucester, End of Atlantic St.
Situated where the Annisquam River meets Ipswich Bay, this family-friendly beach offers sprawling expanses of sand for relaxing, towering rocks for climbing, and ever-shifting configurations of tide pools for exploring.
Something special: Low tide reveals a long sandbar that makes for pleasant strolling, wading, and splashing.
Amenities: Concession stand offers sandwiches, snacks, and ice cream, and a cart selling slush often works the beach. Beach necessities from sunglasses to sand toys are also on sale adjacent to the food stand. Restrooms, showers, and changing rooms available.
Parking: A main public lot and two auxiliary lots open at 8 a.m. and offer plenty of parking, but get there early—they often fill up fast. $30 on weekdays, $35 on weekends and holidays.
Ipswich, End of Argilla Rd.
One of the region’s most iconic beaches, Crane Beach features acres of pristine white sand, enchanting seaside habitats, and sweeping views across Ipswich Bay into the open ocean.
Something special: Beyond the beach, visitors can stroll miles of trails through dunes, forests, and marsh, exploring diverse natural habitats and maybe even catching a glimpse of a deer or fox.
Amenities: Bathrooms, changing areas, and showers are available. A refreshment stand sells snacks and drinks, and the beach store offers up everything from sunscreen to handcrafted gift items.
Parking: Timed, prepaid reservations will be required again this year. For members of the Trustees of Reservations, parking is $25 on weekends and $15 on weekdays. Non-member parking is $45 on weekends and $30 on weekdays.
Rockport, Beach St.
Located right in downtown Rockport, this small sandy crescent offers a unique combination of splendid ocean views and quaint architectural beauty.
Something special: A rocky stream cascades down the north end of the beach, creating a perfect spot for kids to splash around and exercise their imaginations.
Amenities: Public bathrooms available. No concessions, but a variety of restaurants and cafés are a very short walk away. A playground in the park across the street offers kid-friendly entertainment.
Parking: Metered street parking is available near the beach, or visitors can park free at the Blue Gate lot on the outskirts of town and take a $1 shuttle to the beach.
Beverly, 55 Ober St.
Home to two beaches, this beautiful historic park offers easily accessible waterfront variety: Spend time swimming, sunning, or exploring tide pools in the rockier stretches. An adjacent rose garden adds even more to the experience.
Something special: When the ocean isn’t enough, kids can frolic in the fountains and sprinklers of the park’s splash pad.
Amenities: Bathrooms, concession stand, and lots of grassy lawn for picnics or kicking a ball around.
Parking: Onsite parking is free for Beverly residents. Non-residents pay $10 on weekdays and $20 on weekends.
Marblehead, 99 Ocean Ave.
On the causeway connecting Marblehead Neck to the mainland, Devereux Beach offers 5.5 acres of sandy shore with sweeping views of the open ocean.
Something special: For a quintessentially New England view, stroll the sidewalk along Ocean Ave. and check out dozens of sailboats anchored in the picturesque, tree-lined cove across the street.
Amenities: Bathrooms and picnic pavilions available, as well as a concession stand and playground.
Parking: Limited non-resident parking is $15 Monday through Thursday, $20 Friday through Sunday.
Manchester-by-the-Sea, End of Beach St.
Named for the melodic noises its sand sometimes makes underfoot, Singing Beach is a modest but stunning spot, easily accessible, but secluded enough to feel like a true escape.
Something special: Singing Beach is one of the only places on the North Shore to access a beach via train—the town’s commuter rail station is just a half-mile away.
Amenities: The 1920s bathhouse features a small snack stand, bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers.
Parking: A small public lot offers non-resident parking for $25, while spaces last, and the local Boy Scouts run a private lot up the street for $25. Visitors walking on to the beach from private parking or the train will be charged $7 per person; an annual walk-on pass is available for $20.
Dead Horse Beach
Salem, Fort Ave.
The name may be a bit dark, but this beach adjacent to the Salem Willows Park offers a lighthearted, family-friendly outing.
Something special: Stroll up to Salem Willows arcade to play classic games, let the kids take a spin on the bumper cars, or snack on the spot’s iconic popcorn.
Amenities: Public restrooms are available. Food available at several establishments in the park.
Parking: Free parking available in Salem Willows Park.
Nahant, 1 Nahant Beach Rd.
The long strip of land that connects Nahant to Lynn is composed of beach and road and not much else, letting visitors feel immersed in sun and sand.
Something special: If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the local kiteboarding companies that offer lessons along Nahant Beach.
Amenities: Recently refurbished bathhouses offer clean, updated bathrooms, changing rooms, and showers.
Parking: Look for street parking along Lynn Shore Dr. or pay for parking right along the beach— $10 for Massachusetts residents, $40 for non-residents.