Beaches in and around Boston make for wonderful city getaways without actually having to leave the city. This group of sandy shores might take a backseat to those in popular Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard, but you’ll find plenty of hidden treasures within or outside the city limits.
Boston is surrounded by water and if you want a place to cool off, walk in the sand, or just relax in the sun with only a few hours to spare, you can easily get to all of these hidden gems without investing in days of your precious vacation time.
As always, as the weekend approaches, parking fills up early, but many beaches are accessible by public transport. Beaches in the Boston area offer a wide variety of options for visitors, including warm waters, views of jumbo jets taking off into the sky, forts to explore, and, of course, enjoying some good old New England seafood.
For a relaxing day along the coast, browse this list of the best beaches in the Boston area:
1 Spectacle Island: Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Spectacle Island: Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
Just offshore from Boston and about a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown, Spectacle Island offers visitors one of the few sandy beaches found in the Harbor Islands. Open May through Columbus Day, the beach is patrolled by lifeguards during the summer months. The eco-friendly visitor center offers a timeline on the island’s evolution, as well as changing exhibits.
On a clear day, the view of the city skyline is excellent. A small marina attracts water sports enthusiasts. Hikers will be delighted by the five-mile loop around the island, which offers exhilarating panoramas of Boston. Ferries run regularly from Long Wharf during the season. Tourists find the central location an excellent starting point for visiting the city’s top attractions, and the nearby Boston Harbor Hotel and InterContinental are luxury waterfront accommodations.
A popular summer getaway from Boston is Nantasket Beach.
The beach is in Hull on the peninsula, and the Wampanoag Indian name reflects the sandy shores where the tides meet. The mile of Atlantic coast is lined with light gray sand and at low tide has many tide pools. Kids of all ages love to spend time exploring and looking for marine life in the shallow waters.
Here you will find athletic fields, volleyball courts, a playground and toilets. Summer concerts and public dance classes make for great early evening activities.
Parking is available for a fee and it is highly recommended to get there early on weekends in the summer. Nearby, World’s End is a walkers dream on 250 acres of conservation area.
Nantasket Beach Resort offers panoramic views of the sea and rooms with spectacular views. The Beach Shack is stocked with all the essentials guests need for fun in the sun.
Adres: 212 Nantasket Ave., Hull, Massachusetts
3 Castle Island
For spectacular city views and cool breezes even on the most humid summer days, head to Castle Island. Although the island is now connected to the mainland by a headland, walking to historic Fort Independence will still have you surrounded by water.
Guided tours of the fort are available along with additional information on all of the Harbor Islands from the expert guides.
Along the coast, Pleasure Bay beach provides access to the water. Visitors will find it best at low tide, and there are plenty of benches and grass shaded by trees.
Take advantage of the relaxed atmosphere and pack a picnic. Otherwise stop at the infamous Sullivans and have a burger or fish and chips. Top it off with summer’s ubiquitous ice cream cone. The wait can be long, so plan accordingly. Early risers can also have breakfast there; maybe after a jog on the trails. You can get to Castle Island by bus, and there is street parking along the coast.
Continue the water experience by staying at the Boston Seaport Hotel. At night, the fire pits provide warmth when the temperature begins to drop.
Adres: 2010 William J Day Blvd, Boston, Massachusetts
4 Wollaston Beach
South of town, a 30-minute drive will take you to Quincy, a destination known for its historic sites. After touring and brushing up on your presidential knowledge, make your way to Wollaston Beach.
Located on Quincy Bay, this popular spot has a 2-mile walkway, perfect for those who like to exercise with a view of the water. The crowd is mixed and family friendly. Street parking is available along the driveway and concession stands are posted sporadically.
The beach runs along Quincy Shore Drive. Several well-known seafood restaurants are located across the street, serving fresh New England seafood. Views from the beach include Boston, several of the Harbor Islands and nearby Hull.
The reliable Boston Marriott Quincy has a pool and a great breakfast, conveniently located on Wollaston Beach.
Adres: 970 Quincy Shore Drive, Quincy, Massachusetts
5 Walden Pond
Visit Walden Pond in Concord for a different beach. Transporting tourists back in time to the time of Henry David Thoreau’s famous writings, this is a place to connect with nature. Plus, visit the replica of his famous little writing booth.
Park hours change with the seasons, but in the summer the parking fills up quickly. Make the effort to get there early and take a walk on the peaceful path. Your reward will be cooling off in the glacial lake which is said to be over 100 meters deep.
There is a sandy beach and plenty of picnic areas, restrooms and a visitor center. In addition, there is a boat ramp for kayaks. You’ll find the refreshing water very clean, as the park service works hard to keep invasive plants at bay. Please note that inflatables are not allowed.
Concord’s historic Colonial Inn gives tourists a slice of New England charm in the center of town. The Residence Inn by Marriott is a great place for families with a kitchenette and pool.
Address: 915 Walden Street, Concord, Massachusetts
6 Nahant Beach
You may hear them called Big Nahant and Little Nahant.
Their native Indian name refers to ‘two things united’ with an interesting history. Fifteen miles north of Boston, Nahant Beach stretches across 67 acres of protected land, which was popular as a summer retreat for wealthy Bostonians in the early 1900s.
The beach buffers the Atlantic Ocean and juts out into Massachusetts Bay. Nahant is one of the few towns in the state that is only touched by one other municipality. The rest is surrounded by water.
The reservation includes a ramp that gives boaters access to Lynn Harbor, sports fields, parking for a fee, and a bath house.
Additional amenities include a seasonal lifeguard, a restaurant, and a snack bar.
The bike path adds another interesting element. Shade is scarce, so bring your own umbrellas and enjoy a beach that slopes gently into the water and remains shallow and calm for quite some time. The two-mile walkway is great for a jog or a stroll in the countryside.
Adres: 1 Nahant Road, Nahant, Massachusetts
7 Revere Beach
The rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds at Revere Beach may be a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of action on this stretch of sand three miles north of Boston.
Pavilions with a Victorian flair, food vendors and a heavy beat from the radios of passing cars all add to the atmosphere of what is known as America’s first public beach.
This half-mile crescent is an ideal swimming beach, with gentle waves curling into shore. Distant views of lighthouses and passing boats add depth to the horizon.
Sports fields, a bandstand, restrooms and season watchmen make this a place where people can spend all day.
Easily accessible from Boston via the T’s Blue Line, there is also metered parking along the boulevard, which is filled with walkers all day long. Known for its Sand Sculpting Festival in July, the popular beach can draw as many as 100,000 visitors on a busy weekend. Dogs are not allowed from April to mid-September.
The Comfort Inn & Suites Boston Logan International Airport is a great place for families. Kitchenette and pool along with the colorful Mexican restaurant make this a popular destination close to Revere Beach.
Adres: 350 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, Massachusetts
With the abundance of waterfront real estate surrounding Boston, residents are stretching the term “beach” to include the beautiful Esplanade, the summer home of the Boston Pops. This grassy stretch of park on the Boston side of the Charles River is filled with year-round activities.
The 18-mile paved trail is busy with runners and joggers all day and early evening. Kayaking, sailing and stand up paddle boards are all available for those wanting to get out on the water. Adirondack chairs are strategically placed on floating wooden docks for the ultimate sunset perch. A lagoon and canals invite further exploration, and several play areas, some with water features, provide plenty of space for children.
Restaurants and cafes are just blocks away from wherever you are in the inviting place. Food trucks can often be found near the river. When visiting Boston, if you’re short on time and want to get to a relaxing spot on the water quickly, the docks and verdant beaches of the Esplanade could be calling your name. Access is via one of eight pedestrian bridges that cross onto the road.
The elegant Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston is within walking distance of the Esplanade. Nearby is shopping and a large number of restaurants. For a more boutique experience, the Revere Hotel Boston Common has a prime Boston Common location and the added benefit of a swimming pool.
Adres: Charles River Esplanade, Boston, Massachusetts