I have spent much of my life hanging out at Massachusetts’ North Shore beaches. My grandfather lived on the North Shore in Ipswich. As a kid, I spent a wonderful week with him every summer at his charming home overlooking the ocean at Little Neck. Gloucester in particular, has some of the best beaches on the Massachusetts coast. These are my top three favorite beaches in Gloucester.
If you are looking for a family-friendly, kid safe beach, my ultimate favorite is Wingaersheek Beach. You can picnic and swim at historical Stage Fort Park or head to Good Harbor Beach where you are more likely to hook up with a younger crowd.
Wingaersheek Beach – Gloucester, MA
Not necessarily the biggest – the beaches I highlight are the best, however. For families, Wingaersheek is my top pick. This gorgeous beach, located just off Exit 14 on Route 128, is premium as far as sand, views and beach/water safety go. If you are wondering about the name, it seems there is no concrete agreement as to its origin. Most feel it is Native American and refers to “pleasant water,” which works for me.
1 – The Plus Side – When the tide is out at Wingaersheek Beach, it is a child’s haven for gathering shells and playing on the huge rocks. As the tide rolls out, it leaves behind magnificent tide pools. It does not take long for these pools to warm up in the heat of the sun, making them delightful for dipping in as compared to the always-cold Atlantic Ocean.
With a vast array of various size tide pools, you can easily locate one that is safe for even the smallest of children to play in. Some will even accommodate babies just fine. There is a concession stand and rest rooms on site, too. What ever you carry in to the beach, though, you must carry out. That means all your trash leaves with you!
2 – The Down Side – The cost of parking is a killer. Weekdays will cost you $20 – weekends it goes up to $25. The parking lot at Wingaersheek Beach looks perfectly ample, but it fills to capacity in a short time, so it is imperative to get there very early, especially on summer weekends. There are overflow areas for extra parking, but I warn you; it is a long walk to the beach from there – trust me, I know this for fact!
Stage Fort Park – Half Moon & Cressy’s Beaches – Gloucester, MA
With or without children, you will love Stage Fort Park. The park holds historic significance as being the site of Gloucester’s first settlers in 1623. Located around the corner from Gloucester’s downtown waterfront, the park has two beaches.
If you prefer the ambience of the true, rugged, rocky Massachusetts coastline – Cressy’s Beach is right up your alley. Half Moon Beach is a terrific little beach ideal for kids, although grown ups like it just as much!
1 – The Plus Side – One of the advantages of spending the day at Stage Fort Park is you can bring along your own grill or Hibachi and have a cookout after the beach! The park is expansive and has plenty of picnic tables. There is actually a restaurant on the grounds, if you do not want to picnic or grill. Besides the best beaches at Stage Fort Park, all-day parking is a steal at $10 a car.
2 – The Down Side – There is only one down side to the park. Like all the beaches in Gloucester, the park fills up fast, so get there early. Weekdays are not as busy and I honestly, have never even tried to go there on a Saturday or Sunday. Just a wee bit too crowded for me!
Good Harbor Beach – Gloucester, MA
1 – The Plus Side – Good Harbor made my Gloucester best beaches list because of its beautiful white sand. Good Harbor Beach does seem to draw a younger crowd, but not in a “rowdy” younger crowd manner of speaking. Good Harbor Beach has rest rooms, a concession stand and the bonus of heavenly showers. Nothing feels quite as nice as being able to shower off beach sand and sun block before your drive home.
2 – The Down Side – The parking fee for Good Harbor Beach is high, too. It will set you back $20 on weekdays and $25 on weekends. Gloucester is not the easiest place to navigate in a vehicle; the streets are narrow and winding and particularly crowded in summer. This is part of the New England old seaport mystique, however.
Good Harbor beach is a little tricky to find if you are unfamiliar with the roads. It is located off Route 128 on Thatcher Road, which is Route 127A. You will follow the East Gloucester/Rockport signs once you are in Gloucester.
Note: Alcohol is not allowed on any Gloucester beaches. The next time you are in Massachusetts be sure to visit some of the North Shore’s best beaches in Gloucester!
*City of Gloucester, Massachusetts