When discussing beaches in Massachusetts and New England, most people focus on the beautiful beaches in Cape Cod, including the Cape Cod National Seashore. However, there are some gorgeous beaches in other areas of Massachusetts, especially North of Boston on the other Cape – Cape Ann. Cape Ann is home to the fishing town of Gloucester MA, which offers several wonderful beaches that are great for families. Here are the best beaches in Gloucester, MA.
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Gloucester is located North of Boston off of Route 128. The closest airport, Logan International Airport, is located about 50 minutes away.
The Best Beaches in Gloucester MA – Located on Cape Ann
One of the most popular beaches in Gloucester MA is Wingaersheek, located in the western part of Gloucester (on the end of Atlantic Street). Like other popular beaches in the summer, Wingaersheek has limited parking that fills up on hot days. Arrive early for a good parking space.
Wingaersheek Beach has lifeguards on duty from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily. Parking opens at 8:00 am in season.
The beach offers a concession stand (with food, beverages, and beach necessities), rest rooms, and shower facilities. It’s a beautiful beach with great views.
Good Harbor Beach
My favorite beach in Gloucester is the gorgeous Good Harbor Beach. It’s located on Thatcher Road/Route 127A, with an adjacent large parking lot. Like Wingaerseek Beach, parking at Good Harbor Beach during the summer season can be limited.
Parking is open from 8 am – 9 pm in the summer, with lifeguards on duty from 9 am to 5 pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Restrooms, showers, and a concession stand are offered until 6 pm in season. It has beautiful white sand, and lots of space for families to spread out.
During low tide, beachgoers can walk over to Salt Island. Lifeguards alert visitors as the tide starts to change to high tide so you can make your way back. It’s also a great beach for boogie boarding, and styrofoam boogie boards are allowed. Be sure to pack your own boogie board.
At Good Harbor Beach, you can also explore tide pools and watch the hermit crabs. Bring your own beach toys, although you can find some at the concession stand.
As you make the drive from 128 to Good Harbor Beach, you’ll pass by a Shaw’s Supermarket. It’s a great spot if you need to stock up on any snacks or beverages for your day at the beach. Although there is a snack bar, you’ll definitely find a bigger option at the grocery store.
Half Moon Beach
Half Moon Beach, named for the shape of the beach, is located in Fort Point State Park. This small beach offers restrooms and lifeguards on duty from 9 am-5 pm, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Gloucester isn’t the only waterfront town on Cape Ann. There is plenty to do in Gloucester, but while you are in the area, you may also want to visit some of these other towns.
Manchester-by-the-Sea offers several beaches including White Beach and Singing Beach (named for the sound the sand makes).
Rockport is a must-visit. In addition to beaches (including Long Beach, Front Beach, and Back Beach), Rockport offers Bearskin Neck, a pedestrian area where you can shop, eat, and explore the waterfront.
Ipswich is most famous for its clam huts, including the Clam Box, which is actually shaped like a clam box. There are also a number of beaches in Ipswich including the popular Crane Beach.
Where to Stay in Gloucester
Cape Ann is a popular vacation destination for both visitors to Massachusetts and local staycationers. Surprisingly, there isn’t an abundance of chain hotels in the area. Some of the most popular options include:
When we’ve stayed overnight in Gloucester (rather than day tripping), we booked a vacation home. There are lots of options across Cape Ann, in various price ranges. Expect to pay more if you want to be within walking distance of a beach.
In addition to the standard vacation rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO, you’ll also find some local realtors that specialize in the area. We like Atlantic Vacation Homes which offers vacation rentals North of Boston. A lot of these homes book early, so you’ll want to check for a home as soon as you decide to stay.
While visiting Gloucester, be sure to visit some of the local restaurants. Our favorite is Tonno, an Italian restaurant with delicious seafood. If you want ice cream, visit Long Beach Dairy Maid, the perfect spot for a post-beach treat.
General Tips for Visiting Beaches in Gloucester MA
These beaches are very popular, especially for Massachusetts residents looking to cool down on a hot summer day. A seasonal resident beach sticker is offered for Gloucester residents, with a limited supply for non-residents. These beach stickers can be used at Good Harbor Beach, Wingaersheek Beach, and Stage Fort Park.
Beach parking can fill up on busy hot days, especially for non-residents of Gloucester. It’s best to arrive as early as possible. There’s also a Facebook page that you can follow for parking updates.
Some of these beaches restrict parking to residents only – either all the time or just during certain times. Check their website before going to make sure parking will be offered during your visit. You can also find current parking fees on the website.
Each beach has its own policies, but there are several rules that apply across all of the best beaches in Gloucester MA. Dogs (except in the off-season in some cases, as well as service dogs), alcohol, flotation devices are not permitted.
Riptides can be an issue at the beaches. The Gloucester beach website lists this YouTube video as a helpful resource. Some of the public beaches have a carry out policy for trash, so you should be prepared to take all of your trash with you.
These beaches can be very hot in the summer, with limited shade. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you have a beach umbrella or some other sort of shelter, especially if going to the beach with little kids. Plenty of sunscreen is also essential. Check out our beach packing list here before going.