The Coast Less Travelled: Visiting Gloucester’s Beaches

Destinations, Gloucester — By on June 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm

By Adrienne Supino

For many, summertime in Massachusetts usually conjures images of presidents chilling on private sandy beaches behind their vacation homes on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Cape Cod. Though the bulk of tourists head to the southern tip of state during warmest months of the year, those of us living on the North Shore know that we don’t have to make the 2-hour trek down Route 3 to catch some rays or waves when the temperature finally rises above 65 degrees.

To avoid the crazy traffic jams and over-crowded beaches and streets that plague Cape Cod during the summer, we locals hang out at our own hidden gems on the northern coast. My favorites can be found in the quaint, old-school fishing town of Gloucester.

Good Harbour BeachHome to the brave and burly fishermen who famously weathered The Perfect Storm, as depicted in the book and movie, Gloucester also boasts both beautiful beaches and delicious seafood. As a kid, my family and I regularly headed up here on the weekends to spend hours exploring Good Harbor Beach. With a vast expanse of soft sand and, like most New England beaches, chillingly cold salt water, Good Harbor is the perfect place for the active beach-goer (and children).

In addition to its decent-sized waves, great array of seashells and sand dollars, you can also follow a sandbar that appears at low tide out to Salt Island. This rocky little island is home to millions of little sand crabs, snails, and mussels, and pretty little seashells and sea glass. If you’re like me though, the best part about the island is clambering your way up to top to check out the stunning view of the coast!

Complete with public bathrooms (I’m not a pee-in-the-ocean kind of girl, so this is pretty important to me), showers, and a fully stocked snack bar, Good Harbor is rated as my number one beach in the Boston area.

WingaersheekWingaersheek Beach comes in as a close second though. With white powdery sand, boulders smoothed by the ocean, and calm, shallow waters, Wingaersheek is perfect for a quiet, relaxing day. Make sure to get there early because the beach’s tiny parking lot does tend to fill up. Like Good Harbor, there are plenty of little sea creatures and shells to collect, as well as restrooms, showers, and, yes, a snack bar!

In my opinion, Wingaersheek’s most alluring feature would have to be the huge rocks found there. If, like me, you cannot sit still, climbing up and jumping off of these bad boys are sure to expend some of your energy! Then after exhausting yourself, you can take a nice, refreshing swim in (or just lay in) the shallows.

The beaches in Gloucester are topnotch, but like most good things they don’t usually come for free, especially for out-of-towners who often have to shell out a hefty $25 parking fee on the weekends (or $10 on the weekdays). If you’re visiting Massachusetts and would like to shack up in Gloucester, try booking a reservation at the Vista Motel to avoid the cost and the hassle of parking altogether. The motel’s moderately priced, clean rooms, great views, and friendly staff make it a local favorite.

After a long day at the beach, hunger always starts to set in, and that’s when we head over to The Causeway for some of the town’s best seafood! A bit of a dive (OK, a real dive), this tiny shack of a B.Y.O.B. restaurant is conveniently located next to The Causeway Liquor Store on Route 133. The fish is fresh and the portion sizes are so humongous that two plates could easily feed 3 people! As a garlic lover, I definitely recommend getting the mussels with garlic and white wine broth. This massive bowl of shellfish also comes with a non-swimsuit friendly (but totally worth it) bowl of melted butter infused with some more garlic and black pepper for dipping.

So try the coast less traveled and head north to Gloucester for some of Massachusetts’ best beaches and tastiest seafood.

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