Category Archives: Manchester-by-the-Sea

Beaches of Cape Ann (2022)



For the 2022 beach season, Gloucester has implemented an online reservation system for non-resident beach parking. To learn more, visit the city’s website at

Good Harbor Beach
Good Harbor Beach

Good Harbor Beach

With shining white sand stretching out into the Atlantic and picturesque views of Thacher Island’s twin lights, Good Harbor Beach is one of the most popular on Greater Cape Ann. At low tide, take a leisurely stroll out to Salt Island while at any tide one can enjoy great swimming and body surfing.

  • Lifeguards are on duty daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  • Restrooms and showers are open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.
  • Parking is available during the week at a rate of $30 per vehicle 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., $20 from 3 – 5 p.m.; and on weekends and holidays at $35 per vehicle 8 a.m. – 3 p.m., $25 from 3 – 5 p.m. For the latest beach information visit
  • Gates open at 8 a.m. and are locked at 9 p.m. The beach is handicapped accessible, and a beach wheelchair is available.
  • Route 127A (Thatcher Road)

Wingaersheek Beach

Hugging the shore of the Annisquam River and extending out toward Ipswich Bay, Wingaersheek Beach is a long expanse of sand, dunes and tidal flats with a warm and cozy charm. Adults and kids alike enjoy exploring the numerous tidal pools and climbing the large rocks that adorn the beach. A long sandbar is exposed at low tide and makes for a perfect beach stroll.

  • Lifeguards are on duty daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  • Restrooms and showers are open 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily.
  • Parking is available during the week at a rate of $30 per vehicle 8 a.m.–3 p.m., $20 from 3 – 5 p.m.; and on weekends and holidays at $35 per vehicle 8 a.m. –3 p.m., $25 from 3 – 5 p.m. 
  • Gates open at 8 a.m. and are locked at 9 p.m. The beach is handicapped accessible, and a beach wheelchair is available.
  • Route 133 to Concord Street (Exit 54) to Atlantic Street

Cressy’s Beach at Stage Fort Park

Located on the lower side of historic Stage Fort Park, Cressy’s Beach is a rocky beach with breathtaking views of Gloucester Harbor. Families and couples spend countless hours during the summer enjoying cookouts, picnics and playing Frisbee on the park’s expansive lawns.

  • Dogs are allowed in the park yet are prohibited on the beach.
  • Restrooms are located within the park as well as at a privately owned restaurant located adjacent to the park.
  • Parking is available at Stage Fort Park at a rate of $20 per vehicle weekdays and $25 on the weekends and holidays.
  • There are no lifeguards.
  • Route 127 (Western Avenue) to Hough Avenue

Half Moon Beach at Stage Fort Park

Half Moon Beach is a quiet, intimate, crescent-shaped beach located at historic Stage Fort Park. Surrounded by a rocky hill and ample shady spots, it offers more seclusion from the rest of the park.

  • Lifeguards are on duty daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  • The beach is handicapped accessible.
  • Dogs are allowed in the park yet are prohibited on the beach.
  • Restrooms are located within the park.
  • Parking is available at Stage Fort
  • Park at a rate of $20 per vehicle weekdays and $25 on the weekends and holidays.
  • Route 127 (Western Avenue) to Hough Avenue

Pavilion Beach

Near Gloucester’s famous Fishermen’s Memorial Statue (The Man at the Wheel), Pavilion Beach on Gloucester Harbor is a popular site for beachcombing and boat-watching. Just a short walk from Gloucester’s downtown, this beach is the perfect spot for a summer swim before (or after) a visit to near by restaurants and stores. A mix of sand and popplestones,

  • Pavilion Beach does not have lifeguards on duty.
  • Limited public parking is available along Stacy Boulevard. Free public parking is also available at the nearby Saint Peter’s parking lot, located at the intersection of Rogers and Commercial streets.
  • Western Avenue (Route 127) at the eastern end of Stacy Boulevard

Niles Beach

Located on Eastern Point Road in East Gloucester, Niles is primarily enjoyed by residents (a resident sticker is required for beachside parking). It’s a quiet, family beach with breathtaking vistas spanning Gloucester Harbor to the Boston skyline across the horizon.

  • Lifeguards are on duty daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. 
  • Portable restrooms are available seasonally.
  • Eastern Point Road, East Gloucester

Plum Cove Beach

Located near Lanesville, Plum Cove is the perfect beach for families with small children. The cozy beach overlooks Ipswich Bay and offers a quiet day away from the crowds. It’s an ideal spot to enjoy a picnic and watch the sunset.

  • A resident sticker is required to park at Plum Cove Beach. 
  • Lifeguards are on duty daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
  • Washington Street (Route 127) in the northern part of Gloucester, near Lanesville

Beach Rules

  • All Gloucester beaches have a Carry In/Carry Out policy for trash—all visitors are advised to bring a trash bag with them.
  • Alcohol is prohibited.
  • Concession stands are open at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches during the summer so patrons may purchase food, drinks, toys, and other items as needed.
  • Surfing, inflatable objects, and all other flotation devices are prohibited when lifeguards are on duty. Styrofoam boogie boards are allowed.
  • Dogs prohibited April 1 through September 30.


Long Beach
Long Beach

Front Beach

Sandy Bay acts as the beautiful backdrop for Front Beach, the perfect spot for all the swimmers and sunbathers in your group. When you’re finished with your day at the beach, restaurants and shops are just steps away. There are also many inns and B&Bs nearby providing beachside accommodations.

  • Paid on-street parking is available adjacent to Front Beach, and long-term parking is available in a privately operated lot across the street. In July and August, the CATA Park & Ride (Blue Gate Lane off Route 127) provides free parking and a daily trolley shuttle ($1 per person) directly to downtown Rockport and Front Beach.
  • Route 127A, Main Street to Beach Street, Downtown Rockport

Back Beach

Home to one of the best scuba diving areas in the region. Dive in and discover the submerged world beneath the ocean. This sandy and rocky beach is perfect for divers, swimmers, and walkers. On summer Sunday evenings, the Rockport Legion Band performs free outdoor concerts at the bandstand located just across the street from Back Beach.

  • Paid on-street parking is available along the entire extent of Back Beach.
  • Route 127A, Beach Street in Downtown Rockport

Old Garden Beach

This small sand and popplestone beach is a favorite among families with small children. An adjacent municipal park offers a beautiful view over Sandy Bay and grassy areas for picnics with friends and family. Old Garden is another favorite location for divers. The small beach parking area is restricted to those with resident parking stickers.

  • Please observe posted parking restrictions. Old Garden Road and adjacent side streets are restricted to resident-only parking on weekends and holidays. Limited on-street parking is available nearby.
  • Old Garden Road, Rockport

Pebble Beach

Water-smoothed popplestones and pebbles blanket this picturesque crescent beach. Search among the rocks for shells or bring your binoculars to capture views of Cape Ann’s sea-loving birds and the Boston skyline to the southwest. There is a rocky reef just offshore where divers enjoy the underwater life at 20- to 30-foot depths.

  • Limited parking is available on Penzance Road adjacent to the beach. Please observe posted parking restrictions.
  • Penzance Road, Rockport

Cape Hedge Beach

This is a secluded stretch of rocky beach separated from Long Beach by a short, seasonal foot bridge. Smooth sand is minimal at high tide. A quiet oasis, Cape Hedge Beach is located about 2½ miles from Rockport’s shops and restaurants. 

  • Very limited non-resident parking is available along South Street. Please observe posted parking restrictions. The Cape Hedge and Long Beach parking lot is restricted to residents only. Please observe posted parking restrictions.
  • South Street, Rockport

Long Beach

About a mile in length and lined with quaint New England beach houses, Long Beach offers one of the best views of Thacher Island’s twin lighthouses. Investigate the tidal pools, enjoy a casual stroll or jog, and soak in the sun. Enjoy the day at Long Beach and then head into town for a fresh lobster dinner.

  • Parking is available in a private, seasonally operated lot, accessible from Rockport Road, off Route 127A in Gloucester. The Cape Hedge and Long Beach parking lot is restricted to residents only.
  • Route 127A (Thatcher Road to Rockport Road)

Beach Rules

No smoking of any type allowed on any of the Rockport beaches.


Singing Beach
Singing Beach

Singing Beach

The sands resonate with your footsteps as you stroll this immaculate beach. Bask in its clear blue waters amid stellar vistas and enjoy a thirst-quenching Italian ice at the snack bar.

  • The parking area is for residents only (from mid-April through mid-October). Walking from the train station or the center of town is just under a mile—everyone does it!
  • $10 daily / $35 seasonal walk-on fee.
  • Visit for additional details.
  • Route 127 to Beach Street, Manchester


Crane Beach
Crane Beach

Crane Beach

Crane Beach, managed by The Trustees, is a spectacular North Shore gem, and enjoyable in every season. This white, sandy beach stretches four miles along the shore with dunes, boardwalk trails and even a pine forest for hiking and birdwatching. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, a refreshment stand, bathhouse, beach store, first aid and EMT office, and restrooms are available for beachgoers.

  • In season, lifeguards are on duty daily 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset. The entrance gate closes 20 minutes prior to sunset.
  • From October 1 through March 31, dogs (a fee for non-members) and horses are permitted on the beach (a fee for non-members).
  • Advance passes are required for weekends only beginning May 1, 2022 and are required daily beginning May 16, 2022. For more information and to obtain a day beach parking pass, please visit
  • Route Route 133 to Argilla Road, Ipswich

Pavilion Beach

Located near Great Neck Park, this small, sandy town beach is perfect for families with young children who enjoy exploring the seashore. Don’t forget to bring a pail and shovel. Public parking is available Monday through Friday. Parking lot and nearby roads are restricted to residents only on weekends and holidays.

  • No lifeguards on duty.
  • Carry In/Carry Out policy for trash.
  • No alcohol and no fires.
  • Little Neck Road near Great Neck Park      

Anchors Away: Sailing on Cape Ann

Checkout some of the different sailing opportunities on Cape Ann! Companies below vary from educational and historic sails to private charters. There’s no better way to take advantage of Cape Ann’s beautiful location than to get out on the water!

Sailing on Cape Ann

Frayed Knot Sailing
Ashland Ave, Manchester

Schooner Adventure
23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester

Schooner Ardelle
33 Harbor Loop at Maritime Gloucester

Defiance Sail Charters
211 East Main Street-Beacon Marine Basin, Gloucester

Schooner Thomas E. Lannon
63-R Rogers Street

Beaches of Cape Ann: Singing Beach

Singing Beach

Singing Beach

Route 127 to Beach Street, Manchester

This immaculate beach will have you singing as you look at the clear blue waters and white sands. Enjoy a thirst quenching Slurpie or Italian ice at the snack bar.

  • The parking area is for residents only so you may have to walk from the train station or the center of town to enjoy this beach. Just under a mile, everyone does it!
  • $5 walk-on fee.
  • Directions: Route 127 to downtown Manchester to Beach Street (near the commuter rail station). Singing Beach is located at the end of Beach Street.

Singing Beach, Manchester-by-the-Sea

Singing Beach Manchester

7 Reasons to Visit Cape Ann

Make sure whale watching goes on your bucket list. People say: “It’s a lifelong dream fulfilled,” “It’s the best thing I ever did,” and “It made me cry,” reports Paul Frontierro of Gloucester, who has never tired of running whale watches for almost 30 years. Every single day is different. You might see mothers and calves, or whales breaching, flipper slapping, blowing or tail lobbing. On an extraordinary day, you could see 40 or 50 whales. Seasoned whale watchers go out several times a year.

7 Seas Whale Watch

Photo Courtesy of 7 Seas Whale Watch

Like a fairytale palace with perfect acoustics, the Shalin Liu Performance Center rises from the Rockport waterfront. Its huge oceanfront windows let you watch the sun set over the harbor behind the performers while enjoying concerts of all stripes, plays, high def Met simulcasts and film festivals. What’s not to love?

A wild, mysterious wood blankets Cape Ann’s vast middle, a place of storied ghosts, pirates and murder. All that’s left are cellar holes and words painted on boulders: “Courage,” “Never try, never win.” So you don’t get lost, join a tour (contact the Chamber), or park on Cherry Street at Dogtown Road in Gloucester and follow the fire roads in and back. Don’t go late in the day. Bring your cell.

So many antiques shops crowd Essex’s waterfront on Rt. 133 that you’ll have to pick and choose: Americana, white elephants, fine art, European imports, something for everyone’s collection. When you weary of shopping, sample the seafood establishments also lining Rt. 133.

We have them all: spectacular barrier beaches like Wingaersheek and Good Harbor; shallow, child-friendly beaches like Rockport’s Front Beach; a beach with a dune made entirely of rocks, and even a beach that sings. Take your pick. Just don’t forget your camera.

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester

(Photo Credit: Paul Aquipel,

If you love seafood the way we do, you’ll love it even more with a view. You can have lobster in the rough at a rocky cove, elegant linen service overlooking the ocean, and everything in between. Bon appétit.


Nothing stops Rockport’s town tree lighting, not even a nor’easter. Santa comes by lobster boat, you can watch candy canes being made by hand, and see a live nativity with real animals, a torchlight procession, and a community carol sing. In Gloucester, Santa parades from the State Fish Pier all the way down Main Street to Stacy Boulevard for their tree lighting, and the Middle Street Walk shows off period houses. A Christmas tree made entirely of lobster traps glows above Main Street.

Essex has a Toy Land Parade, Santa’s arrival at the town landing, and breakfast with Santa.
Christmas by the Sea in Manchester finds open houses in the shops, the Jingle Bell Walk,
and the lighting of the Friendship Tree.

Rockport hosts an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration throughout downtown, with clowns and puppets for children, and every kind of musical concert imaginable, from jazz, rock and roll and country and western to classical, Cajun and sea chanteys.

Between New Year’s and spring, you can enjoy some spectacular winter birding, snowshoeing, and walks in the woods. Others enjoy mountain biking in the snow, surfing the winter waves, or just plain storm watching. The less adventurous might prefer to book an inn and curl up in front of a toasty fire, hot mulled cider in hand.

Author: Patricia Mandell

Experience Cape Ann

King Charles I named our Cape about 400 years ago in honor of his Mother, Ann. Today Cape Ann is quickly becoming recognized as a not-so- hidden gem whose qualities and attractions improve every year. Cape Ann uniquely possesses all the best of what New England has to offer, in a compact and easily traversed area. From its expansive green saltmarshes in Essex and Gloucester and incredibly beautiful and historic harbors of Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Rockport, to its wide, pristine beaches, and amazing rocky coastline, Cape Ann truly has it all.

Savor a relaxing porch-front view of the Atlantic Ocean at an historic inn or upscale hotel along the Gloucester and Rockport shores, walk along beautiful, wide open beaches, find unique and fun shopping, and experience a vast array of dining experiences in all four Cape Ann communities. Cape Ann is famed for the best fried and steamed clams in the region, and visitors have an array of dining options from eat-in-the rough lobsters and clams to fine dining establishments. Shop at unique boutique stores, cast-off from a dock and sail around spectacular harbors and travel farther out to the famed Stellwagen Bank for incredible whale watching and deep sea fishing. See world class art, dig into history and enjoy the stories of our earliest settlers whose homes remain intact to this day.


Essex, MA(Photo Credit: Arlene Taliadoros)

As the birthplace of the fried clam, this picturesque community yields some of the finest seafood on Cape Ann. Whether you care for a cup of clam chowder or a plate full of steamed clams, you will not be disappointed. But the quiet town of just over 3,000 residents has much more to offer than great seafood. Antiquing, a premier Essex attraction for generations, remains a favorite pastime for the locals as well as visitors. Shipbuilding has been part of Essex’s heritage for more than 400 years, and draws people from far and wide to admire what it takes to build the beautiful watercraft, some still sailing Cape Ann’s harbors and waterways today! The Essex Shipbuilding Museum is one stop that is a must see to truly appreciate the incredible ship building heritage of this small community. Kayaking or taking a cruise down the Essex River will surely give you a unique view of the tidal salt marsh as you meander with the river out toward Conomo Point and Ipswich Bay.


Gloucester, MA(Photo Credit: Cape Ann Chamber)

America’s oldest Seaport, this city of nearly 30,000 residents has a storied history that in the late 19th Century was the fishing center for North America. . Fishing is still a way of life for many in Gloucester and a majority of the local restaurants relying on the hard work done at sea and the fresh catch that comes in daily. Like its neighbor Essex, many of Cape Ann’s historic fishing vessels and schooners were built in Gloucester, where reputedly the first one was assembled in 1713. Take a stroll along the HarborWalk and Gloucester’s authentic working waterfront, visit the panoramic vistas of Gloucester Harbor at the Fishermen’s Memorial Statue (The Man at the Wheel) on Stacey Boulevard or from Stage Fort Park, tour Rocky Neck and its art colony and cultural district, and take to the water with a fun sail or motor tour around Gloucester’s historic and beautiful Harbor, or venture farther off shore and experience the best whale watching and deep sea fishing in New England, All this and more provide a varied taste of Gloucester’s amazing history, incredible beauty, and abundant attractions.


Manchester-by-the-Sea(Photo Credit: David Stotzer)

Founded as Jeffrey’s Creek in the mid-1800s, this town is located at the southern end of Cape Ann. In 1989 the state legislature made the name official as a means to differentiate the town from its larger neighbor to the North. A trip to Singing Beach, aptly named because of how the sand resonates when you walk on it, or Tuck’s Point is worth your time and then some. Beautiful retail shops, restaurants and galleries fill the town of just over 5,000 residents. The Manchester Historical Museum’s Trask House is a must-see to get the complete story of this town known for its beautiful historic architecture.


Rockport, MA

(Photo Credit: Richard Correale at

This picturesque seaside village, located at the most northeasterly part of Cape Ann, features beautiful beaches, historic lighthouses and galleries galore. Rockport’s downtown area is filled with quaint shops that include bookstores, candy-making, cafés and ice cream shops as well as art galleries, specialty shops, jewelers and many places to dine. A leisurely stroll along the ever-changing Bearskin Neck will give visitors every imaginable opportunity to buy that perfect keepsake to remember and cherish their time on Cape Ann. Visit Halibut Point State Park or walk along Rockport’s scenic shores in the footsteps of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau and be captivated as they were by Rockport’s special places and unique charm.

Visit Cape Ann by Road

Cape Ann

(Photo by Cape Ann Photography)

Unlike the “other Cape” in Massachusetts of Cape Cod, the peninsula of Cape Ann is truly a hidden gem whose qualities and attractions just keep getting better. With wide scale preservation efforts of marshlands, beaches, and historic areas; limited development, signage or unruly changes, the fine points of Cape Ann are quickly surpassing other tourist destinations. Our region is – in fact – so pristine that Cape Ann has become a favorite location for Hollywood movie productions because of its unspoiled landscapes and beauty.

Visitors find that they can both savor a relaxing porch front view of the Atlantic Ocean at an historic Inn along the Rockport shore, walk along pristine, wide open beaches or dine at quaint, family-owned restaurant. Cape Ann has by far the best clams in the region and guests have many options from clam shacks to gourmet eateries. They can shop at unique boutique stores, they can cast off a dock and sail around spectacular harbors, see world class art, dig into history and enjoy the stories of our earliest settlers whose homes remain intact to this day.

So, turn your wheel toward Cape Ann this season – it is both easier to reach by car or train than other New England destinations and it offers the best of all worlds.

By road, the best way to see Cape Ann is to travel along our scenic roadways. Starting – for example – by exiting route 128 or major highways and traveling along a famous coastal road locals simply call rte. 127. This road takes one past beautiful estates that lead to the sea and give an unprecedented view of our region.
Rte. 127 passes through the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea with its fine 17th and 18th century homes along its historic downtown area. By road, visitors can stop at Masconomet Park and enjoy the view of Manchester harbor or lunch at a number of great bistros and established restaurants and finish that off with a homemade ice cream from Captain Dusty’s. Many visitors like to park and walk to famous Singing Beach – where the sand literally “sings” and the gradual sloping beach gives way to beautiful views of the rocky Cape Ann coastline. From Singing Beach, continue back to rte. 127 and pass the community of Magnolia – famous for its coastal views, artist colony and summer dwellers. Rte. 127 veers off at famous Hammond Castle in Magnolia which is well worth a visit. Back on the route, one passes Ravenswood Park which offers unspoiled woods to walk in and a nature center that caters to children. Veering off rte. 127 at the Gloucester city line gives way to the magnificent overview of Gloucester harbor, seen from historic Stage Fort Park. The route takes tourists along the famous Gloucester boulevard which overlooks Gloucester’s eastern shore and outer harbor. In summer, the outer harbor is full of sailing craft and fishing boats – and three schooners that take passengers sailing: the Thomas E. Lannon, the Schooner Ardelle and the Schooner Adventure.

After stopping to see the sights in Gloucester, continue along rte. 127A to either beautiful Good Harbor Beach and the eastern shore of Gloucester or on to historic Rockport. Rockport remains the quintessential artists’ retreat and quaint coastal New England town. It is a perennial favorite and its penny candy store, art galleries, and boutiques along the roads of historic Rockport and Bearskin Neck give way to exquisite seaside Inns and bed and breakfasts tucked along the rocky shore – far from the bustle of downtown.

From Rockport, this same route leads visitors around the peninsula of Cape Ann passing Halibut Point National Park, the laid back town of Lanesville and the historic harbor at Annisquam. Halibut Point is unique geographically and offers wonderful flat rocks – left over from the days of the granite quarries – which make a perfect picnic spot by the sea.

Exiting the Cape Ann peninsula – there is still more to see by traveling along rte. 133 towards Essex . Rte. 133 (which literally connects the Cape Ann peninsula with the river towns of Essex and Ipswich along Ipswich Bay) is where visitors can stop at both Wingarsheek Beach and the historic town of Essex, famous for its shipbuilding and Essex clams. Drop by the Essex Shipbuilding Museum and learn about this town’s rich contribution to our colonial history – whose ships built along the riverbanks populated the Gloucester fishing fleet from the 1600s to the days of Captain’s Courageous written by Rudyard Kipling and to the present day with three Essex-built schooners plying the tourist trade in Gloucester harbor.

Although not technically considered Cape Ann, if you continue on to historic Ipswich with both its gorgeous Crane Beach reached along rte. 133, historic apple orchards, historic homes and great local restaurants.

Cape Ann is not only a perfect place to see by road, it also offers its share of water tours including river and kayak tours of the pristine Essex River and its outlying beauty that features Hog Island and Crane Beach. The famous movie the “Crucible” was filmed on Hog Island and there is are two river boat companies as well as kayak rentals on rte. 133. Whereas in Gloucester one can sail on an Essex built schooner, in Essex one can paddle or poke along a tidal river viewing marsh birds, seals, and unspoiled vistas. It is the best of both worlds.

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