North Shore Top Beaches: Find Relaxation, Recreation in Massachusetts

The North Shore runs north of Boston along Massachusetts’ border and offers quaint towns nestled on pristine beaches and protected areas. With 30 miles of spacious coastline, the North Shore area welcomes vacationers year-round who enjoy lounging in the sun, playing in the Atlantic Ocean and trying new outdoor activities. Sound like fun? Check out these North Shore top beaches to start planning.

North Shore Top Beaches: Where to Go, Things to Do

north shore top beaches hike

Crane Beach at Crane Estate

Crane Beach ranks as a favorite among the North Shore top beaches for two reasons: walkability and outdoor scenery. In fact, Crane Beach sits on the 2,100-acre Crane Estate, home to popular attractions including Castle Hill and The Great House in Ipswich. The well maintained beach welcomes visitors to play and learn about area’s wildlife such as the piping plovers that nest in the area. While exploring, have fun boating, swimming, bird-watching and hiking on over 5 miles of trails.

Parking ranges around $30 for non-members. Don’t forget to stop by Crane Beach Store for refreshments, souvenirs and local goodies from nearby farms.

Front Beach

Front Beach in Rockport offers a year-round retreat. Relax in the sun, climb rocks, read a good book and cool off in the water. Kids will enjoy shelling, searching for crabs and splashing in low, soft waves. When it’s time for a break, take an easy walk to downtown Rockport Village. The beach’s location offers easy access to restaurants and shops.

Front Beach offers metered parking. Its proximity to the town also allows guests to park in free public lots and take shuttles to the beach.

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Good Harbor Beach

Perfect for boogie boarding and body surfing, Good Harbor in Gloucester ranks among the most visited beaches in the North Shore. Play in the water, relax on the picturesque white sand and walk to Salt Island during low tide. Frequent guests also praise the tidal pool, rock formations and sunset views. The beach also offers a concession with food, drinks, beach toys and other items for a day in the sun.

When lifeguards are present, visitors can only use Styrofoam boogie boards, so leave inflatables in the car. Visitors have access to restrooms, showers and limited parking. To get a spot, arrive early and bring $30 cash.

Pebble Beach

In Rockport, spend time at Pebble Beach. As the name suggests, smooth pebbles and stones blanket the shore as waves bring them in and out of the ocean. Although the sand is mostly rocky, there’s no shortage of shelling opportunities and extensive views. Visitors can also dive in the offshore reef that reaches a depth of 20 to 30 feet.

This remote spot doesn’t have any facilities and parking is limited. However, for those who need some quiet time, this may provide the perfect retreat.

Salisbury Beach State Reservation

For boating and camping, head to Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Salisbury. This beach features nearly 4 miles of coastline and has two boat ramps located on the Merrimack River. Try boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing, or take a horseback ride along the coast. Guests can also picnic, play on the playground, walk the boardwalk, hike the nature trail and admire breathtaking views.

Parking averages around $20 per vehicle, and dogs are welcome after Labor Day until the end of March.

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Singing Beach

Located in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Singing Beach offers a retreat from crowded areas and measures a half-mile wide. Upon arrival, find benches for sitting with loved ones and plenty of warm sand. Bring beach towels and chairs, and get ready to relax by the sea. Other amenities include restrooms and privately managed snack stand.

Guests should note that Singing Beach charges walk-on and parking fees to non-residents, so bring cash for easy payment. In addition, dogs are welcome during the off-season.

Stage Fort Park

Once home to Glouchester’s first settlers, Stage Fort Park now houses two beaches: Half Moon and Cressy. Half Moon Beach gets its name from its crescent shape and offers an escape from busy life. Cressy Beach overlooks Gloucester Harbor and has spots for grilling and picnicking. Visitors can also simply sit and admire the view.

Both beaches at Stage Fort Park have a parking fee around $15. Restrooms and dining are located nearby. Other amenities at the park include sand volleyball, a playground, baseball field, basketball court and tennis courts. Dogs are allowed at the park but not on the beaches.

Wingaersheek Beach

Another spot among the North Shore top beaches, Wingaersheek Beach sits in western Gloucester and runs along Annisquam River and Ipswich Bay. During low tide, the beach offers a prime spot for a serene walk — solo or with loved ones. Other things to do at Wingaersheek Beach range from playing in tidal pools to climbing rocks. Calm waters provide an ideal place for families to splash in the ocean.

Parking is available for a $25 fee. Visitors have access to restrooms, showers and concessions. Alcohol, flotation devices and surfboards are not allowed.

Want to visit? Learn more about North Shore and find vacation rentals.