Best Beaches in Massachusetts – 100 Awesome Beaches in Boston and Beyond

Find your perfect summer getaway with our comprehensive list.

By Lisa Weidenfeld, Madeline Bilis, Catherine Cray, Gabrielle DiBenedetto, and Alex Erdekian


best beaches massachusetts

What are you waiting for? The Cape is calling. / Boston Sunday cover and photo above via iStock.com/PGIAM

There’s no doubt about it: Massachusetts has some of the best beach options in the country. But with so many fine choices, how to choose? Lucky for you, we’ve listed out a hundred of them here. Looking for beaches where you and your pup can hang out together? We’ve got those. Planning a bonfire with friends? No problem. Use our handy key to search for what matters most to you. And let us know in the comments: Which beaches are in your top 10?

Control- or Command-F your way through our list to find the best beach for you.

KEY

 Public or  Private
 Local train-/bus-accessible
 Commuter rail-accessible (may include bus ride after)
 Parking
Family-friendly
Dog-friendly
Romantic
 Good for surfing
 Good for water sports
 Good for scavenging
 Food
 Bonfires
 Wheelchair accessible
 Top 10 pick

Notes: As one might assume, most “dog-friendly” beaches are on-leash only. Bonfires require a permit or permission. And while we did look into it, generally most beaches do not encourage alcohol.

Boston
North Shore
South Shore
Cape Cod
Martha’s Vineyard
Nantucket
South Coast


Beaches in Boston

Some favorite spots only a hop, skip, or quick ferry ride away from downtown.

Carson Beach, South Boston

With a nice view of the city’s skyline, Carson Beach is an ideal place for city dwellers to take advantage of Boston’s geography. From Carson, you can take advantage of the HarborWalk to enjoy nice views of Dorchester Bay on a peaceful walk, run, or bike ride to the Kennedy Library.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Free but limited,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (only allowed on leash on walkways),  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Constitution-Beach-Boston-MA-Eastie

Constitution Beach in East Boston. / Photo by Bostonphotosphere on Flickr/Creative Commons

Constitution Beach, East Boston

Easy to access and a solid option for families, Constitution Beach is a popular spot for kids with lifeguard-supervised swimming, a playground, and athletic courts. Sunbathers and swimmers can enjoy views of Boston Harbor and Logan Airport while the sheltered benches and open field provide space for picnics or a pick-up game of Frisbee.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Free,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (only allowed on leash on walkways),  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Lovells Island, Boston Harbor Islands

Beaches and history go together on Lovells Island. On the shore, wade through vibrant tide pools, swim in the refreshing water, and be sure to pack a picnic. Don’t forget to take a break to explore the island’s old gun batteries and the foundations of Fort Standish.

 Public,  Local transit-accessible ($17 ferry)  Parking: At ferry,  Family-friendly,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

M Street Beach, South Boston

If you visited M Street Beach more than six years ago, you’d see a wasteland of debris, broken glass, and dirt. But now the ghost of M Street Beach’s past is gone and it’s been transformed into a hotspot for the area’s young adults. The food vendor serves up slush and sausages, the vibe is lively, and the locals have nicknamed it “Southie Beach.”

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Free,  Family-friendly,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Pleasure Bay / Castle Island, South Boston

Pass Carson and M Street and you’ll end up at Castle Island, where you can find a green lawn for picnicking and Frisbee, views of the Boston Harbor, and enjoy tours of the historic Fort Independence. And no trip to Castle Island would be complete without a meal from Sullivan’s.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Free,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (only allowed on leash),  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Savin Hill Beach, Dorchester

A popular neighborhood spot, expect to see families around Savin Hill Beach in the evenings. The spot features baseball fields, a new playground, and a swimming area. Join the locals in admiring the distinctly Boston views of the Rainbow Swash Gas Tank and the skyline.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Good for surfing,  Food (nearby).

Boston-Harbor-Islands-Boston-MA

Boston Harbor Islands. / Photo by Tom Kates courtesy of MassTravel/Boston Harbor Islands Alliance

Spectacle Island, Boston Harbor Islands

A nature-filled refuge from city life is just a short ferry ride away on Spectacle Island. Kayak, swim, or explore five miles of trails. And be sure to really take in the view—Spectacle Island is the highest point in the harbor, boasting expansive vistas of the Boston skyline.

 Public,  Local transit-accessible ($17 ferry),  Parking: At ferry,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible (limited).

Tenean Beach, Dorchester

Whether you’re looking for a spot for your kids to splash around, or a place to walk your dog close to the city, Tenean Beach is a popular swimming beach for families, with playground facilities as well as tennis and basketball courts. The beach is in a protected cove off the Neponset River, making the water very calm and safe for beginners or learners.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

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Beaches on the North Shore

We’re using the chambers of commerce’s definitions of North and South Shore. Disagree? Fight it out over here.

40 Steps, Nahant

A sheltered cove nestled between rocky outcrops, this beach is perfect for swimming on calm waters or shallow diving to explore below the surface.

Private,  Commuter rail-accessible (with bus) Parking: Limited,  Family-friendly,  Romantic, Good for surfing, Good for water sports, Good for scavenging.

Crane Beach, Ipswich

Crane Beach may be the reigning king of Massachusetts beaches, given its size, miles of trails, and location on a historic estate. Usually things are massively popular for a reason, and Crane justifies the hype.

 Top 10 pick,  Public,  Parking: $25 (or $2 admission without car), Family-friendly,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

A breathtaking New England view, Good Harbor Beach is hugged on both sides by rocky coasts with picturesque buildings. There are also dunes to admire even though it’s a flat beach. During high tide, older kids and adults float down the estuary like a lazy river, and during low tide, the beach becomes a playground perfect for building sandcastles and digging for crabs.

Public,  Parking: $20 weekdays, $25 weekends, Family-friendly,  Food, Wheelchair accessible.

Half-Moon-Beach-North-Shore-MA-Gloucester

Half Moon Beach in Gloucester. / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Half Moon Beach, Gloucester

Shaped like it sounds, Half Moon Beach is surrounded by cliff faces, giving it an amazing cove-like appearance. Climb the rocks and follow paths to the top to get a view of Gloucester. The beach itself is small but quiet in the mornings, good for relaxing and watching the sunrise.

Public,  Parking: $10 weekdays, $15 weekends, Romantic,  Wheelchair accessible.

Long Beach, Gloucester

Stretching all the way down to Rockport, Long Beach is one of Gloucester’s most underrated attractions. Walk along the soft sand with the quaint houses lining the beach to get a view of the beautiful twin lighthouses, and cool off in the water when you get tired. Visitors say that the waves here are some of the best, so take your boogie board, or surf after the lifeguards leave. Keep in mind that there aren’t any facilities or snack bars on the beach, so visit a restroom before you go and bring a cooler for food.

Public,  Parking: Paid private lot, or free public lot + shuttle, Family-friendly, Good for surfing,  Good for scavenging.

Lynch Park Beach, Beverly

The beach is only part of Lynch Park’s gorgeous 16-acre oceanfront property. Enjoy kayak rentals, concerts, a splash pad for kids, and a formal rose garden for weddings and pictures. Lynch Park also offers a rich history as it was used during the Revolutionary War to disrupt British supply lines and is often nicknamed the “birthplace of the American Navy.”

Public,  Parking: $8 weekdays, $20 weekends, Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Nahant-Beach-Reservation-North-Shore-MA

Nahant Beach. / Photo by Charlene McBride via ‘North Shore vs. South Shore’

Nahant Beach Reservation, Nahant

On the edge of Nahant Bay is a promenade used for biking, walking, and jogging that opens up to more than four miles of seascape view. During low tide, this flat beach expands to hard-packed sandbars. For the younger crowd, ball fields, racquetball, and tennis courts are available near the Nahant Rotary closer to town.

Public,  Parking: $5, $7 for non-Massachusetts residents, Family-friendly,  Good for surfing, Good for water sports, Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Plum-Island-Beach-North-Shore-MA-Newburyport

Plum Island. / Photo courtesy of MassTravel

Plum Island Beach, Newburyport

Planning a day trip out to Newburyport? You might want to add on a trip to Plum Island. In addition to the beach, the island is also home to a wildlife refuge, and birdwatchers have quite a few options to look for.

Public,  Commuter rail-accessible (with bus), Parking: Fee charged, Family-friendly,  Good for water sports.

Revere Beach, Revere

Revere Beach, America’s first public beach, has welcomed families, swimmers, and sand sculptors to its waterfront area since 1896. Don’t let the beach’s sometimes-negative reputation dissuade you—it has its charms. Plus, every summer, Revere hosts the National Sand Sculpting Festival.

Public, Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Free, Family-friendly,  Good for surfing, Good for water sports, Food (nearby),  Wheelchair accessible.

Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Salisbury

Salisbury Beach makes for a fun day trip, but is also backed by a sunny campground for extended weekend stays, fishing, boating, etc. Despite being one of the most popular beaches in the state, the long and wide sandy beach allows for more than enough space. Head into town for small restaurants and ice cream stands.

Public,  Parking: $14 Massachusetts vehicles, $16 non-Massachusetts vehicles, Family-friendly,  Good for surfing,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Short Beach, Nahant

Swim along a shoreline dotted with quaint homes at Short Beach. The spot promises serenity, perfect for sandcastle building, swimming, and walking. However, parking at this peaceful getaway is a challenge, so plan extra time into your trip.

Private,  Commuter rail-accessible (with bus) Parking: Limited, Family-friendly, Romantic, Good for surfing, Good for water sports, Good for scavenging, Bonfires (with permit), Wheelchair accessible (limited).

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

Rocky cliffs dotted with beautiful Victorian-style mansions slope down onto soft sand that welcomes cool ocean water. Singing Beach is an idyllic escape from busy city life. After you’ve had your fill of the sun and sand, check out the quaint downtown—Captain Dusty’s Ice Cream is a must-visit.

 Top 10 pick, Public,  Commuter rail-accessible (with 15-minute walk), Parking: $25, or $5 per person, Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food.

Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester

You’ll need extra self-control to leave Wingaersheek Beach after experiencing the westward views of the lighthouse and Ipswich Bay. During low tide, the water retreats about a half mile, and you’ll see kids and families walk out onto the sand bars to explore the giant rocks and tidal pools. When you’re tired of the water, the posh shops of Essex are down the road and seafood heaven is only a little bit farther in Ipswich.

Public,  Parking: $20 weekday, $25 weekend, Family-friendly, Good for scavenging, Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Winthrop Beach, Winthrop

The smaller and lesser known cousin of Revere Beach, Winthrop Beach has its own unique charm and is usually populated by locals while Revere is left for the tourists. More rocky but with a better view, this beach is a nice getaway not too far from Boston.

Public,  Parking: Free,  Good for surfing, Good for water sports, Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

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Beaches on the South Shore

We’re using the chambers of commerce’s definitions of North and South Shore. Disagree? Fight it out over here.

Burkes-Beach-Green-Harbor-South-Shore-MA-Marshfield

Burkes Beach / Green Harbor in Marshfield. / Photo by Linda Hurt courtesy of MassTravel

Burkes Beach / Green Harbor Beach, Marshfield

A long jetty extending out into the water is a highlight of Burkes Beach, also known as Green Harbor. Visit to find a sandy swimming spot or to watch sailboats coming in and out of the harbor.

 Public,  Parking: Private lot with fee,  Dog-friendly (only allowed on leash),  Good for water sports,  Food (nearby).

Duxbury-Beach-South-Shore-MA

Duxbury Beach. / Photo courtesy of MassTravel

Duxbury Beach, Duxbury

Interested in earning your supper? After enjoying some time in the sun, you can also go clamming on the beach with a permit. But watch out: if you don’t have a permit, the Shellfish Constable will have something to say about it.

 Top 10 pick, Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (with permit),  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Food.

Ellisville Harbor State Park, Plymouth

Ellisville features a wooded trail that opens up on quiet, rocky beach. You can have the beach almost all to yourself—be ready to share the sand with seals, who sun themselves on the rocks at low tide. Swimming is available, but most people come to walk on the shore, search for starfish and hermit crabs, or enjoy a picnic facing the white cliffs.

 Public,  Parking: Free,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging.

Humarock-Beach-South-Shore-MA-Scituate

Humarock Beach in Scituate. / Photo by Ali Stevenson courtesy of MassTravel

Humarock Beach, Scituate

A spacious and quiet beach with a small-town feel, Humarock brings all of the water-filled fun of summer with none of the crowds. Public parking can be hard to find at this isolated gem, so consider investing in a seasonal $75 pass. If you get hungry, check out one of the local eateries across the street or grab a cone of ice cream.

 Public,  Parking: With fee,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

Minot Beach, Scituate

Avoid the tourist traps and do as the locals do. A large rock that kids love to jump off of distinguishes Minot Beach as Scituate residents’ favorite. Minot draws the less adventurous as well with clear water for swimming and vibrant tide pools. After an active day at the beach, check out nearby Circe’s Grotto for a sandwich or gelato.

 Public,  Parking: Limited street parking or lot with fee,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Bonfires (with permit).

Nantasket-Beach-South-Shore-MA-Hull

Nantasket Beach in Hull. / Photo by Todd Van Hooser via ‘North Shore vs. South Shore’

Nantasket Beach, Hull

Nantasket Beach has something for everyone: a playground, volleyball courts, surfing, and varied opportunities for water sports. Stay outside even when the sun goes down—Bernie King Pavilion has a weekly summer concert series, and restaurants and snack bars along Nantasket Avenue are all easily accessible to beachgoers.

 Public,  Parking: $10 Massachusetts residents, $12 non-Massachusetts residents,  Family-friendly,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Nickerson Beach, Quincy

Tucked in the middle of a neighborhood, Nickerson Beach is a tiny 15- to 20-foot Quincy gem featuring a stunning view of the Boston skyline. Pack a lunch for the adjoining picnic area and check out the walking path to Squaw Rock.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Limited on street,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Bonfires (with permission from fire department).

Onset Beach, Wareham

Avoid traffic on the bridge and steer onto Onset Beach, a popular family bay beach with warm water and little to no waves for kids. Expect crowds during hot summer days, but stick around until the evening, as the bandstand hosts summer events.

 Public,  Parking: Free,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Peggotty Beach, Scituate

This beach may have gotten a little unwanted publicity this year after it starred in a video showcasing some extreme flooding last winter, but during the summer, it’s far more visitor-friendly. Plus, Peggotty’s protected, making it one of the safer beaches out there. The nearby hotel and restaurants don’t hurt, either.

 Public,  Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Plymouth-Beach-Long-Beach-South-Shore-MA

Plymouth Beach / Long Beach. / Photo by Davies via MassTravel

Plymouth Beach, Plymouth

Year-round Plymouth residents go to Long Beach as a place to gather with friends and family. The name says it all—the sand stretches wide and is an excellent place to stretch your legs for a long walk. Sandy’s crab shack is only an added bonus, but keep your eyes peeled for areas being closed off. Nesting birds have also become regulars.

 Public,  Parking: $10 weekday, $15 weekends,  Family-friendly,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

The Spit, Scituate

Nearly inaccessible by foot, the Spit is local boaters’ worst-kept secret. Uninterrupted sand and beautiful ocean dotted with tide pools filled with hermit crabs make the beach an idyllic spot. To get in on the fun, rent a boat from Mary’s and enjoy the Spit the way locals do. But be sure to arrive early—finding a spot to anchor can be challenging.

 Public,  Parking: Try a boat,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

Wollaston Beach, Quincy

Wollaston has views of the Boston Harbor Islands, miles of sand, and a newly renovated boardwalk, but what really makes it stand out? Fried clams. There are two joints with excellent reviews just across the street, and beachgoers can’t agree on which is better: Tony’s Clam Shop or the Clam Box. Try them yourself and weigh in on the debate.

 Public,  Local train-/bus-accessible,  Parking: Limited,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Bonfires (with permission from fire department).

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Beaches on the Cape

So many beaches, so little time. And while we’ve indicated these aren’t public transit accessible, plenty of them can be reached with the CapeFlyer train and local buses.

Ballston Beach, Truro

Ballston is a one-of-a-kind beach guarded by large dunes that reveal a seashore so quiet and secluded it’s almost a world of its own. It’s a peaceful, private coastal spot to bring family or have a picnic down by the waves. As an added bonus, you can also see seals from the sand.

 Private,  Parking: $15, $50 one week non-resident,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.),  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Bonfires (with permit).

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Bass Hole / Gray’s Beach in Yarmouth. / Photo by William DeSousa-Mauk courtesy of MassTravel

Bass Hole / Gray’s Beach, Yarmouth

A scenic wooden boardwalk journeys through a natural salt marsh landscape, where visitors can spot osprey, crabs, and tide pools. The beach, known as Bass Hole to locals and Gray’s Beach to everyone else, is one of the few on the Cape with free parking. The beach itself is practically doll-sized, but word on the street is that the sunsets make up for it.

 Public,  Parking: Free,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

Cahoon Hollow Beach, Wellfleet

All hail the Beachcomber, the famed seafood spot that sits before the dramatic drop into Cahoon Hollow. Perched above a steep dune, the restaurant and its lively nightlife scene are destinations on their own. But below, Cahoon Hollow offers majestic views of the Atlantic as well as vigorous surf. It’s popular with younger, childless crowds, as getting to the beach requires clutching a rope that leads down the 75-foot dune.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Food.

Chapin-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Dennis

Chapin Beach in Dennis. / Photo by Matt Suess courtesy of MassTravel

Chapin Beach, Dennis

There is nothing quite like Chapin Beach during low tide at sunset—you can walk for miles in the white sand past the rocks that create a border along the shoreline. The parking lot will fill from overflow at Mayflower Beach because it’s not as crowded, but the critter hunting is better. Grab chairs, a table, and have a picnic with an amazing view.

 Private,  Parking: Seasonal ticket needed: $300 non-resident, $45 resident,  Good for water sports.

Chapoquoit Beach, Falmouth

Although it has crumbled over the years due to erosion, head to Chappy for a quiet day with all the perks of Buzzard Bay’s more popular Falmouth beach, Old Silver—think cushy sandbars, warm, shallow water, and golden sunsets—minus the rowdy crowds. This beach is more secluded for a reason, though. There’s no daily parking available. But luckily for non-residents, Chapoquoit is a short detour off Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bike Path.

 Public,  Private (there are two parts to the beach),  Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food (if you want ice cream for lunch),  Wheelchair accessible.

Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham

If New England scenery is your thing, this is probably your beach: the town’s historic lighthouse overlooks the beach. And if cute blubbery animals are also your thing, keep an eye out for seals, which have been known to migrate through the area.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Romantic.

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Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. / Photo by Margo Tabb courtesy of MassTravel

Coast Guard Beach, Eastham

A true Cape Cod experience, Coast Guard Beach has spectacular views and crashing waves perfect for body surfing and playing in the water. The beautiful sand, helpful lifeguards, and seals bobbing on the south side make it a must. Although parking is limited to residents, everyone has access to a lower lot with a complimentary shuttle service.

 Private,  Parking: Resident sticker needed,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (but not on lifeguarded areas),  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Wheelchair accessible (limited).

Cockle Cove Beach, Chatham

Cockle Cove is family-friendly and close to the beautiful downtown Chatham area. Similar to its neighbors, the beach is a favorite among families with small children and a great place for kayakers and windsurfers with a comfortably sized parking lot.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

Corn Hill Beach, Truro

This sheltered Cape Cod Bay spot offers warmer and calmer waters than most New England beaches, making it perfect for kids still learning to swim. Plan ahead for a lovely evening by securing a fire permit for a bonfire or barbecue. And stick around for the sunset after dinner—it’s hard to beat.

 Private,  Parking: $15 for residents,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (but on a leash),  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Bonfires (with permit, and only five issued per day),  Wheelchair accessible.

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Corporation Beach in Dennis. / Photo courtesy of Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

Corporation Beach, Dennis

The curve of crescent-shaped Corporation Beach forms a tidal pool that’s popular among children. The calm waves and warm water recede during low tide to reveal a large sand bar that many explore and walk across. But this gem isn’t hidden: Arrive early to stake out a spot as the beach becomes crowded.

 Private,  Parking: Sticker needed, $300 non-residents, $40 for residents,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Craigville-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Barnstable

Craigville Beach in Barnstable. / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Craigville Beach, Barnstable

One of Cape Cod’s most popular beaches, Craigville gets crowded on summer days. Long and wide, the soft sand area allows for a lot of sunbathers and swimmers. Craigville is also a favorite among teens and college students, but appeals to all ages with lifeguards and clam shacks.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Harding Beach, Chatham

In the warm, calm waters of Nantucket Sound you’ll find Chatham’s most family-friendly beach, Harding’s, and more than enough room for long walks, sand games, bird watching, and panoramic sea views. With lifeguards and not too many tourists, it remains calm during the busy summer season. The area has ample parking close to town, lots of shelling, and very small waves, making it perfect for the young and old.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Head of the Meadow Beach, Truro

A treasure of Truro, the crowdless stretches of unspoiled beauty at Head of the Meadow create a sandy haven. The waters are warm and calm, and during extreme periods of low tides, the shipwreck of the Frances—circa 1872—pokes out of the sea.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging,  Food (occasional food trucks),  Bonfires.

Herring Cove Beach, Provincetown

The sand is a bit rocky at Herring Cove, so remember to bring two things: sturdy shoes to protect your toes and sharp eyes for seashell-spotting. There’s also a newly constructed (and ultra-modern) bathhouse with an adjoining concession stand that offers lobster salad rolls, pulled pork sandwiches, and other tasty treats that are far from the average basket of greasy mozzarella sticks.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Kalmus Park Beach, Hyannis

One of the Cape’s hotspots for windsurfing, cruise through Kalmus Beach for an athletic adventure. Water sports not your thing? The other side of the beach is home to some of the best seashells on the Cape. With views of the ferries going to and from Nantucket, its location is convenient for anyone returning from an island getaway who’s not quite ready to part ways with their vacation just yet.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Marconi Beach, South Wellfleet

Named for radio inventor Gugliemo Marconi, who constructed a station for ship-to-shore “wireless telegraph” transmittals in Wellfleet, Marconi Beach is a National Seashore gem. Thankfully, this steep-duned spot has a staircase leading down to the sand. Gnarly waves, an impressive observation deck, and a newly paved parking lot make it an easy and breezy day trip choice.

 Top 10 pick, Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for surfing.

Mayflower Beach, Dennis

Soft white sand and vibrant sunsets make Mayflower Beach a luxurious destination. Add in the fully stocked snack bar and the tide pools at low tide, and this beach is perfect for the kids too! Widely heralded as one of the Cape’s best beaches, parking fills up quickly, so consider visiting during a quieter time (either early morning or early evening) for a calmer stay.

 Public,  Parking: $20 weekday, $25 weekend,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging,  Food.

Mayo Beach, Wellfleet

Since Mayo Beach is on the harbor, there are almost no waves but there’s plenty of warm water and lots of sea life for kids to enjoy. The beach is located across from the Wellfleet tennis courts, skate park, and playground, so boredom is not an option.

 Public,  Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Menauhant-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-East-Falmouth

Menauhant Beach in East Falmouth. / Photo via Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

Menauhant Beach, East Falmouth

If you’re looking to dodge the crowds that occupy Falmouth’s better-known beaches, give Menauhant Beach a try. The East Falmouth beach is appreciated for its semi-secluded location in a quiet neighborhood and views of Martha’s Vineyard from across the way.

 Public,  Parking: $10,  Family-friendly,  Good for surfing (until June 25),  Good for water sports (until June 25),  Good for scavenging,  Food (but just ice cream),  Wheelchair accessible.

Monument Beach, Bourne

Located right at the entrance to Cape Cod, many visitors don’t stumble onto Monument Beach, which boasts gentle waves and meager crowds. A peaceful place to pass time, the beach is also popular among active crowds, with a sand volleyball net and water perfect for windsurfing. Visitors can either dock their boat at the marina or take advantage of the large parking lot.

 Private,  Parking: Need resident sticker,  Family-friendly,  Good for surfing (at least 150 feet away from the bathing beach),  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Nauset Beach, East Orleans

If you’re looking for a shake-up in your Massachusetts beach routine, Nauset Beach might provide for a unique adventure. With some of the largest waves on the East Coast, Nauset has great coastline views and surfing, but isn’t a fit for beginner swimmers. You may also spot seals bobbing in and out of the water from shore.

 Top 10 pick, Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Nobska-Point-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Falmouth

Nobska Point in Falmouth. / Photo by Falm Chamber courtesy of MassTravel

Nobska Point, Falmouth

A historic Falmouth landmark, don’t pass through this classic Cape Cod town without at least driving by Nobska Lighthouse. Bring a few blankets and drink up the scenic views from the beach across the street from the Woods Hole peninsula.

 Private,  Parking: Free but limited,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging.

Old Silver Beach, North Falmouth

One of the Cape’s better-known gems, Old Silver stands apart from the pack with its golden sunsets, silky-soft sandbars, and boozy next door neighbor, the Sea Crest Beach Hotel. There’s fun for all ages at Old Silver—tide pools across the street and safe, shallow swimming water for little ones, along with an open deck poolside bar at the hotel a short walk away for the 21-plus crowd.

 Top 10 pick, Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Race-Point-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Provincetown

Race Point Beach in Provincetown. / Photo by Tim Grafft/MOTT courtesy of MassTravel

Race Point Beach, Provincetown

At the very outermost tip of the Cape is Race Point, the dreamiest of dreamy beaches boasting large expanses of soft sand that keep it from feeling crowded. How perfect is Race Point? Enough for TripAdvisor to rank it one of the top 25 beaches in the U.S.—the only beach from Massachusetts to make their list.

 Top 10 pick,  Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for surfing (past protected area),  Wheelchair accessible.

Red-River-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Harwich

Red River Beach in Harwich. / Photo via Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

Red River Beach, Harwich

Red River Beach is popular among families, locals, and newcomers alike, but there’s still space for you to spread out your blanket and have a private day by the water. Regulars say the water is warmer than other Cape spots, but it could just be the clean amenities and new food vendor going to their heads.

 Public,  Parking: $15 between Memorial and Labor Days,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Ridgevale Beach, Chatham

A haven for families, Ridgevale Beach along Chatham’s south shore offers both ocean swimming and calm creeks for younger children to splash around in. Nearby, Nauti Jane’s Boat Rentals lets everyone take advantage of their favorite sand or water sports. The sand is also home to many seashells for anyone looking for a souvenir.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.),  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Sagamore-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Bourne

Sagamore Beach in Bourne. / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Sagamore Beach, Bourne

Popular because of the peaceful sound of small waves crashing against the rocks, Sagamore is Bourne’s northern beach. With small waves that are easy for those just learning to swim, Bourne’s sand also has ample-sized rocks to ease sand castle construction.

 Private,  Parking: $20/day or with parking permit,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for surfing (more than 150 feet away from bathing beach),  Good for water sports (more than 150 feet away from bathing beach).

Sandy Neck Beach, Barnstable

A living museum, Sandy Neck Beach is 4,700 acres of dunes, maritime forests, and marshes. Hikers join together with beachcombers and sunbathers to enjoy this ocean marvel. Yes, you heard correctly, hikers—there are designated trails you can take to dune overlooks. Sandy Neck is also recognized as a Cultural Historical District because of the many cottages in the surrounding area.

 Private Parking: $20/day or with parking permit,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Bonfires (check with staff at 508-362-8300),  Wheelchair accessible.

Scusset Beach State Park, Bourne / Sandwich

If you’re looking to combine your beach trip with some good old-fashioned camping, pitch a tent at Scusset State Park. Located on the mainland side of the Cape Cod canal, a major perk of this beach is skipping out on the traffic that awaits on the other side of the bridge. If you’re planning on camping, be sure to book your site in advance before the grounds are full.

 Public,  Parking: $14 Massachusetts residents, $16 non-Massachusetts residents,  Family-friendly,  Food.

Sea Street Beach / Keyes Memorial Beach, Hyannis

A kid-friendly find facing Nantucket Sound, Sea Street Beach is dubbed a family favorite for its convenient snack shack, sandcastle worthy turf, and warm water. Beware: stay on the lookout for seagulls—one might just swoop down and snatch your sandwich.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Good for scavenging,  Food.

Sea View Beach, Yarmouth

Seaview Beach is a relatively small Nantucket Sound beach with clean white sand usually populated by locals and rarely crowded. A good choice if you are looking for a relaxing beach day, but swimmers should keep an eye out for jellyfish that want to join—there’ll be signs posted if you need to move over and share the water.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Food.

Seagull Beach, West Yarmouth

Seagull, the largest and most popular beach in Yarmouth, has some families during the day but is also a favorite among teenagers and college students. With a large attended parking lot and a bike rack only a short walk from the clean white sand, the beach is ideal for beach games, lounging, swimming, and windsurfing.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Skaket Beach, Orleans

This fine-sand beach on Cape Bay is perfect for warm water swimming, long strolls, enjoying the sunset, and watching boats come in from Rock Harbor. At low tide, walk out and explore the many tidal pools filled with various sea critters.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Smuggler’s Beach / Bass River Beach, South Yarmouth

Perched where Bass River meets Nantucket Sound, Smuggler’s Beach (a.k.a. Bass River Beach) is a South Yarmouth favorite. Let the day disappear as you count the boats that sail by. From impressively artful sand sculptures, to a fishing pier, to delicate sea shells, there’s something for everyone.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

South Cape Beach State Park, Mashpee

This Cape beach offers plentiful hiking opportunities, as well as some pretty decent fishing. But if you don’t want to earn your supper, there’s a Roche Brothers supermarket not too far away, ready and able to cater your beach day.

 Public,  Parking: $12,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Wheelchair accessible.

Surf Drive Beach, Falmouth

Less than a mile off of Falmouth’s Shining Sea Bike Path, Surf Drive Beach is a great spot to cool off during your ride and stop for a swim. The picturesque beach on Vineyard Sound boasts views of Nobska Lighthouse and stretches for miles, divided by long jetties. Complete your bike ride by traveling down the road to Woods Hole to check out the aquarium or enjoy an ice cream.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Town Neck Beach, Sandwich

At Town Neck Beach, you get a view of the boats passing through the Cape Cod Canal with enough room to spread out your blanket on a mix of sand and pebbles. This dune-backed beach with rock jetties has calm water ideal for kayaking or swimming for teenagers and adults. During high tide, kids sometimes jump off the famous Sandwich Boardwalk or fish for crabs.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

Veterans-Park-Beach-Cape-Cod-MA-Hyannis

Veterans Park Beach in Hyannis. / Photo by William DeSousa-Mauk courtesy of MassTravel

Veterans Park Beach, Hyannis

Located by the John F. Kennedy Memorial and the Korean War Memorial at Veteran’s Park, this beach is a respectful place to spend the day after paying tribute to our nation’s past. With picnic tables and a snack bar, the harbor-side beach also makes a quaint spot for lunch during a Hyannis day trip.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

West Dennis Beach, Dennis

There’s a lot to do at West Dennis Beach, but it never feels crowded, as it spans across more than a mile of shoreline. Its breeze is great for windsurfing, kite flying, and water and beach games. There is parking available for more than 100 cars but keep in mind, the east-end lot is only for residents.

 Private,  Parking: Only for residents,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Falmouth Heights Beach, Falmouth

The Heights is a beach where the community of Falmouth comes together during the summer, whether they’re oohing and ahhing at the Fourth of July fireworks or cheering on friends in the Falmouth Road Race. It’s also Falmouth’s most walkable beach, with a paved boardwalk with benches, a grassy strip, and flowers. Looking for lunch? The beach is also conveniently located next door to the Casino Wharf FX and across the street from British Beer Company.

 Public,  Parking: Need resident sticker,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for scavenging,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

White Crest Beach, Wellfleet

The town hangout for local surfers, White Crest’s waves and dunes guard it from those not willing to scale down its towering paths. A few volleyball nets allow for frequent spontaneous matches, though the beach is BYOB (bring your own ball). After a day of sun-soaking and ball-spiking, meander farther up Ocean View Drive to understand why the street was so aptly named.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Bonfires.

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Beaches on Martha’s Vineyard

Hobnob with celebrities, or simply enjoy the scenic beaches.

Joseph Sylvia State Beach, Oak Bluffs

Despite the “No Jumping” signs when you pull up to this beach, the first things you’ll see are youngsters cannonballing, belly-flopping, and swan-diving off a wooden bridge—few are deterred even when they learn that that very bridge made an appearance in a famously frightening scene in Jaws. Straddling the border of Martha’s Vineyard towns Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, it’s commonly called State Beach on the left and Bend-in-the-Road Beach on the right.

 Top 10 pick, Public,  Parking: Free but limited,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Wheelchair accessible.

Lambert’s Cove Beach, West Tisbury

Restricted to West Tisbury residents during beach hours, Lambert’s Cove is a peaceful paradise perfect for families spending the day. Inlets and a stream make the ideal playground for tots to explore, while the sandy shore makes for an ideal romantic stroll. To get access to this exclusive beach as a visitor, your best bet is booking a stay at Lambert’s Cove Inn, which provides their guests with passes to the neighboring beach.

 Private,  Parking: Need resident permit,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

Lighthouse-Beach-Marthas-Vineyard-MA-Edgartown

Lighthouse Beach in Edgartown. / Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Lighthouse Beach, Edgartown

Secluded and quaint with a touch of Vineyard history, Lighthouse Beach is only a short walk from the ferry and perfect for strolling down by the water or taking a short hike up the lighthouse for a panoramic view. The lighthouse keeper is known to share stories with visitors and the beach is romantic and never crowded.

 Public,  Parking: Limited street parking,  Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge,West Tisbury

Can’t choose between turbulent Atlantic waves for the brave body surfer in your family or a calm, warm, fresh water lake for the younger children? Long Point Wildlife Refuge has both just a short walk apart. With kayaks and paddleboards available to rent, Long Point provides a variety of ways to hit the water. While you’re there, keep an eye out for the wildlife. Ospreys and other birds are common, but a lucky few may spot deer or a friendly resident sea lion.

 Public,  Parking: $10 per car, plus extra $5 per adult,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

Lucy-Vincent-Beach-Marthas-Vineyard-MA-Chilmark

Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark. / Photo by N. Friedler courtesy of MassTravel

Lucy Vincent Beach, Chilmark

A Martha’s Vineyard beach known for its unique natural beauty, Lucy Vincent is the ideal setting for a long walk or picnic. The beach is only for Chilmark residents, and word is they’re really strict about it. But those who make their way in will find the beach has soft sand, scenic large boulders, and dramatic sandstone formations. From a friend: “There’s a nude beach section where you can sometimes see people like Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, or whoever is hanging out that year, but mostly it’s awful old men who bask in the sun like raisin-gila hybrids.”

 Top 10 pick,  Private,  Parking: Fee,  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports.

Menemsha Public Beach, Chilmark

Famous for the best sunset on Martha’s Vineyard, crowds are known to gather and applaud at Menemsha Beach as the sun melts into the horizon. Located in Menemsha, a classic New England fishing village, you won’t have to travel far from the beach to find fresh seafood and a clam shack.

 Public,  Parking: Limited,  Romantic,  Food.

Moshup Beach, Aguinnah

Located on the west side of Martha’s Vineyard and primarily known for its surfing, Moshup Beach is often overlooked by tourists and not as crowded as other nearby beaches. The Aquinnah Cliffs serve as the backdrop with the pristine coastline on the other side of the sand. Even more relaxing, beachgoers will often treat themselves to mud baths using mud from the cliffs.

 Public,  Parking: $15,  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

Oak Bluffs Town Beach, Oak Bluffs

If you’re looking for typical Martha’s Vineyard charm, look no farther than Oak Bluffs Town Beach. The local beach welcomes you with picturesque clear blue waters and is only a short walk from Main Street, where the road is dotted with charming houses and restaurants with hand-painted signs.

 Public,  Parking: Fee,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports.

South-Beach-State-Park-Katama-Beach-Marthas-Vineyard-MA-Edgartown

South Beach State Park / Katama Beach in Edgartown. / Photo courtesy of MassTravel

South Beach State Park / Katama Beach, Edgartown

Facing out into the Atlantic Ocean, South Beach is notorious for the having the meanest surf on Martha’s Vineyard. Accessible by bike path or the #8 bus from Edgartown, the three-mile stretch, also known as Katama Beach, is a great spot to spend the day picnicking and playing in the waves. Insider tip: Typically, the rowdier college crowd heads to the right side of the beach, while families and folks looking for a quieter scene head to the left.

 Public,  Parking: Limited,  Family-friendly (better for older kids),  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports.

The-Inkwell-Beach-Marthas-Vineyard-MA-Oak-Bluffs

The Inkwell. / Photo by L.A. Brown Photography courtesy of MassTravel

The Inkwell, Oak Bluffs

Located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Oak Bluff’s fairytale-esque, rainbow-colored gingerbread houses, the Inkwell has a special place in African American history as a gathering spot. The beach, along with Oak Bluffs in general, has been recognized as a meeting point and vacation destination for African Americans since as early as the late 18th century.

 Public Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food.

Wasque Reservation, Chappaquiddick

Wasque brings nature’s shocking capacity for change powerfully close, as it’s home to some of the most drastic land erosion in New England. Once graced with wide swaths of sand, now only a narrow strip of beach remains. Come to hike rare sand barrens, fish, and watch for birds and monarch butterflies. If you want to swim, be cautious and mind any warnings of dangerous undertow.

 Public,  Parking: $5 per person, and $5 to park a car,  Dog-friendly (on leash),  Romantic,  Wheelchair accessible (limited).

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Beaches on Nantucket

Wear your finest boat shoes and do some bird watching.

Childrens-Beach-Nantucket-MA

Children’s Beach, Nantucket. / Photo courtesy of MassTravel

Children’s Beach, Nantucket

True to its name, Children’s Beach is the ideal beach for small kids and toddlers. Located on the island’s harbor, the water is warm and shallow enough for youngsters to splash around. A short walk from downtown, there is also a playground and a small cafe with kid-friendly food.

 Public Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Food.

Cisco-Beach-Nantucket-MA

Cisco Beach, Nantucket. / Photo courtesy of MassTravel

Cisco Beach, Nantucket

When you ask islanders to name Nantucket’s go-to surfing beach, the answer is clear. Experts and novices alike are welcome at Cisco’s Beach—the Nantucket Island Surf School is located right in the parking lot, offering lessons and rental equipment. Just a short drive or bike ride away, cool off after a day of beaching at Cisco Brewers, known for its laid-back atmosphere and IPAs.

 Top 10 pick, Public Parking: Street parking Good for surfing,  Good for water sports.

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, Nantucket

Grab your binoculars, because you’ll do more than sunbathing on this blend of sandy beach, rolling dunes, and tidal pools. The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge draws naturalists eager to see shorebirds, raptors, and seals basking in the sun. Leave yourself time to explore the coast including the Green Point Lighthouse. Waves are not strong enough for surfing, but the water is flat enough for stand up paddleboarding.

 Private,  Parking: with permit,  Romantic,  Good for water sports.

Dionis Beach, Nantucket

A family favorite, Dionis Beach is more remote than other Nantucket beaches. A long beach with hand-packed sand and lots of different shells and rocks, Dionis is the perfect place to take a nice long walk.

 Public Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

Francis Street Beach, Nantucket

A few blocks away from downtown Nantucket and situated on the harbor, Francis Street Beach is the perfect pitstop after a day of window shopping or gallery perusing. This little beach isn’t the best choice for kids or for swimming, since there is no lifeguard on duty. If you’re a fan of kayaking, though, check out the rentals and get your paddle on.

 Public Parking: Street parking Dog-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Food.

Jetties-Beach-Nantucket-MA

Jetties Beach, Nantucket. / Photo by Brendan Gates on Flickr/Creative Commons

Jetties Beach, Nantucket

Close enough to town that it’s accessible by foot and with calm enough waters to take a dip, Jetties Beach is a favorite among families with kids, but is still quiet enough for others to relax. The beachside restaurant with a large porch and indoor/outdoor seating provides a way for sunbathers to cool off from the sun and sand.

 Public Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Food,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

Madaket Beach, Nantucket

Located on the westernmost point of the island, Madaket Beach is Nantucket’s quiet, scenic jewel. Since the beach boasts the island’s strongest waves, swimming is usually left for surfers, but the beach is famous for sunsets. Your best bet is to ditch the crowds and pack a picnic basket, but be sure to keep your eyes up when the sun hits the water and displays a unique green flash.

 Public Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.),  Romantic,  Good for surfing,  Good for scavenging,  Good for water sports,  Food.

Miacomet-Beach-Nantucket-MA

Miacomet Beach, Nantucket. / Photo by Jay Colbath on Flickr/Creative Commons

Miacomet Beach, Nantucket

On the south shore of Nantucket, Miacomet Beach harbors very heavy surf and strong current making it easy for surfers to catch a wave but more difficult for families to enjoy due to a narrow sand area. However, if you’re looking to escape the crowds, park and walk down to this secluded beach haven.

 Public Parking: Street parking Good for surfing,  Good for water sports.

Sconset Beach, Nantucket

This classic New England beach is tucked away in ACK’s quaint Sconset neighborhood, surrounded by charming rose-entangled cottages. A trail on the bluff above the shore winds through the manicured lawns of private homes and offers stunning views of the water below. Located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island, the surf can be too rough for swimming—this beach is better suited for sunbathing and soaking in the scenery.

 Public Parking: Street parking Romantic.

Surfside Beach, Nantucket

Tucked at the end of a paved path only accessible by bike or public bus is one of Nantucket’s most popular beaches, Surfside. With sand and waves perfect for surfing, picnics, and beach games, families and tourists of all ages take advantage of Surfside every summer. The incline between the beach and the snack bar can be a hassle, but the burgers and fries are said to be worth the walk.

 Public,  Parking: Street parking,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly (before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.),  Good for surfing,  Good for water sports,  Food.

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Beaches on the South Coast

It may not have the name recognition of the Cape, but that doesn’t mean these beaches aren’t worth a visit.

Fort Phoenix Beach State Reservation, Fairhaven

This small beach is the perfect stop for a family day-out. After your swim, join a game of pickup on the local basketball court or frolic on the playground. For an educational element, visit historic Fort Phoenix and admire the Elizabeth Islands. The now-calming vista was once the site of the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War.

 Public,  Parking: Free,  Family-friendly,  Dog-friendly,  Good for scavenging,  Wheelchair accessible.

Horseneck-Beach-South-Coast-MA-Westport

Horseneck Beach in Westport. / Photo by Qwrrty on Flickr/Creative Commons

Horseneck Beach, Westport

If the sun is too strong, cool down by the water at Horseneck Beach. Located at the western end of Buzzards Bay, this two-mile long beach is breezy all year round, providing an ideal spot for wind surfers and those escaping the sweltering inland temperatures. Take a chance to look up—the estuary and beach habitat make home to many different New England birds.

 Public,  Parking: $13 Massachusetts residents, $15 non-Massachusetts residents,  Family-friendly,  Food,  Wheelchair accessible.

Demarest Lloyd State Park, South Dartmouth

A best-kept secret among locals, Demarest Lloyd State Park is a beach backed by rolling hills of beach grass and shaded picnic sites. The Buzzard Bay waves are calm and shallow, spurring warm water temperatures and making it a nice beach for families. On the eastern end, a scenic marsh lines the Slocum River and is a great spot to see ospreys and hawks.

 Public,  Parking: $13 Massachusetts vehicles, $15 non-Massachusetts vehicles,  Family-friendly,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging,  Food.

West Island Beach, Fairhaven

Head to Fairhaven’s West Island Beach to find all of the ingredients for a perfect summer getaway—beautiful views, a historic small town, soft sand, clear water, excellent swimming—without the mob scene. While there, spice up your usual beach day with a refreshing hike or kayak ride.

 Public,  Parking: $20,  Family-friendly,  Romantic,  Good for water sports,  Good for scavenging.

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Lisa Weidenfeld Digital Senior Editor at Boston Magazine lweidenfeld@bostonmagazine.com


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