Best of Boston

2004 Best Beach, North

Crane Beach

Seven miles of white sand edged with rolling dunes make this our favorite spot to plop down a beach chair, catch some rays, and read a trashy romance novel—all thanks to a 1945 bequest from the estate of Chicago bazillionaire Richard Crane of plumping and fire hydrant fame. Parking fees are steep ($15 to $20), but a $40 yearly membership gets you a discount and helps the Trustees of Reservations with an aggressive wildfire management program. It also helps keep the shore free of debris and the bath houses clean.

Crane Beach, Argilla Rd., Ipswich, 978-356-4354,