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8 Top-Rated Beaches in the Boston Area

Beaches in and around Boston allow for wonderful city escapes without really needing 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 right within, or just 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 get to all of these hidden gems easily without investing days of your precious vacation time.

As always, when the weekend approaches, parking fills up early, but many beaches can be reached by public transportation. Beaches in the Boston area offer a wide variety of options for visitors that include warm waters, views of jumbo jets taking to the skies, forts to explore, and, of course, indulging in 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
Spectacle Island: Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
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Just offshore from Boston proper and about 20 minutes by ferry from downtown, Spectacle Island offers visitors one of the few sandy beaches found among the Harbor Islands. Open from May through Columbus Day, the beach is supervised by lifeguards during the summer months. The eco-friendly visitor center provides a timeline on the evolution of the island, as well as changing exhibits.

On a clear day, views of the city skyline are excellent. A small marina attracts boaters. Hikers will delight in the five-mile loop around the island, which offers exciting panoramas of Boston. Ferries run regularly from Long Wharf during the season. Tourists will find the central location an excellent starting point for visiting the city's top attractions, and the nearby Boston Harbor Hotel and InterContinental are luxurious waterfront accommodation options.

2 Nantasket

Nantasket
Nantasket
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A popular summer escape from Boston is Nantasket Beach.

The beach is located in Hull on the peninsula, and its Wampanoag Indian name reflects the sandy shores "where tides meet" location. The mile of Atlantic shore is lined with pale grey sand and at low tide has many tide pools. Kids of all ages love to spend time exploring and looking for sea creatures in the shallow waters.

You'll find athletic fields, volleyball courts, a playground, and restrooms here. Summer concerts and public dance lessons make for great early evening activities.

Parking is available for a fee and it is highly recommended to get there early on peak summer weekends. Nearby, World's End is a hiker's dream on 250 acres of conservation land.

Offering panoramic views of the sea, the Nantasket Beach Resort has rooms with spectacular views. The Beach Shack is full of any necessities guests might need for fun in the sun.

Address: 212 Nantasket Ave., Hull, Massachusetts

3 Castle Island

Fort Independence
Fort Independence
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For spectacular city views and a cool breeze even on the most humid of summer days, head to Castle Island. Although the island is now connected to the mainland by a spit of land, walking out to the historic Fort Independence will still have you surrounded by water.

Tours of the Fort are available along with added information about all the Harbor Islands from the knowledgeable guides.

Along the shore side, Pleasure Bay beach offers 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 relaxing 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 get breakfast there as well; perhaps after a jog around the trails. You can get to Castle Island by bus, and there is street parking lining the shore drive.

Continue the water experience by staying at the Boston Seaport Hotel. At night, the fire pits offer warmth when the temperature starts to drop.

Address: 2010 William J Day Blvd, Boston, Massachusetts

4 Wollaston Beach

Wollaston Beach
Wollaston Beach
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South of the city, a 30-minute ride will take you to Quincy, a destination known for its historical landmarks. After touring and brushing up on your presidential knowledge, make your way to Wollaston Beach.

This popular spot, located on Quincy Bay, has a two-mile continuous walkway, perfect for those who like to have exercise with a water view. The crowd is mixed and family friendly. Street parking is available along the drive and concession stands are placed sporadically.

The beach runs along Quincy Shore drive. Across the street are several well-known seafood shacks, where you can get your fill of fresh New England fish. Views from the beach include Boston, several of the Harbor Islands, and nearby Hull.

The reliable Boston Marriott Quincy has a pool and great breakfast spread in a convenient location from Wollaston Beach.

Address: 970 Quincy Shore Drive, Quincy, Massachusetts

5 Walden Pond

Walden Pond
Walden Pond
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For a beach of a different kind, visit Walden Pond in Concord. Transporting tourists back in time to the days of Henry David Thoreau's famous writings, this is a spot to connect with nature. In addition, make sure to visit the replica of his famous small writing cabin.

Park hours change with the seasons, but in summer, parking fills up fast. Make the effort to get there early and take a hike around the peaceful trail. Your reward will be cooling off in the glacier lake rumored to be more than 100 feet 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. Take note that inflatables are not allowed.

The historic Concord's Colonial Inn gives tourists a slice of New England charm in the center of town. The Residence Inn by Marriott is a great spot for families with a kitchenette and pool.

Address: 915 Walden Street, Concord, Massachusetts

6 Nahant Beach

Nahant Beach
Nahant Beach
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You might hear them called Big Nahant and Little Nahant.

Their original Indian name refers to "two things united" with an interesting history. Fifteen miles north of Boston, Nahant Beach covers 67 acres of protected land, which was a popular summer retreat for wealthy Bostonians in the early 1900s.

The beach buffers the Atlantic and juts into Massachusetts Bay. Nahant is one of the few towns in the state to only be touched by one other municipality. The rest is surrounded by water.

The reservation includes a ramp that gives boaters access to Lynn harbor, athletic fields, parking for a fee, and a bath house.

Additional amenities include seasonal lifeguards, a restaurant, and snack bar.

The bike path adds another element of interest. Shade is scarce, so bring your own umbrellas and enjoy a beach that gently slopes into the water and remains shallow and calm for quite a distance. The two mile walkway is great for jogging or a stroll to take in the scenery.

Address: 1 Nahant Road, Nahant, Massachusetts

7 Revere Beach

Revere Beach
Revere Beach
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The roller coasters and carousels might be attractions of the past at Revere Beach, but that doesn't mean there still isn't plenty of action on this stretch of sand five miles north of Boston.

Pavilions with a Victorian flair, food vendors, and a heavy beat from the radios of passing cars all contribute to the ambience of what is known as the first public beach in America.

This two-mile crescent is an ideal swimming beach, with gentle waves curling into shore. Views in the distance of lighthouses and passing boats add depth to the horizon.

Athletic fields, a bandstand, restrooms, and seasonal lifeguards make this a spot where people are likely to spend all day.

Easily accessed from Boston via the T's Blue Line, there is also metered parking along the boulevard, which is populated with walkers all day long. Well-known for its Sand Sculpting Festival in July, the popular beach can attract 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 spot for families. Kitchenettes and a pool along with the colorful Mexican restaurant makes this a popular destination close to Revere Beach.

Address: 350 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, Massachusetts

8 Esplanade

Esplanade
Esplanade
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With the abundance of waterfront property surrounding much of Boston, residents stretch the term "beach" to include the beautiful Esplanade, summertime home to the Boston Pops. This grassy stretch of park lining the Boston side of the Charles River is filled with activity year-round.

The 18-mile paved path is busy throughout the day and early evening with runners and joggers. Kayaking, sailing, and stand up paddleboards are all available for those wanting to get 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 playgrounds, some with water features, provide plenty of kid space.

Restaurants and cafes are just a few blocks away no matter where you might choose to place yourself along the inviting space. Food trucks are often found near the river. While visiting Boston, if you have limited time and want to quickly get to a relaxing place on the water, the docks and green beaches of the Esplanade might be calling your name. Access is by one of the eight footbridges crossing over to the road.

The elegant Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston is located within walking distance of the Esplanade. Nearby is shopping and a myriad of restaurants. For a more boutique experience the Revere Hotel Boston Common has an excellent Boston Common location and the added benefit of a pool.

Address: Charles River Esplanade, Boston, Massachusetts

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